How long should a dance solo be

Choreographing for Competitions - Dance Informa Magazine

By Laura Di Orio of Dance Informa.

Dance competitions offer dancers the opportunity to perform on stage, complete with lights, makeup and an audience, and can provide them with immediate feedback on their performance skills and technical ability. The judges will rate all aspects of a dancer’s performance, including areas for improvement and also areas that are working well. Scoring highly in a competition can not only boost a dancer’s confidence but also pave the path for future competitions and performance experiences to come.

That said, though, the main goal of a competition is to win, right? So what are the key elements to a successful, winning competition routine? It may be more than just technical tricks. Here, Dance Informa speaks with two executive directors of leading dance competitions for their insight and advice on choreographing a winning competition routine.

What Matters Most?

Yes, the technical elements of a routine are important – Are the dancer’s feet pointed? Legs straight? Are steps done, and done well, on both the right and left side? Are the lines clean?

“A great ballet background spills over into all forms of dance,” says Drew Vamosi, owner and executive director of Leap! National Dance Competition. “The body lines that are developed through ballet give a cleaner and more developed look to any routine of any style of dance.”

A winning routine, however, will showcase not only a dancer’s technical strengths but also focus on the non-technical or subjective aspects of the performance.

“Judges will consciously and carefully scrutinize technical factors and add or deduct points based on their careful observations, but their overall opinion of the routine will be most affected by the showmanship aspects of the performance,” says Shawna David, executive director of World-Class Talent Experience.

Dancers need to show quality of movement, expression, musicality, a range of emotions and a sense of stage presence that captures the audience.

A group performs at a World-Class Talent Experience competition at The Palms Casino and Resort in Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of World-Class Talent Experience.

Highlight Strengths

Overall, a judge wants to see a dancer dance. Therefore, David recommends a choreographer or teacher to create a routine with innovative and interesting movements that showcase a dancer’s strengths and that allows him/her to connect to the music and audience.

“You should be sure to create movements that drive the dancer’s confidence,” she adds.

Likewise, Vamosi says, “A winning solo routine focuses on the talents of the individual. Always choreograph to that student’s best abilities. Do not add in movements that they cannot execute well. It will only make them more vulnerable to a lesser score.”

From personal judging experience, Vamosi says that he always looked for what the dancer could do. It may be a balance between showing the dancer’s best work and pushing them to grow as a dancer, but in the end a routine should have movements in which the dancer is solid.

In fact, David points out that if a dancer is not able to execute the movement well in the studio, the teacher or choreographer should modify the steps for the stage. It’s best to highlight the dancer in his/her strengths.

Music Matters

Vamosi says that choice of music is crucial. The dancer should love the music, and it should suit them and enable them the chance to shine. And to choreograph to the music, he recommends adding ascension and descension movements when possible.

“Let the music lead you when choreographing a piece,” he adds. “Too often a routine is filled with tricks that do not necessarily fit the music.”

Short and Sweet

A winning routine should also be short and sweet. For a solo routine, Vamosi recommends a piece be no longer than two minutes and 20 seconds. For a group routine, he suggests keeping it under three minutes.

“Longer is not better,” Vamosi advises. “Leave the judges wanting more! And be careful not to over-choreograph by cramming every step imaginable into the routine.”

Solo vs. Group Routines

Solo and group routines have some similarities and differences in terms of their success. Both should err on the side of being clean and polished rather than full of too many tricks that aren’t executed properly. More tricks don’t equal a higher score. There should also be a variety of movements in all routines.

For group routines, elements like spatial patterns, entrances and exits, and unity are very important and are obviously unique to group dances.

“With groups, the best thing to a winning routine is synchronicity and cleanliness, especially when it comes to the tap categories,” Vamosi says. “Practice makes perfect!”

He adds that using much of the stage is important for groups as well, as it gives a stronger visual dynamic.

David agrees. “In a winning group routine, there are many different layers that need to be applied to the piece,” she says. “Transitions on and off the stage are to be clear, concise and seamless. Variety of formations used in the routine will showcase levels, use of stage and creativity.”

Clean It Up With the Details

No matter the content of the routine, its entirety should be thoroughly examined to be as flawless as possible.

“It is a known fact that every act goes through a number of stages of development,” David says. “In the final stages, an act can be ‘good’, and merit a decent score, but in order for an act to rise above the threshold from ‘good’ to ‘great’, it takes an endless series of tweaks, an endless series of small modifications that lift the performance to a level of greatness. These small tweaks are hidden in the details of the content, performance, choreography, selection of music, costuming and appropriateness.”

A great, flawless routine isn’t necessarily created through running the piece over and over, however.

“You want to foster an environment where your dancers peak right before the competition,” David suggests. “It’s crucial to keep the routine fresh. Do not let your dancers get bored or too comfortable with the routine throughout the season. It’s important to remember that too much rehearsal can hinder the overall growth and development of the routine. It is a myth that repetition of the routine will clean and polish the routine.

