Information for Parents - Parent's Guide

This is designed as a helpful introduction to dancesport, competitions and EADA for parents of budding dancers.  We would welcome any suggestions from parents as to what information needs to be added.  Please e-mail feedback [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk with any suggestions.

For those travelling with Junior & Youth couples selected to represent England we will have a guide for chaperones available soon.


  1. Starting dancing
  2. Finding a partner/advertising
  3. How much does it cost & what to expect
  4. Competing
  5. Age groups
  6. Costumes
  7. Choreography
  8. Other BDC Rules
  9. Child Protection Issues
  10. Contact Us
  11. General advice from other parents

Starting dancing

Finding a dance school

If you child has expressed an interest in learning to dance, your first questions will probably be where is there a dance school.  Many dance schools are listed on:

Dance clubs across the country are also listed in Dance Today.

Professionals at the schools will be able to give more information about what classes they can offer.  Most will teach group classes, but you are often able to get private lessons with coaches which is a faster way to progress.  All those teaching and volunteer working with under 16s should be CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checked.

It is possible to learn to dance socially, some prefer to concentrate on technique and take medal tests others like to compete on the “open circuit” (the range of comps held around the country typically on a Sunday under the rules of the British Dance Council).  There is a separate medallist circuit.  If your child wants to compete on the open circuit at a level of novice or above, they have to join EADA.

Joining EADA

To join EADA you need to pay an annual membership fee.  This is at a lower rate for Juveniles and Juniors.  Information on costs and an application form can be found on our registration page.

The benefits of joining EADA:

  • 10% discount from various dance retailers 
  • various other discounts - see our offers page
  • receive the biannual magazine InMotion
  • receive the quarterly e-newsletter E-Motion
  • attend EADA training days
  • personal accident insurance cover for dance-related injuries
  • purchase travel insurance to cover competing abroad

Finding a partner/advertising

Ballroom, Latin American and Sequence dancing all require a partner.  Your dance school or child’s professional teacher might be able to help find you a partner.  It is typical to have a “try-out” with a potential partner before agreeing to dance with them; it would probably be wise to have a professional teacher at the try-out to offer advice.

You can advertise for dance partners on the EADA website forum on  and on websites such as;;; and

You can also put adverts up on noticeboards at danceschools.  However in the interests of child protection and ensuring we keep children and young people safe then EADA offer the following guidelines:

  • do not put up the personal e-mails, phone numbers or link to their profile on a social networking site for an under 16 on adverts.  Ask their dance teacher to be the point of contact.
  • do not put up ads with photos and contact information in the changing rooms/toilets of either  sex
  • do not send photos/videos to a stranger
  • never allow your child to meet up or go for a try-out alone

A useful resource can be found by checking out ThinkUKnow

How much does it cost & what to expect

Dancing is not cheap if you want to compete at the top level.  However there are classes and competitions for beginners, all the way through to advanced level; so you can take it as seriously as you wish. 

To give a guide:

  • Private lessons – teachers vary in price; costs start at around £25/30 per hour per couple
  • Competition entry – from around £10
  • Shoes – from £35 (in Junior you will need different shoes for Latin & Ballroom)
  • Juvenile costumes – £30-£180 for dresses; £55 trousers; £35 shirts, tie £8
  • Junior costumes -  £70 trousers; £50 shirts; dresses can vary greatly in price, but typical second hand ones will be several hundred pounds.  Junior boys will also need tailsuits for ballroom.


The Competitions

Around the country on Sundays there are typically many open competitions, which are governed by the rules of the British Dance Council (BDC).  A rulebook is available from the Secretary of the BDC.

Amateur competitions are divided into different age categories. In the UK, these consist of Juvenile (under 12 years), Junior (12 and under 16), Adult (16 years and over), Youth (which can be under19 or specific under 21 comps) and Senior (over 35) which is divided into Senior I (under 45), senior II (45-55) and Senior III (55+).

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. Rules are such that beginners and novice are limited to basic steps and beginners are limited to lounge wear (non competitive dress).  Some competitions act as qualifying rounds for larger annual competitions such as Britain’s Best, Stars of the Future and Champions of Tomorrow.  Selected competitions throughout the year are run as National ranking Events – see below.

Lists of competitions can be found in the weekly dance newsletter Dance-news, and many dates are in our calendar.


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 (see our info sheet for more detail), a system of marking based on the majority decision of the panel.

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 our useful info section.

