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Thread: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

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    Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    In competition categories where a couple dance a choreographed routine to their own choice of music does the source of the choreography, creativity, and originality matter?

    Imagine this slightly unlikely, but not altogether impossible situation.

    Couple A.
    Exceptionally talented dancers, they give a dazzling performance, are clearly the favourites with both the judges and the spectators. However, for whatever reason they have little aptitude for or interest in choreography and the larger part of their act was formulated and directed by a third party choreographer.

    Couple B.
    Also very talented but give a slightly less polished performance than Couple A. Their entire performance was their own making with no help or direction from a third party.

    I can already guess which couple will probably win.

    What I want to know is, which couple most deserve to win and why?

    Does the creativity of the couple you see receiving the gold medal matter at all or is it only about the performance on the day?

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    I guess it has to be about performance on the day as neither the judges nor the audience could know that the couple did or did not choreograph the routine themselves. As long as the choreography counts for less than half of the final mark, then it should still be as fair a contest as it can be.

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubble View Post
    Does the creativity of the couple you see receiving the gold medal matter at all or is it only about the performance on the day?
    You're judged on your performance on the day...

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by daveb9000 View Post
    I guess it has to be about performance on the day as neither the judges nor the audience could know that the couple did or did not choreograph the routine themselves. As long as the choreography counts for less than half of the final mark, then it should still be as fair a contest as it can be.
    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    You're judged on your performance on the day...
    Sorry! Perhaps I'm being too theoretical here. What I mean is:

    If all the facts were known and everyone knew everything about each competitors preparation, would the source of the chroreography matter?

    Who really *deserves* to win out of the two couples?

    I realise this would be all but impossible to police but are there any moral issues or questions of conscience?

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    this has come up before - i don't think there is any issue with 3rd party choreographers ie. people not actually dancing in the routine, as long as you have full permission to use the choreography.

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubble View Post
    If all the facts were known and everyone knew everything about each competitors preparation, would the source of the chroreography matter?
    No! And why should it? Unless the rules specifically say "no professional choreography" or say that the "choreographer must dance in the routine"... the former is maybe ok in the amateur comps we are talking about, but the latter would be harsh if the choreographer is a bit ill on the day.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubble View Post
    Who really *deserves* to win out of the two couples?
    the best performed routine on the day deserves to win

    Quote Originally Posted by Bubble View Post
    I realise this would be all but impossible to police but are there any moral issues or questions of conscience?
    none whatsoever

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Ceroc is like most performance competitions - including other dance competitions and a fair few Olympic events.

    In ballroom dancing, the better couples have a coach or trainer. Their role will vary depending on the couple, but they generally are there to help the couple improve. This could range from technical tips and feedback to full choreography.

    The problem with introducing rules around this are that it's almost impossible to police. I could very easily get a routine from one teacher or another, then claim I developed it myself - which would be a black and white case of plagerism. However, it would be virtually unprovable. Similarly, like most dancers, I get taught moves by various people. How is using moves I got taught by other people different from using an entire routine taught by another person.

    If I were figuring out a competition routine, I'd bring a lot of these moves into that routine, some I'd put in my own variations; others I'd make up myself. I suspect this is what everyone does and is perfectly OK. I would guess that every competition routine lies somewhere between these two extremes. Deciding where the line lies between 'OK' and 'not OK' is virtually impossible.

    Because this is all so complicated, the norm is to judge people on their performance on the day. That performance is the dancer's chance to express themselves - their technical skill and their creativity. That's what's available for the judges and can't be disputed (the judge's interpretation and reaction to the dance can be disputed; but that's unavoidable in a subjective field like dancing).

    What I would be more interested in hearing about is a variation on this:
    • Couple Z does a relatively simple routine, but does it very well: technically excellent, well connected with both one another and the music. They have a fair amount of style, flair and panache, but don't use a lot of flashy moves.
    • Couple Y does a far more complex routine, with lots of 'wow' moves. But their technical execution is competent, but a little sloppy and their connection is more mechanistic: they hit the breaks, because they know the song and have a routine designed to do that. But this routine is a real crowd pleaser.
    Which is more likely to win? Which do you think should win?

