About Formation

Formation competitions require teams to perform a routine of approximately six minutes based on all five dances in each discipline, although 16 bars of any dance style is permitted.  Only four and a half minutes of the routine are judged, the rest of the routine consists of a walk on and walk off, which must be clearly marked in the music.  IDSF regulations permit six minutes of music in total, whereas BDC rules requires that the 6mins includes time to get on and off the floor.  Lifts are not permitted in the main body of the routine, although IDSF regulations permit lifts to be used as part of the walk on and walk off. 

Formation teams exist in the Juvenile (12yrs and under), Junior (16 yrs and under) and Adult categories.  In Juvenile and Junior women may dance as leader.  4 couple teams are common for the lower age grades, but in Adult formation (over 16 yrs) competition 8 couples is the norm.  The BDC rulebook gives further information about the age, step and costume restrictions for formation competitions.

Teams commonly choose a theme for each routine, selecting a medley of music and a costume which compliments this.  Couples do not necessarily all dance exactly the same choreography at the same time; solo work is permitted or couples may perform something in sequence for a cascade effect.  Common tricks in formation routines include roundabouts, bum spins, pot-stirs, splits and spins.  The patterns made by the couples on the floor are crucial, and transitions between patterns should be smooth.  Straight lines of eight couples down the floor can look effective when done correctly, but a variety of patterns should be used within one routine.  Other critical factors when judging formation dancing include synchronicity where appropriate, performance, portrayal of the different characteristics of each of the dances, and technique of the dancers. 

Formation Teachers Alliance

International formation competitions

WDSF regulations require a panel of at least seven judges from different countries to adjudicate international formation competitions and a chairman must watch the rehearsals to check that rules are not being infringed.  At the world championships the adjudicating panel will typically be amidst the tiered seating of the audience. If more than five teams are competing there will be a second round and teams are recalled based on the number of marks given by the judges. All competitors must be amateurs and each team must have a professional coach.  In international formation championships at least 12 competitors per team are required to hold a valid passport for the country they are representing. 

The WDSF record the first formation competition in 1932, but the first formation World Championships was held in 1973.  The World Formation Championships in both disciplines are held annually and the top two teams from each country are permitted to compete at the event.  The main formation competitions in the UK are the British National in November and the British Open in May, both held at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool.   Events for Junior Formation Teams are held at the Junior Blackpool Festival, and also include events for four couple teams.  The selection of Adult Formation Teams to represent England at the World & European championships will be based on the relative performances of the eligible teams at the British Open Championships and the British National Championships respectively.