1. Smiling

If you watched two dance competitors of equal skill, but only one was smiling – you’d stick to watching that one.

2. Standing Tall

It doesn’t matter if you’re actually tall or not – competitive dancers that work on their posture can look gigantic (in a good way) on the dance floor when they stand tall.

3. Chivalry

Leaders guiding their dance partners on and off the floor.  Followers matching that by waiting for the leader, and allowing them to guide them off the dance floor.  It’s chivalry, and ballroom dancing has kept it alive.

4. Recovery

Try this: Compete. Fall down. Get back up… and you may get a standing ovation. OK, so maybe that’s going a bit far, but a bump, a stumble, or anything else can reveals more about your character, than your dance ability.

5. Your Number

Nothing will drive the dance judges crazier than not being able to mark someone because their number was difficult to see.

6. Clear Timing

Timing is one of the most objective things in dancing. It should be precise, and clear to the viewer.

7. Balance

It would be really tough to look your best while off balance. Depending too much on your dance partner can make you look less confident and, sorry in advance….  heavy.

8. Clean Footwork

Good footwork is essential to great dancing, but it should only highlight other nice things about your dancing.

9. A Frame

An overactive frame has a way of deactivating other important dance skills.

10. Strategic Costuming

You are being judged much sooner than you may realize.  A well planned costume that flatters your body type starts you on the positive side of things.

11. Picture Lines

There should be a few moments in your dance competition routine that are, in the words of Tonia Kosovich, “Diamonds”.  These are the pictures lines, the dips, the sways, the applause moments that you build up to.  Note: Your entire performance doesn’t need to be, and shouldn’t be, one non-stop diamond picture line.

12. The Basics

It’s important to point out that dance judges don’t know your choreography, but they are fluent in the basics. So if you want to keep their attention, speak a little of their language.

13. Less Fluff

You don’t get points for the things you attempt and can’t execute (like some other sports).  If you can’t do it on Time, on Balance, then shelf it until the next Dance-O-Rama®.

14. Body Rhythm

Have you ever tried running without moving your arms? Weird right? Well, it is awkward because your entire body is a physical machine. When your Latin dancing progresses, your Cuban Motion will take hold of more than just your hips, and that will activate the physical machine.  Eventually, not dancing with your arms and torso will feel just as weird.

15. Fun

Yep, you can fake a smile… but judges can see through that. What is tougher to fake is if you’re actually having fun. Being overly serious, looking upset, or just downright angry is off putting and doesn’t win you any “enjoyable to watch” votes.