Competition Etiquette

The following is a guideline to appropriate competition etiquette for all students and parents. Anyone displaying inappropriate behaviour will be disqualified from the event.....NO EXCEPTIONS!


1) Sportsmanship:

One thing you have to remember is that every single dancer works very hard to perform. Every parent wants their child to do well and be noticed. Every dance teacher works diligently so that their students perform to the best of their ability. Everybody at a dance competition has at least all of that in common. Therefore, YOU, as a student, parent, or teacher should clap for every single dance and every single award given if you are present in the auditorium. Dancers, you would want to be clapped for, so do the same for others. Appreciate the art- not just when YOU are being recognized. Teachers, set the example. Tell your students in advance how important it is to wish others good luck and clap for other dancers. Parents, try not to live vicariously through your dancer. Instead, appreciate every child for putting effort into their hobby. And by all means....please keep all you personal comments to yourself. Sitting in an audience or chatting in the foyer, you never know who may be sitting behind or beside you over-hearing your remarks. There is nothing more inappropriate or hurtful than this.

2) Backstage

  • In reference to sportsmanship, wish the dances before you and after you; “good luck”. When dancers come off stage, tell them that they did a “good job”. These words cost you no extra effort. In fact, you may even make a few friends. It doesn’t matter what studio they are from. They need encouragement just as you would. Your efforts will most likely be noticed and very much appreciated.
  • Do not block the wings to watch. Dancers often have wing changes, props, and/or run of after the dance. If you are sitting in the wings, you are in the way..... Simple as that. Be at least 3 feet away from the wings. If you are the next dance, you will most likely have time to enter the wings while you are being announced.
  • Be quiet. I know dancers get nervous backstage. However, that’s no reason to start laughing uncontrollably loud. Saying “shhhhhh” is a lot louder than tapping a person and whispering to them to remind them to hold the volume down.
  • Know your dance and be aware of your space. Do not decide to practice your entire dance backstage. Movement backstage is extremely distracting to other dancers. Not to mention, dangerous. You could hurt yourself and others by simply doing a grande jete or a pirouette. Stretching backstage usually means you’re in the way. Instead, consider stretching in the dressing room.

3) Dressing Rooms:

                  It’s common for studios to segregate themselves in the dressing rooms. That’s fine. However, be mindful of everyone’s space. Throw your trash away. Don’t touch anything that isn’t yours. Don’t practice dances full out.

4) Schedule:

                 Most competitions will schedule to either put numbers in between yours or accommodate for costume changes. Either way, competitions prefer to stay on schedule. If you have a decent number of dances close together, do your best to make it backstage a few numbers beforehand. If a competition runs late, it’s usually the dancers fault. It’s up to the dancer to change quickly and report backstage. Don’t make the backstage manager have to come find you. If you have 5-10 dances in between your numbers, now is not the time to check your cell phone, watch dances from the audience, run your dance, or sit back and relax. Change and wait backstage. Most costumes changes can be done in about 5 minutes or less if a dancer is really making the effort.

5) Awards Ceremony:

  • Even at the awards ceremony, you are performing. You are on stage. Do not bring your cell phone with you. Your texts and facebook status of your results can wait a few minutes.
  • Please remain in the costume you performed in (unless you have to make a quick change to another one). Do not enter onto stage in various stages of undress.
  • Please stand in a proper dancers stance for adjudications (feet together, hands behind back, pulled up tall and attentive.) Listen with respect to what your adjudicators have to say. Even if it’s the end of the day, please show them some courtesy. They have had just as long a day as you!
  • Leave room for the judges (or whoever is handing out awards) to walk. If you are asked to move over, please do so. There is plenty of room available.
  • When you are on stage dancing silly before the awards ceremony, there is no need to dance 2 inches behind the edge of the stage. You can be seen just the same 5 feet from the edge…plus you won’t break any bones from falling off.
  • We know you’re tired by this point, but you can be energetic for a few more minutes. This means clap for EVERYONE. Refer back to #1.
  • When accepting an award, an improper response would be to grab the award and walk away. A more acceptable response is a curtsy/bow toward the judge, handshake or hug, and ALWAYS a “Thank You”. It doesn’t matter if you get a bronze or a platinum. You need to show your gratitude toward the judges for taking the time to evaluate you.

