9 Most Common Tricks Performed at Competition

9 Most Common Tricks Performed at Competition

This article describes the 9 most common tricks used at competitions and how to execute them well. Check out groovecompetition.com for more articles like this.

This article describes the 9 most common tricks used at competitions and how to execute them well. Check out groovecompetition.com for more articles like this.
Well-executed tricks during a dance competition routine will always receive the loudest applause. Tricks are just exciting to watch! Jill Lazzini, judge for Groove dance competition, says, “I love a well-placed, beautifully executed trick. They not only show off technique and strength, but they are also crowd pleasers!” 

Here is a list of the nine most common crowd-pleasers performed at competition, and tips on how you can score well with them. But note, as judges tend to see these tricks again and again at each event, comparison is unavoidable, so you need to make sure you nail them. Practice, practice, practice! 

If you can add an unexpected twist to one of these tricks, or master a trick that isn’t so commonly seen, your routine could stand out above the rest. Challenge yourself!

Anthony Raimondi, a regular Groove judge, says, “What is most impressive is how each dancer and choreographer approaches tricks in a different way, whether it be the preparation into it, the execution of it or the release out it. I am noticing more and more that many of our young dancers are learning control starting from a very young age. One of my favorite things to see is the ability to tap into that control for the execution of a trick.”

#1. Aerials
Aerials, when executed well with little sound on the landing, are a favorite trick to see at competition. When a dancer has enough lift and control through an aerial, it’s always impressive. Groove judge Cristina Marte comments, “Seeing acrobatics in a dance piece is common and can show diversity in the dancer's movement vocabulary. Acrobatic movements are most effective and unpredictable when artistically threaded within the choreography.”

#2. Tilts
Tilts are very common these days. Judges see tilting of the hips more often than turnout a lot of the time. Often in the same piece, a dancer or dancers will perform a tilt on their “good side” up to three or four times. Try to change it up a bit!
Rachel Brown, a judge for Groove, explains, “Lots of dancers do a leg extension and tilt out of it to the side with some incredible control and flexibility, but this is a trick often repeated several times throughout a piece – usually repeated on the same leg. I love seeing the flexibility and control, but I challenge you to find new and innovative ways to show it to us! When you have awesome technique, flaunt it!”

#3. À la seconde turns
À la seconde turns, or turns in second, are very common at dance competitions. This trick, perhaps more than all the others, is one of the hardest to master. “I do appreciate seeing all the hard work, strength and dedication it takes to do these tricks, as I know they are not easy to do,” says Groove judge Tiana Noecker. 

In à la seconde turns, remember to keep your toes pointed throughout the turns, keep your extended leg straight, have a nice deep plié, and try not to hop your turns.

#4. Knee drops
Knee drops actually seem to becoming less and less common among competition dancers. They are still performed in routines, but, thankfully, choreographers are teaching dancers a safer way to drop on to their knees — by lifting up in their abdominals while descending on their knee, instead of just dropping (implying no control). As a judge and audience member, I enjoy watching knee drops as they can be unexpected and rapidly change the height and dynamic of the choreography, but only if they’re executed correctly and safely.

#5. Pirouettes 
Pirouettes are extremely common in routines because a lot of competitions require them as part of a dance. Try to change up the pirouette a little bit, by changing the foot from a passé to a coupé, or turned out instead of parallel. “I see lots and lots of wonderful pirouettes, but often times there are so many multiple pirouettes repeated in a single piece that I am left wondering, ‘Wow! This dancer is amazing, but what else can he/she show me besides pirouettes? What other uniqueness is there to this dancer?’”, Brown says.

#6. Leaps
Leaps in dance pieces are inevitable…in a good way! “Leaps are almost a given in a dance piece because they are actions that bring movement to the high level,” Marte exclaims. “What is exciting about leaps in today's dance scene is seeing the range of different ones evolving, ranging from the clean, technical execution of a traditional grande jeté to a risky asymmetrical leap.”

#7. Handsprings
Front or back handsprings are often seen in dance competition routines, especially in the “Acro” division. Judges usually like a nice rainbow shape when they see back handsprings. Requiring a younger dancer to do a front or back handspring is wonderful, as long as that dancer is comfortable in the air. One of the most unnerving things to watch as a judge is when a dancer is not comfortable with an acro trick, and you can see it on their face and in their hesitancy to perform the trick. Make sure those dancers who are willing to throw their handsprings are physically, as well as mentally, ready.

#8. Shoulder rolls
Cool and unique floor work in a competition routine is becoming more and more customary. The most commonly executed floor movement tends to be a backward roll over the right or left shoulder. This is called different names by each studio, and even in each region of the U.S. and the world, but the basic movement is the same. When asking a dancer to do a shoulder roll in a piece, be aware of their legs and feet, as this is the most common area of deduction when executing this movement.

#9. Heel stretch turns
Heel stretch turns, or turns where the dancer’s leg is extended and held (tilted or turned out) by their face, are becoming exceedingly more popular in dancers’ routines. Noecker shares, "What is amazing to me is that I am seeing these tricks performed by some very young dancers, which makes me applaud not only the dancers themselves, but their teachers for their dedication, time and support in helping them to achieve such feats at such a young age.

By Allison Gupton of Dance Informa.