What do the Judges Look For?
This synopsis is written for the competitors in a language that the ordinary dancer can understand rather than using too many technical expressions. It is meant to assist you in understanding the rules for each category by defining the criteria upon which you will be judged. It will help you to concentrate on specific aspects of the dance and hopefully pick up some tips that will give you a few more marks on the big day!!
Timing is the most important criteria in any competition. Every dancer should know what this means, and to good dancers it is a natural expression of the music. In any competition if a couple are dancing "off time" i.e. not in time with the music, then it does not matter how good everything else is, they will simply not get any marks. The music/movement synergy is the most important aspect of any form of dancing and being able to dance in time with the music is imperative. If the musical count changes within a record then the dancer needs to be able to adjust their footwork to fit in with the change in beat.
Musical interpretation & presentation
It is important to be able to listen to and dance to the particular track that is playing in your heat. "Light & Shade" is an important expression used in the dance world and is the way the dynamics of a dance can be altered to make it look more interesting, and to make a couple stand out on the dance floor. This expression in laymen’s terms means the ability to slow things down and speed them up in time with the character of the music – a freeze on a break is a good example of this.
Grooming & presentation
Is very simple, has the couple made an effort with their outfits, their hair, and make-up, their overall appearance. Do they look like they are entering a competition or would they look equally as happy out for a Sunday afternoon walk in the park?
Floor presence is an important aspect of any competition if only when it makes the Judge notice you above all the other couples. Playing up to the judges, playing up to the audience, entertainment value, exuding confidence and passion, appearing to be enjoying yourselves, are all-important aspects of competing. Although at this point one must be reminded that the expressions displayed should look genuine and not forced, at the end of the day you are acting.
Not something you gain marks for, but you will undoubtedly not be marked well if you have no consideration of others on the floor. So be aware of other competitors, but still dance as if you are the only couple on the floor.
Quality of Dancing & Choreography
A dancer does not have to do a whole routine of the most complicated moves to look good and to gain points. Difficult moves will not win you points if the basis is scrappy. The quality of ones dancing is not only in the choreography but you must also consider its relationship to timing and technique. The way a simple turn is executed can look as good if not better than a triple spin if executed well (for example, if the ladies spare arm is used expressively; if the couple are looking up and not at the floor; if the couple are using the top of their bodies and their feet are using the floor), however a combination of more difficult moves executed fundamentally well will win you those valuable extra points.
Synchronisation of Dancers / Togetherness
The question to be asked is whether the couple dance as a couple, with consideration for each other, or do they dance as individuals? Does the man display the lady as a matador would his cape? Are the dancers in synchronisation with each other? Is there chemistry between them? Do they maintain good eye contact? Do you they look natural together? Are they joined by a passion for the dance? A couple that dance as if they are one will impress the judges more than to very good individuals dancing together.
This as a generic term to describe posture, framing, foot and leg action, hold and poise. Questions one can ask:
a. Are the lines created, well executed and attractive?
b. Do the dancers project themselves?
c. The using of the feet and the floor (No trotting or skipping for example; feet to be placed on the floor; all of the foot to be used, not dancing on ones toes, are all examples of use of the feet and the floor).
d. Are spare arms used and used expressively?
Innovative and difficult moves can also gain those all important extra marks, but again these moves must be danced well and must take all of the above factors into consideration, especially timing and musicality.
Lifts, Aerials and Airsteps
For the purposes of this definition Lifts, Aerials or Acrobatic moves are used as generic terms to describe partner weight-supported moves where both of one partners feet leave the dance floor due to the combined intention andwith the assistance of their partner. Any moves that the judges deem to be unsafe may earn a penalty or lead to disqualification. 'If in doubt - leave it out!'
A Baby Airstep is a lift, aerial or airstep where either one foot stays below the partner’s standing knee height, or both feet stay below the partner’s standing waist height.
A Major Airstep is a lift, aerial or airstep when one foot is above the knee, and the other foot above the waist.
Any move where either dancer has their feet higher than their head will be classed as a Major Airstep.
Duration of an Airstep
A lift, aerial or airstep starts when both feet leave the ground. It finishes when at least one foot touches the ground again and supports the majority of the weight, without the intention of immediately doing another lift, aerial or airstep.
• A solo jump is not a lift, aerial or airstep as they are not partner assisted.
• Small unintentional jumps (e.g. from a drop-kick) should not be counted. (We will not disqualify someone for being enthusiastic!)
• Rebounds (where the lady lands from one lift, aerial or airstep and immediately goes into another) are not counted as separate moves. (Please note that there can be no dancing in between. The landing must be the preparation for the next lift, aerial or airstep.)
• Specific limitations are be placed on certain moves e.g. the ‘floor sweeper’ are excluded for safety reasons. If you are in doubt, contact us or leave it out.
•‘Standing knee height’ means the height of the knee when standing up straight. It does not change if you kneel down, or lift the knee in the air.
The judges are briefed on the judging criteria in each category prior to the competition heat, but one must remember that although all of the above will be taken into consideration it is the overall impression that a couple makes on the judges that will take them through to the next round.