Monday, February 16, 2009

Judging the judges on ABDC

Last week on America’s Best Dance Crew, Lil’ Mama reprimanded the studio audience for hissing at judge JC’s comments about Quest Crew’s performance. “Sometimes ya’ll just need to like quiet down so they [the dancers] can get the message that he’s trying to give these young men up here,” she said. “Because they might be able to use that next week to help them out…You’re crowding our words of wisdom that can shed light onto these crews.”

And these judges—award-winning choreographer Shane Sparks, boy-group phenom JC Chasez, and hip-hop choreographer and singer Lil Mama—obviously have some wisdom to impart. Listen closely to what they are telling these dancers. In addition to specific comments on the dance, they express surprising sentimentality towards family, friends, and the art of dance marking them as the highest priorities in life. They espouse a clear set of ethics including cooperation and peaceful resolution to conflict. And they believe it the power of dance to impart these values.

Most dancers never have a chance to be critiqued by professionals, let alone by critics with a civil tongue. ABDC’s judges always offer constructive commentary on the choreography, performance, and the degree to which the task was satisfied. They compliment the performers when they honor their dance traditions and ancestors as well as when they demonstrate fresh innovations.

Its clear that the competitors themselves appreciate and respond to the judges’ commentary. Indeed, the increasingly high levels of professionalism, creative choreography, and personal expression in the dancers may be attributed to the judges commentary. So listen up, audience. You might learn something too.

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