Belly Dance Competitions from a Judges Perspective

Kat from Belly Dancer USA 2018

Kat from Belly Dancer USA 2018

Competitions can be a scary and challenging yet rewarding experience. It can give you feedback, new opportunities, and overall dance advice. As someone who has competed many times and now judges, I want to provide some perspective from the other side of the table.

Bring your A game, even for the small details.

If you are competing you are not only getting judged on your dance ability, but your costuming and makeup. Making sure your makeup and costume are well suited for your performance are an easy way to increase your score. Make sure your costuming is flattering and fits well. I doesn’t have to be an expensive costume, just make sure the fit to your body shape is good. Pick a costume that you are comfortable moving in and don’t feel restricted. Practice in the costume multiple times and learn the way it moves and if it will cause any problems with your choreography. For makeup, understand that more IS generally better. If you are unfamiliar with performance makeup or not talented with make up in general practice ahead of time. Explore youtube tutorials and reach out to other dancers who you admire their makeup skill. Maybe even take a class or workshop!

This is important to judges because it shows you are thinking of your performance as a whole entertainment experience. It also shows that you are either a professional belly dancer or are looking to become one.

Personality goes a long way.

Your personality is a huge part of your performance. Confidence, fun, and openness go a long way with audiences. The same goes for judges. An “average” dancer can win a competition with a strong personality and sense of entertainment. A “skilled” dancer can miss higher placements if their personality is lack luster. Remember that judges see a lot of dancers in a short period of time. Stick out by showing off the true you.

Judges work hard at being as fair as possible.

Judges want to be fair. They want to provide feedback that will grow your dance, not hinder it. If you are lucky enough to enter a competition that provides the judges written feedback, take things with a grain of salt but also don’t throw the advice out the window. Consider their point of view and don’t take anything to personal. If you do not get to see their notes, don’t let their expressions determine your mood and attitude. Keep smiling!

Most often, judges are also producers.

If you are just going to competitions to compete, you’re missing out! Most often the judges are movers and shakers in the dance community. They produce local shows, run festivals, book for restaurants, and book workshops. It is a good thing for your dance career to show off your talents. Put your best hip forward!

Kat teaches, dances, and produces shows in Tacoma, Washington. You can find out more about her belly dance classes, belly dance performances, and belly dance shows at

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Kat Ross