Friday, March 23, 2007

What do Judges Look for in a Ballroom Competition?

By Lyall Bradshaw

Many times I hear the question “What factors do judges weigh in assessing a couple's performance?

We use the “Impression Judging“ system. The criteria that a judge might choose to consider are actually too numerous to examine individually in the brief time allotted, (1½ to 2 minutes), since at least six couples are being judged simultaneously. Therefore, the judge must rely on the impression each couple makes relative to the others. The experienced judge, having seen and studied dancing at all levels, can quickly assess these factors collectively.

The following points are considered in making a decision:

POSTURE - One of the most important aspects. Good posture makes you look elegant and exude confidence. It improves balance and control, and allows your partner to connect well to your body in the smooth dances. One's competition result is often directly proportional to one's postural correctness.

POISE - In smooth dancing, the stretch of the woman's body upwards and outwards and leftwards into the man's right arm to achieve balance and connection with his frame, as well as to project outward to the audience.

TIMING and BASIC RHYTHM - If a couple is not dancing on time with the music, no amount of proficiency in any other aspect can overcome this. The music is boss.

MOVEMENTS - If the couple executed and coordinated the movements of the Feet, Legs, Body and Arms based on the Characteristic Style of the Dance in question.

LINES - Attractive and well-executed lines, either curved or straight, enhance the shapes of the figures. The Adjudicator considers the Line of Arms, Back Line, Shoulder Line, Hip Line, Line of Legs and the Line of the Neck and Head in each dance.

FEET - If the couple displayed correct use of the Feet. The Adjudicator considers the Control of Foot Movements, Correct Positioning of the Feet and the Technical Soundness of Footwork in each dance.

INTERPRETATION - If the couple displayed "artistic" merit. The Adjudicator considers the Stylishness, Ease of Performance, Individuality, and Rhythmic Expression to the Music in each dance.

HOLD - The correct and unaffected positioning of the body parts when in closed dancing position. For instance, the line of the man's arms should be unbroken from elbow to elbow. Also, there should be symmetry of the man's and woman's arms coming together to form a circle, which, although changing in size, should remain constant in shape so that the dancers remain in correct body position relative to each other. The silhouette of the couple should always be pleasing.

TOGETHERNESS - The melding of two people's body weights into one, so that leading and following appear effortless, and the dancers are totally in synchronization with each other.

MUSICALITY AND EXPRESSION - The basic characterization of the dance to the particular music being played and the choreographic adherence to musical phrasings and accents; also the use of light and shade to create interest value in response to these accents and phrases. For instance, in foxtrot, the stealing of time from one step to allow another to hover; or a quick speed of turn in an otherwise slow rumba; or the snap of a head to suddenly freeze and then melt into slowness in tango.

PRESENTATION - Does the couple sell their dancing to the audience? Do they dance outwardly, with enthusiasm, exuding their joy of dancing and confidence in their performance? Or do they show strain and introversion?

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