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Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Nancy K. Damico
3/14/2004  1:14:00 PM
When I was competing in the 1980's this was common practice. Studio owners used competitions as a way to encourage their students to sign on for large blocks of prepaid lessons. By "fixing" competition results, those unsuspecting students were enticed to spend and spend and spend. This may not be the current practice everywhere, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did rear its "ugly head".

I would encourage you to continue to question these practices whenever you encounter them, join USABDA and try their competitions as I did not experience this kind of preferential judging in that arena.

Finally, be aware that some partnerships have a reputation in the ballroom dance community. They do tend to place higher, however, there place has been earned through experience. When you gain experience you too will find your position at competitions improve and if not, get a new coach. It is possible to stay with one teacher too long.

I wish you well in your ballroom dancing. Demand honesty! it is your right!

Nancy Damico
Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Blacksheep
3/15/2004  3:11:00 AM
I was a new competitor, with only two years training and in my first competition at the Valantino Tango Contest held at the Hollywood Palladium in 1952.
Three Judges on a stage overlooking the dance floor called out numbers of dancers that had monitors physically escort eliminees off the dance floor, until only five couples remained.
When the final dance took place with the remaining five couples dancing at the same time, an Aplausameter was used to determine 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place.
The Machine determined who the audiance admired the most, regardless of these artificial standards used to score and to force dancers to look like robots trying to outdo each other with 'standards' that turn an art form into a mechanical frozen rendition of the dance, and disregard the natural individual expressions that helps the dance evolve into a higher esthetic level.
I loved the results of that Valentino contest.
Black Sheep
Re: Unfair judging
Posted by blankpro
3/15/2004  7:27:00 AM
That's pretty funny - the audience judging a sport by 'applause'. Well, let's take it all the way - let's have the audience vote on the teams that will go to the superbowl!

Competive dance is just that - a competition as to who is the best that day with those dancers. Factors such as looks, audience glitz, etc are not supposed to enter into it. Judges (who have the trained eye for the performance) take into consideration accuracy and quality of movement, crafting and such. Skating, for instance, has been popularized to the point that the casual watcher can SOMETIMES see past the costume and makeup and look at the skating, but rest assured - everyone who watches sure has an opinion.

I certainly would NOT want someone to judge my craft based upon the populist notions that govern 'watching art' -

It's always been in contests - the 'monday morning' quarterback' who knows what 'really' should have happened.

Remember, in 1952 in the USA, dance quality was so low as to be nonexistent on the world scene. Dance teaching at that time was limited to the newly created Fred Astaire chain studios, and the old-time Arthur Murrays. Remember, Arthur Murray's theory was that technique needed for dance was too hard for the average Joe, so he created a 'syllabus' based upon 'magic steps' that were foot movement patterns - taught by the 6 week wonders of the time (that's what chain studio teachers are known as)...

Within a few years (1961), English style dancing was introduced to the USA, forcing many 'teachers' to relegate to the 'social only' crowd, and serious quality dancing to begin. Until the mid 70s, there were no American couples on the world scene. Even now, thanks to the damaging presence of the 'local dance studio', so few people make it out of the beginner group classes into something that begins to look like the artform that captures the world's eye (20,000 people in a stadium in Germany, 10,000 in Japan) that the USA is not usually considered a serious contender for many events on the world scene....
Re: Unfair judging
Posted by blankpro
3/15/2004  7:31:00 AM
No offense, but the standard must have been pretty low for you to win a contest (your first) after only 2 years of 'training'. But then again, tha audience probably couldn't tell the difference - just like today. Looks and 'groupthink' sway the minds - they certainly weren't looking at the quality of dance.

Like I said - no offense, but 52 years ago looking at dancers on a stage from, say, 300 feet away, who in the WORLD could tell if you were dancing well, anyway?

Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Realistic Expectations
3/15/2004  12:28:00 PM
I have been dancing in Pro-Am competions for almost 7 years and have found over time that the judging can be biased and politically influenced. It basically boils down to one thing, how much money you can afford to spend on exposing yourself to the dance community. ie; how many dance lessons & coachings, how many competitions you do in a year, how many dances done at a single competition, how many costume changes. These are just a few of the monetary factors that contribute to ones chances of winning or losing. Then there are the other things , is your instructor well liked? How much time between working and family do you really have to practice. For instructors ,coaches,judges & professional world champions dancing is their occupation, their life. For me dancing is all about having fun & I cannot worry at a competition that I have paid a considerable sum of money to have that sense of fun destroyed because I haven't sucked up enough or paid enough for a score. I compete against myself and my last performance some of which are wonderful and some which are not so wonderful. There will always be unfair judging so I let them do their job and I do mine which is to dance as well as I know I can. If you're only dancing for the win you may never truly enjoy the dance itself because then it becomes work instead of recreation and fun.
Re: Unfair judging
Posted by dancing mouse
3/16/2004  6:36:00 AM
Well...it stands to reason (and I'm not a studio owner, teacher, nor do I make a living from the dance world) that the more money you spend on lessons and the more competitions you are in, the better your dancing abilities are going to be. Just like any sport, the more experience you have, especially in games or events where it counts, the better you're going to become.
Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Tiki-Treasures
4/4/2005  10:20:00 AM
Why do you think ballroom dancing is not an Olympic sport? In ballroom dancing, there's too many judges who are teachers, which is a blatant conflict of interest.
Remember the outcry with the SLC Olympics Figure Skating Pairs judging and the behind-the-scene deals that were made? In skating, the judges are all volunteers. Not a single one coaches skaters. If the general public heard how many ballroom judges are also coaches, they'd never consider ballroom dancing a legitimate sport for the Olympics.

Politics will always be present in any sport that is judged.

However, ballroom dancing competitions and judging has to change and clean up its act. The first thing to do is eliminate all judges who are coaches. People either can be judges or coaches but not both.

In our experiences, we find the judging to be more political when it is a small competition and when we are out-of-towners dancing in these small competitions. In these types of comps, the judges tend to favor the local dancers they know over the out of town ones, especially when everybody is very close in dance ability. And most of the judges in these comps also coach. So they are going to put in their own students because they don't want to lose the income from those students.

Look at it this way: if you were a judge and you didn't place your own student high, that student will think your teaching sucks and will go to somebody else. On the other hand, if you place your student high, they'll think you are the greatest teacher ever and will keep coming to you for lessons.

Too many judges movitivated by their pocketbook. They will not mark you unless you've taken lessons from them. That's why you experienced this block judging because these judges want their students to keep coming back to them. By placing their students in the top three, it validates their great teaching to these students. In other words, the students will think their teachers are fantastic because they placed so high, and thus keep coming to them for lessons.

I've seen dancers who deliberately book lessons with judges a week or two before a competition that the judges are in so they will be marked. Unfortunately, their strategy works.

Thus is my two cents worth....

Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Laura
4/4/2005  10:34:00 AM
There have been some interesting and valid points made here, but there's one thing I'd like to add. It might not be true in this case, but I've seen some accusations of "unfair judging" can really be unfounded if the person making the accusation really understood how the system of combining the judge's marks to produce the final score worked.

I was at USDSC one year and a Pro was looking at the marks he and his Student received in a Pro/Am event and he was telling her that he couldn't understand from looking at the marks why she placed so low. I happened to be standing next to them at the board where all the marks were hung. She asked him a question about how the places were computed, and when he started to explain them to her it seemed to me he didn't really know what he was talking about. After a few minutes of this I explained how the skating system works, and all of a sudden their point of view changed from "We was robbed, it's all politics!" to "Wow, this event was close, the marks were all over the place, and we got the short end of the stick mathematically today. But look how close it was, we did great!"
Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Ahnungsloser
12/4/2005  3:40:00 PM
Don't waste energy on speculating what judges could have done wrong, instead find out how to improve your dancing. This will hopefully bring you to a level, where even the seemingly most hostile judges will reward your performance with good marks.

Don't forget, that good dancing alone doesn't make a winner, how to you enter the dancefloor, how do you behave during the complete competition (and even between competitions), every little detail is adding to the picture you create of yourself in the small dancing community.

Ahnungsloser

PS: Learn to be a good looser, and once you maybe start winning, even more important, learn to be a good and fair winner.
Re: Unfair judging
Posted by Don
12/4/2005  8:47:00 PM
Unhappy. You certainly started something with your question. I would add one more thing. How does a judge sleep at night . Easy , They don't even look at you to compair. They wouldn't have a clue how you may have danced, you might just as well not be their. Here's a good one for you. A professional I know very well told me that in a competition he took part in, four of the judges were his pupils.

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