AD - judging dance

Russell Kinder russmax at
Thu Jan 13 13:13:43 PST 2000

Greetings, all,

   My thoughts on judging dance. 

Craig Shupee' wrote:
> It hard to say how a dance should be judged.  I think the goal should be how
> accurate we are to renactment.  Not on how well we impress or entertain a
> modern audience.  The dance should be judged on its merrits.  I we are
> performing a country dance or such that would not be performed as a court
> precentation, then don't judge on how we were not "flashy" enough.  Yes
> people dance to empress or geta date.  You know what I mean.  But dance was
> not just for performing, it was also for fun.  I we perform a dance where we
> would be the only couple danceing, then yes, lend more empheseis to the
> attention payed to the audience's enjoyment.
> On documentation, I think that it is nessesary.  And important.  I do not
> think that we should be required to use our own coreographies for the
> purpose of a competition.  I am entering a dance, not the reconstruction.
> If the reconstruction I use is not period, then shoot me down.  But if the
> reconstruction is, don't take off points for it.  If someone submits part of
> the reconstructionas the entry, then give them more points for difficulty,
> because they did more work.

   To me, there are mainly two ways a dance could be entered into an A&S
competition. It could be entered as a performance or it could be entered
as a reconstruction or original choreography.

   If it's entered as a performance, then skill, polish, and appearance
are of primary importance. There must be enough documentation to show
that judges that what you are doing is period, where it was done, when,
and by whom; but the documentation is secondary to the performance, and
exists only to support the performance. Difficulty of the dance is
obviously important.

   If it's entered as a reconstruction or choreography, then the
documentation is the main thing. This is must be a completely referenced
and footnoted research paper. For reconstructions, the documentation
usually takes care of itself, but for a choreography, it may be harder
to show that your original choreography is suitable to the period you
claim. The documentation must also be a coherent piece of technical
writing, so that the reader can easily figure out how to do the dance.
The reconstructor needs to be able to demonstrate the dance for the
judges, but the talent and appearance of the dancers shouldn't matter at
all, so long as they dance well enough to show that the reconstruction
or choreography is danceable, and that steps and figures appropriate to
the period are used. The difficulty of the dance isn't necessarily
important, but the accuracy of the reconstruction or appropriateness of
the original choreography is important.

> On garb, I think that is nice that you where the appropriate garb for the
> dance.  But just because I am doing a 16th Italian for performance, don't
> nock me down for wearing Elizabethan, dance traveled throughout Europe and
> was not just danced in one area.  But if I start performing bransles in a
> norse apron do so.

   I think some people may be misinterpreting Philip on this one. It
seems to me the gist of what he's saying is that costume should be less
important than in competitions he's entered in the past. This is
probably correct. I know that at one competition, he was demonstrating
his skill as a dance instructor by quickly teaching Whirligig to a group
who had never done it before. Costume was completely irrelevant to what
he was doing, since he collected people at random at the event to dance
with him. But I seem to recall that he lost some points for not having
everyone in matching garb from the correct period.

   Some comments I'm hearing off the list are that costume shouldn't be
considered at all. I'm not sure I'd go that far. If you are trying to do
a performance entry, then you need to look like dancers of the period
might have looked. Even so, accuracy and skill of dancing should be
considered before costume, unless the costume is really horrible,
involving blue jeans and tennis shoes.

> On difficulty.  Some dances are less difficult than others.  English country
> should never be considered difficult.  It is a beguinner style of dance.
> Same thing for bransle.  Italians and Burgundians and spanish are much more
> difficult.  They should be waited appropriatly to the dance.

   This should be obvious, but is it? Are our judges sophisticated
enough to tell beginners' reconstructions from masterworks? I think that
our judges are becoming more educated all the time. Maybe 4 years ago,
they couldn't have judged accurately, but then again, who of us
Ansteorran dancers was reconstructing the really difficult dances 4
years ago? 

   As matters stand now, I'd like to think that if I enter my own
well-documented reconstruction of a difficult Caroso or Negri dance,
accompanied by a highly polished performance, then it would beat
someone's ECD choreography, no matter how "entertaining" the ECD is.

   Well, I'll quit. Surely I've offended enough people for now.

In service,

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