The objective of the Artistic Voice competition is to spotlight couples who dance Balboa while making a point to feature their own style, personality, and voice as individuals and a couple. A goal is to reward choices that are new and different that also engage the audience and get others excited to try something new. The hope is that this competition will celebrate and showcase unique, diverse, and creative dancers. 

This competition will have unique judging criteria that reward couples for excelling within three select categories: Unique Style, Scintillating Performance, and Groundbreaking (see award category descriptions below for more). Couples can win an award in only one category. The contest will use the format of prelims and finals, with finals danced to DJed music that competitors help select in advance. 

Although this competition occurs in the context of Bal music at a Bal event, it is not meant to duplicate other Bal contests such as the Open Classic. Therefore, dancers are expected to primarily dance some combination of the Bal family of dances, including but not limited to Pure Balboa, Bal-Swing, and LA Swing. Regardless, as long as the dancers’ choices make sense with the music and the moment, anything goes.


Cash: $250 for each of three award categories and trophy 

Competition Format 

The competition will consist of prelims and finals, as follows: 

  • Prelims: Competitors will dance in heats to random DJed songs of a variety of tempos and genres (see Music section below for more).  
  • Finals: Couples will select a tempo and genre for their music in advance and dance a spotlight to a random song fitting those criteria. They will not know which specific song they are dancing to in advance. All couples will dance to a DJed song for the final all-skate.


This competititon will feature a variety of Bal-friendly music. These are the expected genres and tempo ranges: 

Tempo ranges:

  • Slow = 110-130 bpm
  • Medium = 170-190 bpm
  • Fast = 190-220 bpm
  • Really Fast = 230-250 bpm


  • Hot Jazz
  • Jazz Manouche
  • Big Band Swing
  • Western Swing


Judges will be selected for this competition because they excel in at least one of the three award categories. During prelims, judges will select finalists for each category, with the intention for there to be even representation of the three categories in the finals. However, finalists will be announced collectively. During finals, judges will evaluate all competitors in all categories, as though three contests are happening at once. 

Couples will be eligible to win only one award in the Artistic Voice contest. In the event that one couple receives first place in more than one category during the first score tabulation, the head judge will determine which category is the better fit and give the couple only that award. The next highest ranking couple in the other category would then receive that award.

Award Category Descriptions

Unique Style

The Unique Style category is intended to reward couples who have a distinct way of moving, reacting, and connecting to the music and their partner. A hallmark of a unique style is that it is consistent – whatever moves the dancers make, the audience can see it is them, and not anyone else, who is moving. The best way to pursue this award is to be consistently and thoroughly yourself. 

Scintillating Performance

The Scintillating Performance category is intended to reward couples who engage the audience above all else. What this engagement looks like is up to the performers – and the audience. The best way to pursue this award is to be aware of the audience’s reaction to your dancing and to manage it to create something special for everyone.


The Groundbreaking category is intended to reward couples who showcase new and different content that still makes sense as part of Bal. Whereas the Unique Style category is more about quality of movement and the overall impression dancers’ make, the Groundbreaking category is about specific choices in specific moments. The best way to pursue this award is to take interesting risks that, if broadly implemented, would further the development of modern Bal dancing.