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?
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
PS: Learn to be a good looser, and once you maybe start winning, even more important, learn to be a good and fair winner.
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.
My 5 year old participates in Karate cometitions that involve several Karate schools around the state. Knowing that it is "human nature" to tend to score your students higher, the judges panel is comprised of one judge per school....to KEEP IT FAIR. Why, then, does ballroom not enforce a commmon sense rule that a kids Karate competion recognizes? I do not understand.
"My 5 year old participates in Karate cometitions that involve several Karate schools around the state. Knowing that it is "human nature" to tend to score your students higher, the judges panel is comprised of one judge per school....to KEEP IT FAIR. Why, then, does ballroom not enforce a commmon sense rule that a kids Karate competion recognizes? I do not understand."
Because except in rare cases there is simple mapping of dance schools to competitors. The IDSF does have a rule about only one judge per country at their international events; problem is England still has maybe 80% of the good judges, so this wastes a lot of badly needed expertise.
Anonymous, why would you need to map a school to a student? Wouldn't it suffice to just set up a regulation that you cannot have more than one judge from a school judging a heat? That way, "conflict of interest" would be less of an issue (I believe this was already mentioned in this thread). To expand on your analogy on international competitions, there may exist some schools that have more than one highly qualified judge; however, in the promotion of good sportsmanship, wouldn't the industry wish to deliver a fair competition? In the original scenario (a college comp from 2004), everyone loses: the winners, the losers, the judges, the competition promoters....
You seem to think it's more important to eliminate the appearance of bias than to have qualified judges. If all the qualified judges in a town work at one studio (not unlikely) then most of the judges should be from that studio. Only way to get better than that is to have the budget to bring in even better outsiders.
My argument is that it is an actual bias, not just an appearance of bias. In the original complaint, a school had three judges on the panel and the debate was that their students won due to favoritism. I see your point about expense; however, this competition was in the Boston area, how difficult would it have been to have a diverse panel? This is an interesting topic; unfortunately, my margins on this thread seem to be narrowing, so I will have to sign off.
Happy. This is a never ending story. I`ll start with, I went to a seminar where most of the people there were professionals. The discussion got around to judging. I was most suprised when one of the speakers said. We have all been judging somewhere along the line where an organiser has sided up and told us who they expect to win. I was at a small comp. many years ago where the sole judge, judged, did his own scrutineering and recalled the couples for the next round himself. To me it seemed very apparent that he did n`t trust the organiser. The judge was Guy Howard. that`s right he wrote one of the books.Another time the sole judge was Len Scriverner. His method was to walk among the couples and tap a couple on the shoulder, which meant leave the floor. The last six standing were the finalist. He did the same in the final. This was a one dance competition. I was present when a very famous dancer and judge, who also wrote a book, after a major competition was telling a professional competitor that they were not the marks he submitted. He was telling him that he marked him in every round up to the semi final.Those marks were not there. As I started off with The never ending story. One way with judging which could make it a bit more honest would be as was done in South Africa. I have a copy of the marks from the first round to the final. Five judges, two were rotated for each of the dances. Not heats but every dance. I think that the judges should be drawn, from a hat, if you like, just before each event. One last piece, I have a friend who was told he would`t make the final this year six weeks ahead of the competition in which he had finished second two years in a row. She was right. He had not kept his lessons up. I dont know if there can be a remedy. But I do know why so many people leave the competition field.
I must have been fortunate for in my 20 yrs of dancing I always found the judging to be fair as long as there were an odd number of judges. The spectators always seem to know who the winner is and this keeps the judges honest. It's difficult for the judges when competitors are equal in ability or are all mking the same mistakes as they will be when all dancing at the same leval. Sometimes a shining star will arrive and dance quickly through all levals.
Dave. If the winners of one of the grades were called out soon after the event and not hours later. It would possibly be obvious to all that it was being routed. Several hours later it is not so obvious. Don`t you agree.