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A routine is the dance that is performed by a dancer or group of dancers at a competition. Each routine is required to be entered into an appropriate category at every competition. A number of factors determine the category into which a routine should be entered.
- Dance style. All dance competitions include categories for specific dance styles such as acro, ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, pointe and tap. In addition, most competitions include an open category for dance styles outside the scope of the specific categories. Also, some competitions define categories that are altogether outside the scope of dance styles. For example, categories such as musical theater and photogenic are not based on dance style and in some cases may not require a performer to dance at all.
- Number of dancers. Typically there are separate categories such as solo, duos/trio, small group, large group, line, and production, which are based on the number of dancers in a routine. The numbers of dancers constituting the various groups, as well as the group categories themselves, may differ at different competitions.
- Average age of dancers. Age divisions vary among competitions. Typical age divisions include Petite (8 & Under), Junior (9-11), Teen (12-14), Senior (15-18), and Adult (19+).
- Experience. Some competitions have divisions based on the number of years of dance education or hours of instruction per week (e.g., recreational, competitive).