A girl in a baseball cap strikes a pose in a dance class

Winning Dance Competition Themes for Studios

When it comes to dance competitions for studios, working around a central theme adds an extra layer of shine that makes performances and the studio more memorable. Best of all, using a dance theme also helps speed up decision-making, which can be helpful during dance competition season.

As with fashion, dance themes go through cycles. Something can feel fresh and trendy, while last season’s “fresh and trendy” is this season’s “tired and unoriginal.” To help ensure your dance competition themes stay on trend without being derivative, we offer these ideas for coming up with truly unique themes. 

  • Theme mashups: Take familiar theme sources and find two specific ideas that can be mashed up into an arresting combination. Think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. The key to a good mashup is the contrast. Take a listen through some favorite song mashups, like Faded v Closer. You might brainstorm some ideas on how to mash up romantic and streetwear themes, even if you don’t use these songs. Other mashups may spark different mashup ideas.
  • Mixing cutting-edge costume design with a distinctive theme: Each year, costume trends change alongside theme trends. What are some of the hottest fabrics and designs for this year? If you want to go with some tried and true themes, like a military theme or a bold and loud theme – do it. But make it fresh by incorporating the newest costume options. For example, your dancers can wear leotards with super-sized velvet epaulets for a military theme. If big and loud is your theme, use mesh inserts in bright, contrasting colors to create bold, geometric shapes with texture and dimension.
  • If a movie or literary theme inspires you, don’t overlook the villains: Sure, everybody loves to do the princess or mermaid themes. They’re beautiful and ethereal. What we like most about stories is the heroine’s journey and the challenges she overcomes. There is no story without a villain. Really, what would Swan Lake be without the Black Swan? Use the choreography to allude to the whole story, not just the pretty parts.
  • Go back or forward in time or space: This is probably the easiest way to put a spin on a popular theme. How do surfer or skater girls act and look in the year 2118? You can get more literal. Pick a common theme, like nature or animals – but stretch it out over time by picking a theme-related song from three or four different decades.
  • Start with a single location: While Paris always seems a popular choice, pick a less expected, but culturally rich locale as your starting point. Vienna or Buenos Aires have broad, distinctive cultural histories from which you can select music (from there or that alludes to the city in some way), color palettes, and shapes. The place doesn’t need to be real — think Wakanda, the Emerald City, or Westeros.
  • Since choreography nearly always starts with the music, select one song you’ve been dying to use in dance competitions for your studio. What different themes can you build around that song? What emotions or visuals does it evoke? How can they be expressed differently in other songs you can use for other numbers? Perhaps there’s a timeline or a persona the song fits into that will make it easy to select related songs.

Presenting a unified theme in dance competitions can help your dance studio stand out. Even if you choose a unique theme for each number, expressing it with originality and depth from the song choice to the choreography to the costumes can be the edge that separates your dancers from their competition.

What are some themes you’re interested in this year? Comment below!

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