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Competition Advice

How do I get involved?


You will be invited by Miss Stalder to be part of the festival team. If you would like to express an interest in competing please speak to Miss Stalder.


Can anyone do competitions?

No, not anyone.

You must be enrolled in a full timetable at Stalder Academy and be part of out team training classes which include Ballet, Modern Jazz, Conditioning,Tap, and Contemporary along side your regular classes. 

You must work hard in class and be willing to practice at home every day, not just on your dances but working on your strength, flexibility and stamina as well.

You must be polite and respectful to your teachers and fellow pupils at all times.

A good attendance record in classes and rehearsals is imperative. If you miss a group rehearsals you may loose your place in the group. 

You must make every effort to eat healthily and look after your body. Remember you only have the one!

You must be willing to accept a challenge and tackle it head on. In a lot of your dances you will learn new skills and techniques you would not learn in your regular classes. If you are easily phased by new challenges this is not for you.

You must love to perform! The whole purpose of being on a stage is to entertain and move the audience. If you don't love it, don't do it!


What dances will I learn?


In Festivals we compete in the following subjects:



  • Classical Ballet

  • Stylised Ballet

  • Character

  • National

  • Classical Greek

  • Contemporary


  • Modern

  • Lyrical

  • Tap

  • Song and Dance / Musical Theatre


  • Acro

  • Own Choreography

  • Impromptu

  • Vocal


At first you will most likely be asked to learn a solo dance. the style of the dance will depend on where your strengths lie. If you work hard in lessons and practice at home you will be able to learn more dances until you have built up a portfolio of dances to compete with. Each genre takes reserach and you should study the subject further to aid your portrayal on stage.  


How much does it cost?


It can be expensive at first. Competing is not a cheap hobby.

Costs to consider are:


  • Private lessons: 1/2h slot from £10

  • Costumes: Competition costumes are not fancy dress. They are usually made to measure to suit your solo. National and character costumes and classical tutu's can be especially elaborate but are essential to doing well in a competition.

  • Competition fees: Competition fees range from £3.50-£15.00 per entry. American style competition fees are much higher. An average solo entry for a stage festival is £5.

  • Travel expenses: Most competitions are in the North West area but we also compete further afield with our more advanced dancers.


Do all dancers compete at all festivals?


No. In some competitions we will only enter our more experienced dancers and some competitions you have to qualify for; but our whole festival team will compete in one competition a year min. Details of all our festivals will be given to you when you join the team or are looking into joining the team. 


How does a Stage Festival Work?


When you first start to compete you will be known as a Novice. Novices are dancers who have not been placed 1st (in some festivals 2nd and 3rd) in that particular subject at any other festival. 


Novice sections can work in either of two ways.


Novice Classical (Junior/Inter/Senior) covers Ballet, National, Character, Greek

Novice Cabaret (Junior/Inter/Senior) covers Modern, Tap , Song and Dance


Some Festivals will have separate Novice sections for each subject.

Junior Novice Ballet, Inter Novice National, Senior Novice Modern etc


Once you move into Open sections they are decided as follows:


Class A    age 6+7

Class B    age 8+9

Class C    age 10+11

Class D    age 12+13

Class E    age 14+15

Class F    age 16-21


Some festivals have slightly different age brackets. The ages are usually taken on the 1st day of the festival but some take it from 1st of September for the All England qualifying year. 


What are challenges and Championships ?


Challenges are held at the end of a festival and only open to dancers who have competed in the appropriate open section in that festival. They are another chance to dance your solo's and to compete in a larger section. Trophies are awarded to the winner and the runner up.

Not all festivals have challenges. Some have their own extra sections at the end of the festival and some have non at all. 

Championships are generally larger events with a wider age range and held in a few subjects only. Entry can be a lot more expensive but if you win you would gain the title for the year. 

Championships are geared towards the experienced performer and come with a very high standard. 

