Everything You Need To Know About The Most Prestigious Dance Competition in the United States of America!

  • Miss Dance Team USA ™ (U.S. Solo Title Dance Championship)
  • Competition Rules & Regulations
  • The History of Miss Drill Team USA ®
Miss Dance Team USA competition nationals rules
miss dance team nationals

U.S. Solo Title Dance Championship

The Miss Dance Team USA competition is the longest running and still most prestigious dance competition in world history. First established in 1967, this competition set the stage for the hundreds of dance competition companies that exist today. It is still considered the most rigorous dance solo competition in the United States.

Dancers wishing to compete for the national championship must currently be enrolled in high school, and meet various pre-qualification and eligibility requirements in order to represent their home U.S. State at MDDT Dance Team Nationals. Generally, dancers must follow the rules & regulations set forth by the MDDT regional event in their home state. For dancers from states without an official MDDT regional event, please CLICK HERE to contact us for participation information.

There are three different solo title dance championship divisions available for dancers to compete in:

Miss Dance Team USA: Age 16-19
Teen Miss Dance Team USA: Age 13-15
Mr. Dance USA: Age 16-19

The Miss Dance Team USA™ finals are held annually in Southern California. Champions are awarded various prizes and scholarship opportunities. They also earn at-large bids to represent the United States of America as official members of Team USA at Dance Team World Championships (held annually in Japan).


Competition Rules & Regulations

click image to play rules & regulations video

The following competition rules & regulations are enforced at the national competition only (qualifying regional competition structures vary from state-to-state). At U.S. Nationals, contestants are evaluated by a highly-qualified panel of judges in the areas of dance performance, technique spotlight, and verbal response to a question from the judging panel.

The judging panel is composed of 5 highly qualified dance industry adjudicators. The high and low score for each competition element are dropped, to ensure fairness and accuracy.

For the Miss Dance Team USA ™ division, there is both a preliminary round and a final round of competition (which employs a pageant elimination style format during Finals). There is only one round of competition for the Mr. Dance USA and Teen Miss Dance Team USA competition divisions.

Final scores are weighted and tabulated as follows...


Contestant must display talent in a dance routine (1:30-2 minutes) using any or all disciplines of dance performance styles (limited to 3 gymnastic feats). Contestant is judged on routine construction, execution & showmanship. Costuming for this element may be as creative as you wish!


Contestant performs a compulsory format demonstrating (5) movement combinations. Dancers should present areas of personal strength in technique, tricks, movement specialties, etc (Total timing MUST NOT exceed 45 seconds to avoid penalty). This element is not performed to music, and is scored on content presentation & overallexecution of the following REQUIRED star-pattern format:

Position #1: SKILL/POSE (pause), then WALK 8 Steps to...
Position #2: SKILL/POSE (pause), then WALK 8 Steps to...
Position #3: SKILL/POSE (pause), then WALK 8 Steps to...
Position #4: SKILL/POSE (pause), then WALK 8 Steps to...
Position #5: SKILL/POSE (pause), and then EXIT.

Dancer must walk naturally from position-to-position (no walking on rélevé, strutting, jazz walks/runs, or dancing).

Dress Code: Spotlight attire is separate from the dance routine costume with an emphasis on simplicity. Contestants MUST WEAR ALL BLACK fitted dance attire with any style of dance shoe (Bare feet also allowed). Chosen apparel should accentuate the dancer's talent & movement abilities.

Examples of ACCEPTABLE spotlight dancewear attire include:

  • ¾ sleeve or sleeveless leotard (lace, sheer & cutouts acceptable; no rhinestones, beading or sequins allowed)
  • Fitted top (any sleeve length; NO cleavage allowed; NO baggy allowed)
  • Black tights/leggings/dance pant/capri pant (all must be at least knee length)

Examples of UNACCEPTABLE spotlight dancewear attire include:

  • Low cleavage tops of any kind
  • Spandex shorts without accompanying tights/leggings underneath
  • Please contact us prior to the event with any attire questions, for guidance.

Contestant is scored on their response to an impromptu question from the judges (Response must not exceed 45 seconds to avoid penalty). Score is based on confidence, projection, poise, diction & enthusiasm. No notes or props allowed.

