We recently took part in the Canadian Closed Championships, the biggest and most important DanceSport competition in the country each year. This event determines who is crowned the national champions for the next year, and decides the pecking order for everyone else, to measure who’s moving up and how the placings are changing as partnerships switch around and age groups are updated.
Held in Toronto, the 2011 Canadians were the best in years. Participation was at record levels. The audience was terrific, filling the room with energy during the later events of the evening. The lighting was good. The venue was good. The floor was large. The organizers did a great job, making everything from check-in to marshaling easy and efficient.
The music selected for the entire weekend was great, with very few disappointing choices (unfortunately the very last song of the entire event was a Jive that took up some 6-8 bars of wasted space with Beethoven’s Ninth at the start of the song and brought the energy level down too much for that critical final performance). The sound system was certainly loud enough, though the speakers had too much bass and not enough midrange support, rendering everything a bit boomy and making it difficult to hear anything if you weren’t actually on the floor.
But there was one aspect of the music that every dancer found annoying and meaningless, and this marred a near-perfect Canadian Championships event.
Every song all weekend long was faded in from about 1/2 volume to full volume during the first bar or two of the song. This was tragic! It was a substantial negative in an otherwise outstanding weekend.
Dancers need to hear that critical first bar. It creates the feeling of the dance, giving the competitors the energy and character of the song. They pull from that first bar their interpretation of the piece and allow that feeling to drive their performance. So, when the song starts off so quietly you can barely hear the first bar, it robs every couple of this vital part of their performance. The dancers suffer because they can no longer give their absolute best performance. The more musical the dancers are, the more they are impacted by this styling approach. It has no place in any competition. Before the dance can even begin, a subtle aspect of every couple’s energy has been sucked away by this unfortunate musical treatment. And the audience suffers, too, because they don’t get to see the best performance that these couples can provide. Again and again, event after event, we would see the dancers just standing around on the floor, waiting for the music to get up to volume so they could begin to interpret it and start the dance. It wasted energy and it wasted performance quality.
The national championships are no place to experiment with music in this way.
These championships represent the very best dancing in the nation. It’s a stage where the best of the best try to show what they are made of. These couples have trained all year to prepare for this event. Titles are on the line. That’s what makes the CCCs so incredibly exciting. To have one bad decision on the part of a DJ interfere with that importance should never have happened. It is my hope that organizers make a distinct point of never allowing such unnecessary treatment of music during a dance competition, and especially not at an event of such magnitude.