Why Headliners Is the Supportive Competition for Dancers of All Levels
Sponsored by Headliners
August 1, 2022

In today’s trophy-saturated scene, Headliners stands out as a competition known for its nurturing, goal-oriented atmosphere and its candid feedback and scoring of dancers—regardless of level. “For over 32 years, we’ve stayed true to our mission of providing a fun, supportive competition,” explains Headliners’ founder and director Shari Tomasiello. “But we’ve also remained fair, honest and focused on educating and preparing dancers for the future.” Read on to discover why attending Headliners is an easy choice for discerning studio owners.

A Level Playing Field

Fairness and equality are the cornerstones of Headliners’ unparalleled competition experience. It starts with how dances enter to compete: Headliners was one of the first competitions to introduce levels based on specific technical skills, as opposed to splitting up dancers based on an arbitrary amount of time they may spend in the studio. The downloadable brochure on Headliners’ registration site provides a clear breakdown of what the judges look for in each level (novice, intermediate and competitive) and dance genre, explains Kelsie Crowley, a studio owner and Headliners judge. For example, in the novice level, a dancer is showcasing basic skills, whereas in the intermediate level, they incorporate more difficult elements, such as a double pirouette or more advanced leaps. 

Photo courtesy Headliners

Not only does Headliners’ carefully designed levels take the guesswork out of knowing how to register your dancers’ routines, but it also guarantees a fair playing ground for everyone. “It’s important to teach my kids how to handle competition gracefully,” says Crowley, who has attended Headliners as the owner of Empire Dance Company in Natick, Massachusetts. “At Headliners, they know that whether they won or lost, they got the scores they deserved, and they were judged against other dancers who are their true equals in terms of experience and skills.” 

And when your dancers take the stage, they’re evaluated and rewarded appropriately for their specific performance, not because they’re from a large studio. “It doesn’t matter if you have one independent entry or 100 entries from your studio, Headliners is going to support you,” says Tomasiello.

Bonus Perks—With No Additional Fees

What’s more, every solo entered in the competitive level is automatically entered into Headliners’ title competition—no additional fee required. “That way, kids can compete against everybody in their category for the award, not just the 25 to 50 percent of dancers who were able to pay extra,” Crowley says. 

Photo courtesy Headliners

Speaking of paying extra, you won’t have to spend money for top-notch photos and videos of every routine. Headliners is proud to have been the first competition to offer free media. “Parents and kids love the free photos and videos,” says Crowley. Studios receive a link via email that they can pass along to their parents approximately one week after each competition. “Since Headliners uses former dancers who are photographers at every event, it’s some of the best footage I’ve ever been able to use as promotional material for my studio,” says Crowley.

A Dream Team of Judges

With some of the highest judging standards in the industry, teachers can rest assured they’ll always walk away from a Headliners event with actionable feedback. Every Headliners judge is required to have extensive teaching experience with dancers of all ages and abilities. “Coming from a dance and teaching background, I know that only a teacher truly understands what it takes to get the dancer to the competitive level,” says Tomasiello. And the quality feedback proves this understanding extends throughout Headliners’ team of judges. “At other competitions, I tend to only end up with one judge’s tape that’s worth sharing with my dancers,” says Crowley. “But with Headliners, I can always depend on having three solid critiques to learn from.”

“Every judging panel is a mix of younger working professionals and seasoned veterans, all well-versed in a variety of fields,” explains Rolann Owens, Headliners judge and longtime studio owner. “Not once have I ever been asked to bump or change my scores, as long as I can back them up with my commentary. That level of integrity is rare in the competition world,” she says. 

Photo courtesy Headliners

Everything Under Control

At Headliners, every detail matters, which is why it’s long been lauded for its well-run events, which often run ahead of schedule. Dan Barris, a current Headliners judge whom studio owners may know as the former owner of Dancers Inc. competition, notes how “Shari keeps a firm grip on the schedule.” This keeps parents calm, helps the judges stay refreshed with appropriate meal breaks and ensures that dancers won’t get stressed out from not being prepared or dancing out of order. “Knowing that everything is under control makes it easy for me as a studio owner to actually enjoy the event, rather than having to compensate for any areas that the competition is lacking,” Crowley says. 

Family comes first at Headliners, which is why it limits entries per competition and assigns specific performance times for the event’s single stage. A careful eye to scheduling ensures that events do not start before 8 am and generally end no later than 10 pm. On Sundays, events wrap up earlier, so that families can get home at a decent hour. “The dancers and families are happier with the schedule,” Crowley says. And if questions do arise, you never have to go far for help. Headliners staff is known for cultivating a welcoming environment, and they’re always willing to lend a hand to assist parents and teachers during events.

A Dance Community That Cares

Headliners has always been about more than trophies. The competition runs a give-back program that allows studios to donate the value of their trophies to various charities, in place of receiving a physical award during the ceremony. Through the years, Headliners has facilitated private auditions with casting agents and directors, as well as colleges and conservatories. “One of my students was able to obtain a $40,000 scholarship through Headliners, which she used to continue dancing in college,” Owens shares. “The family-friendly atmosphere and opportunities at Headliners really encourage dancers’ own families to rally behind their child’s dance aspirations.”

Photo courtesy Headliners

Over the last 32 years, Headliners has cultivated a community of studio owners who are willing to grow and want the best learning experience possible for their dancers. If you’re also looking for an encouraging, supportive, goal-oriented competition for your studio, give Headliners a try. 

For more information or to preregister, email [email protected].

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