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Dance Fall and Winter FAQs and Interpretations

FALL (Not sponsored by MSHSL)

There have been many questions regarding what can and cannot happen with a fall dance program – either managed/sponsored by the school; or managed/sponsored by someone outside the school. Listed below are answers to questions and issues.

We would also ask that any questions from coaches or parents go through the school AD.

General Information: When determining what can and can’t be done with Dance, use other current sports programs as examples. For instance, if you run a fall basketball program or a winter volleyball program, how would it have to be run? As a school, you could have a program, but the coaches could not be your regular season staff members. The kids involved could not play games against other schools or any other team outside of your school. Some sort of club or intramural program could be run. A booster club could provide funds for such a program. You could use school uniforms as this would be an “in-house” program.

The other example is to compare fall dance to programs currently run outside of your school – AAU Basketball or JO Volleyball. In either case, entities outside of the school may sponsor a team. They may charge the players to play, they can have tryouts and create their own rules, and they can compete against other teams. However, they cannot be a school team, cannot use school uniforms, and coaches cannot be school staff members in that sport. They could be allowed to use school facilities, but that would have to occur under the same guidelines and restrictions as any other outside organization.  Booster clubs that support school programs could not provide these teams funding or for individuals to be on these teams. Students could not participate with these teams during the MSHSL season for that activity. The same could happen for Dance.

Local Control: Keep in mind that many of the issues can be dealt with by your school or district's decisions – if this is a school-sponsored/managed program. The following would come under local control or decision making:

  • To allow booster club financing of school-sponsored programs
  • To allow kids to letter for a school-sponsored program
  • Whether or not school uniforms or equipment can be used
  • Who is allowed to participate
  • Whether the group can perform at events
  • Who is allowed to perform
  • When the program begins and ends
  • What eligibility rules apply to this club/activity
  • And many others...
Can I use the spring tryout time frame to select members for our fall dance program?

Yes and No – Fall coaches may conduct tryouts for the fall team during the spring tryout time frame if specific to fall team selection. Competitive winter coaches may not be involved in selecting team members for any spring or fall programs. Winter team members cannot be required to participate in fall programs. Winter team tryouts cannot be used to choose members of the fall team.

Who determines the policies and procedures for a school or a non-school program?

The school may determine policies and procedures for programs managed by the school.  Whatever organization sponsors the non-school team would be able to develop the rules and policies for that group.

May fall groups continue to participate at football games or other events throughout the fall?

Yes – that is up to the school to decide. This can be determined in the same manner that decisions are made on whether or not to allow other groups – either school-sponsored or not – to perform at school events. The school regulates this as they choose.

May these groups continue to perform at events after the Dance winter season begins?

Yes – as long as the group/activity is school-sponsored, that group could continue to perform as long as a team is still participating in the state tournament series. However, in-season athletes are not allowed to compete on non-school teams during the season. If the Dance group is sponsored outside of the school and they compete in Jazz or High Kick, members of the competitive winter team could not perform after October 24 and could no longer be a non-school team member. If the non-school team is Pom, Tap, Lyrical, or some other dance style, this rule would not apply – the same as the current rule that governs the winter season. Once the winter season starts, the competitive winter team would also be eligible to perform, as that team would now be “in season.”

What are the limitations on booster club spending?

Booster clubs may give money to the school. Schools can then use that money to fund coach’s salaries or other expenses of running either the fall or winter program. The MSHSL does not and cannot govern booster clubs, so the booster clubs can choose to spend their money however they wish. HOWEVER – what the booster club does can affect the eligibility of the participants.  If booster clubs provide funding for individuals to go to camps; if they funded $100 cash awards to the best dancers; or if they gave money to a program run outside of the school -- and members of the competitive winter team accepted any of these “benefits,” those students would violate eligibility rules – Bylaws 201, 203 and 204.

Our coaches will not be coaching in the fall program. However, can they coach or train the coaches that will be running the fall program?

Yes – there are no rules that keep coaches from working with or training other coaches. They could teach other coaches drills and techniques and also teach them how they would like skills taught. They could also instruct on how to conduct practices. However, they could not attend practices and then offer critiques or other feedback to the coaches. This would be looked at in the same manner that coaches in other sports can instruct and work with coaches who are coaching teams/groups/programs outside of the school.

May our school provide uniforms for a school-sponsored club/group?

