Pictured above: A behind the scenes look from our adjudication table as one of our DECAdance soloists receives their live critique!




Age Divisions:

Petite: 6 and Under

Mini: 7 - 9

Junior: 10 - 12

Teen: 13 - 15

Senior: 16 - 19

Dancers will compete in the category of their age as of January 1st.

DECAdance competition levels are not determined by hours of class taken in a week; they are based upon skill.

DECAdance Competition Levels:

Debut: dancers new to competition or demonstrating the fundamental skills below

Intermediate: skill-based as described below

Advanced: skill-based as described below

We are happy to answer questions to help you decide which level is best suited for your dancer(s). The following guidelines will help you get started:

Debut: This division is a great place for dancers new to the world of competition and/or demonstrating a fundamental understanding of the fundamentals of dance. Routines may include single turns, basic leaps/jeté, cartwheels, walkovers, backbends, leg stretches, basic straight forward timing, basic tap combinations, minimal formation and level changes.  Debut tap dancers may execute rudimentary tap steps/combinations. Phrasing should be basic and not syncopated.

Intermediate: Dancers in this division demonstrate a moderate understanding of fundamentals of dance with added difficulty in rhythms and timing. Double/triple turns or up to 5 consecutive turns, turns in second, basic switch leaps, side leaps, back handsprings, side aerials, pancake, handspring step out, double timing, more intricate formation/level changes, toe rises/drops, single turn holding the leg. Intermediate tap dancers execute progressive tap combinations with clarity, timing, accuracy and musicality; beginning intricate footwork and rhythms, time steps, maxi turns, cramp roll turns, paddle turns, pullbacks and wings.

Advanced: Dancers in this division demonstrate a significant understanding of fundamentals of dance with significant added elements to enhance technique and overall performance. Triple+ turns, fouettes, turns in second changing direction, switching side leaps, switching sissones, tumbling out of turn sequences, front aerials, tucks, layout step outs, half, fulls, pancake, syncopated timing, intricate formation changes and level changes, multiple turns holding the leg. Tap dancers cleanly execute complex tap combinations with clarity, timing, accuracy and musicality, displaying intricate footwork such as pullback sequences, time step sequences, wing combinations, intricate quick rhythms executed in syncopation.

  • Turn sequences exceeding 5 or more turns will be considered advanced.

  • Routines with mastery of an advanced skill, excessive speed, intricate patterns and rhythms will be considered advanced.

  • Routines with tumble passes out of multiple turns, tucks and multiple switching leaps will also be considered advanced.

    • If a skill is advanced and is not executed with mastery, it can be considered an intermediate routine.

About our DECADistinctions Monitor and moving routines:

We staff a DECADistinctions Monitor at every event who carefully watches every routine. It is their responsibility to consult with all four specialty judges if they feel a routine needs to be moved up or down to the appropriate skill level. If all five judges unanimously agree that a dance should be moved up or down to the appropriate level, the routine will be moved to that level and scored accordingly.

Dancers may compete in multiple levels. As soloists, they cannot win title in more than one division. 


With our DECAdistinctive method of adjudication, dancers and their choreographers get more genre-specific technique scores plus they are guaranteed to receive feedback from a pre-screened judge who is an expert in the genre they’re competing in -
because we staff every judge’s panel to ensure it. ACRO, TAP, + HIP HOP INCLUDED! For a detailed description of our distinctive scoring system with weighted technique scores, please click here.

Every routine will be scored by four judges. Each judge will have a total score of 75 points.

Adjudication Breakdown:

Technique: 25

Performance: 15

Level of Difficulty: 10

Choreography: 10

Presentation: 10

Age Appropriateness: 5

The technique score from the judge that specializes in each specific genre carries a higher rank in the overall tabulation - and their critique is even offered live for soloists in that category. For instance, a group jazz routine will receive critiques and scores from all four judges, but the technique score from the judge designated to the jazz genre carries more weight. If the piece is a solo, in addition to the weighted technique score from the jazz judge, the dancer receives 30-45 seconds of live feedback from that jazz-specific judge.

