Line Dance Competition Part I: Pro Am Line

I think I would like to try competition, but I don’t know where to start.  Can you help me?
There are two options for you.  You can start in Pro Am line dance competition or you can choose to start in the Classic Line Dance division.  First, let’s take a look at Pro Am; a relatively new division to the UCWDC®.
Pro Am line dance competition is a competition category in which an instructor and his/her students are paired on the floor for competition.   Pro Am line is an opportunity for the dancer to start competing in a comfort zone that has already been established; dancing with a teacher and friends.  Just like the weekly social class, the students and the Pro and all your friends who have decided to compete will dance the dances that you have chosen for competition.

How do I sign up for competition?
Go to the UCWDC website and click on Events. This will open the page where all the events are listed.  Choose the event you would like to attend.  Open up the registration page for that event.  This will give you all the fees for the event.  You will need a weekend pass (all competitors must have a weekend pass) and you will need to pay for each dance that you will be competing.  There are a total of three.  You can dance one, two, or all three.  It’s up to you.  If you don’t have internet access, you can obtain these by contacting the UCWDC office or the individual event director.

Does my teacher have to pay too?
Not for the dances, but he/she will need a weekend pass as well.

Do we have to be members of the UCWDC to participate?
Yes. More information at:

What do I wear?
Newcomers are not required to costume.  Boots and hats are not required at the Newcomer level at individual events, but are mandatory at World’s.  If dresses are worn in competition, women are required to wear hose or tights and dance pants or shorts. If you choose  non country music for your dances, you are not required to wear boots and hats (men) to compete. Novice, Intermediate/Advanced divisions will follow the rules for those divisions in costuming.

What are the dances and where do I find them?
You and your instructor may pick 3 dances of your choice and you will dance 90 seconds for competition.

How many competitions do I have to dance to qualify for World’s?
One event is required for qualification for World Championships.

How many dances do I have to dance?
That is up to you and your Pro.  If you would like to be ranked against the other people dancing in your division, you must dance all three.  If you just want to try it out and see if you like it, then you make the decision of how many you want to dance.

What level do I dance?
Choosing the correct level is very important.  I have had competitors tell me they chose the division of dance they started in competition based on the line dances that were in that level.  Most of them started in a division that was too advanced and later came to regret it.
There are 2 choices for you in Pro Am line competition; Newcomer/Novice and Intermediate/Advanced.
If you have never been in competition and you have no dance training, I would suggest you start in Newcomer/Novice category. If you have had experience in competition, have had some formal coaching, and have been trained in any form of dance, then the Intermediate/Advanced level would be for you.

The final decision for you will be which age group do you want to dance against?
There are three age divisions and they are as follows:
1.Juniors – everyone under 18
2.Open – everyone 18 and over
3.Diamond – everyone age 40 and over

You may dance in two divisions if you are 40 or over; Open and Diamond. 

What are the judges looking for as I dance the dances?
Your teacher will dance only the choreographed version of the dance throughout the competition.  You will be held to the rules set out for the Novice division for classic competition.
At the Newcomer/Novice level, the judges will be judging technique, including foot positions, frame and posture, timing, turn technique, correct weight changes, and rhythm, just to name a few of the basic elements in dance.
In the Intermediate/Advance division the judges will be judging the same concepts to include motion and character.  This division will have to execute more difficult moves in the choreography chosen.

What can I expect the day of the competition?
You, your teacher and all of your friends who are competing will come to the ballroom of the hotel for warm-ups.  Usually this is about an hour before competition begins.  The DJ will play the music for each of the dances that you and your Pro have been chosen. You will be given a number when you check in at the registration desk for the event.  You will pin this number somewhere on the back of your outfit.  There will be a person who coordinates the competitors in the ballroom.  We call them the floor mom/dad.  Once you are in the ballroom and done with warm-ups, you will check in with that person to let them know you are there and what your number is.  On the wall in the waiting area you will find what is called a heat sheet.  This lets you know what order you will dance with your Pro and who will be dancing on the floor with you.

Each heat is 90 seconds long.  So, you have 1½ minutes to WOW the judges.

While you are dancing the judges will score you based on a medal structure.The levels of medals are Gold Graduate, Gold w/Honors, Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Honorable Mention. These medals are the equivalent of A+ – F.  Gold Graduate being the A+, Honorable Mention is the F.  Each judge will circle a medal grade for your dancing.  The computer will calculate all the judges’ scores and give you a grade for each of the judges.  You will be given the results at the awards ceremony.  Depending on each individual event director, the awards ceremony will be held sometime after you have competed.

This is an overview of ProAm line to help you to get started.  If you have additional questions, please feel free to put them in the comment section.  Specific rules questions should be addressed to the Vice President of Rules, Beth Emerson…

Donna Caudill is a certified UCWDC judge and former competitor. She co-owns Dance with Steve and Donna in Shepherdsville, KY where they teach everything from Ballroom and Country to Clogging.