Monday, March 29, 2010

Dancesport Competitions - The Great Debate

In my Article 139 of March 8 2010 titled "China Tops Figure Skating Medal Tally At Vancouver Olympics", I talked about figure skating; a sport known for its grace, elegance and athleticism - attributes quite similar to those of dancesport. There are four disciplines in figure skating: singles (men & ladies), pairs and ice dance. In singles skating, skaters must complete a short programme of required steps, jumps, spins and combinations and a longer free skating programme, both set to music. The pairs events follows the same format as the singles. In this event, one male and one female skater work in unison incorporating lifts, throws and synchronized jumps, spins and spirals linked harmoniously by steps and other movements.

Ice dance is performed by a couple and is based on their rhythm, interpretation of music and precise steps. Unlike pairs skating, ice dance does not include overhead lifts and jumps. Ice dance is similar to ballroom dancing as the skaters remain in contact throughout most of the programme. An ice dance competition is made up of three parts: one compulsory dance, an original dance and a free dance. Compulsory dance is the skating of prescribed patterns to music incorporating pre-determined rhythm and tempo. Original dance and free dance are created by each couple to music of their own choice. There are also required elements such as lifts, spins, synchronized twizzles and step sequences that must be included in these programmes.

In figure skating competitions, the contestants perform their routines solo due to the likelihood of collisions if all of them were to perform together, unlike in dancesport competitions where all the couples usually dance together. In dancesport competitions, minor collisions and 'blockages' sometimes do happen. Figure skating competitions are entertaining to watch as you get to savour the thrill of seeing each individual or pair present the whole routine unhindered and unrestrained. This is unlike dancesport competitions where you have to dart your eyes to watch all the couples dance in a routine lasting about 2 minutes. Adjudicators meanwhile have to mark all the contestants within the short time frame. Everything seems so hurried and rushed.

There has been debates on whether the finals in the major events (eg Professional or Amateur) in dancesport competitions should be danced solo as in figure skating competitions. Recently I watched a DVD of a major dancesport competition held in Tokyo, Japan where the six finalists in the professional event had to perform together all the five dances a total of six times each. The contestants were basically dancing the same routine to the same music six times for each of the five dances, and they looked jaded at the end of the competition. Wouldn't it be better for all of the couples to perform solo? The competitors could have given a better presentation and the audience would have been entertained to a showdance performance just as well.

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