The Season's Best

Comp kids, you never cease to amaze us. Summer after summer, you come to Nationals rocking fresh looks, innovative choreography and solid technique. And 2014 didn’t disappoint: This year brought us new trends—from fashion to footwork—that we’d love to see stick around (and some we’d like to see disappear).

(Clockwise from left: DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; (2) Evolve Photography, Courtesy New York City Dance Alliance; Take2 Productions, Courtesy Showstopper; Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Courtesy Tremaine; Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA)

Here are a few of our favorite things.

Werk: Group ballroom numbers. Who says you need an equal number of guys and girls to ride the Hot Tamale Train?

Womp: Excessive violence onstage. Please, no more mimed strangling, gunshots or screams.

True Grit

This year, we saw a departure from gank-tastic, sassy fem-hop. In its place? Female hip-hoppers who were unafraid to get down and hit hard. Ladies, you introduced us to a whole new kind of fierce.

(Clockwise from left: (2) Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Courtesy Break the Floor Productions; Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; (2) Courtesy Break the Floor Productions)

Pouf Perfect

The pouf bun was the hairstyle of the season, with bumped-up bangs adding a touch of sophistication to the classic ballet bun.

(Clockwise from left: DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; (2) Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe)

Werk: ‘90s and early 2000s #Throwbacks—Michael Jackson is never out of style.

Womp: Overused songs. If you hear it Every time you turn on the radio, chances are the judges are already sick of it (and so is the audience!).

Gumbys Galore

Impossibly long hamstrings and seemingly spineless torsos are always a “do.” You all contorted your bodies into some seriously impressive (even shocking!) shapes.

(Clockwise from left: Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Evolve Photography, Courtesy West Coast Dance Explosion; DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; Dancesnaps (DRC Video Productions), Courtesy Dance Olympus/DanceAmerica)

Daring Dives

Playing it safe is overrated! You threw yourselves across the stage, unafraid to be upside down, sideways or completely off balance.

(Clockwise from top: Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Evolve Photograhy, Courtesy NYCDA; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe)

Werk: Polished ballet technique. We love comp queens who can work it in a pair of pointe shoes.

Womp: Wearing only one shoe---on your turning foot. (Don’t tell us you’re one-sided!)

Tantalizing Tappers

We were blown away by this year’s rhythm geniuses. Not only was your footwork on point—you also mastered the art of a polished yet relaxed upper body.

(Clockwise from left: DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; Evolve Photography, Courtesy West Coast Dance Explosion; Courtesy Break the Floor Productions)

Delightfully Dapper

We loved the throwback to 1920s men’s fashion—slim-cut suits, bow ties, vests and fedoras looked suave on the ladies as well as the gents.

(Clockwise from left: John Pinette/Performance Photography, Courtesy American Dance Awards; Dancesnaps (DRC Video Productions), Courtesy Dance Olympus/DanceAmerica; (2) Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour)

Werk: Leotards with daring mesh cutouts---a tasteful update on the standard bra top and booty shorts.

Womp: Crotch Shots---If you’re going to wear a high-cut leotard with no tights, be careful where you tilt.

The Center-Split Hold

This move—where you hold a center split inches off the floor—is the perfect blend of flexibility and strength. Plus, it’s an innovative solution to that age-old conundrum: How do I get off the floor creatively?

(From top: Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA)

Variations on a Theme

Sure, identical costumes help keep things clean and consistent, but there’s something even more appealing about group costumes that aren’t totally uniform.

(Clockwise from left: John Pinette/Performance Photography, Courtesy American Dance Awards; DGS Photos, Courtesy Adrenaline; Evolve Photography, Courtesy NYCDA; (2) Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Propix, Courtesy Hollywood Vibe; Platoon, Courtesy The Pulse On Tour; Courtesy Break the Floor Productions)

Werk: Unique prop concepts that actually enhance the piece. (Snaps for no arbitrary props!)

Womp: Props that take more than 30 seconds to set up. Your dads are adorable, but the judges don’t want to watch them assemble giant props---they want to see you dance.

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