News Letter

Competition Tips for Swing Dancers

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A – Before The Contest

  1. Determine why you want to compete and how that answer will affect your strategy; only enter if YOU really want to compete.
  2. Accept that by competing you have given everyone in the room permission to critique your dancing, and realize they will probably discuss your personal life as well.
  3. Read the rules governing the specific contest you are entering and keep a printed copy.
  4. Register for the appropriate division/category ASAP. If unsure of your division, consult with Contest Registration Representatives/Chief Judge. (At some events, signing up early may increase your chances of dancing twice).
  5. Upon arrival to the event, check the latest schedule for last minute changes in registration deadlines, contest times, and/or meetings if applicable.
  6. Always treat convention staff and volunteers with respect; express thanks to people checking wristbands at the doors.
  7. Store your WSDC# in your phone and download the Swing Points app for easy reference.
  8. Verify that the bib number you received is the one assigned to your name.
  9. Prepare appropriate clothing and accessories and “test drive” your chosen outfit with your bib number attached and clearly visible to avoid costume failures and misidentification.
  10. Gather whatever supplies you might need (water, towel, shoe brush, cough drops, etc.) and keep them all in one place ready to go. FYI, cough drops help eliminate dry mouths.
  11. Be in the room ready to compete at least 10 minutes before the scheduled start of your contest. If the event uses a staging area, arrive 15 minutes early to check in.
  12. Refrain from alcohol and any other mood altering substances.
  13. Warm up with a friend or potential partner, but don’t practice routines with, or offer advice to, potential partners.
  14. Ask more experienced competitors/convention staff if you have any questions.
  15. Assume you might draw a challenging partner and then embrace whatever issue the universe is asking you to address (i.e. timing/connection/musicality).
  16. Quick recoveries and light-hearted attitudes practiced during social dancing develop skills that will be useful during the stresses of competition.

And Long Before Your Competition

  1. If you suffer from performance anxiety or stage fright, consider talking to a licensed therapist regarding treatments like cognitive therapy/EMDR.
  2. If you suffer from performance anxiety or stage fright, consider talking to a licensed therapist regarding treatments like cognitive therapy/EMDR.
  3. If you lead, prepare a leadable pattern that you can use to enter and exit the floor with your partner in case you make finals and the event uses a phrase challenge format.
  4. Study videos of your favorite dancers and imitate their styling, technique, and choreography.
  5. Examine yourself on video-you will always be your harshest critic!
  6. Take workshops, group and private lessons from a variety of teachers; ask your local instructor for help prioritizing/incorporating the varied and sometimes conflicting advice.
  7. Learn the basics as both lead and follow and practice social dancing both.

B – During the Contest

  1. Listen for your name/bib number and, when announced, quickly take your designated position.
  2. Politely follow all directions from emcee, spotters, and other designated staff members.
  3. If you are a leader, do not leave your line to escort the followers onto the floor unless directed to do so by the emcee. Leaving the line creates multiple problems for the judging panel and spotters.
  4. Meet and greet your partners(s) with a smile and a pleasant word.
  5. Acknowledge judges (finals only).
  6. Choose an appropriate location for your slot.
  7. Arrange your slot in the proper orientation as directed by emcee. If no direction is given, it is generally best to run the slot parallel to the camera and/or judges.
  8. Listen to the song’s introduction until you can clearly hear the beat, and then stay on it! If you can’t find the beat, follow your partner’s body language or “copy off the paper” of competitors near you that you know are more experienced.
  9. Breathe, relax, smile, and refrain from counting out loud or lip-syncing.
  10. Accommodate, compensate, and focus on your partner.
  11. Consider partner’s abilities, preferences, age, and limitations in choosing choreography/styling.
  12. Refrain from distasteful/offensive/overly sexualized moves, and excessive mugging, or show-boating.
  13. Briefly acknowledge audience with a smile/wave at the end of your performance (finals only).
  14. Act appropriately while fellow competitors are performing since you will appear on the video in the background while observing.
  15. At the end of each prelim dance, line up so that your bib number is clearly visible to the judges.

C – After the Contest

  1. 1. Refrain from negative comments about your partner, the music, floor, judges, etc.
  2. Don’t argue with compliments. Learn to say “Thank you!” graciously.
  3. If possible, plan to be in the room for the awards ceremony. If you can’t attend, arrange to have a friend pick up any awards in the event you place.
  4. If you win or place, accept prizes and take photos quickly. Follow photographer’s instructions. If no instructions are given, position follow to lead’s right side with bodies angled to the camera and hold your trophy/prize straight in front at waist level. It is customary at many events for winners to congratulate each other on the platform before taking the group photo.
  5. If you do not like the results announced during awards, smile and be a good sport. If you do not win, but are called up to receive an award congratulate the winners regardless of how you feel.
  6. Study posted scores; if you don’t completely understand the postings ask the Scorer or Chief Judge to explain them to you. Other contestants don’t always have accurate information and might mislead you, especially when
    it comes to identifying judges on the wall postings (Judge #1 for contest A isn’t necessarily Judge #1 for contest B).
  7. Reflect on how to improve your performances, but don’t agonize over them so much that you ruin the event for yourself and your friends.
  8. Questions and/or grievances? Ask the Contestant Representative/Chief Judge in a non-confrontational manner immediately after awards; at that time they are most likely to be available wherever the results are posted.
  9. Keep your perspective! A contest is only a dance! If you didn’t make finals and someone did who you think isn’t as good a dancer as you are, ask yourself this question: “Where the worst 12 seconds of my dance better than the best 12 seconds of their dance?”
  10. Don’t expect individual feedback from the judges regarding your competition unless you have pre-arranged a feedback session with them beforehand. Judges are prohibited from discussing their scores until after awards are announced, and most judges will only remember the spotlighted contests, and even then they usually want their notes on hand before commenting.
  11. Remember to have fun!