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A Chat with Your Competition Directors - The 2021 Season

Check out our Podcast episode about this hot topic! Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts!

High Demand Dance Competition

The 2021 competition season is finally here and we at IDA can’t wait to see all of the dancers hit the stage. But before you do, it’s important to note that, due to new safety guidelines and protocols, there are going to be some changes to how we compete this year. This week, Courtney and Lesley chatted with competition owners from four IDA-affiliated competitions: Diva, Star Talent, Gems, and High Demand to get the inside scoop on what their events will look like this season.

One major change across the board is the implementation of block scheduling, which means that each studio comes at a designated time, performs all of their routines, and receives their adjudications. Then at the end of the weekend, overall awards will be presented, usually via livestream. This shift means fewer breaks for dancers between routines, so it’s critical that dancers and teachers focus on conditioning right away. It’s a good idea to practice routines back to back with costume changes to get used to the level of exertion that will be required in a short period of time.

On a similar note, masks may or may not be required for the dancers on stage, depending on the state. But as we all know at this point, the situation is ever-changing so it’s important to be ready for anything. There is a possibility that when you get your schedule, masks won’t be required, but when the weekend hits, they will, so practice in a mask. Even if you end up not having to wear it, your stamina and cardiovascular endurance will certainly improve...and so will your performance quality! Judges can still tell if you’re performing behind your mask, so practice using your eyes even more!

Some competitions also suggest arriving to the event wearing your first costume and with your hair and makeup set. Competitions nationwide are also instituting a policy wherein dancers won’t lose points if they elect not to wear a costume or forego an accessory. This season is also probably not a great one for multiple hair changes--pick one style for your studio and stick with it to save time and cut back on stress for everyone.

Star Talent Productions

Another limitation will be on the number of spectators allowed in the competition venues, with numbers also depending on the state in which the event takes place. Often, one guest per dancer will be allowed. But the great news is that most competitions will be using livestream options for routines and awards, which means that even more people can probably tune in to watch dancers take the stage than before!

But how will these new protocols affect the judges? Many parents, studio owners, and dancers might be concerned about fairness of judging with block scheduling. In an effort to maintain fairness, many competitions are opting to employ only their most experienced judges this season. Veteran judges understood the system pre-pandemic, including scoring rubrics, levels, and other nuances, so the shift won’t be as difficult. Good judges already take notes on what they see, are consistent in their scoring, and use their critiques to back up their scores, so this season will be no different. Judges are always expected to judge the dance in front of them based on a set rubric, and judges this season will continue to follow this model.

While these changes are somewhat consistent between competitions, each company and each event will be a little different. Star Talent, for example, is located in the South, while Diva is primarily in the Northeast, and the guidelines and regulations in these two regions are drastically different. Star Talent is able to employ a hybrid model wherein a few studios can be in the venue at once, as opposed to just one. Diva, on the other hand, is offering a new ‘In-studio Live’ model in addition to regular venue events where they travel from studio to studio to compete all dances in-house. Be sure to stay up-to-date on your individual events as details will continue to shift up until the event.

While many of these changes are not ideal, if anyone can handle it, it’s the dance community! We are flexible in both our bodies and minds and used to pivoting--literally! Most importantly, we are willing to do whatever it takes to get back to doing what we love!

Be sure to listen to the full episode to gain even more insight into what this season will look like from the competition owners themselves, and know that IDA is wishing you the best possible season ahead! Stay safe and don’t forget to SMIZE--see you on stage!

Diva Dance Competition // Daedalus Media Group

Thanks to our guests for joining us on this week's episode!

Please check out each of our guests and IDA affiliated competition below to view their 2021 tour dates and register for an upcoming event!


Maddie Kurtz is an IDA staff writer/admin, choreographer, judge, and dance educator. Check out her other articles on the IDA Blog, visit her website, and follow her @maddiekurtz92.

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