Correct level placement is necessary for maintaining a key factor in our company philosophy – a fair event. Beyond The Stars values and respects our judging panel and their opinions in helping to maintain a fun, fair, and professional competitive environment. What we found over the years is that there have been many industry concerns about fairness and performance levels, and in order for our competition to be fair for all dancers, we need to ensure that dancers are being placed in the appropriate levels. While we have always allowed our judging panels to evaluate the performance levels throughout the competition, we wanted to ensure that all studios are aware of this being our company policy. While this is not the first year we are doing this, it is something we wanted to bring attention to as this has become an especially sensitive topic in the past year.
There are many factors that go into determining a dancer’s appropriate level placement, and we understand the desire for a hard and fast ruling on what equates to a true Shooting Star, Rising Star, and All Star dancer. That being said, we do not believe that a list of set skills necessarily equates to correct level placement. A polished, experienced, pre-professional level group of dancers with intricate choreography can execute an All Star level dance flawlessly and score extremely high without doing a single skill that would typically be on a pre-determined list of skills for a certain level. This dance, if placed in the Shooting Star level, should be bumped to the All Star level, but it would be bumped without having ever executed anything on the skill set list, so technically, if the skill set list were part of our rules, this dance could stay in the Shooting Star level. On the flip side, dancers with an unpolished routine, a lack of musicality, and low performance quality could execute a double pirouette poorly in the Shooting Star level and be appropriately placed, even if “double pirouette” was on the list of skills for a Rising Star dancer. If “double pirouette” was on our list of skills for a Rising Star dancer, these Shooting Star level dancers would have to, according to the skill set rule, be bumped to the Rising Star level. There are also dancers that take gymnastics classes outside of the studio hours and are able to execute high-level acro skills, but their baseline dance technique level is still at a Shooting Star or Rising Star level. If these high-level skills were on the All Star level skill set list, these Shooting Star or Rising Star dancers would have to be bumped to the All Star level. As we hope you can understand, pigeon-holing levels using a skill set list does make it difficult for our judges to fairly assess correct level placement.
Instead of using skills as a bench-mark for level placement, our judges are trained to assess levels in the following way…
Shooting Star Level Dancers
These dancers are dancing three hours or less in the studio a week, can compete in no more than six routines, and can only have one solo. Dancers at this level aren’t spending their whole week in the studio and are training significantly less than the All Star level dancers. These dancers may be first-year competitors or new to the competition circuit.
At this level, dancers may really be struggling with memory gaps or fluidity of the choreography from one step to the next. The transitions might be a little choppy or inconsistent. Overall, there won’t be as much confidence on the stage in terms of the choreography and quality of movement. These performers are still working on the basic understanding of the foundations of dance and are still struggling with the execution of the technical elements they’ve incorporated into the routine.
Difficulty in choreography is not necessarily something our judges are looking for at this level. A well-executed Shooting Star level dancer has a simple and clean routine that they are executing with attention to musicality and performance quality.
Rising Star Level Dancers
These dancers are dancing five hours or less per week, can compete in no more than eight routines, and can have up to two solos. While the range of talent is often most widespread in this level, a true Rising Star level dancer is typically a dancer with additional passions that lie outside of the studio. At this level, while a little more serious about their training, they may still be lacking the dedication to their craft that an All Star level performer has.
A true Rising Star level dancer is executing a large portion of the dance very well from a technical standpoint. At this level, dancers should have a basic knowledge of their technique, and while every second of the routine won’t be technically flawless at this level, our judges are looking for dancers with strong technical capabilities, who command the stage, are invested in their performance, and exude confidence. At this level, our judges are also looking at how dancers are transitioning in and out of their movements. These dancers should be above average in terms of their staging, musicality, and confidence, but still lack the technical soundness of an All Star level dancer. They may still have more simplistic choreography with less difficulty than an All Star level dancer would have, and while they may correctly execute some skills, their overall technique will be lacking.
All Star Level Dancers
Our All Star level dancers are in the studio five or more hours per week and can perform up to three solos. These are your dancers who are the most dedicated to dance, may go on to perform in college or professionally, and are really devoting a large portion of their time to their training. The expectation is that these dancers are not new to the stage.
These dancers have a strong grasp of their technique, artistry, and sense of self. Their transitions from one movement to the next are fluid, and they are comfortable on the stage.
Dancers at this level have difficulty in their choreography that they are able to execute confidently with correct technique. These dancers have a strong level of showmanship, and they are clean and polished. At this level, dancers are beginning to find their artistry, style, and creativity, and it is evident that they have a strong work ethic.
Please note that level advancements must be unanimously decided amongst all three judges in order for the level advancement to occur. Our judges are not looking to penalize dancers. Level advancements will only occur for egregious instances in which our judges feel that other dancers are being penalized by having an incorrectly placed dance in their category. Our number one priority is for all dancers to be treated fairly and given an equal opportunity for success within their division. Our hope is that dancers who are promoted to the next level know that our judges see great potential in their abilities and are excited to see them perform in the next level division. We hope this sheds some light on our level advancement initiative and policies. Please do not hesitate to reach out to [email protected] with any questions or concerns.