University of Minnesota Dance Team at UDA (courtesy University of Minnesota)

Dance Team Score Sheets Decoded: A Breakdown for Your Best Nationals Score Yet

We've broken down the UDA and NDA rubrics to enhance your practice sessions and get you ready for Nationals.


Universal Dance Association (UDA)

College categories: Pom, hip hop, jazz

High school categories: Pom, hip hop, jazz, kick

*Note that the UDA score sheet is the same for all categories, for a total of 100 points.


10 Points—Execution of Movement

How well are you moving? Are you controlled? Be sure to maintain proper posture and alignment, while staying grounded.

10 Points—Execution of Skills

How well do you execute turns, leaps, acro tricks, jumps, kicks, and lifts? For pom, judges are looking for a "hard stick" of each picture, while jazz emphasizes proper posture, body alignment, and turnout.

10 Points—Synchronization/Uniformity

How well is the team moving as a whole? Are they in unison? How precise is the timing of the team?

10 Points—Spacing

Make sure to keep spacing consistent and even, especially through transitions.

10 Points—Communication/Projection

Commit to the emotion of your routine. Be careful of trying to fake this section, as the judges will be able to tell. Ask the choreographer about the emotions and story that you should be sharing. Be sure they feel true to you—this will leave the judges with not just an image, but also a lasting emotion.

10 Points—Creativity/Musicality

Is the routine new and innovative? Does the choreography both complement and enhance the music?

10 Points—Routine Staging

A variety of formations is ideal, and try to use the whole performance floor. Transitions should be choreographed and seamless.

10 Points—Complexity of Movement

The choreography should demonstrate a variety of intricate movements with weight and tempo changes.

10 Points—Difficulty of Skills

This focuses on the difficulty of the skills, not execution. But difficult lifts or turns you can't do well will lose your team points in other sections.

10 Points—Overall Impression

Do the music, costuming, and choreography all come together in an appropriate and effective way? Does the routine leave a lasting impression?


National Dance Alliance (NDA)

College categories: Team performance, pom, hip hop, jazz

High school categories: Team performance, pom, hip hop, jazz, kick


10 Points—Performance Impression

Is the technique of the routine combined with artistic expression? Is the performance appealing and appropriate?

10 Points—Uniformity

Timing, synchronization, and spacing are all judged in this category. When you're cleaning your routine in practice, be sure to view it from all angles so you can see all spacing or uniformity mistakes.

10 Points—Quality of Movement

Dancers should be properly executing each style of movement with control and musicality.

10 Points—Choreography

Jazz: Explore the full musical dynamics, as well as full-body movements. Routines that show only technical skills will lose points for missing actual jazz choreography.

Pom: Use directional changes and accents, without making the choreography too busy.

Hip Hop: Choose a hip-hop genre that you can handle with skill. Try out several with guest teachers first, such as krumping, voguing, or waacking, and decide what looks best and feels most natural.

Kick: Kicks should be the predominant theme of the routine, not jazz. The routine should still be intricate and musical.

10 Points—Staging

Be sure to use the entire performance space, with clear formations highlighting all dancers.

10 Points—Technical Elements (Jazz Only)

Dancers should show proper execution of leaps, turns, tricks, and partner work.

10 Points—Visual Effects (Pom and Kick Only)

Be sure to hit every movement with strength so the judges have a chance to see the picture before the routine moves on. For kicks, extend behind the knee and work on your stamina. Try doing a few extra cardio workouts outside of practice, as well as extra strength training. Watch out for alignment—don't tuck the pelvis or lift the hip, and be sure the chest is lifted but the neck isn't craned too far back.

10 Points—Authenticity (Hip Hop Only)

Dancers should look comfortable rather than out of their element (like a jazz group trying to krump). Study with a variety of teachers in multiple styles, and be sure to do research into the history and culture of hip hop. If you're not as comfortable with the hip-hop elements of your routine, think about getting into the music itself—how does the beat make you feel? How can you convey those emotions in your face and body?


A version of this story appeared in the April 2018 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Dance Team Score Sheets Decoded."

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What’s in Your Dance Bag—Based on Your Zodiac Sign

Sometimes our dance bags feel like portals to another dimension—we have no idea what half the stuff buried in our bags even is. (Note to self: Clean out dance bag.)

