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Rhee’s Blog | Judging the Judges | Opinion

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With a history in the dance competition world, I have always been a big defender of what I believe the competition experience can offer the dancer. Here and there I talk about the negatives, too. This rant is focused on those who are adjudicating competitions or who would like to become judges someday.

The moment you sit at a judges’ table, it is your responsibility to have absolutely no prejudices about a school, teacher, or a certain style of dance. A judge is there to adjudicate what is being presented on that stage, at that moment in time, with a focus on the technical skill of the dancers, their choreography, performance skills, and all the other things that come into play when you put those numbers on paper. That’s it.

Judges must realize that dance is a very diversified art form. Whether it’s contemporary or a classical ballet piece, I must judge the dancers with the same standards without regard to which style of dance I personally prefer. As a judge, it is ultimately my responsibility to offer young dancers three minutes of my undivided attention to evaluate their skills with a professional eye and no opinion other than that.

As for judges who choose to sit at the table and let their prejudices influence their scores, they shouldn’t be there. It’s as simple as that.

With such strong opinions within the dance community about the value of competition, judges who are swayed by prejudice only reinforce the competition-is-harmful faction.

I know from much experience that very few judges would ever consider anything but doing what is ethically right. I also know that the competition experience can inspire teachers and dancers to be the best that they can be. But those few judges who take advantage of their position have forgotten that the point of the competition isn’t themselves and their prejudices—it’s the students who expect and deserve their professional assessment.

Feel free to post your thoughts on the subject.

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6 Responses to “Rhee’s Blog | Judging the Judges | Opinion”

  • Elaine |Hunter:

    Hello Rhee,
    thanks for this, I have adjudicated in the past and my dancers competed from 1986 to when I sold my school in 2006. We won many awards during that time .
    I am now involved with another school in British Columbia, I moved here from Ottawa and I am helping more students to reach their personal best. When I adjudicated I was shocked by what another judge said to me. She was obviously biased in many ways and it definitely affected her scores, I was disgusted actually and understood a lot more about my experience as a dance teacher/ choreographer, I was up against all these preconceived ideas inside some of the judges….wow…. what an eye opener.

    hugs elaine

  • Penny Goelz:

    this is so true. I remember judging once and the owner calling a judges meeting. Seemed a large group had a teen in it that was 4 or 5 months expecting. A teacher complained and said she wanted the group disqualified for that reason. So the competition directors asked our thoughts and my answer was my job was to score and critique the group as dancers and my opinion on moral situations was not what I was being paid to do. Whether I as a teacher would have chosen to put the young girl in the group at a competition or not was not the matter in the case, scoring and critiquing them as dancers was all I was going to do and I stuck to that.

  • I spent several years adjudicating for various competition companies across Canada and the US. I must say that overall my experiences as an adjudicator were very positive and the colluegues with whom I adjudicated were very professional and objective. I would like to mention however that every competition company prepares their adjudicators differently, if they in fact “prepare/debrief” them at all. I would like to see more companies taking the necessary time to communicate their expectations to all adjudicators prior to the competition so that we can provide the dancers/choreographers with fair and objective feedback. As Elaine mentionned above, some (thankfully very few) ajudicators come in with their own pre-conceptions and it can affect their decisions. I feel it is up the to competition company who hires them to ensure that all competitors are adjudicated objectively.

    Merci
    Shena Cameron-Prihoda
    Cameron School of Dance, Greenfield Park, Québec

    P.S. Elaine, we have not crossed paths for many years. I am very happy to see you are still active in the dance world ….even if you are accross the country :) .

  • Thankyou for this point of view – I am finding all of our local schools will choose the competitons that constantly score them higher- After all the fund raising and work students put into going to Competiotions how can you know how accurate judging is? The students who are continuing in their chosen performance profession or college
    are not always the winners – some classes and workshops have been inspirational for students- Rating system fom professionals ??????? would love to hear more from un biased teachers!

  • sue romero:

    Competitions are complex, and I don’t think there is a perfect scoring system !!

    …….I think it is very HARD being a judge!!!I feel differently about a dance when I am watching as a participant than a judge…..as a judge it is hard to be impartial….and hard not to score higher for a dance with HUGE smiles and CLEAN choreography…. even though another dance my have harder skills…

    Look at the Olympics……anytime there is judging (Ice Skating, Gymnastics) there is controversy.. One person’s opinion will always be different from the next person’s…!!

    Competitions will continue to inspire our students to work harder….and grow as dancers…..they inspire us all……but to get caught up in what a “GOLD” means and what a “High Gold” means……defeats the purpose!!

    Enjoy the Journey!!!

  • I spent several years adjudicating for various competition companies across Canada and the US. I must say that overall my experiences as an adjudicator were very positive and the colluegues with whom I adjudicated were very professional and objective. I would like to mention however that every competition company prepares their adjudicators differently, if they in fact “prepare/debrief” them at all. I would like to see more companies taking the necessary time to communicate their expectations to all adjudicators prior to the competition so that we can provide the dancers/choreographers with fair and objective feedback. As Elaine mentionned above, some (thankfully very few) ajudicators come in with their own pre-conceptions and it can affect their decisions. I feel it is up the to competition company who hires them to ensure that all competitors are adjudicated objectively.
    +1

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