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Penn Latin & Ballroom Dance

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Competition Tips



What the Judges Look for at Competition

Now that you're at the comp, you're looking good, you know what dance is forthcoming and the steps associated, what does it take to succeed? Well, if anyone knows it is one of the most commonly featured judges at collegiate comps, Dan Radler.

Dan Radler is a L.I.S.T.D. Ballroom and Latin, and a Registered World Class Adjudicator. He is a former North American, United States, and Eastern U.S. Champion, as well as United States Ten-Dance Champion. Here is his take:

The criteria that a judge might choose to consider are actually too numerous to examine individually in the brief time allotted, since at least six couples are being judged simultaneously. Therefore, the judge must rely on the impression each couple makes relative to the others. The experienced judge, having seen and studied dancing at all levels, can quickly assess these factors collectively:

Different judges have different predilections in what they want to see, and weigh these factors differently. One judge, for instance, might be especially interested in technique, while another wants to be moved by musicality and expression. While both factors are obviously important and need to be considered, it can result in couples getting widely disparate markings. Couples wondering what a judge saw to give them a particularly high or low mark should know that any one of the many factors listed in this article could be responsible. The use of a heel when a toe is warranted can just as easily hurt you in a judge's eyes as a meticulous closing of feet can help. Because the judge sees each couple for only a few seconds, anything that draws the attention, either positively or negatively, could very well be the deciding factor on how you are marked.

Competitors, please be assured that virtually no qualified adjudicator will mark you for any reason other than his or her honest evaluation of your performance. Most judges hold their own opinions highly, and try to do a conscientious job. Anyway, no one judge can make or break you. The use of a panel of these experts usually insures that the end result is the correct and equitable one.