Competing In Competitions

5. Day of Judgment: Concepts to Keep In Mind

Judging is done in two ways, by crowd majority or by panel. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. We will also go over what criteria a panel of judges look at.

Judging By Crowd Majority

A sign up sheet may be present before the competition. The host or MC for the competition will make an announcement to the club that a competition is to take place and all competing couples are to enter the dance floor. Once all couples have danced for about 2 minutes the MC will ask the audience who they felt was the best. The winner is selected based on how much sound is made by the crowd when each couple is introduced.

The goal at these competitions is to "wow" the crowd. Impress the crowd with unique patterns and movements. Unless you are completely off beat from the music the crowd probably will not notice. Use plenty of acrobatic moves and be flashy!

A drawback at these competitions is that a competing couple may be a favorite at the club or most of the people in the crowd are friends of the couple. This may lead to judging by favorites and costing you the competition.

Judging By Panel

When a competition involves a panel of judges, the judges are instructed to judge each couple based on five categories:

Presentation & Showmanship
Connection between Lead & Follower
Choreography & Execution

Each category will have a numeric value that the judge has to give, which is then totaled to the other categories for a total value. Typically, each judge can give a value from one to ten in each category.

Of all the categories, timing is the most important. Timing is the accuracy of the couple to stay on count, and on step, with the selected music. Each sound of the clave, drum, downbeat, etc. in the music should be complimented with the contact of the foot to the ground. Points are deducted whenever the couple steps off count from the music.

Presentation / Showmanship
The attitude of the couple and how they present themselves will also be scored. Questions that the judges will ask themselves are: Does the couple express any negativity to the other competitors? Are the couple dressed and prepared, or did they just walk off the street? Did the couple come prepared, and did they appear to practice the routine at all? Is the couple fun to watch?

Connection Lead / Follower
This category judges physical connection not emotional connection! The follower should not be watching the leader's feet or body but rather respond to his movements. Leading is the combination of the body and arms moving and the follower responding to that. Also, does the couple function as a team or is there resistance between the two?

Choreography / Execution
Choreography is the sequence of patterns set by the dancing couple, and execution is the completion of a pattern or patterns. The judges will look at how fluid the sequence of patterns is and does the choreography have a clean look to it. Are the transitions between patterns natural or forced? They will also see how the music fits with the choreography. Does the couple take advantage of any off-count cues in the music? The judges also want to see choreography that is clear and easy to watch and not rushed.

The judges will also see the selection of patterns used. Does the couple repeat major patterns or are the patterns carbon copies of patterns commonly used by other couples? How creative and unique is this choreography?

Technique is the ability to perform elements of movement efficiently and appropriately to the dance style. In simpler terms, does the couple present a dancing style that is consistent with salsa dancing? Couples should not try to have a routine that is so unique that it does not present itself as salsa dancing.

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