Perspectives on judging dance competitions
Spectators and competitors alike often ask about the criteria upon which
dancers are judged, how judges are selected, and what counts more - the
"technical" or "artistic" elements in a performance.
Judging is a complex job and there's often lots more going on in the
dance than what meets the untrained eye in the stands. Therefore,
improving the knowledge base is good for EVERYONE involved.
some important perspective from Skippy Blair of the World Swing Dance
Explain some basic
elements of judging to assist the average spectator.
At the core of all judging are the "Three Ts" - Timing,
Technique and Teamwork. Once those areas are evaluated, things
like Artistic Impression, Musical Interpretation, Creative Choreography,
and Showmanship can be factored in. But it
first comes down to the BASICS of the dance. If you can't dance
with quality, no amount of showmanship is going to get you a top
What is the scoring
system used by WSDC events?
The scoring system
is known as Relative Placement. That means that regardless of the
number of points each judge gives a contestant, each judge's 1st-place
score is worth the SAME number of points as every other judge's
1st-place score. This keeps one judge's scores from being more valuable
How are judges selected for various events?
It varies considerably. Some Event Directors leave the selection
to the Head Judge hired for the event. Some use a Competition
Committee to select their panel. Others select judges from several
states to provide geographical diversity. Still others feel that selecting the
BEST DANCERS is the way to go. And some Directors feel that they
should just simply hire the most prestigious judges - period. These varied approaches
are often based upon practicality as well as on overall event strategy or
philosophy. Clearly, different approaches can produce different outcomes.
What should the average person look for when evaluating a couple?
Timing. Clean lines. Footwork. Centering. Body Flight.
Action-Reaction. Substance. Creativity. Showmanship.
many years of judging competitions, attending seminars and having
discussions with each other, we currently have a well-rounded set of
judges that participate regularly on the national competition scene.
Some judges focus more on entertainment value and talent, others focus
more on technical elements. Together they produce excellent
combine ALL of those elements and, more and more, judges are expanding
their vision to include evaluating ALL of those elements at once
(entertainment being a specific and important element on its own!).
Today there is quite a demand for judges' training and judges'
certification. With the increase in competitions all over the country,
more people are being asked to judge and they want to know more about
what they are asked to do. The interest in certification is coming
from a wide variety of people who are getting involved in judging - and
also from NEW organizers.
The Judges' Certification Program is the
result of hundreds of hours of Judges' Workshops presented by GSDTA and
the WSDC over the years. The training program was designed to keep
us all up to date on dance terminology, the latest approaches to
technique, changing styles, and - in general - to provide a National
Forum that puts us ALL on the same page.
Every dance organization eventually reaches a point where certification
for judges is a necessity. None of us can learn what we need to
know until we find out what we DON'T know. Examination is the only
way to discover that.
World Swing Dance Council