George Clooney with Miss Drill Team USA 1986
George Clooney with Miss Drill Team USA 1986

The History of America's FIRST National Dance Competition

The Miss Dance Team USA™ solo title competition format is a modernized adaptation of the 1973 trademarked Miss Drill Team USA® solo competition. Under the original format, dress code and movement requirements differed during the technique spotlight element (formerly called "modeling"), and dancers presented an oral speech on the subject of dance drill team (instead of answering a question from the judging panel).

The idea for a national drill team (dance team) competition was Dr. Kay Teer Crawford’s thesis project while studying at the University of Southern California for her Master’s Degree in Physical Education. The first “Miss Drill Team U.S.A.®” national dance competition was held in 1968 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa MonicaCalifornia. Teams from 56 high schools and colleges from across the United States participated in the inaugural event. At that time, there[2] were only 3 team performance categories that were adjudicated at the national competition: Songleading (Pom), Baton Twirling (Majorette), and Flag Twirling. Team group performances were adjudicated in the areas of routine choreography, technical execution, and showmanship.

The highlight of the event was the national soloist dance category. Solo title contestants were adjudicated in the same areas for their dance routine (with the first 10 seconds of the solo routine required to demonstrate military dance-drill stylized choreography). The soloist competition was structured much like a beauty pageant, and contestants were additionally required to perform a modeling presentation and deliver a speech on the subject of drill team.[3][4]

The inaugural U.S. national dance solo title winner to be crowned “Miss Drill Team U.S.A.” at the 1968 competition was Carolyn Buford from John F. Kennedy High School in Cyprus, CA. Awards for runner-up winners were presented as follows:[5]

  • Miss Drill Team USA: Carolyn Buford
    John F. Kennedy High School
  • 1st Runner-Up: Wendy Beesley
    Mira Costa High School
  • 2nd Runner-Up: Vicki Jessop
    Glendora High School
  • 3rd Runner-Up: Barbara Lopes
    St. Joseph High School
  • 4th Runner-Up: Sue Wells
    Cerritos College

Over 30 U.S. States have sent delegations of teams and soloists to the national dance competition since its inception.

Celebrity Appearances

The original 1968 Miss Drill Team USA competition was hosted by Jim Lange (The Dating Game) and Terry Becker (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea). The following celebrities made public appearances during the dance competition to participate as a judge and/or crown the national dance solo winner during the awards show...


Jim Lange

hma@k_Terry Becker

Terry Becker

Kent McCord miss drill Team USA

Kent McCord


Chad Everett


Peter Brown

UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1974:  HAPPY DAYS - AD Gallery - 1974 Anson Williams  (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Anson WIlliams


Reid Smith

Bruce FairBairn, circa 1972. (Photo by Getty Images)

Bruce Fairbairn


Tim Donnelly


Jan-Michael Vincent


Shaun Cassidy


Grant Goodeve


Steven Shortridge

Michael Young, circa 1980. (Photo by Tribune/Getty Images)

Michael Young


Ted McGinley


John James


John Stamos


Sam Behrens


Rex Smith


George Clooney

Matthew Perry miss dance drill Team USA

Matthew Perry


Weird Al Yankovich

Teri hatcher miss dance drill Team USA

Teri Hatcher

miss dance drill team nationals trophy kay-t

The Kay-T Trophy

Can you believe it?! The original trophies awarded to 1st place dance solos and dance/drill teams at the Miss Drill Team USA national competition were made by the same manufacturer as the Academy Awards "OSCAR".

Known as the "KAY-T", these trophies featured an iconic dance kick in the silhouette of Dr. Kay Crawford's own daughter, Jan Crawford (who was the winner of the dance solo category in 1970).

Classic Hollywood Glamour

The inaugural Miss Drill Team USA competition was held on February 22, 1968 at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in Santa Monica Beach, California. The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium was also the same site where the Academy Awards were held.

Eventually, the national competition outgrew this venue... A variety of high school and college sites around Los Angeles County served as competition venues for different categories over the course of an entire weekend. The Miss Drill Team USA solo title finals and team exhibition performances were held at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena for many years.

After outgrowing that venue, Miss Drill Team USA was also held at the Long Beach Sports Arena. In recent years the competition has been held in Orange County and San Diego County (California), before returning to Los Angeles County.


Our Legacy Is Your Moment To Shine!

There's no other dance competition that can claim they started this industry... other than Miss Dance Drill Team USA!

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