Will A New Judging System Change The Way We Dance?


There is a saying: “You can not manage what you do not measure”. For dancesport competitors, the measurement is generally placement in a competition. This works well, but there is hardly a competitor who has never been puzzled by the placement given by one or more adjudicator, or by their placement relative to another one or more couples.

A new judging system has been introduced by the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) which may address this:

Advertisement[pro_ad_display_adzone id="5759"]


  • The new system that was introduced by the WDSF for testing in December 2009.
  • It was based on a system used by the International Skating Union.
  • The objectives were and are to improve judging transparency and objectivity and to provide additional feedback to competitors.
  • Many also believe that an additional objective is to increase the likelihood that dancesport will gain a place on the schedule of the Olympic games given that is has been recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since 1997. The WDSF is the governing body for dancesport with respect to the IOC.
  • In March 2013, several changes were launched based on the feedback in field testing. The revised system is referred to as Judging System 2.0.
  • 2.0 is used at all competitions of the GrandSlam Series, in Latin and Standard events of The World Games and of the WDSF World DanceSport Games. The intent is to expand its use to all WDSF events.

The Main Differences Between 2.0 and Traditional DanceSport Judging

  • In tradition judging, the winner is selected, and others are ranked based on a comparison of the competing couples by the adjudicators. In ranking the couples, each adjudicator considers all dancing components, in sum.
  • In 2.0, each adjudicator gives a score to each couple based on the judging component that adjudicator was assigned to judge. The assignment  of adjudicators only happens immediately before the competition heat. The winning couple is the one that earns the highest overall score.


The Components and Criteria of 2.0

There are four judging components. Two components cover the technical aspects of performance, and the other two assess artistic qualities. The components and criteria are as follows:

Technical Components
  1. Technical Quality – TQ
    • Posture and poise
    • Balance (static/dynamic; individual/couple)
    • Bodyline, shape, design
    • Positions and transitions
    • Hold(s)
    • Coordination of movement
    • Actions (both general and style specific)
    • Dynamic (Flow, weight, timing, space)
  1. Movement to Music – MM
    • Time
    • Tempo
    • Rhymic structure
    • Phrasing
    • Timing
    • Musicality

Artistic Components

  1. Partnering Skill – PS
    • Physical connection
    • Communication without physical connection
    • Appropriateness
    • Effectiveness
    • Consistency
  1. Choreography and Presentation – CP
    • Well balanced choreography (content, space, partnering, level of difficulty)
    • Atmosphere
    • Creativity
    • Expression
    • Interpretation

Dancer's Hand2

The Meaning of Scores

Scoring is from 1-10 with half points possible

10 = outstanding

9 = superior

8 = very good

7 = good

6 = above average

5 = average

4 = fair

3 = weak

2 = poor

1 = very poor

  • The average score among the adjudicators assigned to a particular component is used.
  • The lowest and the highest score counts for only 50% towards the average.

How 2.0 Is Structured In Competitions

  • Couples in a final perform 2 solo dances, then one group dance, then another solo, and finish with another group dance.
  • Prior rounds remain group dances only.
  • Dances are randomly assigned as either solo or group.
  • 3 adjudicators are assigned to each component, for a total of 12 adjudicators per heat.
  • Software is used to support the input and calculation of scores.


Will 2.0 Change The Way We Dance?

1st Pro: This system enables competitors to get valuable feedback and have a better understanding of their placement.
1st Con: Is there a risk of competitors giving too much weight to feedback in a single major competition since the system is currently used in only a few competitions?

2nd Pro: Adjudicators have ample time to focus on a specific criteria for each competitor, and each couple is individually showcased in the final.
2nd Con: The structure of the final means it will take up a lot of time, given 3 solos for each couple.

3rd Pro: The components are clear, which helps in structuring development plans prior to competition. Plus the results give directional feedback so competitors can work on the specific components where their scores are lower.
3rd Con: Some adjudicators currently do not give much if any weight to choreography outside of showdance, theatre arts or cabaret, and the majority given the most weight to technical quality.  In this system, technical quality and choreography and presentation appear equal. With this, will the quality of dancing change? With the quality of performance change? Does this approach make this system only applicable for the highest levels of dancing where technical quality is already extremely high?

4th Pro: More coaches may increasingly specialize in one or another component making it clear who to go to,  for what issue.
4th Con: Will that specialization weaken their skills or their interest in other components and make things more complicated for students? Will more specialization make coaching relationships less consistent?

Let Us know what you think in the Comments Below!

Author: Miss P [Celebrate DanceSport]
Photography: Egorich.ca
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review