Wandering & Pondering visits the GMU Swing Club

I did a thing for the George Mason University Swing Club a couple of weeks ago where they asked me to do a video presentation.  I’ve done something like this a few times now, and it’s always a little weird. Mostly I take this as an opportunity to show some old clips of good dancers dancing really, really badly. But for this, I had to take it a little more seriously an try to string some important life lessons to it, just so it seemed sorta legitimate on paper at least.

I say it’s weird because it wasn’t that long ago when we would hang out on some random weekend night and sit around watching these videos like families watch videos of their camping trips. Now here I am in an institution of higher learning breaking it down for people who weren’t even in high school when many of these videos were recorded.

Recording this presentation was mostly just for me to test my new camera, but the GMU students seemed to enjoy it, and it’s not like I have a regular blog ready to post. So I’m posting this part which has some discussion about various topics that I think would be of some interest to the Lindy Hop public at large.

You’ll have to pardon my rambly nature. Part of it is that I’m not a very good public speaker and the other part of it is me trying to sound somewhat legit about swing dancing. I’m not sure I’m convinced myself.

Also, I embedded links to various videos I talk about for reference. Like I mentioned before, this is after I had shown a bunch of videos, so I frequently reference stuff from earlier in the evening. I would have included that portion, but it was too difficult for me to edit in all the videos and my commentary on top of them. Maybe another project for another time.

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Dance Competitions: Judging and Getting Noticed

I haven’t been posting a lot because I keep working on very grandiose essays, and subsequently not getting very far. But I have been writing. Mostly emails to friends about different things. Since I’m not getting far in my regular posting, I thought I’d pull out one such email, clean it up a bit and post it. It’s a little bit of a cheat, but the advantage is that I have a lot of these, so I may be posting these more often. At the very least, they’re somewhat cogent thoughts on stuff I think people will find interesting.

This particular post is in response to a question from a friend about competition judging and how to stand out in a contest, which is why it goes back and forth between the two subjects. 

I should add the disclaimer that even though I work for The International Lindy Hop Championships, I don’t have anything to do with the judging, so don’t take this a guide to winning. I also did not talk to any of the judges about these particular contests. I mention how some judges could interpret a dance, but these are all hypothetical views. My main point is to illustrate how different people can look at the same thing, but not see the same thing.

I will start by answering your first question directly: that the way anyone sees dancing is very subjective. That’s the whole issue in trying to evaluate a creative thing like dancing. Competitions like the International Lindy Hop Championships try to mitigate that by bringing in many experienced judges in the hopes that most of them will come to some sort of consensus. Because everyone is coming from a different perspective, we don’t expect them all to agree. I don’t think there’s any combination of dancers that could.

Sidebar: Several years ago I was at a competition watching one of the contests with a judge not judging at that time. He turned to me and pointed out how terrible a particular dancer was moving out there. This was Friday night. Sunday rolls around and we’re watching a different contest and that same dancer comes out. That judge turns to me and points out how good that dancer is, without realizing that we were looking at the same person that almost made him physically retch two days before. Go figure. Read the rest of this entry »