How To Choose the Right Belly Dance Competition for You

Before the glitter, the dancing, and music stress, the first MAJOR decision a dancer needs to take into account is which competition he or she will enter. With so many new festivals/competitions springing up everywhere (and several onetime wonders), it is important that you know which ones are going to be the most reputable and beneficial to you.

1. Is it a Reputable International Competition?

The first thing you need to realize and accept is that if you are going to spend the money, travel, and time to compete, then competing against the best from all over the world in a reputable competition instead of a county renaissance fair is definitely THE way to go. The quality of the event and dancers will be much higher, and you will be able to see what is REALLY out there in comparison to your skill level and region.

I highly recommend entering competitions that have been around for several years and have excellent reputations as far as organization, fairness when scoring (the judge should not be best buds or have been sponsored by a dancer in the past), treat the dancers well, and not looking for solely a profit.

2. What Style Are You?

I mention this because your category and competition should make sense to your style as a belly dancer. If you are fusion dancer and you decide to compete in an Oriental category, frankly it probably will not go over so well in your score sheets. When you select a category, choose the one that honestly reflects your identity as a dancer. If the competition is hard core Egyptian style and you dance American or fusion, it won’t go too well when it comes to scores (Trust me I have made that mistake!).

3. Judges

Scores come from the judges so figuring out who they are, or at least what styles they represent is HUGE HUGE HUGE! Each judge will be scoring based upon their personal vision of what a winner should be, and no matter how much of an open mind they try to have, it has been proven over and over again, that typically they will base the winner upon their style preference.

One time I decided to enter an Egyptian style competition even though I am an American Style Dancer naively thinking it wouldn’t make much of a difference. I had no idea that ALL the judges were going to be die-hard Egpytian masters, so needless to say, that was not the best decision lol!

If you are American or fusion style, enter a competition with judges in a variety of styles. If you are tribal or tribal fusion, go to a competition that has judges in that genre and can give accurate feedback in your style.

4. Find out How Winners are Selected!

Is it chosen by audience vote? Are score sheets collected at the end of the entire competition or as each dancer finishes? These are really important factors to find out for any competitor. If the competition has a 50% audience participation vote, you better win that Crowd!

If it a competition where a panel of judges will hand in scores,  it is important to note that the best and most accurate competitions are ones where the judges do not hand in their papers until the very end of the category.

Why? Because if it is handed in dancer by dancer, all they have is the one chance to write their thoughts and not be able to compare their top choices from the beginning of a competition with their top choices at the end of the category. This often can lead to interesting results when the winners are called, and leave both dancers and audience members wondering “how the heck did that person place and not the other dancer?”.

5. Prizes and Marketing

Let’s face it, getting prizes is pretty nice, especially cash. If you are going to fly across the nation to compete, that costs quite a bit, so having a cash prize is definitely a big help. Of course it is not all about the money. Find out what the prizes are and how much exposure a competition will give to the winners compared to others.

Some competitions will write spreads in well known magazine about the winner; others will constantly market their event for next year using the winners’ title and picture in their materials equaling a ton of exposure. Make sure to read all of the prizes and see if it is something that makes the effort worthwhile because let’s face it, if you win, you want something nice to commemorate your efforts, not a high five!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please feel free to comment below with your thoughts. The Miami Belly Dance Convention features a well-known and organized competition that dancers from all styles can feel comfortable in. Adios!

Author Bio: Jennifer is a multi-award winning belly dancer in Orlando Florida. She has belly dancing since 2006 and has experienced the failures and triumphs of competing. To learn more visit her website:  where you can read about all things belly dance on her blog or view her private class information and rhinestone costume designs.

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