6 Things Ballroom Dance Competition Judges Look For

Dance with Us Ottawa  gives you 6 Things Ballroom Dance Competition Judges Look For When Deciding Who Will Take Home The Trophy

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So, you’ve entered yourself in a ballroom dance competition.

You’ve been practicing like crazy.  You’ve purchased your costumes, shoes, accessories and enough hairspray to render an entire army unconscious.  You’ve received countless tips and corrections from your coach. Now comes the fun – I mean terrifying – I mean fun part: getting out there and nailing your routine on competition day.

But wait, there’s one more important thing to consider: what exactly are the judges looking for?  With so many other couples competing for their attention, it’s really important that you know how to make a great impression.

So, to save you all the guesswork, I’m going to tell you the top 6 things ballroom dance competition judges look for.


In standard dances, the woman’s body should be stretched upwards, outwards, and leftwards, and should be connected with the man’s frame.


Judges are looking for postural correctness at all times.  Great posture facilitates connection and balance while exuding an air of elegance.  So, work on getting your posture just right if you want to make your mark during the competition.


All your body parts should be positioned correctly relative to your partner.  The judges are looking for symmetry in the man and woman’s arm connection, and that the circular shape of the arms stays constant.

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The length and stretch of the body from head to toe is something judges pay close attention to.  Whether your lines are curved or straight, they must be attractive and well executed.

Musicality and expression

The judges want to see you bring the music to life through your dancing.  Your choreography should be tailored to the phrasing and accents of your song.  They also want to see you make use of light and shade to add interest to your routine.  For example, you can steal time from one step in order to linger on the next.

Lead and follow

The judges are looking for a connection in which the man leads with his whole body instead of just his arms.  The lady should follow effortlessly.


Different judges tend to focus more closely on different factors.  One judge might pay close attention to musicality and expression, while another is more interested in lead and follow.

Keep in mind that each judge is only watching you for a short amount of time.  In the little snapshot of time that they see you, they must consider all of the above factors and more.  This means that anything you do that stands out can drastically affect your score for the better or worse.