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    My view:

    It is a dance competition, not a choreography competition. Therefore the best performance on the day should win. The source of the choreography is usually* irrelevant. We don't expect people to learn to dance by themselves, so why should we expect them to learn to choreograph without any help?


    * If you copy someone else's routine, you must have their permission to perform it. You also run the risk of being compared to the original performance, and with most good routines being on youtube, this is very likely to happen.

    If you do a routine that is based on someone else's routine, or on a film or theatre routine, it gets interesting. I'd expect something from the source, for example 'The Lift' from Dirty Dancing, or the zombies from Michael Jackson's Thriller. However I wouldn't want a straight copy of everything.

    If you do your own choreography, then fine. If you have a teacher make a few changes to your choreography, then I would still call it your own.

    If you have someone else do it for you, then presumably you have come to some sort of arrangement with them. (ie you have probably paid them to choreograph a routine for you, and performing it in competition or for a cabaret is implicit.) However if you ever perform it on stage or on TV, you should get written permission from the choreographer, and they should get the credit.

    Competition Rules
    There is often a rule stating that 'Plagiarism rules apply', but these rules are not defined. Plagiarism is passing of someone's work as your own, but as far as I know the organisers only want to stop you copying someone else's routine.

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post


    What I would be more interested in hearing about is a variation on this:
    • Couple Z does a relatively simple routine, but does it very well: technically excellent, well connected with both one another and the music. They have a fair amount of style, flair and panache, but don't use a lot of flashy moves.
    • Couple Y does a far more complex routine, with lots of 'wow' moves. But their technical execution is competent, but a little sloppy and their connection is more mechanistic: they hit the breaks, because they know the song and have a routine designed to do that. But this routine is a real crowd pleaser.
    Which is more likely to win?
    Couple Y
    Which do you think should win?
    Couple Y


    The only time I have ever seen anything like this was years ago in Latin competitions, when Sammy Stopford & Barbara McColl did a basic Rumba in open competitions. There were a few differences to your scenario though:
    They had huge amounts of "style, flair and panache"
    Their routine got the crowd going, not the 'flashy' routines.
    The other couples were also technically excellent.

    They often won the rumba, but came second overall.
    Last edited by DavidB; 17th-November-2009 at 04:52 PM.

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by geoff332 View Post
    What I would be more interested in hearing about is a variation on this:
    • Couple Z does a relatively simple routine, but does it very well: technically excellent, well connected with both one another and the music. They have a fair amount of style, flair and panache, but don't use a lot of flashy moves.
    • Couple Y does a far more complex routine, with lots of 'wow' moves. But their technical execution is competent, but a little sloppy and their connection is more mechanistic: they hit the breaks, because they know the song and have a routine designed to do that. But this routine is a real crowd pleaser.
    Which is more likely to win? Which do you think should win?
    It depends on what level the competition is...e.g. if it's novice, you're judged on timing, technique & teamwork not on Content or Showmanship. If your timing, technique & teamwork is not good then rest doesn't matter.

    Content & Showmanship is judged at higher levels and you NEED to have good timing, technique & teamwork at the higher levels. But at the lower levels you are not judged on content & showmanship only Timing, Technique & Teamwork

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    It depends on what level the competition is...e.g. if it's novice, you're judged on timing, technique & teamwork not on Content or Showmanship. If your timing, technique & teamwork is not good then rest doesn't matter.
    Well, no, not if you're dancing Ceroc, since there is no Novice category in any Ceroc competition (in this country, at any rate).

    More generally, I'll note that you might want to distinguish between Modern Jive as it is actually practised and "the world according to Skippy Blair". It would make your posts a lot more useful if you did.