Yes – as long as it is a school-sponsored group, school uniforms may be used. A non-school sponsored group cannot use school uniforms and cannot use school colors, nicknames, etc. Schools may follow their local policies for the disposal of obsolete equipment, and if non-school groups obtained uniforms in that manner, those uniforms could be used.

Our school runs or would like to run a Pom Squad or Hip Hop group (or any other style of dance) in the fall. If the dance style is significantly different, can the competitive winter team coaches coach athletes who are members of their winter program?

No – while some dance styles may be significantly different, it is tough, if not impossible, to distinguish these differences and separate the dance skills, elements, movements, etc. So competitive winter team coaches may not coach their athletes in any style of dance except during the summer waiver period and the competitive winter season.

May we have tryouts and cut students from a fall performance group?

That is a local decision. As mentioned previously, the school may develop policies in this area for a school-sponsored team, and the non-school sponsored team could, of course, do the same.

We want to have a school-sponsored fall program. We know that anyone can participate. Do we have to allow everyone to perform?

No, you could select those who are capable of performing at a reasonable level.  You could also run different levels – such as an A team and a B team.

Can “teams” participate at another school’s revue?

Yes – A “fall team” or group could perform in a revue if winter coaches are not involved in coaching, planning, organizing, or running the event.

WINTER (MSHSL sponsored)

Disclaimer: The following FAQs will help guide Dance coaches to not violate MSHSL rules and policies. These questions and answers are not meant to be inclusive. Covering all possible questions/scenarios is impossible. However, this information should help guide both coaches and Athletic/Activities Directors by answering common questions and giving interpretations that can be applied to similar situations. Coaches who have any questions or are unsure whether or not something is “legal” should consult their Athletic/Activities Director. The ADs may contact the League Office if they are uncertain of the correct interpretation.

How is the Competitive Winter Season Defined?

The competitive winter season begins on the first allowed practice date, which is on Monday, 17 weeks before the state tournament. The competitive winter season ends on Saturday of the state tournament. Coaches can work directly with team members during this entire season. Team members may compete on studio teams as soon as their high school team is eliminated from post-season competition.

Can I meet with team members outside of the competitive season?

Yes, you may conduct a pre-season meeting to review team registration, MSHSL rules, tryout information, off-season training opportunities, or other administrative items.  You could also meet individually with students to set goals, plan for the season, set expectations for the season, etc. You cannot coach or instruct in the skills, techniques, or strategies of dance.

Our team is getting new uniforms. Is it OK to meet with members of the team outside of the regular season to assist in designing the uniforms and/or to assist in fitting uniforms?

Yes, a coach may meet with members of the team to design and/or fit uniforms.  Coaches can meet with team members as long as dance techniques, team choreography or other strategies are not taught or discussed.

As a coach, I will be finalizing the music for the competitive season. Can I meet with members of the team to assist in deciding the music?

Yes – this could be done at any time. Still, student-athletes may not choreograph routines for this music, and coaches may not work with any number of student-athletes in the development or practice of choreography until two weeks before the start of the season. Routines used for the competitive season may not be developed until choreography sessions begin, and these routines cannot be practiced until the season starts. The final cut of music may not be provided to any team members before starting the pre-season choreography sessions. Penalty: A school found in violation of this rule will be required to create an entirely new routine with new music.

Can I have the music professionally prepared during the summer or early fall?

Yes – a member of the coaching staff may finalize the music and may have the music prepared professionally. Coaches and students are not allowed to develop their choreography before the two weeks before starting the competitive winter season. Teams who violate the rules regarding choreography and practicing routines will be required to create new music and new routines/choreography.

How long may I run tryouts?

Coaches may conduct tryouts for one week, following the state tournament and before June 15. The maximum number of days would be six, as you cannot contact student-athletes on a Sunday. These six days (or less) must be within a one-week time frame.

Can I work with my student-athletes at all outside of the times mentioned above?

Yes, you may conduct off-season conditioning programs, if the programs are open to any student who attends your school; only includes exercises and drills designed to increase/improve strength, endurance, flexibility, aerobic conditioning, etc. Specific dance skills cannot be taught. Coaches may not require student-athletes to participate in such programs as a condition for being on a competitive winter team.

I am a coach of the competitive winter team. As long as I don’t coach the dancers, may I “manage” or “organize” and run the fall program?

