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Q + A with Courtney: February Edition

Check out our podcast episode on this hot topic! Subscribe now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

On this month’s Live Q&A episode, Courtney was joined by IDA judge, teacher, and choreographer Sam Quinn. Thanks to the live viewers, Sam and Courtney answered multiple questions ranging from costuming and convention classes to contact improvisation during COVID, scoring with block schedules, and so much more!

Costuming is always a major factor in dance competitions, from rhinestones to feathers, but what do judges look for and what causes them to take off points? Sam and Courtney agree that the costume needs to be appropriate for the age, style, and choreography of the piece. They also note that while they love a good rhinestone, that’s not what judges are judging, nor are they deducting points when a costume isn’t their color or cut of preference. While a judge might prefer a halter top, your tank top isn’t going to cause you to lose points on your costume score! Most importantly, the dancer should feel comfortable and confident so that the focus can be on the dancing—judges don’t care if you’re wearing a $250 custom costume or a romper from TJ MAXX. If the costume complements the dancer and the piece, it’s a winner!

It’s also important to note that, for most judges, the costume score at competition includes your costume AND overall presentation—be sure your hair is slick, your tights don’t have holes, and your shoes are the same color as your tights. No matter how many rhinestones you have on your gorgeous, custom-made costume, lack of clean presentation will result in deductions from judges. Also be sure to check out Making the Impact’s recent episode all about presentation, as well as a previous blog article authored by IDA Judge, Joey Ortolani!

Switching topics from costumes to auditions, a major shift in the dance world has been how dancers audition, both professionally and for training programs. Given the pandemic, auditions have obviously gone virtual and some summer intensives are allowing students to either submit a video or audition in real time on Zoom. But which option do the experts recommend? Sam notes the beauty of video recording in that you can create multiple takes. Additionally, given the woes of the internet, there’s always a chance of the connection failing or glitching, which can ruin the live Zoom audition. Courtney notes that it’s interesting that the intensives are offering options, and recommends that they select one and run with it. Sam also mentions the difficulty of the Zoom audition and the lack of ability of the evaluators to see everyone in such a large group. You might nail your triple pirouette but no one saw it, and they, instead, caught your bent back knee in your jeté. Courtney also references co-host Lesley Mealor’s suggestion on the self-tape topic to give yourself a limit for number of takes so that you don’t make yourself crazy with perfectionism. Perhaps you film your audition three times and choose your favorite take to submit. And be sure to check out the tips for best practices for self-tapes on Episode 36 of Making the Impact!

On yet another totally different topic, one listener posed a question around dancers with special needs, noting that she often hears the feedback that her dancers should compete in a special needs category because judges aren’t equipped to judge the dancers. But what do the judges think? Sam and Courtney feel strongly that all dancers should be included in the same category. As Sam notes, we’re all human and all judges should be judging what they see on stage. It’s important to put inclusion first and allow ALL dancers to shine.

Courtney and Sam covered so many other hot topics, so be sure to listen to the full episode to gain valuable insights and wisdom!

Watch the Facebook Live recording. Recorded February 1st, 2021.


Thanks to our guest, Sam Quinn, for joining us on the podcast this week! You can follow him at @samquinn and Courtney at @courtney.ortiz


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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