Competitions

Here’s our sweet line-up for 2017 Sweet Molasses Blues competitions!

  • Choreography (prelims Saturday afternoon, finals during Saturday evening dance)
  • Advanced Mix & Match (prelims Saturday at 4:30pm, finals during Saturday late night dance)
  • Open Mix & Match (prelims Saturday at 4:30pm, finals during Saturday late night dance)

Detailed information, including judging criteria and need-to-know information for competitors is below.

Choreography Competition

So you’re interested in participating in the Choreography Competition? That’s pretty sweet!

Our choreography competition pairs nicely with The Choreo Project and along with our choreography workshop track. Neither is required.

Whether you are a choreographer, a dancer in a choreography, or both, please take a few minutes to read our guidelines.

Competition Format

Prelims: Prelims will take place during the day on Saturday, and will include feedback from a panel of judges as in past years. All of the judging criteria below will be considered for what choreographies advance to finals, with Blues Aesthetic carrying the most weight. Please note that no matter how wonderful your choreography and performance are, you will not advance to finals without Blues Aesthetic.

Finals: Finals will take place during the Saturday evening dance. For placements, judges will consider performance and choreography separately, possibly awarding different prizes in each category.

Sunday Night Showcase: New this year! Pieces that are not selected for finals, but that the judges would like to be seen by a wider audience, may be invited to perform in our Sunday Night Showcase. No prizes will be awarded for participation in the showcase. This is an opportunity for attendees to show appreciation for all the hard work choreographers and performers put into their submissions.

Judging Criteria

Blues Aesthetic: We look for the things that all of the blues dances have in common: grounding, pulses, athletic posture, and timing related to the music. We also look for you to display the aesthetic of cool and ephebism.

aesthetic of cool: combination of composure with vitality.
ephebism: youth, power, vitality, flexibility, drive and attack.

For Choreography…

Interest: Does the choreography draw the viewer in? Does it have unexpected or surprising elements that affect the viewer? Emotional effect (surprise, delight, sadness, etc.), contrast, nuance, complexity all fit in this category. We also look for intentional use of space (blocking)- do you move or not move with intention? Does the choreography make intentional use of unison, harmony, contrast, discord, and lag between dancers?

Development: We look for a change or a development over the course of a choreography. This can be in the form of a story, in the form of movement ideas that change or repeat, or in the form of characters that experience an emotional journey. We look for there to be change, while the piece as a whole feels cohesive.

Music: Does the choreography not only make sense to the song, but does it seem inextricably linked to the song? Does it capture the spirit of the song? Are there rhythmic elements, textures, etc. that seem inspired by the music? Does the choreography acknowledge the musical structure and phrasing? If there are lyrics, does the choreography make sense to the lyrics? If there is no audible music, can the audience see the implied music? Does the dancing contribute to the music, rather than just borrowing?

Choreographers, please note: When dealing with culturally loaded content, please make sure that it is provided with appropriate context and execution. If you are in any doubt, please contact one of the weekend instructors.

For Performance…

Technique and Movement Quality: Rhythms executed cleanly and clearly. Movements are well integrated within your whole body and the ground. Textural elements such as sharpness and softness look intentional.

Performative Elements: Are your emotional elements clear? Does the audience know what you are feeling? (Including detached or lack of feeling, if that is the intent.) Is it clear if your focus is on yourself, another performer, the audience, the universe, etc.? As an audience member, do I feel engaged by what you are doing, have I “bought into” the performance? Is the use of harmony, discord, unison, and/or lag between dancers intentional?

Judging criteria courtesy of Ruth Evelyn.

Mix & Match

“Mix & Match” is a format of competition where the competing couples are the result of random matching of leaders and followers. Participants are judged as individuals in preliminary rounds and in randomly assigned partnerships for finals.

You may only enter one M&M, regardless of role (lead/follow) selection.

Advanced M&M

The Advanced Mix & Match is for anyone with a history of success (in the chosen role) in competition on the national or international blues dance level. Preliminary rounds will take place Saturday at 4:30pm. Finals will take place during Saturday’s late night dance.

Open Mix & Match

The Open Mix & Match is for anyone not competing in the Advanced Mix & Match. You may only enter one M&M, regardless of role (lead/follow) selection. Preliminary rounds will take place Saturday at 4:30pm. Finals will take place during Saturday’s late night dance.

Judging Criteria

Mix & Match competitors will be judged in five categories: Blues Aesthetic, Partnership, Musicality, Technique and Movement Quality, and Performance/Creativity.

During Prelims, the most important quality for making finals is blues aesthetic. If you are not dancing blues, or if your blues aesthetic is inconsistent, doing well in the other categories won’t make up for it. We need to see solid blues dancing.

During Finals, all five categories will be weighted equally.

Blues Aesthetic: We look for the things that all of the blues dances have in common: grounding, pulses, athletic posture, and timing related to the music. We also look for you to display the aesthetic of cool and ephebism.

aesthetic of cool: combination of composure with vitality.
ephebism: youth, power, vitality, flexibility, drive and attack.

Partnership: You and your partner, dancing together, sharing your own movement and musical expression, working together to create a shared cohesive dance. Is your leading clear? Are you following? Are you having conversations? Call and response, harmony, and unity are all elements that are great to see.

Musicality: If the music were muted for us as the viewer, would we be able to “hear” what you’re dancing to? Does your basic change from song to song? We are interested in your body rhythms, multi-rhythms, polyrhythms, the timing of your axis shifts and your response to the melody.

Technique and Movement Quality: What is your movement quality? How difficult are the elements you use? How integrated is your body movement? Does your grounding carry through to all of your body movement? Do you transmit your movement to your partner?

Performance/Creativity: Do we want to watch you? What is happening with your face, where are you looking? We look for how you engage with the audience, your partner, your surroundings, the music. Do you have stand-out moments? In this category we look for things that elicit a reaction, dancing that makes us clap, say, “Wow!” or laugh out loud.

Judging criteria courtesy of Ruth Evelyn.