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Buying some flashy choreography is no different from buying a flashy costume.
    Let your mind go and your body will follow. – Steve Martin, LA Story

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Franklin View Post
    More generally, I'll note that you might want to distinguish between Modern Jive as it is actually practised and "the world according to Skippy Blair". It would make your posts a lot more useful if you did.
    I was not referring to Ceroc...

    The GSDTA Mélange (Modern Jive) Curriculum has been taught in America by GSDTA teachers since 1977 and is taught and danced in a lot of the Schools and Universities in the States and is regarded as a foundation dance.

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan Doyle View Post
    The GSDTA Mélange (Modern Jive) Curriculum has been taught in America by GSDTA teachers since 1977 and is taught and danced in a lot of the Schools and Universities in the States and is regarded as a foundation dance.
    I'm doubtful it's quite as widespread as you imply, since there's surprisingly little internet coverage:

    google: "GSTDA Melange" 0 hits
    google: GSTDA Melange 77 hits

    Compare with

    google: Ceroc 140,000 hits
    google: "Modern Jive" 67,100 hits

    On that basis, to suggest that GSTDA rules are relevant to people on this forum is more than a little disingenuous.

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Personally, I would like to see a declaration on the entry form to state that the work being danced in the competition is the work of the people performing it, and that dancing other peoples choreography is not allowed.

    Another scenario - 2 couples perform routines equally brilliantly in their showmanship, technical ability, performance etc. One couple choreographed the routine themselves totally, the others 'bought' the routine, and had no hand in the choreography at all. The bought routine is better choreography, and hence wins.

    Since showcases are being judged, in addition to the above dance criteria, on the musicality, moves, etc. (ie. the choreography), then, IMHO, that should also be the work of the people performing.

    I have been asked previously to choreograph routines for people to use for competitions, and I have refused. I have no problem in helping people polish up their own routines, or possibly even suggesting and/or teaching a move for the routine (and of course, here it becomes difficult to draw a line), but full on choreography, no.

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidB View Post
    We don't expect people to learn to dance by themselves, so why should we expect them to learn to choreograph without any help?
    I quite agree. People can learn to choreograph from others. But when they enter a routine for a comp, then I feel it should be substantially their own work. You teach people how to write essays for exams, but you don't actually write the essay for the exam for them (for example).

    Seems I'm in the minority here. And difficult to actually police, apart from trusting peoples word. But that's how I think that it should be

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    I read this thread and thought I'd stepped back in time to about 5 years ago when such interesting and considered exchanges like this were more common on the Forum. Not a blip, I hope.

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    You don't expect an actor to write his own words. In fact, in most cases you would prefer they didn't.

    You do assume a stand-up comic writes their own material.

    You know the opera singer didn't pen the song, and that the pop star might be lipsyncing.

    But you expect the rock-star to write and sing most of their music.

    The painter has to hold the brush, but the architect doesn't touch the mortar.

    The newspresenter doesn't get blamed for what they read, but the talk show host does.


    So what seperates these modes of expression, and where do we see modern jive?

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheTramp View Post
    Personally, I would like to see a declaration on the entry form to state that the work being danced in the competition is the work of the people performing it, and that dancing other peoples choreography is not allowed. ...
    I kind of agree with Tramps' post, but honestly don't know now if I think it should be illegal or not to 'buy in' choreography. I'd certainly rather it didn't become the norm.

    I remember being quite shocked, some years ago, to find out that some people had been using professional choreographers. I found it strange, in that I thought the choreography of a routine would be the most fun part and the main reason why anyone would want to do a showcase. Otherwise it's a bit like getting an interior decorator to design your home, or a having personal shopper/dresser. But I guess we're all different ...

    Mainly, however, I worry that if it becomes too usual for people to buy in professional help, it could be only rich people who win modern jive competions. And that would be really sad. I mean, on top of the entrance fees, imagine how much pressure there is nowadays for competitors to buy expensive outfits, not to mention the increasing use of private lessons, hall hire, etc etc.

