The couples' performances are evaluated by a panel of judges, "Adjudicators" as they are called in DanceSport, in a transparent process aiming at maximum objectivity of the results. The methods for evaluation have been optimised by WDSF over many years and take all of the sport's particular traits into account.
A performance in DanceSport cannot be assessed by applying any absolute measures. No distance in metres that couples cover with their Waltz, no timing in seconds for the Quickstep! Instead, many criteria are considered, all at once, to determine who is best on the floor.
The list of criteria goes on: HOLD, MOVEMENT, PRESENTATION, RHYTHMIC INTERPRETATION, FOOT ACTION, FLOOR CRAFT, etc. It even includes some
These criteria, all of them well defined and most of them interrelated, are the tools which adjudicators use to evaluate the quality of the performances. In order to grasp how they are used in adjudicating, one should consider each criteria to be one piece of a big jigsaw puzzle. Since an experienced adjudicator knows perfectly well what the completed puzzle looks like, how a particular dance must be presented, he recognises any missing piece instantly.
The adjudicator is not required to use all criteria at all times. The emphasis put on certain criteria shifts somewhat in different stages of the competition. In the early stages - in the preliminary rounds - emphasis is put on criteria related to the basic requirements, e.g. correct dance hold, basic technical competence, movement in time with the music, etc. The performances are primarily judged for their correctness.
As the competition progresses, the more sophisticated criteria are applied. They relate to accuracy of execution, dynamic qualities, characterisation of the dances, partnering skills, body rhythm, etc. In the semi-finals and finals the adjudicators consider the artistic value of a performance too. The winning couple, therefore, has successfully complied with the basic requirements and excelled after most or all of the criteria have been considered by the adjudicators.