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Re: Competitive DanceSport
Posted by gooddancer
5/29/2004  1:07:00 PM

My two cents worth:
The professionals--both the trapper and the trapped--made a number of mistakes on several levels.

First the Trapper: I think that blocking another couple during competition and impeding progress is NOT sound competitive strategy. It is too risky and is difficult to do with the necessary panache to pull-off (ie., make it look like an "accident"). It spoils focus and concentration, and detracts from one's command performance when done in an obvious, and oftentimes angry, manner. It also comes across as mean-spirited, boorish, and childish. It takes the audience, and more importantly, the judges', attention away from the the quality of one's dancing and there's always that chance that it would piss a judge off and take points away.

I can only see two reasons to do it and both without true merit. (1) Anger--in which case you've already lost. (2) Induce a mistake--to which I say that war is the first resort of the incompetent. Is one's dancing so bad or inferior that one needs to resort to trapping and shadowing.

A parting word about the trapper...They just made an enemy where it was not necessary. And given the opportunity, that couple will undoubtedly be gunning for them the next time.

As for the Trapped:
Floorcraft, floorcraft, floorcraft! First and foremost keep a cool head. Take advantage of the empty space but keep an eye out for other dancers. Get a handle on the traffic and flow of the floor. And no matter what, always have a backup plan--a secondary exit. Don't be choreography bound.

If, inspite of all this, one still manages to get trapped, then use a bad situation to your advantage. The close proximity of another dancer is a good way to invite comparison and make your opponent look bad--do a figure that (1) defines a space for you, (2) could intimidate your opponent, and (3) makes you look very good AND unflappable. For instance, in International Style Waltz, a Standing Spin into Telespin Telemarks comes to mind. It provides a 360-degree view of the floor and several exit routes.

As for the question "Is there strategy in DanceSport?:"

It would be foolish to compete without a modicum of strategy. Using a routine is a tactic. Planning how to use a routine, where to use it, and most importantly when to abandon it, is strategy.

There are several levels of competitive strategy or what I call competition mechanics. To list a few:

-Preparation: training, coaching, mental fitness, physical fitness, technical fitness. As a matter of course practice extended showcase figures, different exit routes, and avoidance strategies.

-Equipment: The choice of cut, material, and suspension systems of the tuxedo, color of the gown/dress. A not so known thing--vaselin on brand new patent leather shoes.

-Competition: Floorcraft, choosing the best places to do a showcase figure, the look of the couple, which judges to present in front of, which side of the audience to play up to and get on your side, choices of where to start, how to start, and why.

-Technical: Choosing dance styles, say between the classical style, or the more open Italian style. What artistic tone to present to the audience--for instance, in Tango, different shades of emotions: anger, hautiness, suave-ness, even boredom(?).

Where is the sport in DanceSport? In winning on one's merit of course! In my opinion, dance is first and foremost an art. When you compete in a dance sport, you are competing against other couples. The best artistry, training, strategy, and presentation wins--at least theoretically. That's the sport component--the training and competition.

Don't mistake bad floor antics with true strategy. I wouldn't block somebody on the dancefloor, or induce another to make a mistake. I wouldn't have time--I would be too busy trying to find the open space. In fact, I know that courtesy goes a looooong way. Call it pride or ego but I prefer to know that I won because I was the better dancer--not because somebody else made a mistake.

The Frying Dragon
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