Capital 2012 Update #4

By now you have probably heard that neither Jordan and Tatiana nor Kyle and Sarah danced at Boogie by the Bay in October. Really spoiled things for Boogie last year.

The reason for this sad turn was that the judging panel included one member who made it clear beforehand that s/he was unable to be impartial or objective with regard to these four dancers and their dance styles. We have recourse for situations like this, when a judge is a spouse, or ex-boyfriend, or mortal enemy, or family member. In our close-knit community stuff like that happens. So we have a nice solution: we allow contestants to petition to have an impartial judge removed from the panel.

And this solution works because we’re reasonable and the goal is always to try – even in our community which now includes five generations of impossibly intertwined relationships and family members (we’re like the West Virginia of the dance world, all related to each other) – to try always to be, first, on the side of the dancer, to put the dancer first.

We try to be fair in our judging, as much as possible that is the goal always.

Unfortunately something went terribly wrong at Boogie and for whatever reasons the deciding parties chose to refuse the petition. So Jordan and Tatiana, and Kyle and Sarah, were left with no other option but to not compete.

You may also be aware of the huge hubbub which ensued on Facebook following Boogie in which a series of pointed statements and rhetorical questions were posed publicly in an effort to air grievances about style and where the dance is going, and specifically problems with Jordan and Tatiana and Kyle and Sarah in particular. It all felt very mean-spirited.

So here we are in the new year, three months later. And today I learn, from a bunch of disappointed juniors, that we’re back where we were three months ago. Here is the same judge, again on the panel, scheduled to judge Classic tonight. And Jordan and Tatiana and Kyle and Sarah – who have known since Boogie that they’d be here this weekend and that this judge would also be here – of course requested, three months ago, that this judge be removed for their competition.

But this judge, once again, has not been removed.

Why again? How has it come to this? People having come in from all over the country and the world, all kinds of kids who look up to them as role models, all here to see Jordan and Tatiana and Kyle and Sarah dance! To see their stunning new routines, live! How has such a poor decision been made a second time? It’s not as if the decision is a difficult one – this is one of the easy decisions. We have guidelines. We have an overall philosophy: we don’t make decisions on behalf of judges we make them always for the benefit of dancers. The circuit exists, the entire community exists, for the dancers.  Another judge could have replaced this one. So why is this difficult? What is getting in the way of doing the right thing?

Here we are at Capital and neither Jordan and Tatiana, nor Kyle and Sarah, will be dancing tonight, which is the only mature, respectable option they have under the circumstances.

What a disappointment! So many people had so been looking forward to this moment!



3 responses to “Capital 2012 Update #4

    • It is Mario. 😦

      Which is why this is so difficult, because Mario is brilliant and marvelous and beloved, by me and everyone else in the world (including, I’d bet, Jordan, Tatiana, Kyle, and Sarah too … but I won’t speak for them.)

      It’ll be fixed, I’m sure. These are all smart people and they all want the best for the community, that’s what matters most to all of them. They’ll figure it out. I’m not worried.

  1. (From Jordan Frisbee and Tatiana Mollman)

    “Before we say anything we would like to apologize to both the Capital and Boogie attendees in the audience for not dancing. It was one of the hardest decisions in our careers to make and we made it for reasons we are no longer able to compromise.

    Jumping into a Facebook discussion is something we have always managed to avoid. However, we feel there are some misconceptions we would like to clear up regarding our decision not to compete at Boogie and Capital.

    Not competing at these two respected national events was extremely hard for us. It was hard for many reasons, none more so than we love to compete and we are horrified to disappoint anyone. We hope the reputation we have established after 16 years of competing at the highest level, always with integrity, will both show how serious a problem we find this to be and lend credibility to what we share with you now.

    We can’t say this enough, this decision was not about the SCORES!! We have been placed poorly by this judge for years and have never asked for him, or any judge for that matter, to be removed. This comes down to 10 years of public slander. Whether it be on a microphone, in workshops, in score rooms, in bars after competitions, or on Facebook. This judge has been bashing us since we left juniors and started competing as adults. Our students from around the world are constantly surprised and appalled by his negativity towards us. We have always believed it is wrong for a judge to be openly hostile towards the competitors they are scoring, but until now we have just taken it. It is bad for everyone, hurtful and must stop!

    At Boogie there were 8 dancers ready to pull out of the competition if this judge was on the panel. In the end, only Tat, myself, Kyle & Sarah were in a position where we could actually make this stand. We decided we could no longer allow his behavior to continue without doing something to protect ourselves. Again, it had nothing to do with one bad score or the eventual result at Boogie. We have won and placed well despite his low scores for years. At that time the four of us had a meeting with this judge, but things were not resolved. Ten years of turmoil couldn’t be fixed in one hour. After this horrible weekend for swing, things got worse. As soon as he gets home he is blasting us on Facebook. Many saw this. His personal feelings couldn’t be more negative and more public. At that time we chose to take the high road and not respond to any of his slams. We were preparing for the US Open and could not let his negativity distract us.
    At Capital we were asked by the event promoter to have another meeting with him and the four of us were there, but he chose not to show up. That’s right, he didn’t bother to come! After two of the three deciding individuals agreed that he should be removed from the panel, he was left on. Again, our concerns were not addressed.

    Why is it so important for this judge to be on our panel? Judges are moved around on panels all the time, more than the general public knows. There are innocent conflicts of interest, questioned scores, and boom, that judge is replaced. They shift them off one contest and on to another and it’s no big deal. In fact, most of the time when this happens there are no hurt feelings at all. Most judges would be relived to be removed from such a situation. Yet, he fights to be on our panels and lobbies promoters across the country to judge Classic.

    Some have asked why we still danced the Jack & Jill and Strictly at Capital. This is a fair question we are happy to answer. We don’t care if he judges our Strictly Swing & Jack and Jill competitions. Those are fun comps that take 3 minutes of our life and no preparation. He actually pulled himself from the Jack & Jill panel and you can ask him why, but he did judge the Strictly. Regardless, if he is on those panels or not, our focus is the Classic Division.

    We want a resolution and for this to be over. To start the healing process he needs to stop the public bashing and the insulting statements. We have no problem working along side this person. We just don’t want someone who has been so extremely vocal and negative about us and our life’s work judging us anymore. Based upon how flexible judging panels have always been in our community, this is not too much to ask. Is it?


    Jordan Frisbee & Tatiana Mollmann”

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