Monday, June 16, 2008

How A Dance Competition Is Judged

I have received comments to my posts on So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) from 3 of the top 16 finalists namely; Hong, Black and Sim. They have requested me to give them some pointers on how they can improve their dancing and become better dancers. First of all I would like to congratulate them for making it into the Top 16. I believe they can make it to the Top 10 if they continue dancing with the same passion as they did last week.

The producers of SYTYCD are basically looking for dancers who can dance all genres well instead of just being good in one style of dancing. In short, they are looking for a dancer-of-all-genres. In the last season of SYTYCD, the forms of dances that were performed by the contestants were - Contemporary, Hip Hop, Broadway, Jazz, Salsa, Mambo, Argentine Tango, Ballroom (Waltz & Viennese Waltz) and Latin American ( Cha Cha Cha, Samba & Paso Doble).

This season, I believe the contestants will be required to perform the same genres. By listening very carefully to the comments made by the judges you would be able to get an idea of what qualities the judges are looking for in a good dancer. These are some of the pointers that the judges of SYTYCD have commented on :-

Appearance - Contestants should be appropriately attired for the dance they are going to perform. If you are doing a Ballroom or Broadway dance, a tail coat for the man and a ballroom gown for the lady would be an eye-catcher. For Hip Hop, the grunge look is acceptable. Dress for the dance. Stand tall, look confident and smile at the judges, the spectators and the TV viewers! You are judged the moment you step on to the dance floor.

Posture - Dancers with good posture and poise stand out among the crowd and are quickly noticed by the judges. The way you correctly hold each other, together with the right body and foot positions will enable you to dance effortlessly around the dance floor. When your partner complains that you are "heavy", most probably it has something to do with your posture. So, good posture is very important.

Character - Every dance has its own distinctive character or "flavour". The Cha Cha Cha is a fun, & cheeky dance. The Paso Doble showcases a bullfight; with the man as the matador and the lady as the cape.The tango walks, staccato movements and the sharp head snaps gives ballroom Tango its very essence. Make sure you understand the character of the dance and show it in your body movements and facial expressions.

Timing - The judges had remarked that some of the contestants were off in their timing. Make sure you dance on time, with the right accentuation and rhythmic expression. For example, in the Waltz, the accentuation is on the first beat. For the Cha Cha Cha and Rumba the first step of each figure is taken on the second beat of music (count 2).

Footwork - Footwork refers to the parts of the foot used when making a step. For example "heel flat", "ball flat, "ball", "toe", etc. Forward steps for Latin American dances are "ball flat" with the exception of certain figures in Samba and Paso Doble. Correct footwork is important for the figures to be executed well. In the Ballroom dances (except Tango) the proper use of rise and fall will add expression to your dancing.

Togetherness - Are both of you dancing together or are you doing your own thing? The judges always talk of chemistry between the partners, the flow of energy, synchronicity, etc. Do you have that chemistry and are the both of you dancing together? Both of you should be like two persons dancing with one soul. If you do not dance together, you will soon be dancing your way out of the competition and going your separate ways!

Technique - Technique is the foundation for all dance movements. The use of correct techniques enables a dancer to perform a dance with style and grace. Technique is essential for jumps and turns in contemporary and jazz dances. The use of the supporting leg and sway in Ballroom dances (except for Tango where there is no sway) and the samba bounce and pelvic actions in Samba are further examples where the use of the right technique is important.

Showmanship - Above all, as SYTYCD is also a live TV show, the judges are looking for "artistes" and not just dancers. Do you dance for yourselves or for the audience? Is your dance artistic and entertaining; so much so that the judges will clap their hands and shout "bravo, what a performance"? You must display passion in your dance and connect with the audience. You must be able to express the joy of dancing in your body movements and facial expressions.

To the Top 16 finalists - Good Luck!

Best Wishes,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia


JiaXuan said...

I have always wondered how an art form can be judged. Thanks for this post!

black ng said...

is usefull for all the dancer , not just for competition , it can say is a 'teori' for everyone love dancing!!! thank you...

Dancesport Malaysia said...

Dear Jiaxuan and Black,

I'm glad that you found my post interesting and helpful.

Keep the comments coming in.

Best Regards,

Dance Aficionado