2024 Divisions, Categories, Judging Criteria and Awards


Shining Star:  An inclusive level for students with intellectual and/or development disabilities.  Overall winners in this level are eligible for Gift Certificates.

Recreational: For those students who participate in dance class and/or extra rehearsals up to 3 hours per week. This provides a less intimidating approach to the competitive experience for those dancers new to competitions or who have less experience.  Recreational Overall winners are eligible for Gift Certificates, but ineligible for cash awards. Students in more than 5 duet/trio or group routines cannot enter a Recreational Solo and must move to competitive for a solo.  Recreational duet/trio and group routines cannot contain Elite dancers. (This rule does not apply to productions.)  Dancers that compete more than one solo must compete in the Competitive or Elite Division.

Competitive: For students that participate in class and/or extra rehearsals for 3-6 hours per week.  Dancers that compete more than one solo should be entered in the competitive or elite division.  Competitive Overall winners are eligible for Gift Certificates, but ineligible for Cash Awards.  The highest adjudication a competitive routine can receive is a Diamond.  Students striving to achieve a Mic Drop should enter the Elite division.

Elite:  Our Elite division is for Junior, Teen and Senior students who participate in class and extra rehearsals for more than 6 hours a week. Elite dancers are the only dancers eligible to receive our Prestigious “Mic Drop” Award.  Elite Overall winners are eligible for Gift Certificates and/or Cash Awards.  Elite dancers cannot compete in recreational duet/trios or groups (other than productions.) Only Elite overall winners and members of the Dream Team (selected at Encore Extreme in the fall) will be invited to perform in the Grand Finals Gala Opening Number.  The following dancers from the current year are invited to participate in this advanced number:

Elite Division 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Overall Solos and Super Solos
All Elite Division 2nd runner up, 1st runner up and Title winners

Elite Division 1st overall duet/trios
Dream Team Members for the current year

Please note that a minimum number of participants are required at regionals in order for a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner to be announced. Only students announced at regionals as 1st, 2nd or 3rd (as explained above) are eligible for the opening number. Students ages 9 and over that did not pre-qualify are invited to audition at Grand Finals to be a part of the Opening Number.

Pro-Am: Any routine containing a professional must compete in the Pro-Am age division. A professional is defined as any person 20 years of age or older who is or has ever been a teacher, assistant teacher, or professional dancer. A group division containing only one professional forces that group division to compete in Pro-Am.  Pro-Am entries are ineligible for cash awards.  

Mini and Petite entries cannot compete in the Elite level. Any division changes must be made by teachers prior to the first day of competition. Because dance competitions have no way of knowing how many hours a week a student trains, placement is ultimately left to the teacher’s discretion.  However, if 2/3 judges on the judges’ panel see repeated elements of a higher level, they reserve the right to move the routine to the next highest level. 

 *New this year:  No more than 40% of the dancers in a duet/trio or group routine can be dancers from a higher level.  For example, if there are 10 dancers in a recreational routine, a maximum of 4 of them can be competitive level dancers. In addition, Encore DCS will implement a “head judge” at each event.  This judge will  be responsible for making sure rules are being followed and for alerting the auditor if the panel feels that the routine should be bumped to another level.  In addition, another judge will be appointed to provide a teachers only critique.  This judge will offer helpful suggestions about dancers, choreography, costuming, level placement, etc.  for the teacher’s ears only! 

Age Divisions:          

Mini: 5 & Under         Petite: 6-8                              Junior: 9-11             

Teen: 12-14               Senior: 15-16, 17-18            Adult:  19-24, 25-39, & 40 & up

Every category with 10 or more entries will be split into smaller age brackets.   All ages for Regionals and Grand Finals are determined as of January 1, 2024.  For Duet/Trios and Groups, the average age determines the age division into which you fall.   Drop the decimal point when averaging the ages, i.e., an age average of 12.5 would compete in the 12-year-old division.