Perform with Joy

Vamosi concludes that a dancer should show his/her love of dance when competing, as that will translate to the judges and audience. “Dance because you love it,” he says. “A judge loves nothing better than to see the dancers leave everything they have on the stage. Walk on with confidence and leave with pride!”

For a guide to the best dance competitions and conventions across the US, view Dance Informa’s Competition and Convention Guide below:








Photo (top): A solo competition routine, such as this one performed at a Leap! National Dance Competition, should highlight a dancer’s individual strengths. Photo courtesy of Leap! National Dance Competition.

Related Items:competition choreography, competition routine, dance competitions, dance tips, Drew Vamosi, Leap! National Dance Competition, Shawna David, World-Class Talent Experience

A Judge's Guide To A Solo -

We are smack dab in the middle of competition season and hopefully things are going well. Perhaps you’ve performed a solo this year and found out that it can be a ‘hurry up and wait’ kind of performance. You find yourself warming up over and over and waiting until your turn. The longest part of the weekend is by far the solo competition. It is also the when the judges see dancers at their most nervous. To do my best to calm your dancers’ nerves, I wanted to write today’s blog on what we, the judges, look for in solos. Brace yourself, it might not be what you think…


Entertain Me!

Like I mentioned in the introduction, solos take the most time of any category at competitions. You can find yourself against ten or more dancers of the same age and category. How are you supposed to stand out among the sea of soloists? Well, the answer is to simply entertain the judges to death! The judges want a dancer who keeps them locked in from beginning to end. Pull them in with your performance. When I was growing up, my dance teacher always told us, “Make them put their pencils down. ” In other words, you should be so entertaining, that you captivate your audience’s attention from beginning to end. This is an important skill and doesn’t come over night but, it’s something that will always get you noticed. Continue to think of ways you can draw in your audience with your facial expressions, style and originality. This can be applied to any style. Even a stark, serious Contemporary solo can entertain. A dancer with laser focus commands the stage and can sometimes leave the judges thinking about that performer for days to come.



It’s easier said than done to tell you to be confident on stage. I remember the days of my solos and feeling that super-charged nervous energy. The only way I got through it was to believe in myself and of course, put in the hard work and rehearse. The dancer must be prepared. Soloists should perform in front of other dancers, parents and of course, all teachers. The more prepared you are, the more confident you will dance. Keep your eyes up and projected out to the audience. Be completely committed to your performance. Try not to look off to the wings or down to the floor. Tell the story with your movement. Be so focused in your solo that if the fire alarm went off, you wouldn’t hear it.  I also think it’s important to be 100% you. Be your most authentic self on stage (Unless you are playing a character but, even then, you want to make your own unique character choices and not copy anyone.)  All the judges need to see is that you’re trying not to be anyone else. Think of it like this- your performance needs to be so authentically you that no one else could be on stage, let alone perform with you on stage hence, why it’s a solo.



When we rehearse routines like trios, small groups, large groups, lines or even productions, we are practicing for synchronicity. We make sure each body is moving at the exact same time, doing the exact same thing. In a sense, rehearsing groups is about togetherness. When we rehearse solos, it’s an entirely different goal. By rehearsing a solo, the teacher or choreographer is looking for clarity and details. Solos should be performed with clear and concise choreography. This doesn’t just pertain to turns, leaps and kicks. It means that those little in-between steps, the details, should be clear. Some examples might be to make sure you step in first position for a chainé turn or show that your arms come through first position before a grand jeté. It’s up to the soloist to then take these corrections and run with it. The soloist should have the discipline to apply and perform the details so that they are executed with each performance. Putting in the work to make steps clear and concise will make you look polished and prepared for the stage.


It’s not always about how many turns you can do or how high your legs go. It is about the quality of the dancer that always wins top score. In any competition, I can guarantee that the top dancer possessed qualities that entertained, pulled in and impressed the judges. Dancers must captivate with confidence and details. Your teachers are always helpful but, it takes the work of the soloist to put in the time and effort to make these things happen. You can do it but, you must put in the work!


Marissa Anderson is a performer, choreographer, teacher and adjudicator for StarQuest with over 20 years of experience in the dance industry. She also hosts, writes and produces her own podcast on iTunes called “Beyond the Mirror: A Dancer’s Podcast”.



How to choose the right skirt for dancing

How to choose the right skirt for dancing

Dancing is an unusually feminine activity. Especially if it's ballroom dancing - Latin American or European, it can also be salsa, bachata, solo latin, hustle or zouk. It doesn't matter what dance you do. Excellent mood, increased tone and a lot of new acquaintances are guaranteed to you. It is enough to go to just a few classes, and you will learn the basic movements. But the most important rule for you is to be beautiful. It largely depends on what kind of dance clothes you choose. nine0005

What dance skirts are for

The right dance skirt will effectively emphasize your beauty, femininity and body lines. When choosing skirts, you can use a combination with dance tops. So your image will constantly change.

