rule reminders for USA Dance syllabus & Pre-Teen dancers

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Laura, Jan 16, 2008.

  1. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Happy 2008 Everyone! Along with the new year, there is a new USA Dance Rulebook. I bring this up as a local USA Dance official who works on four or more competitions per year, and who has been called on to police costumes from time to time at local, regional, and even national events. I am speaking for myself here, though -- USA Dance did not ask me to make the following post, I am doing it under my own initiative as my chapter (NorCal) prepares for its first competition of 2008. Anyway, all competitors, regardless of age or how experienced they are in competitions, are required to follow the USA Dance rules. So, please take some time to review the 2008-2009 Rulebook at http://usadance.org/dancesport/

    I didn't notice many rule changes, the biggest one that stood out to me is that "Novice" is now "in-line" between Gold and Pre-Champ. This means the old exception that allowed Syllabus dancers to add Novice as third event level no longer exists. Syllabus dancers can now only do Bronze-Silver, Silver-Gold, or Gold-Novice.

    I am now going to comment on the most common rule violations that I've seen over the past few years. The most commonly violated rules are related to syllabus restrictions, and the dress code.

    SYLLABUS RESTRICTIONS

    * If you are dancing in a syllabus event (Bronze, Silver, Gold) you cannot use any steps higher than the level you are competing in.

    * For Pre-Teen events that don't have a specific Bronze/Silver/Gold designation, ONLY GOLD-LEVEL AND LOWER steps are allowed. This rule about Pre-teen syllabus restrictions came into effect for USA Dance one year ago (and has been in effect for NDCA competitions for several years now), so coaches of Pre-teens have had a full year to adjust and should be providing their students with appropriate routines.

    DRESS CODE

    * The dress code is explained, with diagrams and illustrations, in section 3.10 of the Rulebook.

    * The most common violations include -
    • short sleeved shirts on male syllabus and Pre-teen dancers (only long sleeved shirts are allowed, white only for Standard, black or white for other styles)
    • skirts too far below the knee on female Pre-teen dancers (skirts must be cut straight across, and be from just covering the knee to up to 4" above the knee)
    • illegal necklines on female Pre-teen dancers (the rulebook has diagrams of allowable necklines)
    • ties other than black or white on male syllabus and Pre-teen dancers (this is the most common adult syllabus male violation -- men, wear a solid-colored black or a white tie!)
    • dresses other than one solid color on female Pre-teen dancers (no multi-colored dresses are allowed on Pre-teen dancers)
    • dresses with light effects on female syllabus dancers (no glitter, rhinestones, sequins, mirrors, beading, metallic threads, or anything else that throws light is allowed)
    • floats on female syllabus dancers (a float is any material that flows behind the dancer when they are moving, including a long neck scarf)
    • hair decoration on female syllabus and Pre-teen dancers (this is the most common adult syllabus female violation -- no glitter, colored hairspray, or rhinestones/sequins etc. are allowed, Pre-teens may only wear a non-reflective ribbon or bow)
    • makeup on Pre-teen dancers (none allowed at all, children wearing makeup will be asked to wash their faces at comps I am costume police for!)
    • decoration jewelry" on Pre-teen dancers (you can wear your personal jewelry, such as simple earrings and necklaces that aren't part of a dance dress costume)

    One of the most frequent questions I get regarding dancers who compete in several ages or levels is something along the lines of "but my kid is doing Pre-teen and Junior, what do I do?" The answer is to follow the rules for the most restrictive level you are competing in, and change your outfit/grooming between events if you have time.

    Which leads to the next most frequent question, which goes something like "but I won't have time to put the makeup on/change before the Junior events, can't she dance Pre-teen with makeup/fancy costume on?" The solution to that one is either dance the less restrictive event without the makeup, or only enter the less restrictive event.

    The final question in this common triad is "but it's not fair that they have to dance against the Juniors in their Pre-teen outfits!" My answer to that is "it's also not fair that some kids in Pre-teen follow the rules while others do not. If it's that much of a problem to show up in Junior without makeup or wearing a plain Pre-teen outfit, then either don't dance Junior or don't dance Pre-teen." (And similarly for adults who dance in both Gold and Novice and fret about the difference between what is allowed in Syllabus and what is allowed in Open.)

