Can You Become an Adjudicator, If You’ve Never Been a Dancer?

Have you ever wondered about the background and experience of the adjudicators around the floor? Ever thought about if they ever have been competitive dancers before being a judge? In this article, you will see if someone can become an adjudicator without being a dancer.

Dancing vs Other Sports

If we have a look at other sports, we will notice that an arbiter is often just an expert in a certain discipline who has the license to judge. However, this does not require a previous career as an athlete in the same field. Tennis, soccer, volleyball, swimming, box, basket…You name it. In all these examples the referees are just checking that the rules of the game are not infringed. The catch here is that they are not actually evaluating the performance of the player.

In dancesport, instead, there are not only rules which need to be respected, but the adjudicator has the responsibility to analyze the performance of each couple on the dancefloor. The adjudicator has to determine the couple’s rank compared to the other dancers.

Therefore, the judge should not only know the Competition Regulation. Furthermore, the adjudicator must be expert in the discipline and be able to choose the good from the bad dancer or to evaluate his performance (WDSF Judging System 3.0)

What It Takes To Be An Adjudicator

Does this require a previous experience as a dancer? Theoretically no. We can’t yet demonstrate that in order to be a dancesport adjudicator you should have been a dancer first. But, let me give you my two cents on why it’s important to have history as a dancer.

1. Knowledge

If a person that never had any connection with dancesport decides to get the license to be a judge, he or she can get an education to learn the theory. Through books and video courses, he or she can get all the technical information and a better idea about how a correct movement should look like visually. But does it mean they are ready enough to pass an exam? Not yet.

2. Applied theory

They should also learn how to execute the steps, in order to get qualified. Thus, they should have some lessons with a teacher to get a better understanding of the theory. At this point, this person that had no connection to dancesport has enough theoretical knowledge and has the possibility practice the movements explained in the book. Are they able to pass the exam? Probably yes, but what about being ready to judge a real competition.

3. Artistry

If you are a dancer, you know for sure that a performance is more than just steps and rules. How do you explain the connection between a man and a woman? How can you give a written example of what is good floorcraft? How can you describe the difference between the attitude and charisma of a champion compared to an average dancer? No book can do that for you, you need to build artistry skills.

Experience Matters

All this information comes with experience. When you’ve had to walk in a dancer’s shoes for long enough, it’s easier to tell who’s good and who’s not. The breath, the stress, the eyes, the sweat… an expert adjudicator can catch all these small details. A judge will make the evaluation also based on these feelings.

Probably if you never have been a dancer, you can start by judging beginners and build your experience competition by competition. You can be so passionate about technique that your technical knowledge will be higher than the average.

You can watch all the videos on YouTube and know exactly how a good couple should look like, but I believe nothing can replace the real experience of being a dancer on a dancefloor, with a number on the back and being judged.


Find the author on 

Italian, dancing since the age of 5 and currently based in Moscow. With his partner Ekaterina Utkina, he is in the top 50 WDSF Adult Standard World Ranking, representing the Russian Federation.

Tags: competition dancefloor dancesport judge

Get Tips & Tricks every Week!

Join our newsletter and get news in your inbox every week! We hate spam too, so no worries about this.