Categories and Acrobatic Tricks:

Performance Categories include:  Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Contemporary, Clogging, Musical Theater, Character, Gymnastics, Folkloric, Modeling, Baton, Pom Pom, Liturgical, Modern, Hip Hop, Open, AcroJazz, Song & Dance and Vocal.  Vocals are allowed only in Song & Dance and Vocal.

Photogenic entries are accepted only at Nationals.  Photos should be 8x10 and must be submitted at the event.

Acrobatic Tricks:  An acrobatic trick consists of a complete 360-degree rotation of the body with head inverted or a pass containing multiple gymnastic moves (excluding shoulder rolls.) Unlimited tricks are allowed only in Gymnastics, Character, Open, Pom Pom, Musical Theater, AcroJazz, Hip Hop, and ContemporaryAll other categories are limited to 3 acrobatic tricks. Routines that contain more than 3 tricks will be automatically moved to the correct category.  If multiple students perform the same trick at the same time, it only counts as ONE trick.  All passes with multiple tricks are counted as ONE trick.

Group Divisions & Time Limits:

Solo & Duet/Trios - 3-minute maximum

Small Group {4 – 9 dancers} 4-minute maximum

Large Group {10 – 19 dancers} – 4-minute maximum

Super Group {20 or more dancers}– 4:30 maximum

Productions {unlimited dancers} – 9-minute maximum.

*New this year – Large groups can contain up to 19 dancers.  Super Groups are for 20 or more dancers.

*There will be a 10 second grace period for all routines.  Extended time is permitted in all divisions at a rate of $5/person for every minute over the time limit. Routines that have not purchased extended time are subject to a 1 point deduction per judge for every minute over the time limit.


All entries will be judged based on a point system by a minimum of three qualified judges.  Judging is based on Technique, Showmanship, Musicality, and Overall Appeal (25% each). If a tie in scoring occurs, the tie will be broken based on Technique scores followed by Overall Appeal, Musicality, and then Showmanship. In the event a tie still exists, the judges will make the final decision.  Judges reserve the right to move entries to proper category for judging if improperly registered.  A minimum point requirement of 240 points must be met to receive 1st place in the event that only one entry is registered for that category.

Super Solo and Title Competition:

Super Solo - Students who perform more than 1 solo must be entered in the Competitive or Elite Division and will be placed in our "Super Solo" Overall Awards.  The highest two solo scores for each Super Solo are averaged to determine the Super Solo score for overall placement.  ALL Super Soloists will be recognized with a special award.  Students performing only one solo per competition will be judged separately for Overall awards only and will compete for the Top Soloist in every age division.  Vocal, Song and Dance and Modeling categories are excluded from Super Solo.

Regional Title Competition – Soloists are now eligible to compete for Title Winner for an additional charge.  Regional Title scores are based on Showmanship and Overall Appeal.  All genders are combined for title awards.  One Title winner will be announced in each level and age division.  For example, there will be a Recreational Junior Title Winner, Competitive Junior Title Winner and Elite Junior Title Winner.  Only one solo per student is eligible for Title competition. 

“Solo Title Entry” must be checked on the registration form to compete for title.  Vocal entries are ineligible for Title.  There are TWO ways to compete for Title:

1) If a student competes only one solo they would be eligible for Title Winner AND regular Overall Solo awards.

2) If a student competes multiple solos, they would be eligible for Title Winner (by selecting just one of their solos to compete for title) AND their top two scores would go into the running for Overall Super Solo.

National Title Competition –Solo scores of Overall Appeal and Showmanship will determine placement. The Top 20 students in each age division will be announced and a Top 10 will be asked to improv on stage. The Top 5 will be asked an on-stage question. Scores for National Title winners will be calculated by starting with each student’s solo title score (the combination of showmanship and overall appeal.) Students will receive up to 10 additional points for Improv and if they make the Top 5 they can receive up to 10 points for the question portion.  Dancers will be ranked from lowest to highest based on their cumulative title, improv and on-stage question scores.