But have you ever wondered if there's a method to the madness? We're pretty sure there is, and as always, we're pretty sure it's something to do with astrology. That's right, your resident Dance Spirit astrologers are back with our best guess at what you keep in your dance bag—based on your zodiac sign.

Aries

You're always going 100 mph Aries (or maybe even more), so it's pretty much a guarantee that your dance bag is fully stocked with snacks to power you through the day. Granola bars, trail mix, yogurt, fruit. It's like a Whole Foods in there.

You've also usually got about six different pairs of shoes in your bag. As an Aries, you love adventure, trying new things and, most of all, a challenge. So when it comes to classes, you're all over the map. Tap, jazz, ballet, character, modern—you'll try them all.

Something else you won't go without? Your signature red lipstick, obv. How else are you going to show off your fiery personality? (And look amazing while doing it, TYSM.)

Taurus

As a child of Venus, you always want to look your best, Taurus. So your dance bag is a hair salon/makeup station, all in one. If your dance besties need to borrow a hair tie, or are looking for a fun accessory to spice up their bun, they know you're the one to go to.

Also important to you? Smelling your best. Taureans love comforting, luxurious scents, so your dance bag is typically equipped with a favorite perfume or deodorant. (Or both.)

But what's most important is the bag itself—admit it, you've been using the same dance bag for years. We get it, Taurus, nobody likes change, and least of all the stubborn bull of the zodiac. But if your dance bag is really starting to smell like feet (or if your bobby pins are starting to slip through the holes in the bottom), you might want to consider investing in a new bag.

Gemini

Gemini, you love to switch it up. So you're pretty much guaranteed to have at least three different dance fits in your bag at any given time. And your dancewear is always on point. You love to keep up with trends and try edgy, new looks.

Ever the intellect, you usually have a book in your bag, as well. You're always making book recs to your fellow dancers, and you refuse to be bored between rehearsals or backstage.

Though you might act carefree, Gemini, we know that at heart, you're ruled by Mercury—and you have more in common with your sister sign Virgo than you'd like to admit. That's why you always have a toothbrush, toothpaste, and some floss in your dance bag. No way you're getting caught with food between your teeth (or bad breath during partnering class).

Cancer

Not to be obvious, but as a water sign, the first and foremost thing a Cancerian keeps in their dance bag? A water bottle, of course. (Preferably a Hydroflask, S'well or any bottle that comes in a fun color.) No dehydration here, please and thank you.

Your dance bag also functions as a de facto vending machine for your dance besties, since you always come prepared with the best snacks, and you're always willing to share. As a bonus, your snacks are almost always homemade, since you're practically a five-star chef.

And while we're wary of zodiac stereotypes, there is a pretty good chance your dance bag is stocked with tissues. And there's no shame in that—because, really, who can get through a performance of Romeo and Juliet without shedding some tears? Props to you for being in touch with your emotions, Cancer.

Leo

We'll state the obvious, Leo. You love to look at yourself, and sometimes the studio mirrors just aren't enough. So, naturally, you always keep a compact mirror in your dance bag, just in case your makeup or your bun needs an extra touch-up.

You also love bright colors, and you're not afraid to wear more daring dancewear than any of your besties. You've usually got a couple of leotards packed in your bag, just in case you need to make a fashion statement, and they're always fun. Bright colors, loud prints, stylish necklines—you'll try anything.

But something not everyone knows about you? You're an amazing friend, and incredibly loyal, Leo. That's why you've usually got something in your bag for your dance bestie, be it her favorite brand of granola bar, a fun sparkly pin for her hair, or a note reminding her she's a star, on and off the stage.

Virgo

You're incredibly hardworking, Virgo, so you've always got the tools for success in your dance bag. TheraBands, foam rollers, tennis balls—you're the one dancer your teacher can always count on to be stretching between classes.

You also love to be prepared, so you've usually got a makeshift first-aid kit in your bag. The thought of suffering a blister or floor burn without the appropriate salves or bandages makes you shudder, and, hey, it's always better to be overprepared, right?

What's most noticeable about your dance bag, though, isn't what's inside of it. It's what it looks like—your bag is pristine. It never smells like feet, and you've got a hard-core system for what you keep in each little zip pocket or compartment. And TBH, all of your dance friends are jealous, though they'd never admit it.