National Ranking Events (NREs)

NREs are held around the country throughout the year and are used for the compilation of EADA charts. Points are awarded to couples according to their final position in the selected events in which they have danced.  The charts are then used by the Council to select couples to represent England in IDSF World & European Championships in each of the various age groups and also to select those couples who will be invited to elite squad training each year.

The calendar for NREs is decided by the chart committee.  The events themselves are hosted by promoters and must comply with EADA chart rules.  NREs often require entry in advance – please contact the promoter and don’t forget to take your EADA card to the event.

It is not necessary for a couple to participate in every NRE for their particular category or style in order to be ranked, although a minimum number of events is specified for each chart before a couple can have a ranking. The best results for any given couple are tabulated to determine their chart position, and the number of such results required varies according to style and category.  For more information about the number of competitions required for a ranking and the points awarded for placings please see the Charts section of the website.

Selection to represent England

Only members of Dancesport England will be selected to represent England in WDSF World & European Championships.  DSE use the EADA charts for selection.  See the Dancesport England website.

The World and European Championships are run under WDSF rules – age ranges are slightly different.  Rules and dates of competitions can be found on their website.

Age groups

There are different age groupings depending on the type of competition.  More information can be found in the information for members section.

BDC competitions - (EADA membership also follows these age groups)

  • Juvenile - Under 12
  • Junior - 12 to under 16
  • Youth - Over 16 to under19
  • Adult - Over 16 (no upper limit)

Your child might dance with someone who is a slightly different age. For Juvenile, Junior, Youth and Under 21, you cannot enter if either person in the partnership is older than the upper age limit.

Going up to a higher age group early: Under the BDC rules you can apply to the membership secretary to dance Junior with a 12-15 year old whilst you are under 12. Once you have danced in the higher age range you cannot normally go back to Juvenile.  Permission from EADA will need to be granted before you can do so. It is important, so please don’t take the decision lightly.  To seek permission contact Vicepresident [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk.

Under the BDC rules once you are 14 or 15 and as long as your partner is over 16 you can apply to dance Adult (in other words, Youth, Under 21 and Adult).  However once you have competed as an Adult you can never compete again as a Junior, so please think very carefully before making this decision.

Chart competitions - i.e. only for NREs

The basic difference is that in most cases the age category is defined by the year of birth, not birthdays.

  • Juvenile - under 12
  • Junior - From the start of the year you turn 12 to the start of the year you turn 16
  • Youth - from start of the year you turn 16 to start of the year you turn 19
  • Adult Over 16 (note not the start of the year but your birthday)

Again, your child may have a dance partner who is a slightly different age and in this case they be required to dance in a higher age category.

Going up to a higher age group early: You need to apply to go up early to Junior and should contact the Membership Secretary membership [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk if you wish to do so.  If your child is going to be 12 this year, but not yet had their 12th birthday, they can automatically choose to go up to Junior. However once they have danced in a Junior NRE, even if they split they cannot subsequently go back down to dance in a Juvenile NRE.

If your child is over 14 and wants to dance in a Youth NRE, their partner must be in the Youth age bracket and if you split they cannot then dance back in a Junior NSC. It is really important that you and your child consider very carefully before going up early.

For Adults, your child has to be over 14, and their partner over 16 and they are not permitted to dance Junior NREs again once they have competed in an Adult NRE.

WDSF competitions - (for international competitions)

These have slightly different age groups again.  See their website or the information for international competitors section.


Juveniles have strict rules regarding the costumes permitted for competitions.  We advise you speak to a professional or see the latest BDC rules (available from the BDC). 


Plain Black Trousers with either a normal waistline or a high waistband and made from a suiting type fabric or similar. A narrow black belt can be worn for latin. No satin stripes, satin waistbands or other decoration are permitted.

Plain White Shirt with a normal collar and no pleats or ribbing. Wing collars and extra full sleeves are not permitted. No satin or shiny fabrics are allowed and again no decoration in any shape or form.  Cuff fasteners should be buttons or small, plain cufflinks.  Sleeves may not be worn rolled up.  A Plain Black Tie should be worn for ballroom and sequence and a Plain Black Bow Tie for latin.

Plain Black Shoes, leather or patent. Small Cuban heels are often worn for latin.