Trophies & Awards: 

*Every routine will receive a Mic Drop, Diamond, Platinum, High Gold, or Gold recognition in addition to  1st-5th placements.  The prestigious “Mic Drop” award is reserved for routines competing in the Elite Division. 

*Every category with 10 or more entries will be split into smaller age brackets based on the student’s birthdate or average age.  Detailed information on awards can be found on our awards page.

Photos and Videos:

Encore DCS is excited to include photos and videos of each routine with entry fees.  Media will be available via digital download within five business days of the event.  Passwords for downloads will be provided to all teachers that have paid in full.  Teachers will be responsible for distributing the studio password to parents and students.  To locate photos after the event, visit our website, click the city you attended, and click on the link for Photo or Video. 


2024 ENCORE DCS Rules and Regulations


  1. All entries should be completed via online registration at www.encoredcs.com at least 28 days prior to the event.  Registration is accepted on a first come first served basis and is limited to the amount of competition time available. Many events reach capacity well before the deadline and any entries exceeding the limit will be turned away.  Studios should submit a minimum $500 deposit at the time of registration.
  2. A tentative schedule outline will be available on our website at least two weeks prior to the event.  Detailed schedules are emailed to studio directors approximately 10 days prior to the event.
  3. All changes and corrections are due at least 7 days prior to the event.  Any changes made after this deadline will result in a $10 fee per change charged to the studio account.  Change fees must be paid by credit card online before revised schedules will be released to the studio.
  4. Payment by check can be mailed to 203 West Butler Street Lexington, SC 29072.  Credit card payments are accepted online with a 3% service charge. Money orders are not accepted via postal mail.
  5. A 50% deposit of total entry fees must be received 28 days prior to the event.  Full payment must be received at least 14 days prior to the competition date or a $10.00 late fee per entry will be added.  A $25 fee will apply to all returned checks.  Returned checks will automatically be turned over to an outside Collections Agency and/or the Solicitor’s office.  Absolutely no personal checks for entry fees will be taken at the event and any unpaid entries will not be allowed to perform. 
  6. No refunds of fees will be given after the deadline date.  A credit for another regional competition or Grand Finals for the current year or following year will be issued to the studio in the event that a dancer is unable to perform.  Refunds will only be provided in the event that a competition is cancelled.
  7. We do not accept independent entries.  Each studio is required to bring a minimum of two performing individuals. A dance studio attending the competition must support each entry. This rule does not apply to soloists that qualify for Nationals.  Independent dancers can register for Encore Extreme convention classes, but must be registered under a studio name if competing in the solo competition.
  8. Gift certificates and scholarships for Encore DCS and Encore Extreme are not interchangeable and can only be used at the event listed on your certificate.
  9. New – electronic waivers:  A parent or guardian must complete a waiver in order for their child to participate.  Waivers will now be submitted electronically.  The Waiver link can be found in your Dance Comp Genie registration.  The link for the waiver can be shared with your parents via email by clicking on “Copy Waiver Link.”
  10. Encore DCS reserves the right to change the number of competition days based on registration received and is not liable for refunds based on schedule changes.
  11. Dancers should be ready to compete at least ONE HOUR ahead of their scheduled performance time. 
  12. Unless arranged ahead of time, a 5-point deduction will be made for any routines not performed within three numbers of the scheduled order. 
  13. Music should be uploaded to the studio’s Dance Comp Genie account at least two days prior to the first day of the event.  Music will no longer be accepted at the event.  A backup form of music is always required.  We recommend iPads, iPods, computers, or USB drives for backup and prefer not to use cell phones. 
  14. Professionals may compete only in the Pro-Am division.  A professional is defined as any person 20 years of age or older who is or has ever been a teacher, assistant teacher, or professional dancer.
  15. Soloists may not compete against themselves in the same category.  All other dancers in duet/trios, groups, and productions may enter as many categories as they wish as long as they do not compete against themselves in the exact same groups.  (Soloists are limited to one solo at Encore Extreme conventions.)
