How To Put On A Showstoppin' Performance With Advice From Showstopper's Judges

Sponsored by Showstopper
December 2, 2018

sees all different dancers from across the world at their dance competitions. They understand sometimes it can hard to know how to stand out among the 100s of dancers that perform on their stages.

With some of the most experienced and knowledgable judges in the industry, Showstopper asked their judges for their best advice on how to put on a showstoppin’ performance. Here’s what they said…

on being MEMORABLE…

“The originality of the routine. How many times have I heard the song you’re dancing to that day? Is your choreography unique? Originality compared with strong technique and showmanship are what always impress me!” – Melanie Buckley

“I think the most memorable dances are the ones that take a piece of me, the ones that move me to a different place and tell me a story that I can see unfold onstage. Each piece of choreography is a reflection of the teacher that taught the dance so it’s also a peek into their innermost thoughts.” – Dena Rizzo

“The most memorable routines, for me, are the performances that evoke an emotional response within me as an audience member. I love to be moved by a story. Dance is art and dancers are artists. Whether it’s a story of love, loss, courage or fear, performers have the amazing ability to communicate every emotion.” – Kristin Marie Johnson

“I will always remember the routines that are not like everything else. Creativity. Routines that push the envelope so to speak.” – Debbie DiBiase-Wood

“A memorable routine is one that leaves me wanting to see it again and again and again. It could be outstanding lifts, unforgettable turns, out of this world flexibility, the energy and excitement of movement, or the surprise of ‘how did they do that?’. There are performances I still remember from 15-20 years ago that are etched imprints into my psychic.” – Kelly King
“A unique element is always good, but I really love pieces that take me on a ride. They bring me to another world. That could be an emotional journey, a spectacular display, or a more abstract picturesque piece.” – Michelle Hammar
“I love to see how the dancer connects with the audience and judges. Make eye contact, be super confident, and OWN that stage! This is their moment to shine, and if the dancer is truly confident, their passion will shine through the emotion and choreography.” – Kara Lozanovski


“I know that this is said a lot, but have fun when you’re performing. Reflect from time to time on why you dance, and where your passion stems from. The technique and skills will develop over time, but if you’re not loving what you do… we can tell!” – Melanie Buckley

“I encourage dancers to be themselves and dance from the heart. As a dancer, be inspired by others, but dance from your soul. Comparing yourself to others, or trying to dance like them can detract from finding your own voice as an artist. Whether competing or dancing professionally, technique is important, but so is connecting with your audience. Dance is a gift; enjoy telling the story.” – Kristin Marie Johnson

“Sparkle! Dance from the heart. Do the best that you can do and leave it on the dance floor.” – Kelly King

“Be confident! This is YOUR moment to shine, so give the audience and judges the performance of a lifetime! You’ve worked so hard technically, physically, and mentally to get to this point, so just enjoy it! There is nothing more satisfying than watching a dancer finish their routine and then run off the stage, so happy, surrounded by LOVE from their teachers and teammates!” – Kara Lozanovski
“The best advice I can give is be you, be authentic, and show me how much you love being onstage. I want to see you leave your heart and soul with me. It is also important that as a group you are all striving for the same goal and that you are all in sync and strong as a group. There is power in numbers.” – Dena Rizzo

“Truly enjoy every wonderful moment that you get on stage. This is your time to shine! The judges are on your side. Know that they want to see you do your very best.” – Eileen Grace


“It’s a tie between originality and technique!” – Melanie Buckley

“Of course, I always look for strong technique. Also important is the commitment to the routine as well as the clean timing and precision.” – Debbie DiBiase-Wood
“To say what the number one thing to look for is difficult. Of course, technique and training would be the most obvious answer. However, I love passion and story telling. A routine that captures emotion. Nothing compares to being swept away by a dancer who lives in the moment of his or her performance. I’ve seen many dancers with exquisite technique, but no heart. Amazing technique plus amazing feeling equals Crystal.” – Kelly King

“It is hard to name just one thing I look for! Feeling the excitement, enthusiasm and energy from the dancers is very important. Are they fully invested? If I have to sum that up in one word, it would be energy.” – Michelle Hammar
“The number one thing I look for while judging is EMOTION. I love to see how the dancer connects to the choreography emotionally by breathing through the movement and living in the moment, like poetry in motion! Finish every movement to the fullest capacity and let your technique shine through. This is YOUR moment. I also love to see their personalities explode through the story line of the choreography. 🙂 This truly connects the dancer to the choreography in an artistic way, too. Push your limits and be the beautiful dancer that you are!!!” – Kara Lozanovski
“Connection. That the dancer is consistently connecting her or his technique with her or his artistic sense.” – Caitlin Abraham

GET READY TO TAKE THE STAGE | Showstopper’s 2019 Regionals Competition Season

Join the Showstopper stages this 2019 season. At competitions, you will receive full reports and live video, voice feedback from the judges on each of your performances. For 2019 tour dates and to register head to