A simple dress of one colour only or a leotard or plain blouse and full wrap over or circular skirt both of the same colour. No Sequins, lace panelling, bows, ribbons, buttons, motifs, Diamantes or other similar decoration is allowed. Pleated skirts are permitted. Skirts must be above the knee, but no more than 5cm above the top of the knee.   Only one underskirt is permitted.  Metallic threads or fabrics with lurex or glitter patterns are not permitted. Stretch lace fabric is allowed as is colour co-ordinated mesh or power net. However any see through materials used on the bodice must be fully lined from the waist to the shoulder line. See through fabrics are permitted to be used unlined on sleeves only. Body stocking or similar see through material inserts are not allowed nor are straps.  There is a list of permitted necklines for dresses and permitted styles of sleeves and skirts.

Block Heeled Shoes only with a maximum heel height of 3.5 cm are - no high heels are permitted. White ankle socks must be worn.

Parents are asked to be sensible in regard to hair styles and the amount of make up worn by juvenile girls. A small hair decoration such as a flower in the same colour as the dress is normally acceptable.  Tiaras and diamante decoration on the hair are not permitted.  Only jewellery of a “personal or religious nature” may be worn.


All Juvenile competitions and beginner and novice events at a Junior Level are restricted to basic steps only.  Professionals will be able to advise on what these steps are; we have also included a listing in our information for members section.

Other BDC rules


The BDC require all Amateurs who are doing demonstrations to register the demonstration with their Amateur organisation, whether or not it is for a fee.  Also please note any advertising must include the word Amateur.  Please ensure that if your child is performing a demonstration that you contact the Demo Coordinator on dems [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk  more information about how to register a demonstration can be found in the information for members section.

Travel and overseas comps

Please ensure if your child is competing overseas that it is in a registered IDSF competition and they have an up-to-date IDSF licence.  This can be obtained through travel [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk.

Losing Amateur Status

Please note that Amateurs are not permitted to do any teaching unless it is within the confines of the EADA Amateur Coaching Scheme (which is for over 16s).  Amateurs are permitted to star in film/TV extra roles with the permission of their Amateur organisation.

Child Protection Issues

Guidelines are in place to help protect children in sport:

  • videoing of under 16s may not be permitted
  • photographs of under 16s competing is only permitted by the parents or official photographers who have been granted a licence
  • competition venues should provide separate boy/girl changing and toilet facilities

Please be wary if posting photographs and/or videos of your child online - you may want to keep videos on a password protected site for example.  Helpful information about photos and videos of children can be found on the UK Athlete's website

EADA also recommend being vigilant when advertising for a partner for your child, particularly if this is online:

  • do not put up the personal e-mails, phone numbers or link to their profile on a social networking site for an under 16 on adverts.  Ask their dance teacher to be the point of contact.
  • do not put up ads with photos and contact information in the changing rooms/toilets of either sex
  • do not send photos/videos to a stranger
  • never allow your child to meet up or go for a try-out alone
  • always remember you can be friendly and cautious at the same time
  • if in doubt ask EADA for advice - we are here to help

Also see our child protection page and Albert Heaney's article in Dance Today for more information.  This article first appeared in the September 09 issue of Dance Today, the magazine for social and competitive dancers. Visit to find out more and to subscribe.

Contact Us

The EADA Office

Four Winds, Winchfield, Hants, RG27 8BT
Tel: 01252 843501 E-mail: secretary [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk

Parent rep
Albert Heaney
parent [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk
Child Protection Officer
Albert Heaney
childprotection [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk
Membership Secretary
Pat Fortin
membership [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk
Keith Hateley
training [at] eada [dot] org [dot] uk

Please also see our website and info sheets for members.  Also please feel free to use our discussion Forum to ask questions and seek advice from other parents.

Our links section gives links to numerous retailers and other dance organisations.

General advice from other parents

Coping at competitions - advice from Debbie Duke

Its normal for young children to have a short concentration span both in lessons and at competitions. Making sure they are not too tired, hungry or thirsty can help.  At competitions ensure they drink plenty of water through out the day and that they eat healthy snacks to keep up their energy and concentration levels. Bananas are always good. It also helps to take along a few distractions, ie portable computer games/ipods with earphones to keep them amused between rounds.

Children may find it hard to keep clothes clean, so an overwrap for the girls is useful as is taking a spare outfit, especially extra white shirts for boys. It can avoid a lot of stress and tears.

Mums of boys need to take plenty of safety pins, juveniles will probably not loose theirs but juniors who often insist on changing without mum inevitably leave pins in changing rooms from whence they miraculously disappear. A couple of needles, ready threaded with the colour cotton of the costumes, a pair of scissors and a small tube of superglue (for the soles/heels of shoes) may also be useful.