From a Judge’s Eye
I have had the privilege over the past 25 years to
judge many local and state dance/drill team competitions, in addition to
Miss Drill Team USA and Miss Drill Team International.
Each time I judge, I count myself lucky to have the chance to learn
and grow as a dance educator by seeing the incredible talent displayed
before me. I have had the
chance to see drill team transform into all forms and abilities of true
dance and observe the evolution of creativity within our industry.
Judging a competition begins several days in
advance with reviewing the criteria on the scoresheet and studying the
rules of each individual contest. There
is always some variance from event to event and it is important for each
adjudicator to educate his or herself on the details of that specific
contest. Many times, if I am
judging a new event, the event coordinator will send a video for study and
review of regionalized dance styles.
All of these materials go in my handy brief case to be at my side
for the journey to contest and to review again the night before.
On the event day itself, just like many of the
performers, I begin a routine of focusing my thoughts on the task ahead.
I try to cleanse my mind of any outside thoughts of business or
personal life that might interfere with my effectiveness as a judge.
Since this day has taken the performers and coaches many weeks and
months to prepare, I owe it to them to insure that I am equally prepared
for their performance. I even
get butterflies in my stomach before starting to judge, just as the
sure that I have eaten enough healthy foods to give me energy but not so
much that it will tend to slow my thoughts.
Certain food groups can tend to make you drowsy on a long day.
Each judge comes ‘equipped’ with tools of the
trade: pens, pencils, erasers, tally sheet, calculator, judging forms and
rules book. I always have
water close by as everyone knows that water will cleanse the brain and
promote a clear thought process. I
pace myself and try not to get over anxious and excited early in the day
so my stamina will allow me to complete the contest as fresh as when I
started. As I clear my calculator after each routine, I also clear my
mind to see the next team in the most objective manner. I try to see through to the potential of the team and allow
that to be my guide when comparing performance, precision, technique,
choreography and presentation. Each
judge keeps a tally sheet to insure that scores are falling in a fair and
consistent sequence and to refer back to if there are ties or questions.
When the awards ceremony comes, I am always anxious
to see how my scores have compared to the other judges to combine for the
results. Even though each
judge sees each routine in a different light, each has their own important
observations that will allow the team to grow as dancers.
If all judges thought and commented exactly the same way, the teams
would only be seen through one set of eyes.
It is important to respect differences.
Given insight into a judges day has hopefully opened your eyes to the great task that they have in defining and judging the teams at contest. Their role is of equal importance to coaches, choreographers and performers. For fun at your next contest, you be the judge and write comments on selected teams that you observe. Give a score and see how you compare to the judging panel! It will give you greater respect for the challenging role of being a dance/drill team contest judge.
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