Competitions

  • Choreography (prelims by video link, due by May 20th, finals TBA)
  • Advanced Mix & Match (prelims Saturday after classes, finals during Saturday late night dance)
  • Open Mix & Match (prelims Saturday at after classes, finals during Saturday late night dance)

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

Rewards for competition winners are provided by some of our sponsors.


Choreography Competition

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

In prior years, we have had live prelims during the weekend, but we’re changing it up for 2019. This year, we are asking folks to submit just part of their choreography by video by May 20th. This doesn’t have to be totally complete or polished, but we should be able to get a clear view of your vision and ability. Judges may ask for you to edit and resubmit before making the final decision. Choreography competition entry is free.

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

Competition Format

Prelims: By video submission. 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: If you are chosen to perform at Sweet Molasses Blues 2019, we will notify you with more information regarding performance times. 

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**.

* combination of composure with vitality

** youthfulness, power, vitality, flexibility, drive and attack

For the purposes of the choreography competition, we also require that the song be a blues song.

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…

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? Intentional use of unison, harmony, discord, and lag between dancers.

Judging criteria adapted from criteria developed by 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. Register online or at the door (but space is limited so try to register early!).

Advanced Mix & Match

Think you can hang with the big dogs? We want to see! This is where the All-Stars are required to compete, and those wanting to become All-Stars can throw down. If you’ve ever placed at a BluesSHOUT! All-Star qualifying event, this is likely the right spot for you. If you’ve made finals, we encourage you to give this level a try.

You may only compete in one M&M, regardless of role.

If you feel that these qualifiers do not accurately represent your dance level, please contact Sarah Elise to discuss. 

Preliminary rounds will take place Saturday at after classes. Finals will take place during Saturday’s late night dance.

Open Mix & Match

Are you ready to throw down, but not quite ready for advanced? Open is the spot for you. We encourage everyone who is not an advanced competitor to enter the open M&M.

You may only compete in one M&M, regardless of role.

If you feel that these qualifiers do not accurately represent your dance level, please contact Sarah Elise to discuss. 

Preliminary rounds will take place Saturday at after classes. 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, the categories will be weighted as follows, in descending order of importance:

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 adapted from criteria developed by Ruth Evelyn.