Solo Invasion

Solo Invasion

By Kim McCluer, Jan 22, 2014


It’s the Invasion of the Solos, coming to city and studio near you!  The last two years we have seen the number of solos rise, and in some cities actually double. It is simple to see why it is happening, TV. Thank SYTYCD and everyone’s “favorite” dance teacher, Abby Lee, and those inspiring Dance Mom’s of hers. Is it a bad thing, yes and no! Is it a good thing, yes and no! Let’s look at the pros and cons, and the consequences of this terrifying and nail biting invasion.


1. Solos challenge our dancers. It allows them to grow as a performer. They have to think for themselves when no one is standing beside them, no one to watch in the 5-6-7-8 count when they forget the step. They are all alone on a huge bright stage. There are many life lessons learned doing solos, and much confidence is gained.
2. Solos provide additional revenue to the choreographers. Dance teachers are often starving artists. Without these soloists, there is not enough group choreography to make a living, or even spare change. It gives creative outlets for many teachers.
3. Kids get to be like the “reality stars” on their favorite dance programs. Every character on SYTYCD and Dance Mom’s has a solo, lots and lots of them, one per week, 25 per year, it goes on and on. They all get a chance at the top of the pyramid or the top of the lineups. They all get their own trophy!
4. Solos give bragging rights to the parents. With solos there is no competition for front row, no assumed failure in dancing in the back. Every soloist is front and center, unless you are three-years-old and you don’t make it all the way out on the stage because you are watching yourself on the big video monitor. Hey, look, that’s me!!!!
5. People come and watch YOU. Grandma and grandpa and friends and team mates and (giggle, giggle) boyfriends! Unless of course you are in the 17-19 age division and at that point not many come to watch or stay to watch (I don’t get that, but that is a whole other blog!).

1. If your studio has 60 acts, and 30 of those are solos, that probably means the same will hold true for other studios: 25 acts equal 13 solos; 100 acts equal 50 solos; 3 acts… probably all solos. This is where we as competitions are getting the tail end of the domino trail. What do we do with them? When do they dance? There are still 24 hours in a day and only about 14 of those hours truly reasonable for dance. We don’t get the same multiplication advantage, meaning, 24 hours did not turn into 48 for us. Oh, how I wish!!! 48 hours in Saturday and 48 hours in Sunday…the perfect competition weekend!
2. Does everyone really need a solo? I don’t know. I honestly can’t answer that. Every studio is unique, every soloist is unique. Maybe that beginner soloist is so shy that doing a solo is a step toward being a more confident and outgoing adult. Maybe that 3-year-old lives at the studio because of dance mom or dance sister or brother and this is the start of something bigger for him or her. public cloud . Does a soloist need to perform 3 solos? I don’t know. Maybe that 12-year-old loves it so much, and the 30 hours per week dedicated to dance is lived out on the stage in these 3 solos. I don’t have the answer, or can know the reason behind each solo, but how do you deny them this opportunity? These opportunities are not denied them by the parents or studio so how do we deny them the outlet to perform them?
3. Solos take additional commitment, extra hours in the studio, more independent practice, more money spent, more costumes and sometimes difficult decisions to be made for all involved.
4. Solos do not make more money for the competitions, (and yes, we are a businesses, just like your dance studio). I am not speaking just for TOP. It is just a basic rule of numbers. The building still costs the same to rent per hour, the hotels, meals, travel and wages for judges and staff are the same, trophies and awards are the same. Nothing changes for us from an expense standpoint. What does change is the revenue per hour we take in. In most cases solo competition is a break even affair for us at best. I am not complaining about solos, just stating what I think is a misunderstood assumption in the industry.
5. Solos are probably too long at the allowed 3 minutes. dynamic domain name system . I know for a fact that judges almost always make up their minds in the first one and half minutes about the scores they will give, (sometimes they have even scored the act by then). israel They have probably seen all of the tricks and, sometimes past that 2 minute mark, dancers are tired. This doesn’t solve the invasion problem, nor does it buy us much more competition time, it is just an observation.