6) On Stage:

  • Unless your top falls off, don’t stop dancing. If a costume piece falls off, try your best to discreetly get the piece off stage where you can fix it (if you are in a group ) quickly and keep going. You can continue dancing without a shoe or a headband.
  • Don’t lip sync unless it’s choreographed. In addition to this, a huge no-no is counting on stage. You should be able to count in your head. The only mouth movements you should be making are for facials.
  • It’s ok to look at the judges once in a while, but you are performing to the audience. Don’t stare the judges down. You need to perform to the back row of the audience.
  • Try not to hit the curtains when you are dancing. It is very distracting.
  • Absolutely no gum chewing, laughing, chatting or profanity of any kind will be tolerated both on and off stage.
  • If you have props- Please get them on and off stage as quickly and neatly as possible. Remember they must not be left in the wings. You will need to re-store them in the designated areas immediately before and after your performance.
  • Senior dancers....if you are around, it would be nice if you could assist the younger groups with their props.

7) Rehearsal Rooms:

                 Most competitions or festivals have an area that studios and dancers can go over their routines prior to their performance. Please be respectful of others while they are practising. Take turns and always allow those who perform on stage before you to practise first.

8) Competition:

                Please remember that competitions differ from festivals. Everyone receives a placement at a festival. Competitions usually only place 1st, 2nd & 3rd . Parents please make sure your younger children understand and are aware of this. Its hard when they come from festival where they may have received a gold, to a competition where they may not place. Competitions are not just about the trophies and medals. Competitions are about bettering yourself and challenging yourself. Therefore, you should participate in all of the available workshops and seminars at competitions. You should also take the time to watch dancers from other studios. Also, when you get home, ask your teacher if you can see the critiques so you can fix your mistakes for the future.  

9) Attitude:

              While a certain amount of confidence is required to perform on stage, there is a thin line between confidence and arrogance. Be gracious. You parents and teachers have worked extremely hard to get you to where you are today. Thank them before patting yourself on the back. Stay grounded, humble, and aware of other dancer’s feelings….and after all that, THEN be proud of yourself because everyone else is.

10) General Theatre Etiquette:

  • No photography of any kind is allowed in the theater.  This includes video, if you are caught you risk disqualifying the dancers you represent.
  • Please be courteous in the theater:
  • turn off cell phones
  • do not enter the theater when music is playing
  • do not walk up and down aisles while dancers are performing on stage
  • please applaud everyone with the same genuine expression
  • Never approach a judge with questions regarding an adjudication or mark.

Schedule of Events:

  •        Competition schedules provided are approximate times for solo’s/duo’s/trio’s and groups.
  •        Please try and arrive at least 1 hour before scheduled performance (even earlier if you are close to the beginning of your session or need to get hair and make-up done). You will need time to properly warm up and go over routines as well so don’t leave yourself short on time. There is nothing more stressful for both your dancer , fellow group members and teachers, if a student shows up 10 mins before they are supposed to be on stage unprepared.
  •        Please ensure you have gone through all your various costumes and have not forgotten any shoes, tights, hair  pieces , hats or costume items. Make a list and make sure to pack along extra tights, pins, bobby pins, elastic etc. Never assume someone will be able to supply you with these if you forget. 
  •        Get dressed and apply make-up as quickly as possible so everyone can use mirrors, washrooms, etc.
  •        Try to keep your garbage to a minimum by cleaning up after yourselves, dispose of tissue, empty pantyhose bags, bobby-pins, ECT in garbage cans provided.


Good luck to everyone. Remember to smile and most importantly to have fun!