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What do judges look for in a show dance?

September 6, 2016

Any viewer of the t.v. series Dancing With The Stars is very familiar with the judges' comments when evaluating each dance. Not always is this an exact science, but there are specific guidelines that judges do use in order to evaluate a dance and give it a score between 1 and 10, 10 being the perfect score. 

 

Primarily, there are four criteria used as the basis of a score:

 

1.  MUSICALITY  

Musicality is a bit vague but it generally refers to SONG CHOICE and CHOREOGRAPHY and the perfect marriage between the two with regards to a story or themes or moods.  For some dancers, choreography is a challenge because it takes an artistic side of a dancer or a hired choreographer, with a broad knowledge base of symbols  and dance movements and positions acceptable in a specific genre of dance, to create a dance of art as well as skill.  

 

2.  TECHNIQUE

Technique has to do with the accuracy and perfection of the foot positions and footwork, arm and hand positions and movements, head positions and movements, amount of sway, timing, and so much more, Technique is very important in dance competitions.

 

3.  CHEMISTRY

Chemistry has to do with the relationship the two people in a dance partnership are experiencing and hence conveying to the spectators. This is delicate area for the dancers, but the bottom line is that the spectators want to be entertained by happy-looking dancers.

 

4.  ENTERTAINMENT

Entertainment has been a big criteria ever since dancing became a social media phenomenon where big money is involved with ratings based on viewership, such as Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance. On a smaller scale, even dance competitions now allow more freestyle and show dance styles for the purpose of enhancing the entertainment factor.  The sad part is when the entertainment component of a dance score carries more weight than Musicality or Technique. Then the purity of a specific dance is potentilly compromised and the specific dance even becomes unrecognizable. It is judges like Len Goodman on Dancing With The Stars who make us aware of the attention choreographers need to place on the purity of the dance and on technique in order to keep the specific dance recognizable.

 

Here is a video of Mark Ballas doing a brief Cha Cha demonstration to the Michael Jackson song Billie Jean. All recognizable Cha Cha figures and perfect timing on the 2 count.  WOW is right!!

 

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