    I know I sound strict, but in my local chapter at least our leniency in the past has led to dancers going to Regionals and/or Nationals thinking their outfits or dance routines were okay when they really were not, and then people were disappointed by a disqualification or lowering of placement (and blame our chapter for not being stricter in the first place). NorCal's Chapter-level events are meant to be fun, but our goal is to also educate our dancers about the rules to prepare them for Regional and National-level events. I don't know if other USA Dance chapters feel this way, but NorCal is taking this seriously.

    Most of all, I understand that this all can be a bit overwhelming to new competitors, and so I'm glad to answer your questions (even though I can only speak for NorCal and our expectations for our events).

    P.S. To any frightened newbies out there -- just do your absolute best, we know you are new and trying, and we will help you by pointing out your violations and answering questions about what to do. Take comfort in the fact that your newbie peers are going though the same learning process that you are.
  2. wooh

    wooh Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the post Laura, all very good advice. I especially like the "most common violations" section, because if I was going to compete in a syllabus event, I could so totally see my husband wearing a striped tie without thinking a thing about it, or if I had a junior age daughter, putting her in a skirt too long.
    I'm also thankful that the only comp I have to worry about is the NON-sanctioned one that my USA Dance chapter hosts, so we can be pretty lenient on costume rules and such.
    And no it doesn't sound like your being strict, it sounds like you're following the rules. Which after seeing people whine that rules were enforced at nationals, I'm sure they'll still whine there, but at least they can't say, "But THEY let me do it!!"
  3. wyllo

    wyllo New Member

    Cool, thanks for the information!

    While you're answering questions, I've got one for you: with regard to no nude colored fabrics in open, what does this mean? On the one hand, the rules say CnS (any color but nude) for dress color, but they also seem to allow nude fabrics on areas outside of the "intimacy areas." If my dress has nude fabric on the arms and stomach area (but not in any of the areas that are required to be opaque according to the diagram), am I o.k.?

    My interpretation of the rules would say "yes" this is allowed, but it's pretty risky to be wrong!
  4. cornutt

    cornutt Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the summary, Laura. This was the only one that surprised me. Either the NDCA doesn't have a similar rule, or it's never enforced -- if there had been such a rule at the Vol State, most of the field in the adult rhythm dances would have been disqualified. :p Will have to remember this when we start doing USA Dance events.
  5. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Yep, this happens all the time in our Newcomer and Bronze events. We let the guys dance but tell them what the rule is, and tell them that if they do it at events we don't host we can't guarantee the officials there will let it slide. At the more advanced Syllabus levels -- well, by the end of this year no one who dances in a NorCal event will have an excuse, because we'll have told them all :)

    We had that attitude for a while, but we also see a good number of repeat violations after warnings have been given, so as the person who most often ends up being the Costume Police I have decided to go hardcore whenever possible. Obviously a complete Newbie in a striped tie at their first competition ever is a different case than a Pre-teen whose parents have been warned before about multi-colored dresses...I'm not stupid...but then sometimes I think people assume I am. I have a good memory and a mind for trivia, so stuff sticks in my head! For instance, for a while there were few multi-colored Pre-teen dresses circulating locally whose wearers had been told several times that the dress cannot continue to be worn, yet the dress keeps turning up. In situations where continued warnings (some going on over several years) are ignored, then the only way people will follow the rules is if someone puts their foot down. So I'm going to put my foot down where appropriate. It starts now, NorCal dancers! I'm like Judge Judy, I've seen and heard every excuse at this point :)

