There’s been a lot of discussion about the use of pre-planned choreographed sequences in social dance contests for awhile now. (Yehoodi, Lindybloggers, and White Heat) Event directors Nina Gilkenson, Tena, and Sylvia shared those same concerns. At the same time, they didn’t want to tell the dancers how they should dance . . . even though they really wanted to.
I’ve already written quite a bit about this past International Lindy Hop Championships, but to illustrate how complex any one part of an event can be I’m going to give you a peak behind the curtains of The Champions’ Strictly Lindy Hop Division at ILHC 2009. This one competition took about 20 minutes out of a four day event. Theoretically, a dance contest sounds like a deceptively simple recipe: Add one part music, several parts dancers, and it’s off to the races, right? In reality . . . not so much.
There’s a very thin, delicate and ever shifting line between managing an event and just letting it happen. There’s no secret formula for making sure everything goes right, just as there’s no way to anticipate and prepare for everything that can go wrong. There’s a lot of moving parts; not just logistical, but also creative and political. Details are plentiful, and it’s remarkably easy to be tripped up by even the smallest one.
Make good decisions, and if you’re lucky, you may be rewarded with something very special.
I’ve said it before (maybe not here, but elsewhere I’m sure), but I love competition events. There aren’t many events where dancers can just bring their stuff in front of their peers, and I’m glad that ILHC can be one of those places. I spend a lot of my time busting my ass at events these days more than I do enjoying them, but there are little moments here and there that make all the work worth it. I just wanted to add a couple of quick hits that I missed in my other ILHC posts
Sorry about the delay. After I posted on Sunday, I didn't have a whole lot of time plus the cold I was trying to fight off finally got to me. The rest of the event itself went incredibly well. Saturday night comps ended with Cabaret which was a great show with lots of different kinds of acts.
I was able to catch my breath once the comps were done, and even got to spend some quality time with Carla Heiney. She was one of my first teachers when she lived in DC many moons ago, so it was great to spend quite a long time catching up with her.
For me, ILHC has a bit of a family reunion vibe to it. DC has been home to so many great dancers over the years, that it takes a big event to get them back together. I think that shared "heritage" helps to take the edge off the competition part of the event.
Just a quick note that I've updated the previous ILHC 2009 posts with videos or links to videos, including my current favorite footage of Skye & Frida's Classic Division routine. I have some time since I got sick during the weekend, so the good news for you is that I'll be able to finish posting my observations from the event in the next day or two.
Official results for ILHC 2009 will be posted online on the ILHC website hopefully within the next week as the staff makes their way home and catches up on the rest of their lives. I'll post an update when that happens.
Dates and a brand new hotel for ILHC 2010 have been locked in, so stay tuned for that information as well.
Saturday night was so good that I didn't get to bed until 7:30 am. When you plan an event, there's only so much you can hope for. Especially when you're dealing with a creative community like the Lindy Hop one. Most times you just hope that people don't take the opportunity to embarrass themselves. That didn't happen last night. Too much. I haven't seen a show that consistently good in a very long time.
The Friday night and Saturday day activities at ILHC are in the books. Great music from the band and the DJ's and awesome dancing from the competitors. We had workshops through the day before the evening events started. I was able to sit in on Sylvia Sykes' "What Judges Look For" workshop which drew a pretty big crowd in the main ballroom.
I didn't really take notes, so I don't want to put any words into Sylvia's mouth. But I think that if anyone there was looking for the secret to doing well in competitions, they would have been sorely disappointed. However, it was a very pragmatic and insightful look into the other side of competitions.
One of the first videos to come out of ILHC this weekend. Frida Segerdahl and Skye Humphries performed in the ILHC Classic Division on Friday night a little before midnight. This video hit YouTube about four hours later.
Setting up for ILHC yesterday went pretty well, and ended ahead of schedule. I really like the fact that we started on Thursday instead of Friday like we did last year. Last year we dove head long into the weekend; setting everything up, having people practice their routines on a dance floor that wasn't completed, and then going straight into the dance and competitions.
This year felt much more casual. A lot of that had to do with the dedicated volunteers we have plus the super professional contractors.
Reputations are made or broken at big events, but this isn't limited to performers. Tena Morales likes to run an event with fewer hard working volunteers instead of having a bunch of warm bodies filling out the volunteer schedule. She values reliability over numbers. Exceptional volunteers are remembered, rewarded, and referred to other events. Bad volunteers are shown the door. Sometimes mid-event.