Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Dancerpades Part IV - Score!

The results of the Solo section of the Asia Global competition were not announced till just before the Troupe segment. As I had vacated the area to get a bite to eat with 3A, I was not aware of a serious infringement in the judging process.

Someone Say Florida
Apparently, according to Nur Shiblie, the judges’ scorecards were collated fairly swiftly after the show was over. These were brought to a private room within the auditorium and the judges dismissed. What no one noticed, except for the extremely beady-eyed, was that only two persons were allowed into the room to collate and finalise the scores. Nur Shiblie was lurking within the auditorium to personally verify the judging process and speak with the judges and organisers.

When she saw who the two persons were, she raised a fuss but apparently, was ignored. One of the two persons working the scores was the organiser … also the teacher of 11 out of 14 of the contestants.

How this could have happened is a question we would all like to know. As yet, we have had no answers from the organisers. Nur Shiblie was outraged and insisted on an answer as to why there was no non-Chinese or middle eastern judge on the panel. She also questioned how the organiser/teacher could be allowed to handle the scores when that is a blatant conflict of interest and a sure case of what we call “kelong” … a Malay slang which means to cheat.

Despite her protests, Nur Shiblie was ignored and she finally gave up, hoping that justice will prevail.

Blissfully ignorant of all this, 3A and I sat down with some others to discuss our predictions over a quick bite and coffee. These were the results of our spirited discussion.

White Shade of Pale
Out of 14 contestants, only 1 was non-Chinese although 3A and I disagree on Maia. 3A thinks Maia may not be fully Chinese but whatever her racial make-up, it still signals a great imbalance. Why this would be an issue is because all the judges are Chinese and say what you will, cultural preference does play a part.

Take for instance, the organiser’s school’s students’ tendency to hold their fingers in what I call the Chinese cultural dance way, which looks like something from a Chinese opera. I personally would mark dancers down for that kind of fingers but a Chinese judge would find this totally acceptable. By the way, many of the middle eastern master teachers also find the Chinese wayang fingers disturbing.

I questioned why there was such an uneven representation of the races – did the national statistics change while I was not looking? Also, as many Muslims consider the dance form haram, this would have prohibited many Muslim girls from performing in public. But still, I wondered where all the Indian and Eurasian girls were.

Taking out our individual notes, we concluded that the winner would be Rani. Second and third place was still up for grabs, as it were, but after some discussion, we put Maia as second and either Layla or Sha Sha in third.

As I did not have the time to sort through my notes and scores, I did not tabulate them before the results were announced but in hindsight, if I had, this would be what they would have looked like.

Obviously in the Traditional segment, Rani took the crown by a wide margin. Maia and Sha Sha were credible but just no match for our Queen of Traditional. I was surprised to see Shayna ranked so high, beating even Joey and Layla till I reviewed my notes and realised why. While Shayna may have been technically less proficient than her teacher, Joey, or her classmate, Layla, at least her choreography was less lifted from a well-known dancer and teacher. Her partial adherence to originality & creativity helped pull her marks above the other two.

Similarly, Wei Ling, despite being a much weaker dancer than Jamila, managed to squeak past her because her choreography was more original and traditional, and was not stolen from yet another well known local teacher.

Casting our eyes now at the Fusion section, I admit I was necessarily more stringent.

Why such dismal scores? Because too many people seem to think Fusion is the ticket to invent ludicrous movements, slap together combinations of moves which do not make sense or have any reason for being, ignore all the principles of dance and music, discard common sense and good taste, and basically bullshit their way through.

The blatant disregard of intellectual property, manners and common decency is what has afflicted this category, causing the marks to be so disgraceful. Upon looking at 3A’s scores, hers were just as dismal.

In this category, it became even more apparent that the contestants who lacked in talent, at least had integrity and managed to overtake those with less moral fibre.

In case you think I am imposing my own moral codes on a contest of which I have no say, that may be true but I also interviewed the judges and other dancers who rejected the invitation to be judges on the issue of originality & creativity. Majority agreed that it is almost impossible to award points when the choreography was not created by the dancer or teacher. As one eminent dancer/teacher, who turned down the offer to adjudicate the Traditional segment, pointed out this not only affects the originality & creativity criteria but also rhythm & musicality as these are tied to the choreography.

To even think they can learn an ancient dance form in a week or reverse engineer moves based on decades of training and study is an indication of the terminal smugness some of these contestants possess.

To this thieving trend among many of the contestants, I have a question – what happened to your pride, integrity and dignity?

I had to look away from the Fusion scorecards before I lost my lunch as I collated the overall scores … not in a tiny room but honorably and with transparency. Here you go –

Before the announcement of the results, I also took the opportunity to interview some dancers and students I had seen loitering around on their predictions. Rani was the clear winner with the other two top positions bandied between Sha Sha, Joey and Maia.

Which is why the results were a shocker.


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