We are happy to answer any questions about this method of scoring! We've also provided a detailed explanation here.

In the event of a tie, the technique score will be used.



DECAdent Diamond: 295 - 300

Diamond: 289 - 294.9

Platinum: 279 - 288.9

High Gold: 269 - 278.9

Gold: 259 - 268.9

High Silver: 258 & Below

Intermediate & Debut:

Diamond: 289 - 300

Platinum: 270 - 288.9

High Gold: 260 - 269.9

Gold: 250 - 259.9

High Silver: 249.9 & Below

DECAdent Choreography Award: recognizing the routine that the judges feel exemplifies extraordinary choreography. All group routines are eligible.

DECAdent Entertainment Award: recognizing the routine that the judges felt was most entertaining and executed with abundant performance energy. All group routines are eligible.

DECAdent Dancer Award: recognizing dancers who stand out because of their passion and execution as well as commitment to their piece.

DECAdent Technique Award: recognizing the studio with the overall highest technique score. Overall technique is determined by the 5 highest scoring group routines from each studio. This award will be presented in the intermediate and advanced divisions.

DECAdance Special Awards are a creative celebration of any and all routines that our DECADistinctions Monitor & Special Awards Judge feels called to recognize. All five adjudicators may weigh in on DECAdance Special Awards during each session. They are a fun and fabulous way to build confidence in performers of all ages and levels.

Highest Scoring: The highest scoring routine in each genre will also be recognized! The following genres must have more than 3 entries in order to be recognized.

  • Acro

  • Ballet/Pointe

  • Contemporary/Lyrical/Modern

  • Jazz/Jazz Fusion

  • Hip-Hop

  • Tap

  • Musical Theatre/Open


All Soloists in the Intermediate and Advanced divisions are eligible for title. To determine the DECAdance Title Winner, the highest scoring solo routine in each genre is selected. If there is a dancer with multiple highest scoring solos, the highest is eligible. From those routines, the top three highest technique scores determine the 2nd Runner Up, 1st Runner Up and Title Winner. DECAdance Competition does not divide title by gender.


  • If a dancer has multiple solos, only the highest scoring solo can place in the overalls.

  • Top overalls will be awarded to solos, duo/trios, groups, lines and productions that have a minimum of three routines in each division.

  • Select winners will be awarded additional scholarships, prizes and opportunities at the discretion of the judges. All dances are eligible.


Every entry will be placed in one of the following categories based on the descriptions that follow:

Solo: 1 Dancer

Duo: 2 Dancers

Trio: 3 Dancers

Small Group: 4-9 Dancers

Large Group: 10-17 Dancers

Line: More than 18 Dancers*

Production: More than 18 Dancers**

*Routines entered as a Line are to be entered as one style of dance AND only have zero to minimal handheld props.

**Routines entered as a Production can have multiple styles of dance and will compete under the "Production" title. Productions can include props, sets and scenery etc.

Please note, that Line and Production routines will not be combined in overall awards.


Routines must be performed 75% in the registered genre.

We cap acro tricks at 3 per routine unless registered as an Acro, Acro Contortion or Open piece. Acro tricks are counted when the dancer is upside down and their feet have left the floor. Tumbling passes count as multiple acro tricks. Transitional movements are NOT considered acro tricks. 

About our DECADistinctions Monitor and moving routines:

We staff a DECADistinctions Monitor at every event who carefully watches every routine. If they count 4 or more acro tricks in a non-Acro/Open piece or they feel a routine with multiple styles is better adjudicated in the Open category, it is their responsibility to consult with the specialty judge of the category a dancer is competing in and the specialty judge of the category they feel the piece should be moved to. If all three judges agree a routine needs to be moved into a different genre, the routine will be moved to that genre and scored accordingly with the specialty judge of the correct genre holding the weighted technique score. Studios will be notified before awards of routines moved.

