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.