Monday, September 19, 2011

ILHC 2011 Alternative Judgement

Wowser. The ILHC videos keep getting better every year. The event was sold out this year and the level of dancing was pretty damn amazing. Props and thanks to the organizers. Also a big thanks for  wonderful Patrick Smitz for his high quality videos is in order. With out them, we Tucsonans would not have the opportunity to watch the outside world of lindy. Thanks Patrick!

So, since we didn't get to "live" the event...I have rounded up a small panel of Tucson dancers to do an alternate reality judge panel for the classic lindy showcases for this year's competitions. Why, you ask? Well, just because we are bored out here and wanted to have a little fun.

As a disclaimer to our little fantasy world I would like to point out the obvious of how as "after the fact" viewers, we have some disadvantages and advantages. I must point out that there is something about the aesthetics of watching live performance, which is a moot point for us since we were not actually at the event. However, the judges at ILHC obviously don't have the opportunity to re-watch and debate their choices like we do.

Also, ILHC has what I call "lindy giants", a.k.a. badass lindy hoppers as judges. Feel free to check out the list of judges on the ILHC website.  Seriously, if you don't know who these people are, look them up! While we Tucsonans are not lindy giants (or even lindy specks), but, we are cheeky enough to say "tumble weed" instead of "snow ball". That has to count for something, right? Last, but not least, there is also the fact that like any other art form there is a degree of subjectivity, personal tastes, and "in the moment emotions" that are involved in judging. Plainly speaking, judging is not a science. Phew, now that we have covered our disadvantages and advantages, well, mostly disadvantages...

We chose to judge only the Lindy Hop Classic routines and pick our top 5. Here is the ILHC website description of the competition requirements:

Competitors will display their choreographed creativity without aerials, air-steps, acrobatics and lifts in this division. “On the ground” moves (such as drops, slides, and splits) are allowed. Competitors will select their own music. Routines must be a minimum of two-minutes and a maximum of four minutes in length.

Our judging rubric is as follows: Execution, choreography, showmanship

Tucson's ILHC 2011 Panel Information

Now, since we did not rank ALL participants, AND we only had 4 judges, it is impossible to use relative placement. So, in our case, we are just using an average to determine our ranking.

1st Place: Thomas & Alice
Comments from each Tucson judge were consistently pointing out the creativity, precision, and joy that was seen in their choreography. After all, choreography is the main focus in this competition according to the description. I'll be honest, my first reaction to the video was a giant silly smile plastered on my face. It was an aesthetic experience that left a lasting impression on me.

2nd Place: Kevin & Jo
What can we say? Kevin and Jo are always interesting and polished. They often explore a wide range of dynamics in their dancing, from slow to fast, from soft to hard, and the managed to tell a pretty damn cool story. Why 2nd place you ask with all of the positive feed back? Sometimes, they look TOO polished. Looking too polished can lose some of the energy and edge in a performance.

3rd Place: Skye & Frida
Now, this placement was tricky and a bit controversial for us because we basically worship Skye and Frida's lindy godliness. However, my first reaction to the video was "sheesh, I have already seen this before". Their routine looked like they were social dancing, instead of performing a choreographed routine. I also saw micro execution errors as well. Frankly, I was in want of something new and refreshing, and they just didn't deliver. Why did they still place third with all of my negative comments? Because they still danced like freaking bad asses!

Reading Jerry's blog on how they basically slapped the routine together further validates our initial feelings on why we felt our lack of enthusiasm for their choreography. I promise, we did these rankings weeks ago, BEFORE Jerry's blog post, and did not sway on our placements.  Are they still the reigning king and queen of swing? Hell yeah.

Conclusion and Tid Bits
Tucson's placements for these couples are not that different than the official placement. Skye/Frida and Thomas/Alice are just swapped. One big difference, however, was that none of the judges placed Thomas/Alice first. Zip. Nada. Howard and I speculate the reason for that is the amount of stops and lack of swing outs in their routine. Hmmm, food for thought. Should a minimum amount of swing out content be established for a competition? Oh, wait ALHC...let's not go there. So, it goes with out saying that the ILHC judges have contrasting tastes. Like I said earlier, there is not a science to judging artist competition.

On another note, I must say something about Peter and Naomi. Their routine was sophisticated, graceful, and a damn fine example of dancing mastery. In some ways, equally on par with Skye and Frida as far as dance skill goes. Unfortunately, smooth grace seems to be out of style these days. But, Peter and Naomi, you guys are some smooth mother fuckers.

Also, I have to tip my hat to one of the Korean couples. Soo Chan Lee and Hyung Jung Choi made it to the sixth spot on my list. Their choreo was adorable and executed well. So, go KOREA!

If you are curious about the Tucson panel's rankings for the top five, here is the full disclosure.

Katy: 1st Thomas/Alice, 2nd Skye/Frida, 3rd Kevin/Jo, 4th Nicholas/Mikaela, 5th Juan/Sharon
Kat: 1st Thomas/Alice, 2nd Kevin/Jo, 3rd William/Maeva, 4th Skye/Frida, 5th Mike/Laura
Howard: 1st Thomas/Alice, 2nd Skye/Frida, 3rd  Kevin/Jo, 4th Peter/Naomi, 5th Nicholas/Mikaela
Gayl: 1st Thomas/Alice, 2nd Peter/Naomi, 3rd Nicholas/Mikaela, 4th Kevin/Jo, 5th Skye/Frida

Anyways, I am looking forward to what ILHC will bring us next year. Are you? :)

Swing out and propser,


PS Soooo sorry for missing my usual beginning of the month deadline. I will endeavor to be more timely for October's post, which will most likely be on the Arizona Swing Jam.

1 comment:

gregbo said...

There is a method called "saturation" where every couple may not get a (unique) placement. The unassigned placements are assigned the next highest ordinal. This can produce quite a few ties. If the contest ends in a tie, some other tiebreaker needs to be used, such as a dance-off or using the chief judge's placements. However, the chief judge must give a unique placement to each couple.

I've seen RP used with as few as three judges. However, IMO, at least seven is better (when possible), especially if the panel is diverse.