Student Choreography:

DECAdance welcomes and encourages student choreographers to bring their pieces to competition. We staff a specialty Student Choreography judge at every event. Student choreography will be registered in the style/genre of the piece so that the weighted technique score is from the genre-specific judge pertaining to their piece. They will receive specific choreography feedback, advice and critiques from both of these judges, while our other two judges will critique as normal with focus on technique, performance, etc. Please notify DECAdance that the piece is a student choreography piece so it can be adjudicated accordingly.

Please register dances in accordance with the following genres/styles of dance. We are happy to help with this if you have any questions at all.

Acro: Routine containing acrobatic and gymnastic moves. Choreography must also contain 50% dance technique.

Acro Contortion: Routine contains extreme flexibility and expression of extended control in over stretched positions. Balancing canes, silks and other apparatus can be used in this category. Acro/tumbling passes are acceptable in this category.

Ballet: Routine consisting of classical ballet movement and technique. No acrobatic tricks are permitted in this category.

Character: Dancers must portray an easily recognizable character or perform a themed dance with a storyline.

Contemporary: Routine consisting of a fusion of contemporary jazz/lyrical technique.

Ethnic/Folk: Routine containing a cultural dance (ie African, Bollywood) or folkloric choreography.

Hip Hop Commercial: Routine consisting of mostly hip hop or street style moves that would be found in modern pop music videos and culture. Routine may contain more jazz influence.

Hip Hop Street: Routine consisting of mostly hip hop or street style moves that are rooted in grooves, popping, locking, tutting, breaking.

Jazz: Routine consisting of primarily jazz technique including stylized technique and/or classic jazz transitions.

Jazz Funk: Routine consisting of primarily jazz technique and some hip hop influence.

Lyrical: Routine that is choreographed to the lyrics of a song and demonstrates connection to story as well as balance, extension, isolations and control.

Modern: A form of dance based on interpretation or other origins of dance, performed in an abstract or contemporary mode. Technique should emphasize contract and release, fall and recovery and horizontal movements developing the relationship with the dancer and the floor.

Musical Theatre: Routine choreographed to a song from a Broadway or movie musical.

Open: Routine consisting of more than one style of dance or that does not fit into any other category. Routines that contain more than three acro tricks may be moved to this category if they are registered as a genre other than Acro, Acro Contortion, or Open. Vocal may compete in this division.

Pointe: Routine containing pointe technique. At least 50% of the performers must be on pointe. Category only available in the Intermediate and Advanced Levels. No Acrobatic tricks are permitted in this category.

Tap: Routine consisting of tap technique and rhythms. No prerecorded tap sounds allowed. Tap shoes must be worn to perform.


All season long, DECAdance Competition will recognize the highest scoring group routine of each event in the Intermediate and Advanced levels for 12 and under and 13 and over. All highest scoring advanced routines will be eligible for the LEGACY CUP. After the final regional event of the season, the three highest scoring advanced group routines from the entire season will be announced. At our Nationals event each summer, we will announce the WINNERS of the LEGACY CUP in the 12 and under and 13 and over age categories. If one of the contending studios is attending our Nationals event, they will also perform before our DECADance-Off!

Legacy Cup recipients will house the physical award in their studio for the rest of the calendar year. All Legacy Cup winners will receive a plaque to display in their studio for years to come, reminding them of all their Dedication, Education, Creativity and Artistry as a team!



Every DECAdance event has four judges on the panel who offer adjudications and critiques PLUS a fifth judge who focuses on Special Awards and monitors routines to ensure they align with all DECAdance policies. Each judge's panel is staffed with a combination of our DECAdance in-house judges and judges from Impact Dance Adjudicators.

Each judge's panel is carefully staffed to ensure all genres being performed have a corresponding specialty judge who can offer both live and recorded critiques - including specialty genres such as acro, tap and hip hop. The corresponding specialty judge for each genre will also carry a higher technique score for each routine performed in that genre. For example, if a Jazz routine is on stage, the judge specializing in Jazz will have a score that is weighted slightly higher in the technique category of adjudication. Additionally, all soloists will receive a live critique after their performance on stage by their specialty judge. Read more about this distinctive genre-specific method of scoring and critiquing here.

