Jeannie Tucker
Manny Viarrial

Competition Tips

Are you REALLY ready to dance for the judges and spectators??? 

A lot more goes into a dance performance for a major Swing competition than just choreography, practice and performing.  Overall strategy also plays an important role in the final outcome of the competition.  That includes outfit selection, personal grooming, dance presentation, and the entry / exit for your routine.  

We asked Jeannie Tucker, veteran US OPEN competitor, judge, choreographer, and professional dance instructor, to share some "competition secrets" with our USA Swing Net viewers to help provide them with valuable insight for their future competitions.  Here are her comments...


Getting ready for a competition or performance requires a lot of planning to make the entire presentation come together effectively.  First, deciding the trends music-wise and what you want
to sell and interpret is necessary.  Then, what "visual" you want to provide as the vehicle for that interpretation is next.  

Picking a song that is pleasing to the listener and exciting enough to plan
great choreography around is a challenge.  Then you must try to figure out how to "sell" that routine with costumes that fulfill the mood set by the music.

Costumes must set the tone for the expression of a particular piece of music - and color, fit, style, and flow all have a great deal to do with the image and lines you create on the floor.  A costume with some movement about it and a looser fit or style can add fluidity to your body and moves.  Tight-fitting costumes are not very forgiving and should be worn by those who are well-rehearsed and sure of their movements.  A good example of this is the difference between how dancers look wearing pants with big "loose" legs and ones with tight "straight" legs.  Their bodies not only look different but their movements do as well.  If you have figure flaws, as we all have, then you must also consider how to make your body look the best in the moves you want to execute. 

For woman, one of my real pet peeves is the use of shiny pantyhose on stage.  If you want your thighs to look thin (as we all do), then do not put a reflective fabric on them which makes them appear bigger to the audience.  For men, if your waist is large, then do not wear a shiny rhinestone belt to draw the attention to the wide mid-section you are dealing with.  Instead, put the attention on a top that will make you shoulders look wide and use a dark color on the lower body to make it appear smaller and thinner.

When it comes to hair, use it as you do your costume.  If you want to show speed and quickness in your routine, then pull it back so as not to be a distraction.  If you move in a quick fashion and want people to see your ability to stop on a dime, make sure the hair will stop with you and not keep the action going.  If flow and smooth style is your thing, then use the hair to show this and have it down and loose so it can move and show the "fluidity" of your moves.  If you do put it up, make sure it is fastened well so it doesnít come loose in a routine. 

The color of the backdrop of the stage is a real consideration.  If you want parts of your body to really show up, then contrast them to the background.  If you want to de-emphasize a body part then match it to the background as camouflage.  If your routine is full of great footwork, then accent the feet with a color that we will see. 

The lighting is also important.  If direct lighting is being used, then take advantage of the use of rhinestones to "glitter" in the spotlights.  Remember also that rhinestones will draw attention to the area you place them on, so place them wisely.

When it comes to creating a routine, remember that you are an artist and you should understand that the "moment" we see you out there your art begins - so enter in a fashion or mood that is like that of the dance you are about to do.  Be gracious and gather our respect and attention right away.

There are two basic ways to sell yourself to the audience.  Either go and get them with moves that demand their attention or make the "mood" between you and your partner so enticing that they canít help but be drawn into your routine.

Remember, most people would give their right leg to be out there doing what you are doing, so enjoy it fully.  You are building memories to look back at later on in your life.  Make them good ones!


Contact Jeannie Tucker at:

Phone: 520.325.4100

Website: www.jeannietucker.com

E-mail: jeannie@jeannietucker.com 


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