Un petit article pour vous aider à mieux comprendre les résultats de compétition et en retirer des indices positifs pour vous.
Dans cet article:
Sylvia Sykes opinion on Lindy content A judge's perspective Judging art The game Self-worth
If you are a competitor, you probably are interested in what the judges are looking for. Have you ever asked yourself what you would do if you were a judge?
What you would prioritize, how you would make a decision when several great couples all have performed wonderfully but you still need to rank them?
What you would do when the risk-taking have brought a piece on the border between « swing » and other types of dancing? Or when some dancers take great risks and make small mistakes while other more conservative choices lead to a cleaner execution…
How would you proceed when you have 3 heats of 40 dancers and you need to choose only 12 finalists?
The answers depend greatly of the event you are competing in as they all have specific values they want to encourage. For The International Lindy Hop Championships Sylvia Sykes told us judges on the topic of Lindy content:
"If a group of old-timers walked in the ballroom and saw the dancers perform, would they recognize this as Lindy Hop?"
There is room for innovation, room for evolution, but within the realm of what the originators of the dance might have perceived be the essence of their dance.
"Would this dance showcase the best of what Lindy Hop can be when we look back at those numbers and results in the future? Is this how we want Lindy Hop to be represented to the world?".
Some serious food for thought when making choices preparing for a competition, especially at ILHC! I have so much love and respect for this incredibly accomplished woman.
So many dilemmas we have to face while assuming responsibility for a part of the final judgments of an event! Fortunately, judging panels are usually created to be diverse in opinions, leading to a rich evaluation of the competitions analyzed. Competition organizers like Ms Sykes for ILHC try to get experts from different countries, from different backgrounds, opinions and experiences in order to create that well-rounded team of judges.
I have been on both sides of that game. Much more on the competitor’s side actually - in figure skating, gymnastics, and dancing - so I can very easily understand the FEELINGS we can experience when receiving results that we wish were different.
Being a judge, I understand now that a lot of times, we have to make IMPOSSIBLE choices. Swing dance is an art form first and foremost. It can be expression of painful struggles as much as a joyful celebration of life. They are multi-faceted, have multiple variants and influences and one can approach it’s practice from many different very valid angles! With this in mind, as judges, we need to be true to our view of the dance, of what’s essential to its existence and what constitue beauty in it, and then evaluate all performances with the same weighted criteria. It is ONE VIEW, it does not constitue any kind of absolute truth about what the dancers are worth compared to any other. When you compile the results of all those individual views, using relative placement, it creates a ranking. Your placement might be in the top, middle or the bottom, but I suggest that one tries to discern the meaning of competition results and their worth as an artist.
In an ideal world, an artist should not need any outside validation in order to give credit to its work. If it is a true expression of human experience, then, in my humble opinion, it has value and was worth sharing. If the performance helped you liberate yourself from a feeling or an idea you wanted to share, then you are a WINNER in that aspect, regardless of the opinion of the judges. On the other hand, as artists, we often appreciate our peers RESPECT as our voice crave also to sing in a larger choir of voices and be heard and appreciated for its unique tone.
A lower ranking does not mean at all that judges did not respect your creation or your improv, it just means that given the amazing dancers that were out there competing, the overall decisions from the judging panel made you end up where you landed. That is all. If we could put everybody ex aequo in first place, people would probably stop registering to competitions!
This is why I believe competition is a GAME. It is a game where participants benefit from the tremendous motivation of having one chance of performing a number or improv, experience the magic of that present moment with the crowd and judges, live the excitement of not knowing if their ideas will be well received, well understood but knowing that they were part of something important. It’s the feeling that we matter, that we can trigger emotions in spectators and that we give and receive a unique energy to our fellow competitors as we always push the bar higher and higher.
That said, as you are probably a fervent player of the competition’s game, I’ll write another article on what I think are important criteria to ponder while participating to competitions.... what are judges looking for exactly? Stay tuned if you are interested in that topic as well.
So if competition is « only » a game, why would we put our value and self-worth on the line? Is it really worth all the disappointment, sorrow, self-doubt induced? Is this potential pain part of healthy growth? Asking yourself why you compete is very important, and it is a journey that will unavoidably lead to several roller-coasters of emotions, but hopefully as well many life-changing realizations. I think that if you compete for "FUN", then it should be fun before, during and after the competition! If you ranked lower than expected, did you at least learn something? Can you say that it was an experience worth living? And if you compete to get exposure and work as a teacher, then can you say that regardless of the results, people are talking about your piece?
Please, don’t allow competition results to discourage you from any more meaningful goals you might have and please don’t give them the power to steal your fire, joy or motivation to do more. It is one little label on a far deeper journey. Perhaps ask friends who were watching you dance what they liked about it and put this in your heart first and then get some critique from peers and judges in order to have cues about what to improve to play the « competition game » better next time.
Lastly, even if you win.... it’s still a game. Take in the love and appreciation, it is an important accomplishment! That means that there is a lot of greatness in what you managed to perform! But i suggest it might also be a trap to extrapolate too much from a first place, especially in the realm of worthiness and how we perceive ourselves as dancers. Questions such as: « Would i have won if that person/couple/team showed up? » or « Did we win because of this mistake the other person did or because the overall quality of our dancing was better? »…. All questions that brings us back to the essence of competing: If you don’t show up, you can’t win…. And if you dare showing up, you might loose. But the courage to show up is in my opinion the biggest credit you can give yourself for, especially when you can say that you dared greatly (I will never stop quoting Brené Brown as she is a big inspiration!!!)
Your VALUES as human beings and dancers will help you translate results into FEELINGS, and feelings into FUTURE ACTIONS, so that this can become a constructive cycle.
In all situations, let’s keep our heads high, our shoulders and arms available for fellow dancers needing emotional support, our ears for listening to our friends, or hands up there for high-fives, feet ready to pop back in those shoes and hearts full of love of Lindy Hop and our community.
Picture by Alain Wong