I have stated the facts involving this Solo Invasion as I see it, and that leads to difficult choices I mentioned in #3 of Cons. What do the competitions do with this Invasion? We scream!!!!!! No, just kidding, well we do that, but then we make those difficult decisions, and I can tell you with 100% conviction that no matter what we choose to do we will never will make everyone happy. And for that, we at TOP are sorry, because that is never our intention.
List below are the options we have to consider when a show grows past the limits of a Friday afternoon to Sunday evening show, and trust me when I say none of them are ideal. I also know for a fact that these options are played out all over the country at dance competitions everywhere.
Option 1: Run double stages for 2-3 days. Yes, in some venues we can do that. modafinil In many venues however this is just not a logistical option (high schools, colleges and city auditoriums for example) In convention centers additional space is almost always rented to someone else and unavailable to us. This means the space allotted to us has to be split into smaller chunks, which generally means we must build smaller stages for both solos and groups, which generally leads to standing room only due to the now limited space for seating. Plus, the schedule has kids from the same studios performing at the same times, making the running back and forth for the teachers very difficult. It might be just fine for the parents, but we do try to take the teachers into account on this decision too.
Option 2: We can have doors open at 6 am and put acts on the stage at 7 am, with awards that night at 1:00 am. We can do this for 3 nights and 2 days asking 7-year-olds to put in 16 hour days, and then expect them to return to school the next day.

Option 3: We can simply close the show at a set number of acts (and many people think this is answer). Consider the following however. How do we decide who gets cut? I can cut based on studios that enter first, but the studios that enter first are not always the ones that pay first (and most of the time they haven’t paid because the parents haven’t paid the studio yet). Should we cut your entire studio because some of the parents in your studio are slow to pay? If we do pick a number of acts to cut at, what should that magic number be? 500 sounds reasonable you say. But there are additional considerations. Let’s say two studios with 100 acts enter first (paid? maybe, maybe not), followed by 4 studios with 75, 50, 52, 60….half solos remember! We are almost to 500 already. Then a studio comes in with 25 acts, and then another one tries to enter 80 and the system kicks them out at 37. Your studio tries to enter 24 a couple hours later, still within the stated deadline, and is declined, with more studios, declined the next day. Now the studios that got booted out and are upset with us. The fact is you could be one booted out. Like us, you don’t have crystal ball to know when to get those entries in, and we don’t have a crystal ball to know when a show is going to grow beyond expectations or when (iiieeee!) the Solo Invasion has spread to your city!
Option 4 (our choice): Leave the show open to as many studios as possible, but require the soloists to make the decision concerning missing school time. This is the option we have deemed as the fairest and best way to let dancers dance and studios compete on a broad scale. Remember I said above that doing solos requires additional commitments. It is just like athletes and cheerleaders at school. They miss school because someone at their school has decided they are involved in a “school approved” activity. There are, however, many hobbies and activities that are not provided by the schools that deserve the same consideration, including many that lead to college scholarships, and turn into careers. I know for a fact that kids are pulled from classes for a variety of reasons outside traditional school-related activities. I know because I spent 13 years as a teacher in public and private schools. In my 13 years as a teacher kids missed for bike races, pageants, horseback riding and rodeos, dad’s 10K, mom’s blue ribbon for her pie at the state fair, brothers wrestling matches, dog shows, swimming meets, Disneyland and Sea World. The list goes on and on. We choose this option, not because we think it is best for everyone, but because, of all the other options (none of which are really good), it opens the door to most number of happy people. We also have never “punished” anyone by keeping their entry fees if they chose not to dance during the school day. We have always openly offered FULL refunds for acts that choose not to perform during a school day. We schedule these monster shows requiring only solo to make this decision. Remember, going above and beyond with solos adds extra commitments and decisions.  Again, at TOP we are sorry when this decision doesn’t make everyone happy. Please just remember none of our options would make everyone happy. I share this so you can see the thought process that goes on in this situation. Believe it or not we are not rubbing our hands together in greed. If someone can suggest another option about how to handle this one, please kindly (I do mean kindly) send me an email to with your thoughts. Title it: Solution to Solo Invasion. I promise I will read it, and I might have an opening on staff for you very soon! Thank you for your continued support of TOP. I am truly humbled by the continued growth in our programs. We do love what we do, but like any job, it does have its challenges, and that challenge right now is The Solo Invasion!