Show Dance for Nationals

summary and tips regarding how to prepare a Show Dance for competition

Date added to ADN: Friday, Sep 12 2014
Originally Published: Friday, Sep 12 2014
By A. Caluen

Those of us who are DanceSport Athlete members of USA Dance have already seen notices about a new event for Nationals: a Freestyle-Showdance division. This event is an invitational, and for the past four years has not been in competition due to lack of submissions. If you are a competitive couple in an "open" proficiency level, preparing a show dance could be a fun new challenge.

The Freestyle-Showdance is exactly what you would think: a solo routine performed to preselected music. The biggest considerations for amateur dancers interested in preparing a routine are the following rules (more detail available in the USA Dance Rulebook – free download from

  • Competitors from all four disciplines may enter: International Standard, International Latin, American Smooth, or American Rhythm; all will dance against each other in a single event (as on "America's Ballroom Challenge").
  • Submitted routines must be between 3:30 and 4:00 in length, excluding entrance and exit, with a maximum of 30 seconds for entry prior to beginning the dance and a maximum of 30 seconds for exit after concluding the dance, with a brief coda of music permitted to underline the couple's exit.
  • Each routine must, to be considered for competition, include sections of choreography representing at least three of the dances included in the couple's discipline. For example, a couple entering an American Rhythm routine must include some combination of Rumba, Cha-Cha, East Coast Swing, Bolero, and/or Mambo. In other words, it can't be three minutes of Charleston or Lindy or West Coast Swing with a few East Coast Swing figures thrown in.
  • At least 75% of each routine's choreography must represent the dances selected from the discipline. Thus, for the illustrative four-minute Rhythm routine, at least three minutes must represent the selected dances, while up to a minute may involve elements of other dances and styles.
  • Props are not permitted - that is, nothing that must be carried on or off the floor and/or is not part of the performers' costume.
  • Lifts are permitted - a maximum of three lifts per performance, but only in the transitional elements between dances, and not exceeding two measures of music or 15 seconds in duration each. A lift is defined as any movement in which a dancer has both feet off the floor at the same time with the assistance or support of his/her partner. (For anyone who watches DWTS, this helps make clear why it is not considered a "lift" if the partner is being assisted or supported, but at least one foot is on the floor. It's a trick, yes - but not a lift.)
  • Thus, for the exemplary Rhythm routine, a couple might choreograph a 15-second passage of mambo or tango; transition with a 1st 15-second lift to one minute of cha-cha; then transition with a 2nd 15-second lift to one minute of rumba; then transition with a third and final 15-second lift to one minute of bolero for a total of four minutes.
  • One important detail not made clear in the rulebook: the various styles of music must be set at competition tempi. That is, the rumba should be 32-36 mpm (measures per minute), the cha-cha 30 mpm, and the bolero 24-26 mpm.
  • Finally, the Showdance is an invitational. Because NQEs are not required to offer a Showdance division, prospective Showdance competitors must submit a representative portion of their routine on video.

The Freestyle-Showdance event is considered a championship-level event, suitable for couples already well advanced as competitors. Showdance winners at Nationals will be eligible to compete in the World DanceSport Federation's Showdance division.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the AccessDance Network. Be aware that imagery is copyrighted and often licensed for use on AccessDance only. Copying of images is strictly prohibited.

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USA Dance (Los Angeles County) Chapter #4031

Los Angeles, CA 90078

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