My daughter has competed at this competition several times. They always are high on my list of favorite completions because of their professionalism in the way it is ran. They also have well rounded judges that know all dance styles.
My team attended Applause's regional event in Batavia, Illinois back in March. Applause is definitely a quote unquote "real" competition. Your seasoned competitive dancers seem to be here, making competition a little more tough. Judging is hard, but fair. They give out many overall awards. Only complaint is that there wasn't much space for dressing rooms.
I attended this competition as a soloist several years ago and haven't been back - even now when I teach at four studios. Judging is tough, which I appreciate, but I didn't receive the schedule until two days before the event began. I was made to feel like I wasn't important because I wasn't a studio with 100+ numbers. The awards are nice and the clients they attract are strong dancers, but there's a definite favoritism to big studios.
Attended Applause in Orlando. I loved the venue and dressing area. The judges and announcer were friendly. The things that caused me not to like this competition much is as follows: They do not announce first place winners for each catagory when there are more than two routines in it as almost all other competitions do. When there is some tough competition at an event it is nice to at least know who won each catagory. Second, while they had other adjudication levels they only used TWO levels ALL WEEKEND LONG. They gave out only high gold and platinum. Really??? Why bother with levels at all. I saw stellar routines and ones that were hardly polished and they all fell within those two levels. Last, the title competition was confusing. Apparently, there was different scoring for title yet they didn't make that clear. I left confused and disappointed that I spent the extra money for a part of the competition I didn't understand.