  16. A 10-point deduction will be made for routines that are not completed.  This applies to dancers that re-perform their routines after a false start unless the re-performance is caused by a technical error or other uncontrollable event not attributable to the dancer’s performance.
  17. Freestanding props are allowed but must be easily moved into the theater and on & off stage without disrupting the competition in progress.  Props for solos and duet/trios should be set within one minute. Fire, water, or excessive littering is not allowed on stage and any debris should be removed by the studio within 30 seconds following the routine. 
  18. No lighting changes are allowed at Regionals.
  19.  Human props are allowed, but any person on stage must be registered in the event and their age should be included in the average. 
  20. We at Encore DCS pride ourselves on running a family friendly competition.  If every judge on the panel feels that a routine is inappropriate for the age a 10 point deduction will be made.
  21. Highest Score winners from the previous year’s Grand Finals may not compete the same routine in the same division at any of the following season’s regional or grand finals competitions.
  22. All 1st, 2nd, & 3rd place routines, or those scoring a minimum of 240 points at regionals are eligible to attend Grand Finals. If a student is unable to compete in a group at Finals, a substitution may be made.  New routines not competed at regionals may be pre-qualified for Grand Finals through video submission.  Please email Susan@encoredcs.com for details.
  23. Encore DCS will provide two wireless handheld microphones for use in Vocal and Song & Dance routines.  Personal microphones and headsets can be used with our sound system, however, must be tested before the competition starts.
  24. Teachers and studio directors should bring any question or challenge of routines or rules to the attention of the Encore DCS director in charge prior to the respective awards ceremony.
  25. Judges reserve the right to deliberate and choose the Highest Scoring Routine.
  26. All rules and regulations listed here for Encore DCS apply to Encore Extreme unless otherwise noted.
  27. Encore DCS provides free livestream when possible.  Please note that competition location and wireless signals affect our ability to provide this service.  It’s important to let friends and family watching the competition know that the competition may run ahead of schedule.
  28. Photography and video recording is always prohibited! Videotaping and photography of any kind is not allowed in order to protect choreography and due to our contracts with professional videographers and photographers.  Personal cameras, video cameras, and any other recording devices are prohibited in the auditorium.
  29. All dancers, teachers, and guests are expected to display good sportsmanlike conduct to all participants at all times.  Encore DCS does not discriminate, but does reserve the right to refuse entrance to any competitor, spectator, studio, or individual that has been deemed to exhibit unsportsmanlike behavior.
  30. Only performers, teachers, and staff are allowed on stage before, during and after a competition.
  31. All awards should be picked up at the conclusion of the event and will not be mailed. Judges audio critiques and score sheets will be downloaded to Dance Comp Genie after the event and will be emailed to teachers within three days of the event.  Score sheets and video critiques will also be available in the studios Dance Comp Genie account unless there is a balance due.  Teachers will receive an email when scores and critiques are available.
  32. All teachers, parents and participants give Encore DCS the right to use their photo or video with any advertising or media campaign. By performing at Encore DCS events, all competitors consent to the use of photographs and/or video footage for promotional purposes, which may include social media and streaming of routines online.
  33. Gift certificates that are awarded to groups can only be redeemed for group entry fees at future Encore DCS events.
  34. Encore DCS and the hosting venue are not responsible for personal injury or property loss to either contestants or spectators.  Performers in a dance competition are subject to risks which can include, but are not limited to sprains, pulled muscles and broken bones.  Participation in Encore DCS events indicates the acceptance of these types of risks and participants and spectators agree that they will not hold Encore DCS, its officers, employees or staff responsible for injuries or illnesses contracted by them while in attendance of any Encore event.
  35. Rules and regulations are subject to change and are always available at www.encoredcs.com.