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Spotlight on Talent Frequently Asked Questions

If, after reading the following explanations, you have a question the producers will be happy to respond to you. You can contact us with questions at spotlight@heritagearts.org.

NOTE - We try very hard to anticipate any questions and include all needed information on our application form and informational letters. So please read those carefully on the News and Information page first before emailing or calling with a question. Every single word or sentence has been extensively thought out, and there is a reason for every policy or request from us (based on 31 years' experience).


#1 FAQ- "What age category or final performance will I be in this year?"

We don't set the age/grade categories until after we have received all the applications and judges' scores. The reason is this - we want the age categories to be evenly distributed with about 9-10 in each category. Because applications vary each year, if we set them ahead of time we could have a category with only 4 contestants and another with 15. Generally, with a two Act program, Act 1 is at 12:00pm will be younger students - probably chidren up through some middle school, and Act 2 is at 7:00pm will be high school students and possibly some middle school (an exception is 2015 - see News and Information page for details). Depending on the response of groups, we may have 1 combined group category, or it may split up between younger and older groups (determined by mean ages).

#2 FAQ - "What will I be judged on?"

You will be judged on a total of 30 possible points. 25 are for talent (how much "raw" talent you have for your age, and how well you have developed that talent for your age). 3 are for stage presence (how relaxed and confident you appear on the stage, and how you connect with the judges/audience, again for your age). Instrumentalists should acknowledge their audience before starting, dancers and singers should have audience eye contact/connection during their performance, and ALL performances should acknowledge their audience and applause afterward. 2 points are for appropriate appearance (this does NOT mean whether the judges think you are pretty/cute, nor is it how elaborate your costume/make-up/props are). This refers to the effort and thought that was put into your attire. Does it detract from the performance? Yes, you should wear the same outfit for tryouts that you would wear for a performance in front of hundreds of people. Did you respect that performance enough to "dress up" for it? This would mean a different thing for a pianist than it would for a jazz dance. The preliminary judges sometimes will make suggestions for a change in your performance dress.

#3 FAQ - "Does audience response, applause or screams, affect my score?"

No !! The judges are definitely told not to let that affect their scoring because some contestants do not know many in the audience and others come from nearby or from large studios so they have a large "cheering section". We of course love an enthusiastic audience, but would very much encourage all audience members- friends, family & other contestants- to be respectful and supportive of all acts. Very loud or lude screams take away from the enjoyment of other audience members, could actually distract the performer from doing their best job, and again, do not increase their score at all. .

#4 FAQ - "Are judges in any way encouraged to select contestants of a certain talent type or a certain studio?"

No, not in any way! Trends very from year to year, but we do not influence the judges. Each judging panel is equally divided between talent backgrounds. Also judging panels are different from year to year.

#5 FAQ- "Why the new scoring maximums starting in 2011?"

The board discussed at length the focus participants should have towards perfecting their act, and we decided to change the maximum number of points in the categories to more reflect our thoughts on their importance.  For 2011 and onward, the maximum points for talent are now 25, stage presence has been reduced to 3 points, and appropriate appearance has lowered to 2 points.  We hope this will help to de-emphasize the implied importance of overly elaborate or expensive make-up / hair / costume / props.  We want to instead focus on the pure talent of the children who participate.

#6 FAQ- "Why did you change to two shows in 2008? Will it be the same for future years?  What about splitting groups so there's 1 group category in each act? "

Primarily we wanted to give more students a chance to be a finalist and shine on the stage. We were having to cut such excellent performances to fit into one evening show. A side benefit is that each of the two shows will be shorter than the long, 4+ hour show. The reason Act 1 is at 12:00 (or 11:00 for 2015) on the same day is to avoid having to rent this expensive hall an additional day.

Depending on the number of applications of solos and groups we receive, that will determine whether we continue with the 2 show idea.  In 2009 we had enough groups audition to split the group category into younger and older groups.  That way the younger contestants can perform both their solo and group in one show, and then come back to enjoy the second show as an audience member.  We hope to do that again in the future if group finalist numbers merit this.