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Robert Abrams
Lisa Allen
West Coast Swing
East Coast Swing
The 92nd Street Y
United States
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New York
New York, NY

Swing Contest Results

by Robert Abrams, Lisa Allen
May 10, 2003
The 92nd Street Y
1395 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10128
(212) 415-5552

Swing Contest

Text by Robert Abrams and Photos by Lisa Allen
May 10, 2003

This Swing Contest was co-hosted by ExploreDance.com, the Sandra Cameron Dance Center and Angie Whitworth. The contest was an amateur "Just Swing" contest with some unique twists. Contestants could not be actively teaching dance for pay or currently competing as a professional, but other than this eligibility was open. All styles of swing were welcome. To encourage this, and to make the contest somewhat more difficult, dancers were expected to dance Swing to two different tempos. Unlike most competitions where dancers dance to taped music, the contestants in this contest danced to the live music of George Gee and his Orchestra. Angie gave George a rough tempo (fast or slow) and George picked a song on the spot.

The contestants were Mario Zea and Stephanie Shapiro, Nathaniel Watson and Angela Hassla, Wayne Tusa and Lindy Tam, Cody Mui and Lynn Peters, Darren Gardner and Celine Griscom, Perry Palmieri and Gwendolyn Murph, Anthony Sambucini and Linda Lobdell, Brendan McGlynn and Andrea Clark, and Burleigh and Shea Small.

Nine couples turned out to be the perfect number for a contest held at a dance party. The contest started at about 10:30 pm, the time slot ordinarily occupied by a dance performance at the 92nd Street Y Swing Parties. The contestants were randomly divided into three groups of three. Each group of three danced a fast swing and a slow swing. At the very end, all nine couples came on the floor for an "all skate" dance. George picked a faster song, to which the dancers and the audience let it rip. Thus, in the end, the dancers were challenged to dance to three different tempos. This wasn't planned, but in retrospect, I think it was a good idea because it maximized the challenge of the contest, and also gave the contest a rousing finish. Plus, Lindy dancers like fast music and the 92nd Street Y Swing parties tend to attract a Lindy-oriented crowd.

The contest was unusual because of the live music, but also because of the judging. Every member of the audience was given a judging form with eight categories, and were asked to rank the top three couples in each category. These categories consisted of Works with partner (are they dancing together or separately?), Enthusiasm (do they look like they are having fun?), Difficulty of moves (how challenging are the steps they are using?), Musicality (are they in time to and expressing the character of the music?), Technique (how precise are their movements?), Style (do you look at them and say "Cool!"?), Choreography (do they string together interesting sequences?), and Overall (without trying to add up the other categories, who is the best?). Each audience member submitted one judging form based upon seeing each couple dance three times. It is apparent from a review of the forms that people were making a concerted effort to evaluate each component because many people judged different couples to be best in different categories. We also had a dance teacher serve as tie-breaker judge, but his ballot was not needed since there were no ties.

To arrive at a final score, all first place scores were given three points, second place scores were given two points and third place scores were given one point.

The first place winner was Brendan McGlynn and Andrea Clark. They won a trip to Paris on Air France. They won both on points and on first places, so the results were unambiguous.

The second place winner was Darren Gardner and Celine Griscom. They won dance lessons at Sandra Cameron Dance Center.

The third place winner was Cody Mui and Lynn Peters. They won T-shirts.

To my eye, all of the couples danced well. They went out there and danced with enthusiasm and style. Overall, I thought it was a well-balanced and exciting competition.

Photos by Lisa Allen
To see more of Lisa's photos, go to www.TreeHousePhotography.com

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