I am having trouble knowing what the judges are looking for in ballroom competitions. Can you help me figure it out?
Oh Peter, we have all been there. People tend to think they know what the judges are looking for, and to be honest, in my happenings, it is different for every judge. Just like different perspectives, judges notice things sometimes other judges dont see in the 4 seconds they decide to call you back. But here are a few things to think about that will catch the judges eyes.
1. Energy. Energy is something that is rarely taught, and yet somehow expected from dancers. That is something that catch the judges eyes. EXPRESS your emotions anyway you can. I once had a student who was very introverted. She asked me why introverted people need to outwardly express their emotions. I replied with this, "Because dancing is an expression of emotion. You cannot outwardly express the emotion with out feeling it first inside. Likewise, you cannot inwardly express the emotion with out showing it outside for everyone to see. You are a paint brush, and the floor is your canvas." Also something to think about is energy is also shown through your individual style.
2. Topline or Hip movements. In both styles, even standard and latin, it is important to show your middle body movement. You can show that through swing and sway in your slow dances, and your CBM (contra body movement) hip movements. This is a more obvious sign of a prepared dancer.
3. Footwork. Feet are so so so so so important! I cannot stress it is imperative to have great feet. Between heel leads, brushing and closing, and foot placement, judges will look. I had a judge once tell me that she looks at their feet before they start to dance. In standard/smooth, if they have a turn out from the get go, she assumes they will keep dancing with the turned out feet, and vice versa. It is imperative to finish lines through the feet.
I can go on and on. Just remember judges will judge from the top-down, which is the opposite on how we learn dance, from the feet-up. It is A- OK to plant yourself right in front of the judge. Some judges you can 'flirt' with or interact with while dancing and get marked up for it. Some wont care. Remember what will set you apart from others. I hope I have given some advice and shown some direction Peter.