All the subjects explained

Here you will find a brief description of each dance style and what adjudicators may look out for:



Ballet and Stylised Ballet 


This most traditional of dance forms is the basis for all dance. It's technique is pure and precise and takes decades to master. Turn out and beautifully stretched legs and feet is what adjudicators will look for, as well as a poise and presentation.


Modern Jazz and Lyrical 


Modern comes in many forms. Lyrical, Jazz, Dynamic, Characterised... whichever style you compete with you must try and captor the audiences attention and fill that stage with all your personality. Adjudicators look for conviction in performance, strong dynamics, beautiful legs and feet and controlled arms and core strength to support your performance. Impressive skills to work on are: Multiple and complex turns, various leaps and innovative shapes.




Tap is all about sound and rhythm. Tap is stylish and confident and the feet and legs need to relax in order to achieve quality of sound. The top half makes it all look effortless and supports the rhythms which are created by the feet.


Song and Dance /Musical Theatre 


This is definitely a triple threat subject. You must be equally strong in dance, song and acting ability to get across the story and emotion of a song. Vocal lessons are strongly advised to help this subject.




National is a dance from a specific country. European countries are the most popular however we increasingly see more far eastern countries being represented. The most important thing in a National Dance is to be as authentic as possible both in choreography and costuming. You have to create an atmosphere so as to make people feel they are in your chosen country. A great deal of research goes into each national and the dancer must familiarise his/herself with customs and ways of life in that country.




This is the story telling subject. Although this is a classical subject and must be based on classical ballet technique, steps are stylised to fit the character you are portraying. Acting is on the forefront and a winning performance will be judged on both classical technique and a strong story; and the ability to transform yourself into someone completely different. You must be able to completely submerge yourself in your character.


Classical Greek


This is probably the least well known of theatre subjects. It has a technique all of its own which was derived by Ruby Ginner. It is based on ancient greek mythology and on the natural movements of the body. There are loads of different styles, from the flowing Lyrical, to the strong and dynamic Athletic and the exciting and energetic Bacchic. Best of all is that whichever style you are working on there are loads of opportunities to use your drama skills and expressive qualities. Greek is danced in bare feet and often uses a prop.


Based on a style and technique such as Graham or Cunningham this style is free in movement and based around a theme, word or feeling. 




This solo will be filled with impressive tricks and tumbles and all be smoothly linked with dance steps.

Acro requires strength, stamina and flexibility at a much higher level but is very exiting to watch and learn.




In an Impromptu section the class assembles on the stage and draws the order in which they will dance. Then the adjudicator will play a music of his/ her own choice. All the dancers listen to the piece of music and exit the stage. Each dancer will hear the piece of music one more time before dancing to it on the stage. There are both classical and cabaret impromptu sections and they are great practice for improvisation and choreographic skills.


Own Choreography


This can be entered as a solo, duet, trio or group and must be totally the students creation. From song choice to choreography and costuming it is all created by the dancer.


Vocal sections the performer sings and only sings, all dance moves are taken away and the section is purely based on the voice and vocal technique. 


What can I do to be successful in competitions?


  • Practice, practice practice! (if you are easily bored this is not for you!)

  • Believe in yourself! 

  • Stretch every day!

  • Do 100 sit ups a day!

  • Do your research (especially in National, Greek and Character solos)

  • Listen to your parents and teachers! We are all here to support you.

  • Apply and retain corrections!

  • Attend classes regularly.

  • Be inspired! Make an inspiration board to put on your wall with all your favourite dancing pictures and other things that might inspire you.

  • Keep a dancing diary! This is an invaluable tool to keep track of your progress, make notes of corrections given in class and log your extra practice time.

  • Dare to aim high! Nothing is impossible!

  • Never say "I Can't!" !

  • Get enough sleep!

  • Fuel your body right!


Will I win a competition?


If you work hard enough you will win. How long it takes depends on a number of factors: 

  • How many hours of practice you put in. 

  • What the adjudicator likes and / or is looking for.

  • How you are feeling physically on the day.

  • How confident you are and how much you believe in yourself.

  • How much you are able to focus on the day of competition.

But no matter what you should always aim to dance your best when you are on that stage.








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