Introduction to Competitions

For the most part, competitions are segregated into Amateur and Professional categories, although in the USA in particular, Pro/Am competitions in which pupils dance with their teacher are common.

Around the country on Sundays there are typically many open competitions, which are governed by the rules of the BDC.  A rulebook is available from the Secretary of the BDC.  Some open circuit competitions act as qualifying rounds for larger annual competitions such as Britain’s Best, Stars of the Future and Champions of Tomorrow.

International comps such as World and European champs are run by the WDSF and WDC.  There is also a medallist circuit and supadance circuit in this country which are different from the "open" or "Sunday" circuit.  

Amateur competitions are divided into different age categories. EADA chart rated events consist of Juvenile (under 12 years), Junior (12 and under 16), Adult (16 years and over), Youth (under 19) and Senior (over 35) which is divided into Senior I (< 45), senior II (45-55) and Senior III (55+ for one member of the partnership, the other has to be 45+).  BDC non-chart events may contain slightly different age categories such as Under 21, Over 50 and Over 60 comps.  For more details on age groups see our members' guide.

As well as age groups there are also different grades: beginner, novice, intermediate, pre-championship and championship or amateur.  As you improve you progress through these grades. For more detail on how this works see our guide to grade progression.  Rules are such that beginners and novice are limited to basic steps and beginners is limited to lounge wear (non competitive dress).  EADA also devises guidelines for the running of National Ranking competitions for Championship level in all age grades.

Competitions are judged by a panel of adjudicators, which consists of an odd number of professionals who are registered with the BDC.  There is an appointed Chairman of Adjudicators, whose responsibility it is to ensure that the music is played to the correct tempo and duration to give all adjudicators sufficient time to mark all the competitors. Judges may be approved to judge Championship events, depending on their level of qualifications and experience.

The panel of adjudicators marks through couples they prefer through progressive rounds to the final and  then places couples (typically 1-6) in the final.  Marks are assessed collectively using a process known as the Skating System, a system of marking based on the majority decision of the panel.  For more information on how the Skating System works see our members' guide.

Whilst attractive costumes and good grooming are essential factors in drawing the attention of the judges, couples are primarily assessed on the execution of the technique, combined with the complexity of choreography and musicality.  For tips on costumes and make up see the articles in InMotion.

The number of dances to be danced in each style at a competition may vary depending on the event and the nature of the competition. In an event granted 'Championship' status by the British Dance Council (BDC), it is normal to dance all five dances in each separate style. If the event is a '10 dance' Championship then all 10 dances i.e. all five dances in both styles (Standard and Latin) are danced.

Competitions are organised into heats in which a large number of initial entrants are progressively reduced down in numbers to a final, which normally consists of the best six couples. The music for each dance in each round is usually played for a duration of between 1.5 and 2 minutes.  Some competitions will require you to send your entry in advance to the promoter, otherwise you can enter at the registration desk on the day.