Tampa 2011 Update #3

Holy Mackerel!  What a way to ruin a comp! How completely inappropriate can you get?

Tonight was Saturday night, the Big Night! Wonderful show, the Willis Clan and their Reality TV pilot! Masters routines! Young Adult routines! Rising Star! And Classic! A wonderful exciting night, right? Two weeks before the Open?

But a peculiar announcement was made several times: “There will be a meeting of Showcase at 11:30pm   All Showcase couples who competed last night! You will be meeting tonight at 11:30pm!”

So of course everyone here wondered what could that possibly be about? Showcase was yesterday! It was great! A meeting on Saturday night?

Here’s what it was about.  Beata Howe, Chief Judge, decided that all the showcase couples but one (Crystal and Dave) should be disqualified.  For lack of swing content.

So Beata convened a new, second panel of judges, and had them watch a video of last night’s routines. And after this discussion and viewing Beata confirmed that in fact every single one of the showcase couples (except Crystal and Dave) should be disqualified for lack of swing content.  Beata decided not to disqualify them here in Tampa but informed them in their 11:30  meeting that in two weeks, at the Open, they would be judged again by this same panel of judges, and should expect to be disqualified for lack of swing content.

Couples were flabbergasted.

Showcase is 60/40. 60% swing content. They asked Beata what is swing content, according to you, that you would disqualify all of us?

You can’t define swing content, Beata answered.

How are we supposed to do it if you can’t tell us what it is we’re supposed to do, they asked.

Has to do with weight. Where your weight is, Beata said. Your weight can’t be over the balls of your feet.

But that’s technique, that’s not swing content, they said.

Well that’s how I define swing content, she said. And this second panel of judges I’ve convened are the same judges who will be judging you in two weeks at the Open. So change your routines or be disqualified.

The feeling here, of this event, went from an excited Saturday Night high to a shocked, disappointed, worried low. In the space of an hour. People everywhere on their phones calling family and friends all over the world, worrying, confused, not understanding.

Robert and Nicola Royston? Seriously? Greg and Lemery? Lemery is 22 years old. This is her first year on our circuit. She and Greg have travelled at their expense, to every NASDE comp and a lot of non-NASDE comps in order to put this routine on the floor, playing by the rules as the rules were described to them. For a year they have not once received a violation, not to mention a disqualification! The Open is two weeks away and how exciting this has been for Greg and Lemery! They’ve thought they might stand a chance of placing at the USOpen! How wonderful!

And now … this. Really, Beata? This is the “welcoming” community you want to show our young competitors?

What a way to ruin the high of Saturday night!

Of course news of this travelled instantly and after that no one really felt much like celebrating. The ballroom was sparse, mood was gloomy.

Something must be done to rectify this!. Will this second panel of judges, whoever they were, now have already decided that every one of the Showcase routines of last night – including Greg and Lemery, Robert and Nicola who danced more beautifully than before with the most beautiful routine yet, Rob and Connie who have been performing their routine since March, Stephen and Sabrina, Ben and Rebecca, Sheven and Agnieszka, JB and Sarah, and Luis and Jennifer – that these routines are all to be thrown out of the Open? For lack of swing content? Which cannot be defined? Other than to say that your weight needs to be over your heels?

There is so very MUCH here that’s inappropriate, I’m embarrassed.

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6 responses to “Tampa 2011 Update #3

  1. The only shock is that it has taken so long for any one to enforce swing content rules.
    They’ve been on the books for years, but noone enforces them for fear of a backlash.

    Go look at a routine. Time it and find out how fast it is. Lets say it’s 2:20 at 115 bpm. (115 x 2.3 minutes 264.5 beats. 60%, or 168 beats, should be recognizable swing.
    What is swing? Great question. Any answer will have lots of exceptions. Some times it comes down to how many exceptions you can tolerate. Should there be triple steps? Should they dance in time? Should there be a slot? Should there be accents on even counts? Should there be a stretch at the beginning of movements? Should the dancers roll throught their feet (including their heels since this is a walking dance, ir is latin movement acceptable)? Is there any reason not to enter with a strictly theater arts routine?
    So take that routine and count how many beats are 6 or eight count patterns beginning with a walk walk or hold ball change and ending with an anchor (or spinning anchor) that’s your conservative content estimate.

    Now add in rock and go’/ continuous triple steps (10 and 12 count patterns) and hold ball changes at the end of a pattern. That’s still pretty clearly swing content.
    Now add 2 beats of extra turns. (12 3&4&5&6 7&8 still feels like swing. 12 3&4&5&6&7&8&9&10 just fells like turns, shouldn’t count towards content).
    Now add 2, maybe 4 beats of goofing off and the stuff you learn in workshops.
    You’re allready at the point where people who know the dance but don’t go to competions won’t recognize the wcs, but even by this standard, most routines don’t have enough content.
    And why should they? I’ve not seen the rule enforced before. Crowds and judges react to your crazy material and your lyrical content, not how good your swing is. But this is a swing competition. What should be judged, if not how well you dance swing?
    Swing technique and content should count, or we should drop that rule and open our divisions to theater arts, acrobatic, and ballroom routines.

  2. Swing is defined in the NASDE rules and is not just limited to WCS…
    The problem is that events need to be consistent with their enforcement of the rules…isn’t that the reason NASDE exists and is made up of event directors? Even the top pros should have to adhere to the established standards as defined in the NASDE definition of swing. They need to have identifiable swing patterns, incorporate leverage at the end of the slot, and all of the other attributes that make swing what it is…and it should be conistently enforced by all of the NASDE events, otherwise the rules are worthless and they might as well let showcase be like the Caberet category where people dance whatever they want…
    The standards should have been put out BEFORE the competition season in written form, enforced consistently from the first event of the season, and reiterated in the competitor’s meeting…and those who choreograph the routines (esp those paid to choreograph) should know the rules and make sure the choreography meets the requirements for the division.

  3. After reading this blog – I was in shock! And I feel so badly for Showcase competitors who had to be subjected to this behavior. Personally (keeping in mind I’m a Novice dancer) I adore and admire every single competitor who has the courage to get out there and put on a routine!! Please do not allow one persons opinion alter your course with your routine!! NASDE ‘defines’ swing as being ALL types of Swing and does not keep things limited to WCS (http://www.nasde.net/nasde-rules.php). Showcase Division requires 60% swing content (as defined by NASDE) and requires a minimum of four lifts. I haven’t been able to locate any competition ‘rules’ posted on the WCSDC website.

    THANK YOU Liza for posting this! With all the crazy hair-splitting about Swing content on FB right now – I’m glad you brought this to our (WCS dance community) attention. I will be re-posting your blog; and I’m considering contacting NASDE about their “Sportsmanship” RULE because Beata evidently was not keeping that in mind with her power tripping behavior.

  4. The lawyer in me can’t help but ask — did you hear Beata say that swing can’t be defined or was the reported to you by someone else?

  5. If the “rules” are being changed….then don’t change them until after the US Open. That is only fair to make the criteria and content of the “dance” to be outlined at the beginning of the year. Since it was NOT announced until 2 weeks before the Open, that is totally unfair and should not be tolerated by judges, pro/teachers and dancers the world over. If Ms. Howe is the rule announcer and the World Dance Council agrees to these content changes then make it FAIR for all and begin these new rules AFTER the US Open. This “at the last minute” announcement is so uncalled for and very unprofessional.

  6. I agree, BUT it is the truuth, you dance like the champs or those running the show or you wont do so well. Always been the case. Its human . we are power made.. lol.. and to worried about defining our own thing so that no one else could possibly take it away.. then we wouldnt be the espert anymore..

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