    This is exactly what we are trying to prevent in the future. It's heartbreaking to know that something slipped by and that a couple got dinged for it later on. I want all the couples who come to our Chapter's events to learn the ropes so they can move forward with confidence in their competitive dance careers. I want "our" dancers to succeed, and not get hit with a deserved-but-somehow-unexpected DQ.
  6. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Yes, although you would need to check with someone in the case of a Standard dress that is made to look like a two-piece dress due to the use of nude fabric, since two-piece dresses are not allowed in Standard.
  7. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Possibly both :) I'm only talking about USA Dance events here. Also, within the NDCA, things are different for the Pro/Am (including Student/Student) events as compared to the regular Amateur events.
  8. wyllo

    wyllo New Member

    Thanks! I've got an email in to one of the national folks, but DF is so much quicker. :)
  9. star_gazer

    star_gazer Active Member

    Laura, I don't envy your job at all. Is there some way to get this info to parents... like in a registration packet? You would think the coaches would read this stuff but we all know that some don't and many parents don't know the NDCA from the USA Dance rules.
  10. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Yes! The USA Dance Rulebook is conveniently located online.... :)

    I figure if a parent or dancer can email me to enter a comp (and they do, or use O2Cm or other online entry system), then they also have the ability to look up the rules online. We have very few people locally who never use the internet, so by putting links from our web site to the rule book and printing the URL in our paper flyers, we feel we've done what we can short of reprinting the rulebook in the registration materials itself (which is impractical).

    That said, I really wish USA Dance would go back to mailing out a Rulebook every year - or at least when someone joins up with USA Dance. I think it's stupid that a hardcopy is not put into every dancers' hands at least when they join the organization. This has long been a sore spot for me.
  11. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Hmm, so what would it cost to get a vendor booth at a Norcal comp and sell overpriced solid color ties?

    ;-)
  12. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Hahhahaha. Or how about tie rental service?
  13. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    I think you should get one of these:
    h t t p ://www.engadget.com/2008/01/16/meet-the-disintegrator-24-barrels-of-rubber-band-minigun-madnes/
    for use by the costume inspector/invigilator to keep mad parents at bay.
  14. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Too unwieldly -- I need to have my hands free to hold up a print-out of the Rulebook and point to relevant sections. But I suppose I could have an assistant/bodyguard?
  15. reb

    reb Active Member

    This was really nice of you Laura to pro-actively post this information!
  16. White Chacha

    White Chacha Active Member

    You know, Chris, that gives me an idea for the next time I'm at a comp for which "you know who" is CoJ ;-)
  17. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    How about printing the top 10 rules on comp staff T-shirts?

    That said I think a lot of the problem comes from many of the costume rules being outrageously ridiculous, counter productive, patronizing, and insulting to the point that I'm glad I'm neither competing in syllabus nor especially the parent of a young dancer. The syllabus rules at least amount to picky and boring, but the pre-teen rules are directly in opposition to creating clean lines and a sophisticated look, with the boys chopped in half and the girls skirts comically short.
  18. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    One year at MAC I showed up at registration wearing a black satin tie, not because I was dancing syllabus--I wasn't--but just because I wanted to wear a tie (street clothes). Daphna Locker grabbed my tie and asked if she could borrow it--apparently some syllabus dancer hadn't brought the proper tie.
  19. Laura

    Laura New Member

    You've inspired me star_gazer. I can't and won't speak for all of USA Dance (at this point ;) ), but I did start up two announcement-only mailing lists for my local chapter (NorCal). One is for anyone who registers a competitor into a Pre-Teen event, and the other is for anyone is registers a competitor into an Adult Syllabus event. I wrote up a letter for each group, and mailed it out. I'm also going to print up a bunch of copies of the letters and hand them out to any newbies who register as "walk-ins" at the Chapter-level competition we are hosting this Saturday.

    If anyone wants a copy of the letter(s), PM me *WITH YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS* and which letter(s) you want. If anyone would like to be added to either of the lists and receive other announcements/proclamations/dissertations I may write in the future -- even though you don't live anywhere near NorCal -- let me know and I'll add you.
  20. danceislove

    danceislove New Member

    Syllabus costuming restrictions

    When they say:
    "Adult Syllabus Levels are NOT PERMITTED to wear costumes."

    What does that mean exactly? I haven't done a USA Dance competition yet...I knew you couldn't wear rhinestones, but does this mean you can't wear an unstoned dance dress? I'm confused. I know all of you probably know the answer to this :rolleyes:

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