About Coach Erin

Erin is a 17 year veteran dance team coach in Minnesota. A 3 time MADT coach of the year (2009, 2010, 2014) and winner of 2 state championships in high kick with the Cannon Falls Bomber Dance Team. In high school Erin danced for Winona and Apple Valley high schools. Erin is a nationally known blogger, writing for the Radio City Rockettes and a Hollywood movie among other projects. Erin also teaches on a freelance contractor basis for many MN high school teams and can be contacted for date/time availability at mnhsdanceteam@gmail.com


Uniform and Choreography Rule Changes Announced

More rule changes are rolling out from the MSHSL, and there will be a lot to think about when it comes to uniforms and choreography inspiration. Everyone should read what was sent out from the league in these downloads:

Rule Change Summary – 2015-2017

Uniform Update for Rules Book 2015 – Edited for Rule Book


There’s a LOT in there, and the league has stated that there will be more interpretation as well as a new rules book printed and sent to schools.  It will be critical that coaches and teams have, read, and understand the new/final printed rules book.  Based on conversations I’ve had with MADT and involved coaches, there are some potential discrepancies or errors in the two documents, so I’d proceed carefully when implementing changes with your teams.  I’ll comment on a few of the main-line points here, but I’m also going to remind everyone that my interpretation is just my best take – ultimately the league and rules clinicians will set the final interpretation language.  (and they can and will do whatever they want to as “clarification” on this, even if it was not the intent of the rules writers)  Since they’re not planning to do that until October’s rules meetings – I’m gonna take a stab at it now.  (after all, we’ve already waited 5 months to get this language settled!)


Rules Summary Page:  This is a recap of previously determined rules changes for the most part.  You can read my take on those changes here if you missed it.  A few key things people are missing:

1) the kick limit is changed for ALL levels to 40-65.

2) The time for ALL dances, V/JV/B/Kick/Jazz is 2:30-3:00.  (this handout says “varsity” but it was approved for all levels)


New Choreography “Inspiration” Rules:  Well, this is still looking like a shell of the final product as we’re getting fairly vague language and no example yet of the actual rubric that will be used.  MADT leadership and coach authors of this have seen some of the rubric ideas, so we’re not totally in the dark, yet we’re gonna have to wait until something is released to look at it more closely.  The conversation remaining with the rubric is usually surrounding the idea of “how much is too much”.  Here’s what we do know from the latest document:

  • A report of a violation has to come from a school administrator.  (Not a coach, parent, dancer, or even the source material author)
  • Sources are allowed for “inspiration”.  (you don’t have to live in a bubble)
  • We now have a statement of just WHO will be doing the evaluating of the complaint – the Rules Clinicians (judges) and a former coach
  • There will be consideration of same or similar music or uniform – but those two items alone are not a disqualification
  • The choreography content that is similar or same will be considered – to what extent and how that works, we don’t know yet.


Possible understandings yet to come out about this:

  • My understanding is you cannot be compared to your own former dances.  Many teams have signature styles or moves, and you won’t be subject to review of yourself. Again, this is not spelled out at this time.
  • It seems to be set up to compare one dance to one source, not multiple places.  Further clarification needed there, but it’s not practical to review multiple sources and aggregate them under the suggested rubric. EDIT:  seems like there will be an ability to aggregate multiple sources in this comparison – again, that would be nice to know more about once we get more details.
  • There is no penalty, timeline for reporting issues, expectations for returning to play, or other technicalities listed out that I know were discussed at length during the coaches contribution to the proposal.  Those details may or may not make the actual rules book text.  EDIT: there will be a process, just to clarify.  I’m saying we haven’t been told one yet publicly, not that there won’t be any penalty or timeline info.
  • If your dancers are the primary choreographers, coaches will still be responsible for knowing where and how they got ideas.  Changing one arm from “up” to “down” does not equal changing it to be your own.  Much of the conversation has focused on making sure there is marked change from the source, and not as much emphasis on copying of “skills” as there is an understanding that doing a double pirouette doesn’t mean you’ve copied 6 counts per say.
  • There’s no violation if there’s no complaint filed.  This helps us take a breath, and not obsess about unintentional similarities (like two James Bond dances in the same year).  Common sense seems to be allowed here.