A variety of materials, cuts and colors lead to a unique style without restrictions of freedom and comfortable movements. You will emphasize your own attractiveness and see how your emotions will intensify during the dance, as you will be pleased with your reflection in the mirror. If you like yourself, then others around you will certainly feel it. nine0005

Latin skirts

If you are a fan of Latin dance and are actively involved in the dance, experimentation is what you need. Latin dance skirt will allow you to create a unique look, depending on the situation:

  • extremely short skirt, fitting the hips and including just a couple of ruffles on the regiline, gives pomp;
  • A below-the-knee skirt with a high slit at the back will help create a strict classic look. In addition to being very stylish, you will be completely free to move and always attract attention. nine0018

For Latin dance classes, you can purchase special skirts of the following varieties:

  • An asymmetrical cut skirt made of multi-colored materials will look very impressive;
  • skirts decorated with fringes will look no less impressive, which will add volume to movements;
  • classic dance skirt made of one material will appear more diverse with a bright belt and embellishment. It can be a lush flower that will transform your image. For example, a gode skirt made of solid material looks great with red wedges, and you will be remembered for a long time. nine0018

When choosing clothes for dancing in the Komilfo online store, it is best to make a choice in favor of several models. We recommend that you purchase several skirts, such as a very short skirt or a very long one with adjustable length. You can choose a very simple skirt for training for every day, as well as extremely stylish, bright and noticeable. In the latter, for example, there may be a "tail". It can be a movable "sun" skirt in order to shine at parties.

European dance skirts

If you prefer European dancing, then your dance skirt should certainly be luxurious. In the Komilfo online store you can buy dancewear, ranging from simple knitted skirts with sophisticated elegance to more complex ones that harmoniously combine knitwear with lace.

This may be a skirt with slits, as well as numerous puffy flounces. Skirts with wedges effectively expand from top to bottom. As for the length, it can be up to the ankle and completely cover the shoes. The designs of the skirts are aimed at ensuring that the dances are unique, memorable and please, first of all, you. nine0005

The material from which the dance skirt is made is usually jersey combined with mesh, guipure or beautiful trim in the form of satin ribbons. Knitwear skirts are very practical, easy to wash and dry.

When you dance, you open up your body in a completely different way and try different looks. You definitely need to be nicely dressed. To do this, the catalog contains various skirts that are not only interesting and practical, but also very beautiful.

Komilfo, a well-known dance store in Moscow, will help you make your choice. You just have to experiment with the style, colors and length and be different every day. If you've always been a fan of classic style, it's time to change your look and opt for something a little more daring. This will help you experience completely different emotions and experience the art of dance in a new way.

Dance skirts

Dancing is incredibly feminine! Ballroom dancing - Latin American program, European program, salsa, solo latin, hustle, bachata, zouk - whatever you choose, you can be sure - you will definitely have a good mood, general body tone and new acquaintances! Having already attended several classes in the chosen direction, you will understand the basic rules, learn the basic movements. And for yourself, you should have one constant rule - be beautiful! nine0005

Your beauty, figure and femininity will be emphasized by your dancewear - and we suggest choosing dance skirts! When choosing skirts, you can combine them with various dance tops and constantly change looks. A huge variety of materials, colors, styles will help you create your own unique style without restricting freedom and ease of movement, emphasizing your attractiveness. All those emotions that you experience in the dance will be multiplied by the realization of how much you like your reflection in the mirror! If you like yourself, then others will like you too! nine0005

Latina skirts

If you are into latin - any dance from this direction - you can experiment endlessly; after all, here you can wear extremely short skirts that fit the hips and consist of only a pair of flounces on the regiline to add splendor; and another time you can surprise everyone with a strict classic - a skirt that is below the knee in length - but has a high slit in the back - incredibly stylish, does not constrain movements and attracts attention! For latin you can buy dance skirts with any asymmetry in cut; skirts that combine materials of several colors - it looks very impressive; skirts with fringe - during the dance, the fringe will look very impressive, and all movements will look more voluminous. If you have a classic dance skirt, made of one type of material, and it suddenly seemed boring to you - put on a bright belt, for example, with a decoration in the form of a lush flower - and you will immediately transform! There is such a skirt model - “gode” - even being made of a single-color material, it looks very impressive in motion, and if the wedges are made of a fabric of a contrasting color, you will definitely be remembered! There can never be many skirts - of course, when choosing clothes for yourself in a dance store, you will want to have different models. Buy a few - very short and very long (and it will be great if the length is adjustable on a long skirt), very simple (for a regular workout) and very bright and noticeable, maybe with a “tail” or a movable “sun” skirt - you you're going to party, aren't you? nine0005

European program skirts

If you are a European dancer, you can also buy a luxurious dance skirt! Starting from the simplest elegant knitted skirts to models that combine knitwear and lace, skirts with a slit, skirts with a lot of frills .

Learn more