Libra

Like your sister sign Taurus, appearances are important to you, Libra. You like to look good (no shame in that), so your dance bag is always stocked with the essentials: extra hair spray, lip gloss, concealer, bobby pins and a spare leotard, in case you get just a bit too sweaty.

You also love to socialize, so if this were the 1950s, we would say that you always keep your date book in your dance bag. As it is, you always have your phone with you, and it's usually blowing up with texts from your dance besties asking to make plans.

Your dance bag wouldn't be complete without your secret supply of chocolate. But to be clear: This isn't your average Hershey's bar. Libras aren't afraid to indulge, so you keep a bar of luxury dark chocolate tucked away for when the cravings hit.

Scorpio

You can't fool us, Scorpio—the contents of your dance bag aren't some big mystery, like you'd like us all to believe. In fact, they're pretty basic: For starters, you always have a black leotard or two in your bag. After all, black is your signature color.

One thing that isn't in Scorpio's dance bag? Toe pads. You love to look tough, so you'd never be caught dead wearing toe pads with your pointe shoes. However, this does mean you need a hefty supply of Band-Aids for the inevitable blisters.

You also love all things mystical and, dare we say, witchy. You're the Halloween queen of the zodiac, after all! So it's no surprise you always have a crystal or two in the front pocket of your dance bag. Let us guess…moldavite?

Sagittarius

You're an explorer, Sagittarius, and that applies to your dancing. You're always trying new dance styles, and that's reflected in your dance bag. You always have the trappings of your latest obsession in your bag: heeled shoes for ballroom, kneepads for contact improv, sneakers for breaking, the list goes on and on.

But on all of your adventures, there's one consistency: You love making memories. And that means literally—you document everything. At each performance or recital, you're bound to be the one with a Polaroid or disposable camera in your bag, and you can usually be found snapping backstage candids of your dance besties.

Your other favorite form of documenting? Writing it down. You love to learn, so you're always taking notes. You can usually be found after class scribbling down your dance teacher's latest piece of wisdom. Your dance bag is crammed with half-filled notebooks, and you wouldn't have it any other way.

Capricorn

You like to be prepared, Capricorn. And we mean prepared—for every bad scenario imaginable. That's why your dance bag is a mini survival kit. The first Capricorn dance bag guarantee? A stitch kit, of course. Losing a ribbon on your pointe shoe mid-rehearsal is your worst nightmare.

You also always have at least three spare leotards handy. After all, what if you spill something, or get too sweaty or, worst of all, show up to an audition in the same leotard as your dance rival? No, thank you. As a Capricorn, you're expecting the best and preparing for the worst.

Another key to your survival kit? Headphones, so you can drown out the noise around you and focus on your dancing. And before anyone asks, the answer is yes, you have the perfect playlist—for each and every occasion.

Aquarius

Aquarius, you love helping others. That's why it sometimes seems like your dance bag isn't even for you—it's filled with stuff you bring for your friends. Snacks for one dance bestie, Band-Aids for another, and tampons, of course, just in case anyone needs one.

But when it comes to you, you're all about originality. That's why you always have tons of fun accessories in your bag: striped legwarmers, colorful socks, tie-dyed sweats and more than a couple of fun additions to your ballet bun, just to make it a little more interesting.

You're also a rebel at heart, Aquarius, which is why there's usually something in your dance bag that just borders on breaking the rules. Maybe your studio is strictly black leotards only—and yours is gray. Or phones are completely banned—and you just put yours on vibrate. We see you.

Pisces

Like your fellow water sign Cancer, you're big on hydrating during dance class. But as a Pisces, you're a little more imaginative (and a little less practical), meaning you're usually carrying your water in something aesthetically pleasing, like a mason jar, a tumbler, or one of those fancy water bottles with a crystal in the base.

Unlike Cancer, you're a mutable sign, meaning you can adapt to just about any situation. Counterintuitively, this actually means your dance bag is pretty sparse. Unlike other zodiac signs who feel the need to overprepare in case of disaster, you're comfortable in most situations, and your dance bag reflects it. You like the basics, nothing else.

Something most people might not know about you, though, is that you get cold easily. We're not sure why, but it's a Pisces staple. That's why if you keep anything in your dance bag, it's the coziest of warm-ups.

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