Uniform Changes:  The goal here is to eliminate a few problems we’ve been seeing with on-the-spot changes in opinion by officials as to if something is “flesh colored” or the wide strap requirements that eliminate a lot of affordable catalog type options for teams to save money and increase their options.  The take-home points are as follows:

  • Your torso, shoulders, and brief must be covered in opaque fabric.  (so you must have a strap, no bare skin cutouts, no mesh without a backing material on the main trunk).  This is very much in line with the past, but there is a lot more room for what straps you need, and no issue of white, cream, or peach being seen as flesh.  If it’s not see-thru, you can wear it.
  • Use of sheer fabrics follow the exact same rules as before as to where it can be worn, and when it needs a backing layer.
  • You must wear a “sports bra”.  It needs to be a stand alone garment.  It cannot be seen either at shoulder or a keyhole back.  The bra can’t be “built in” as the only support.
  • You may have a modest keyhole.  The shoulder blades cannot be showing.  (see example photo).  Watch out – no racer-back sports bras would work with a keyhole.  (how 80s!)
  • Your neckline can vary, as long as it doesn’t drop 2″ below your sternal notch (same as before).  The expectation is we don’t see cleavage or your bra straps.
  • Shoe rules remain – cover the entire sole of your foot.
  • Nails, braces, cast, piercing, body marking, glitter, patches, and jewelry rules remain the same
  • Trademarked iconography, logos, and names are still not allowed.  (ie your Jersey can be generic, but not be a MN Vikings Jersey)
  • Your hair and uniform pieces need to stay in/on.  There will be no deduction if they don’t – but the music can be stopped for safety reasons and the judges can still use “routine effectiveness” to decrease your score.


Possible understandings yet to come out of this:

  • Clear straps on bras/uniforms aren’t addressed.  My gut says that since I can see it – they’re not allowed.  “clear” doesn’t mean “not showing”.  Stay tuned for clarity there.  I wouldn’t count on that being allowed.
  • Yes, it looks like you can wear an all-nude colored biketard.  Now, your school has to approve that…. (and mine wouldn’t!)
  • This is gearing back to local control and local AD’s knowing what their team is wearing.  Old uniforms are still allowed, and if you are unsure – going with more coverage is not a bad idea.
  • Uniform Checks are still in there – but they shouldn’t be as far as I’m told.  Don’t count on a uniform check to approve anything.  The goal is that each time you take the floor, judges can see clearly you’re in or out of flagrant compliance.  There will be no small deductions given, just the use of the incident report which goes back to the school/AD in question.
  • Your uniform needs to be safe – or the officials may stop your routine
  • Flagrant violations will not be allowed to take the floor to perform, and will be asked to change/correct the problem.


Wrap -up thoughts:

The new uniforms are exciting as I can finally stop measuring strap width!  Woo hoo!  I think practical, easy to enforce rules are the goal here – Add a pinch of common sense and proper fitting for all of our dancers (and their various body types) and this will be fun.  I’d really love to see us ease into this, so we get to keep these changes instead of pushing every inch right away and finding push-back.  Local decisions will just have to be made carefully.  Don’t forget that those rules clinicians are a great resource to look at your uniform photos  – its just going to feel new for a while before it starts feeling easier to meet.

As far as choreography goes, I hope we do see a final scoring rubric and some wording on process.  For the average team out there planning their routines right now, I’d say just make sure you’re only working in the 2 week window, using your own brains and adapting things to be your own as far as you can.  If you’re not sure you’re unique enough – then maybe you’re not!  If everyone held a high standard for originality, then you’re never going to have any doubters.  This feels like it is not set up to be a witch hunt – and the more we know about the process and standards from the league, the better our sport will be at addressing these concerns.  I am looking forward to this making us more civil, clear, and living in our modern world where dance inspiration is everywhere.


Again, your rules book (when it’s printed) will be the final, absolute say on any of this.  Check and double check for accurate information – I would not just take my word for it on any of this.  I don’t have any say in the rules making process.  I’ll be sure to pass along corrections and clarifications as they are made known.  Thanks for understanding our imperfect system!


I’m so excited to see your new uniforms 🙂  Hurry up winter season!!

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