As competition season keeps moving along into 2016, we thought it would be a great time to reach out to our friends over at Open Call Competition and see if they could answer some of our questions! In this four part series, judges from OC answer questions that were submitted by members of our private Facebook Competition Group. (Join the group here!) Take a peek at their advice and see what you can apply to your competition pieces this year. Make 2016 your highest achieving year of dance competitions to date!



Why are routines that are nothing more than a series of flexibility poses scored so high? Where is the artistry, where is the dancing?

Oh yikes! I think this question is a bit of an unfair generalization because I don’t score dances high JUST because of “flexibility poses.” I think if a dancer can accurately execute difficult “flexibility poses,” good for them. It’s definitely impressive and I think points should be awarded based on difficulty AND execution. If your ankles are wobbling and your falling out of your “tricks,” I would consider that a miss and would further, not award points. BUT. I still look past the “poses” because I am ALWAYS looking for artistry, storytelling and performance quality. A solo full of practiced tricks without a real, honest performance, musicality, intention, etc., is just that. A solo full of practiced tricks. And to me, that gets old very fast. Especially when you have three solos with the same chin stand, leg trick, turn combo! Try something else.

How do you feel about the age appropriateness of costumes/numbers?

Hm, this is a tricky one. Personally, I feel uncomfortable when I see young girls being “too sexy.” The pelvic thrusting, the minimal amounts of clothing, cheeks hanging out of briefs, the twerking. I could honestly live without it. BUT. If it is done right, it’s done right, and I can’t get mad about it. Musicality and choreography have a huge play on that, as well. If it’s good, intelligent choreography, I’m less likely to get upset. If it looks like it’s just thrown in there for the “shock effect” or “because it’s cool and current,” you’ve lost me. Also…Being sexy is not about being trashy or promiscuous. Being sexy is about being confident in your own skin. If you can pull that off at a young age (I’ve definitely seen it,) then more power to ya! If not, maybe hold off until you’re a little older. Personally, I’d like for you to wait until you’re at least 15 –  but, hey! Let’s teach our girls to represent women in a positive way! Love your body in a positive way! Be proud to be a girl, a woman, a dancer, a storyteller. Do it with pride and integrity. Teachers, that’s up to you. Educate your girls on being classy and powerful!



What do you look for the most in a winning dance?

I don’t look for anything in particular. The winning dance is the one that takes me out of my seat, the theatre, and the day. It’s the piece that makes me forget where I am. The piece that makes me believe. The piece that makes me laugh and cry. The piece that makes me FEEL. I want to get lost in YOUR story!

What advice would you give to help a dancer preparing for his or her 1st solo?

Have fun! Remember why you are doing this in the first place – because you love to dance! Yes, it is important to practice and train. But it makes me so happy when I see a dancer on stage radiating happiness and passion!

How do you feel about the age appropriateness of costumes/numbers?

I definitely feel age appropriateness of costumes and routines is important to consider for young dancers. I am often turned off by young dancers who look too mature or who are doing movement too mature for them. You can achieve the look of nice clean lines, without showing too much skin. I also feel dancers should be dancing to, and trying to convey emotions and stories they can relate to. When dancers are given material too mature for them the performance can often come across forced or the message gets lost completely. Young dancers should be just that, youthful, fun and age appropriate!

Do you think that costuming is plays a large role in scores ? 

I believe costumes can play a huge role in the success of a performance! A well-fitted costume can help accentuate a dancer’s assets, such as beautiful legs, or graceful arms. A successful character costume can help tell the story a dancer is trying to portray. And even a simple and understated costume can add to a performance, by not distracting the audience from the movement we are watching. Overall, costumes are a part of the full package dancers are presenting when they step onto the stage. When done correctly, it should be reflected in their score!

What do you look for the most in a winning dance?

I am definitely looking for the complete package in a winning dance – technique, style, performance quality etc. But I think what often stands out most to me are dancers who can tell a story. I love a dancer who can engage me and make me feel something. Whether that’s joy, sorrow or even just your genuine love and passion for dance, that is always going to stick with me! Sure, doing 8 pirouettes is impressive, but if there is no life behind your eyes, you’re going to lose me very quickly!


Cat Cogliandro

A native of Houston, Texas, Cat received her BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase. Since then, Cat has worked with choreographers such as Al Blackstone, Tyce Diorio, Mike Esperanza, Talia Favia, Jason Gorman, Nicole Hogg, Juliette Irons, Sonya Tayeh, Teddy Tedholm and Jaci Royal. Her credits include So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Got Talent, The 2014 Gypsy Awards and The PULSE on Tour. Cat is currently on faculty at Broadway Dance Center and The Edge, and guest teaches at studios such as Millennium Dance Complex (LA and Pittsburgh), Peridance, Movement Lifestyle. Cat also taught for The PULSE on Tour Annual Teacher Workshop and Wild Dance Intensive. Her work has been presented at The Young Choreographers Festival, Young! Tanzsommer, Sirens After Dark, Jared Grimes’s Feel Good, Dancin’ Downtown at The Joyce, Riverside Church, RAW at The Cutting Room, Dixon Place and The PULSE Showcase Finale in New York City. Cat now travels between LA and New York, as she continues to teach nationally and internationally, and is in the process of starting her own company, catastrophe!

Julianna Lichtman

A proud East Coaster, Julianna is originally from Branchburg, NJ. Julianna began dancing at the age of 3, and what started as a hobby quickly became a lifelong passion. Julianna attended Fordham University in New York, where she graduated with a degree in Communications and Minor in Sociology. She continued to dance throughout college with a performance group called Expressions Dance Alliance, where she served as Vice President. During the summer before her senior year of college Julianna began interning at Clear Talent Group, combining her passion for dance and interest in the business side of the entertainment industry. After interning with CTGNY her entire senior year, Julianna began working full time 2 weeks after graduation in June of 2010. Julianna is thankful to have a job that she loves and looks forward to another season with Open Call!

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