No – Coaches of the competitive winter team may coach two times during the year: 1) during the competitive winter season; and 2) during the summer waiver period – June and July.   Outside of these two time frames, the competitive team coaches may not plan, organize or coach any kind of off-season program other than an off-season conditioning program as outlined above. Coaches may share information about programs with student-athletes, but may not require students to be involved in any of these programs. (See Undue Influence Bylaw included in this FAQ).

As coach of the competitive winter team may I train coaches who are coaching the fall program?

You may provide training to other coaches regarding basic skills, fundamentals, and techniques of dance. You may teach them drills and basic strategies that they could use at practice. You may not plan the practice sessions. You may not attend practices and then give feedback or strategies to either coaches or dancers. You may not talk to individual student-athletes to train them or coach them.

As a coach, can I be involved in planning, organizing, and conducting a “Revue” as a fundraiser for our team?

No - coaches cannot do this unless the planning, organizing, and the event itself took place after the start of the winter season or during the summer. A team can sponsor a Revue to raise money at any time – as long as the coaching staff is not involved in any way.

Can “teams” participate at another school’s revue?

Yes – if the revue is held during the competitive winter season. If a winter coach wants or needs to run a “revue,” it must be conducted during the competitive winter season.

As the Competitive Winter Coach, can I plan, organize, and work with my Dancers on a fund-raising program that is run outside of the regular season?

Yes – If it does not involve your winter dancers dancing, if the fundraiser is not mandatory, if your school approves the fundraising activity.

What are some other things that I cannot do?
  • Direct athletes to participate at a specific studio, or to attend a specific camp or clinic
  • Place dancers on a team or roster, organize a team roster; or influence the placement of athletes on a team for tournaments, camps or clinics – except for athletes with whom you work with under the summer coaching waiver.
  • Direct students to participate in open gym, captain’s practice; or non-school teams, camps, clinics or any other off season training programs.
  • Organize, supervise, direct or otherwise participate in the organization of captain’s practices.
  • Require students to participate in fund raising in order to be on a team – fees may be charged, and fund raising may be one opportunity for the student athlete to pay the fee; but required fund-raising would be a violation of the bylaw on “Undue Influence, Bylaw 307.”

Coaches must keep in mind both the language of this bylaw and its intent.  Coaches can encourage and motivate their athletes to participate in off season programs, condition, train, go to camps, etc.  But cannot require that for participation.  Remember this is high school – students need to have the freedom to participate in other sports, activity and/or academic programs – or just take time off.


Can a member of my team also be a member of a Studio program or team?

Students involved in MSHSL sports are free to participate or compete on other teams or in other programs. The only exceptions are during the competitive winter season. Dance is different than other sports in that students may PARTICIPATE on a non-school team during the winter season – but – just like in other sports, they may not COMPETE with a non-school team during the competitive winter season. They may compete in forms of dance that are significantly different from Jazz or High Kick. How do you know if it’s significantly different? – if you are not sure, it is not significantly different.

Can I coach our competitive winter team and also coach at a local Dance studio?

Yes, but you may not coach your high school team members in Jazz, High Kick, or related skills, except during the competitive winter season and the summer waiver period. Once a student participates in the grades 10-12 Dance program at your school, they would fall under this limitation.


Can a booster club provide funding for our team to attend a summer camp?

No – students or their parents must pay for attending any camp. Students may fundraise with the funds going toward paying for a camp or clinic. If this is done, all fundraising must be tracked individually for each student-athlete.

May a booster club provide funding for uniforms, assistant coaches, transportation, etc. ?

Maybe – this will depend on school policy. Your school should always approve of these expenditures. All funding should go to the school. The school can then make the appropriate expenditures. Booster clubs can provide funding for assistant coaches if allowed by your school. The school must still hire the coach, with the school's funding, and the school paying the coach.

May a booster club provide funding for technique classes or an in-season clinic?

No – while it is legal to have technique classes or clinics for students either during the season or out of season, funding must be provided by the school program (during the season only) or by the student-athletes. As with attending a summer camp, students may fundraise to earn money towards this cause. Funds raised could go through the school activity account, and those funds could be used to pay for camps, clinics, etc.

May I Video Tape Other School’s Dances?

Yes – as of the 2015 season, there are no restrictions on videotaping other schools' routines at a competition in which you are competing.

What about having and using a video of other teams by purchasing a DVD from a competition?

If video is taken of all of the routines at a competition, and that video is made available to all competing schools – either free or for purchase – it is legal to have that video and use it for “scouting” purposes.