DECAdance in-house judges and Impact Dance Adjudicators are educators first, and they are all background-checked, pre-screened and highly qualified. All dances will compete in their registered category and if any dance does not follow the guidelines for each level, DECAdance reserves the right to place any and all dances in the category or level the judges deem appropriate to ensure a fair and level playing field for all competitors. If our Routine Monitor and/or all four judges on the panel unanimously decide that a dancer should be moved up a level, the studio director will be notified.

DECAdance stands firmly behind dancers dancing to age appropriate music, in age appropriate costumes and performing age appropriate movement. If age appropriateness is neglected, that will reflect in the score the dance receives.

DECAdance reserves the right to disqualify any number that is deemed inappropriate. In the event disqualification is the action, the choreographer/studio director will be contacted directly in regards to the matter. DECAdance Competition reserves the right to withhold the release of any photos or videos that are deemed inappropriate.


Music will be uploaded through the registration portal. Studio directors are advised to provide backup copies on iPod/iPad/CD.

All music must be uploaded no later than 7 days prior to the event. Any music uploaded within 7 days of the start time of the event will be subject to a $25 late fee. If you have any difficulties, please contact us at info@DECAdanceCompetition.com.

Time Limitations:

Solo: 2:45

Duo/Trio: 3:00

Small & Large Groups: 3:00

Line: Up to 6:00

Production: Up to 10:00

Any routine needing additional time must contact DECAdance directly.

$1 per additional minute per dancer.


No props should exceed 8 feet.

No liquid or fire.

Any items needing to be swept must be removed by a representative from the performing studio.

Props should be set up within 2 minutes of the first piece entering the stage and removed within 2 minutes from the time the dancers exit the stage. Prop set up and removal times that are exceeded will result in a point deduction in the overall score from each judge.


All studios planning to attend a DECAdance event must hold their spot with a $500 deposit. Full payment must be received 30 days prior to the event. Payments after the deadline will be subject to a 10% late fee. Payments can be made via check, Venmo or credit card.

In the event a deposit is made and you do not submit payment by the event registration deadline, the deposit is non-refundable. In the event you need to cancel your reservation for a DECAdance event, that deposit can be rolled over into a later event within the same season.

Flexible deposit and payment options are available. Competition events must be paid for 10 days in advance. In-studio convention events must be paid in full 48 hours prior to the event. Events canceled or postponed due to state guidelines will be refunded. Deposits are non-refundable but can always be used for future competition events or in-studio convention events within the same season/year.

Any routines not paid for in full by the day before the start of the event will not be permitted to compete.


For the safety of dancers, please refrain from having multiple teachers backstage. We also ask that parents refrain from the check-in and backstage areas. After the completion of your studio's routine please clear the backstage area.

Studio staff will have DECA ID tags. This will allow you backstage and up at the booth in the case of emergency or technical issue.

Security staff will be placed throughout the venue to ensure that doorways, halls and other entry and exit routes are clear in the event of an emergency.


All DECAdance events will be professionally photographed and recorded. These files are included at no additional cost.

All studio directors will have access to photos, videos and judges critiques within 30 days of the event.

All files will be password protected for the safety of each and every dancer.

No photography or videography is permitted.

Any studio filming another studio's routines will be disqualified from overalls and compete for adjudication only.

Any person filming routines from another studio will be asked to leave the premises.

Any event that is live streamed will be password protected for the safety of the dancers.

This information is not shared publicly by DECAdance Competition.

Please contact your studio owner directly for any links for photos, videos and livestreams.

All events are intended to be live-streamed. Each venue holds certain limitations on internet and there is no guarantee that the livestream will be available for every event.


We are proud to partner with these amazing industry leaders who are paving the way for a healthy and inclusive dance industry for ALL. Not just dancers, but adjudicators, studio owners, artistic leaders, educators, families and their communities as well.

Read more about our partnerships and their contributions to DECAdance Conventions and Competitions here!


If you are ready to reserve a competition date or have any questions, let us know!

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