    It would be awful if people were put off from competing because they felt they couldn't afford it.

    Rachel

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Maybe there should be different categories?

    One for self created choreography
    one for the bought in variety...

    (it goes along my with my line of thinking that it could be interesting, even if only to see just how far people would take it, if there was a 'drug enhanced' athlete olympics (or other sporting event) vs all natural)

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    Re: Is the source of the choreography relevant in competitions?

    Well, there are definitely some differences in opinion here! Where to begin?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadful Scathe View Post
    this has come up before - i don't think there is any issue with 3rd party choreographers ie. people not actually dancing in the routine, as long as you have full permission to use the choreography.


    Sorry, I did a quick search on the forum for choreography but it didn’t throw up anything similar in the results I looked at.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadful Scathe View Post
    No! And why should it? Unless the rules specifically say "no professional choreography" or say that the "choreographer must dance in the routine"... the former is maybe ok in the amateur comps we are talking about, but the latter would be harsh if the choreographer is a bit ill on the day.


    I’m not that interested in the rules as they stand. I’m trying to explore and debate what I regard as the slightly grey areas and morally ambiguous parts of MJ competition.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadful Scathe View Post
    none whatsoever


    I’d be interested to know why you think that, is it because of the rules as they stand?


    Quote Originally Posted by DavidB View Post
    It is a dance competition, not a choreography competition.


    If it’s purely a dance competition surely we need to strip out all of the judging criteria that award marks for anything to do with the choreography.

    There have been couples that ran workshops on competitions (N&N for example), they taught effective presentation (and loads of other stuff that I can’t remember). It’s not as if it’s a straight choice between getting no help at all and buying in an entire routine. I think there’s a world of difference between receiving a little feedback/coaching from people better than you and having nearly the whole thing done by professionals.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheTramp View Post
    People can learn to choreograph from others. But when they enter a routine for a comp, then I feel it should be substantially their own work. You teach people how to write essays for exams, but you don't actually write the essay for the exam for them (for example).


    I like the essay analogy here. How about this? A Nobel Laureate writes an essay for somebody else, who then proceeds to copy it word for word in their best handwriting and presents it as their own work. Since they ‘wrote’ it themselves it must be okay!

    Quote Originally Posted by Amir View Post
    You don't expect an actor to write his own words. In fact, in most cases you would prefer they didn't.
    Quote Originally Posted by Amir View Post

    You do assume a stand-up comic writes their own material.

    You know the opera singer didn't pen the song, and that the pop star might be lipsyncing.

    But you expect the rock-star to write and sing most of their music.

    The painter has to hold the brush, but the architect doesn't touch the mortar.

    The newspresenter doesn't get blamed for what they read, but the talk show host does.


    So what seperates these modes of expression, and where do we see modern jive?


    Some interesting comparisons here, however, I don’t think any of them involve such an overtly competitive environment as a MJ competition.

    With the lip-syncing comparison; we all know that some performers sometimes do this for whatever reason is deemed necessary. However, can you imagine the hellfire that would be released if it emerged that any of the performers on the televised talent shows was ‘faking it’.


    Quote Originally Posted by Rachel View Post
    It would be awful if people were put off from competing because they felt they couldn't afford it.


    Yeah, that would be a great shame. I’d be interested to know how many teachers/previous-winners/professionals have been approached with offers of cash. The Tramp has, there must be others that have either refused or accepted.

    Quote Originally Posted by gamebird View Post
    Maybe there should be different categories?
    Quote Originally Posted by gamebird View Post

    One for self created choreography
    one for the bought in variety...

    (it goes along my with my line of thinking that it could be interesting, even if only to see just how far people would take it, if there was a 'drug enhanced' athlete olympics (or other sporting event) vs all natural)


    Great idea, but just like the Olympics you’d get the ‘cheats’ who said they were ‘clean’. There’s no blood/urine test available for competitors suspected of buying in an entire routine.


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