How Does Scoring Work In Dance?

How Does Scoring Work In Dance

Dance competitions allow dancers to showcase their skills and be recognized for their hard work. Generally, each dancer receives a score from a panel of judges, and the dancer with the highest score wins first place. However, each competition operates differently. Some do not even give out scores and simply rank each competitor, giving the top performer first overall, basing each performance off the other. Read on to learn the two most common manners in which dance competitions are scored.

The Scoring Method

Some dance competitions give a dancer (or dance team) their score according to a standardized rubric and then award points based on what the dancers did well during their performance. Usually, these rubrics award points in five areas and they can apply to either a single dancer or treat an entire dance team as one unit. 

Judgment Criteria

The majority of competitions judge dancers based on these five categories of technique, performance, musicality/precision/presentation, choreography, and overall impression. However, the point values awarded to each of these categories vary from competition to competition. Below are the five main categories used to score dance competitions:


Judges score a performer’s mastery of the dance craft. This score will focus on how well the dancer keeps their toes pointed and executes different dance styles. Judges will score this criteria out of 30-40 points.


This score reflects a dancer’s showmanship. Higher scores may go to dancers who use facial expressions to pull at an audience's emotions or do other things to heighten the movement of their body. Judges will score this criteria out of 20-30 points.


Judges use this slot to score how well a dancer’s movements flow with the music. Judges may ask questions such as “Does the dancer become one with the beat and embody the music?” Judges will score this criteria out of 15-20 points.


The officials judge the dancer’s choreography based on its innovativeness, creativity, effectiveness at portraying a message, and ability to stir emotion. Judges will score this criteria out of 10-20 points.

Overall Impression

This score reflects how the judges felt about the performance as a whole. In a way, it is a set of bonus points given based on how strong an overall impression the performance left on the judge. Judges will score this criteria out of 5-10 points.

The Ranking Method

In the ranking method, judges will give the dancers a rank based on how their performance holds up against other dancers in the same competition. Judges give a single number to each dancer: the best performance receives the number one, the second-best number two, and so on. This process occurs for each performance in a competition. Once all the individual dance routines have been scored, the judges rank the dancers based on their performances in relation to one another.

Scoring an Individual Dance

Once all the judges have given each performance a rank, the best dance is determined by majority decision. The dancer who receives a majority of first places from the judges will receive a first-place score (of one) for that dance. Therefore, if there are seven judges in a dance competition, the dancer who received at least four number-one ranks from the judges would win the dance.

Giving an Overall Score

Once each dancer has received a ranked score for all their individual performances, the judges give them an overall score. They tally the overall score by adding the dancers' scores in their individual dances. The dancer with the best cumulative score wins.


How do you score points in dance?

Dancers score points in dance by excelling in key dance areas such as technique, performance, presentation, musicality, and choreography. Some dance competitions score dancers based on a 100-point rubric. Others may simply rank dancers compared to each other.