What are the rules of dance?

What are the rules of dance

Dance competitions and tournaments have varying rules, so there is no universal standard. Although most tournaments are not 100% the same, they all follow a basic guideline of rules. Some general rules include:

  • There are usually competition schedules and entries must compete at their designated time.
  • General props are allowed as long as they are not dangerous (eg. swords, fire, knives, guns).
  • All competitors, family members, teachers, and the audience must exhibit good sportsmanship and show respect and courtesy.
  • Most of the time, no cameras or video cameras are allowed during performances. This can be distracting to the performers.

Age Division Rules

Entries will be grouped and placed according to their age groups. The age groups are determined by the average age of the dancers in the routine. Dancers are not allowed to compete outside of their age group.

  • Petite: 8 years and under
  • Junior: 9-11 years old
  • Teen: 12-14 years old
  • Senior: 15-19 years old
  • Adult: 20 years and up

Entry Divisions and Time Limits

Competitors will be placed into a certain division based on the number of dancers in their dance routine. Each division is also given a specified time limit for their dance routine.

Type# of ParticipantsTime Limit in Minutes
Small Group4-93:00
Large Group10-194:00

Experience Division Levels

When dancers register for tournaments, their division/performance levels are chosen by the respective studio director. The levels include:

  • Novice/Recreational: For dancers who train for no more than 3 hours per week. This level is created to give novice dancers a feel for stage performances, competitions, audience, and judges.
  • Intermediate: For dances who train between 4-5 hours per week.
  • Competitive/Elite: For dancers who train for 6 or more hours per week.
  • Pro/Am Division: This level is for at least one professional teacher or dancer or who is 20 years or older. If they wish to compete a routine, they will be placed in this division. Commonly, this division may not receive any cash rewards or overall high score.

Performance Category Rules

Entries will be placed into specific performance categories, depending on the descriptions they follow. Each performance must meet the criteria of its category to be scored.

AcroThe routine must contain acrobatic movements.
BalletThe routine must contain classical ballet techniques and wear ballet slippers only.
BatonThe routine must contain the use of a baton and baton technique.
CloggingThe routine must contain Clogging technique and style.
ContemporaryThe routine must contain Lyrical and Jazz technique to interpret the music.
Folk/EthnicThe routine must contain any form of ethnic styles of dance.
Hip HopThe routine must contain Hip Hop technique. No inappropriate music can be used.
JazzThe routine must contain Jazz technique.
LyricalThe routine must contain where dancers must interpret the lyrics of the song.
ModernThe routine must contain Modern dance techniques.
Musical TheatreThe routine must contain the interpretation of the music using dialogue, dance, and/or song.
OpenThe routine does not need any specific style of dance.
PointeThe routine must contain pointe steps and technique, and wear pointe shoes only.
PomThe routine must contain pom poms for the majority of the performance, at least 50% of the time.
Street Jazz/FusionThe routine must contain Jazz techniques with Hip Hop influences.
TapThe routine must contain Tap techniques and tap shoes should be worn.
VocalThe routine must contain vocal presentation of any type.

Music Rules

All the music for the dance routines usually is required to be directly uploaded through a specific platform. This platform is specified to the participants beforehand so they have time to upload their songs. Before uploading the music, they must be cut, in the correct pitch, and edited. It is very unlikely that the staff from the tournament will make any alterations or edits. Entries should also be wary of any inappropriate lyrics as they may be subject to point deductions.


How are dance routines scored?

The scoring system for dance tournaments vary. Usually, judges will score based on a point system and each judge may award up to 100 points. Points are given based on scoring criteria such as technique, performance, choreography, costume/appearance, musicality/timing, and execution. Based on the score they receive, the entries will then receive a ranking based on their division level. Usually, the ranking/scoring scale will include platinum, high gold, gold, and high silver.

What are the age and entry divisions?

The age divisions can be broken down into petite (8 years+), junior (9-11 years), teen (12-14 years), senior (15-19), and adult (20 years+). The age divisions are determined by the average age of the entries. Entry divisions are determined based on how many number of performers are in each routine. It can be broken down into solo (1 participant), duet/trio (2-3), small group (4-9), large group (10-19), line (20+), and production (20+).

How can performers sign up for dance competitions/tournaments?

Performers can register for dance tournaments through each of the respective tournaments websites. Everyone also had to pay an entry fee. Usually, all payments should be made within one month of the event. If anyone signs up after the deadline or wishes to make a change, they will face a late or change fee as well. If a person is early enough, they can call the company and see if they offer any special or early bird discounts.

What are the rules for the performance category and music?

Entries may choose to dance under any category as long as they fulfill the description for their category. The routines must be dominant in the specified category. For example, if a group wishes to dance ballet, their routine must contain classical ballet techniques and they may only wear ballet slippers. The music should go along with the routines and should be submitted beforehand. Ideally, the music will be edited and set to the correct pitch so there are no setbacks during the performance.