Thursday, December 24, 2009

IDSF Grand Slam 2009 Shanghai Part II

As the premier sporting body governing dancesport I would like you to look at these group of adjudicators and Presidium members. These are the people who has made history in IDSF by introducing and testing the new judging system that will be adopted in future Olympic family Games and the Grand Slam events in the future. 
So what is this new judging system all about? Previously the judging of the competitors are based on the skating system. The results are keyed in the Pro Dance program and it will churn out the winner. Now think about it, what does it tell you about the Dancers performance and do you know the adjudicators' basis in selecting a particular dance couple to be better than the others? 
The new IDSF judging system is similar to the system adopted by the ice skating union. They place certain fixed routine and they mark you based on certain criteria. Certainly what is good for ics skating may not necessarily be good for Dancesport. The IDSF in line with turning dancesport into an olympic class sporting event have decided that they must evolve to suite the needs of time. 
A day before the Grand Slam event were to take place the athletes were called for a briefing on how the new judging system works. To sum it in a nut shell, the finalist are judged based on 5  component criteria and they are as follows: 
PB - Posture, Balance, Coordination; QM - Quality of Movement ; MM - Movement to music PA- Partnering and CP - Choreography and Presentation. Under each criteria stated above there are sub-criteria say in PA - the judges will look at Physical Connection, Communication without physical connection; Appropriateness, Effectiveness and consistency. 
A marking scale of 1 to 10 will be given 1 would be Very Poor till 10 Outstanding. The couple with the highest point wins.
The computer system was develop by the Japanese Dancesport Association and the results are given to the Dancers immediately. It is indeed a very transparent system. 
I had a chat with Simone Sigattori at the welcome dinner, he appeared nonchalant for this is a departure from the norm. Benedetto Feruggia saw the importance of moving forward if we want Dancesport to move in the direction of sports. After the Grand Slam Standard Finals, the finalist took the new judging system very positively and it certainly is here to stay. 
Now with the new judging system , it does not means that the skating system will be done away with. IDSF will still use the skating system for the IDSF competitions. The new adjudicating system will be used in the Olympic Family Games like the coming Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010 and also the Grand Slam.
What about the audience what do they think about it? Dancesport after all is a spectator sport and the aim certainly is to entertain the audience to in a sporting way. The audience love it and from the cheers and the rumble in Luwan Stadium I would not be misrepresenting to say that the audience were enthusiastic when the couples were introduced to do the solo dances. Yes, the new system judges the 6 couple individually in all the 5 dances. Now can you imagine having a show dance in all the 5 dances by the top 6 couples in the world. 
I can see that Carlos Frietag and Heinz Spaeker were looking at the time and guaging the audiences response. I can say this, their concern are totally unfounded and the new system is an absolute success. 
You can get the full result from IDSF web site however just in case you do not know the Grand Slam Final Champions for  Standard is Benedetto Ferrugia and Claudia Kholer from Germany and the Latin American Champion is Alexy Silde and Anna Fistova from Russia. 
I have seen Blackpool a couple of times and now I have seen the IDSF Grand Slam Finals in Shanghai. There is no comparison at all. Blackpool is a Dances Festival in a leisure park setting. It has a long history and a good place to do your shopping there. I do not know why they still have it at the Winter Gardens, it is a very old historical building where the ventilation is much left to be desired and there are hardly adequate standing space let alone sitting. 
The IDSF Grand Slam on the other hand is a sporting event and with the new format of judging, my vote will go to the Grand Slam any day.
The opening season of the Grand Slam for 2010 will be in Tokyo, Japan. You have the time and if you love to see Dancesport at its best, the Grand Slam is where you want to be.                                 

Picture are the Adjudicators, Scrutineers, Mr. Carlos Freitag, Mr. Heinz Spaeker and Mr. Shawn Tay.                  

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

IDSF Grand Slam 2009 Shanghai

Shanghai is the biggest city in China with a population of 20 million people. It is one of the biggest metropolis in the world and the city literally is built along the Huang Pu River that cuts across the city. The long and checkered history of how Shanghai became an international enclave is to dwell a bit into the history of China. In my opinion the significant year was 1897 till 1899. That was the year of the incident of the "Cutting of the Chinese Melon"  and the "Open Door" policy of China. Under the Manchu rule, China was at its weakest. 
The countries wanted a piece of action in China were England, France , Germany, Russia and Japan. Later even the Yankees  joined in. Shanghai being an important trading port had their respective government creating their own enclaves. Today if you were to walk along the Bund you can see European Architecture, a testimony of their influences in the early days when they were just nothing but plain invaders. Today it is different, Shanghai is ultra modern. A Taxi Ride from down town Shanghai normally takes 60 minutes to Pudong, will take you just 8 minutes by the Meg Lev high speed train. 

I have to confess, I went to Shanghai to capture a glimpse of old Shanghai and the fabulous Shanghai night (a song by that name too). The old buildings are still there but what a disappointment it was to see the Chinese traditional gabled roof and Chinese arches with Star Bucks Coffee sign board prominently seated below the arches. The iconic Paramount is there but alas taxi dancers in cheongsam have disappeared in time. It is now a karaoke joint operated by a Taiwanese. 

The event on the 12th and 13th of December was at the Luwan Stadium, in a district by the same name in down town Shanghai. The Stadium has a capacity of 8,000 people and it was packed every night. Apparently it also coincides with China National Selection that had started three days earlier. I feel I will be wasting my time telling you how good are the Chinese Latin American and Standard Dancers, but let me give you an insight on how they do things in China. 

To have five dances in China is a must. When you have your five dances you are classified as a Class A dancer. At the National Ranking, they will compete and if they excel or pass a certain point system, then only are they allowed and they can be registered as an IDSF Grade A Dancers. You cannot as of right just because you have five dancers join an IDSF competition. China Dancesport will not register you and with the new IDSF-Licensing and Registration System, the job is so much easier. Your name is either in the system or you are not in. This is being introduced through out the world and controlled by IDSF.

In total there were 1,300 couples participating in the event in all categories, that they can match the Russian National selection. I was with the IDSF Presidium member and Secretary of IDSF. I feel his remarks sums it all, you cannot even see a bad couple on the floor. Technically they are so good in both Latin  American and Standard. Acrobatic stunts like vertical splits, jumps and spins are nothing to the Chinese, almost all the Dancers have their signature moves and you can expect something dramatic. I personally feel that China  Standard couples will make inroads and they have already done so in Blackpool. The Latin American dancers may take some times. I may be bias, in the IDSF Open, you can compare the European and the Chinese side by side, there is still the "X" factor that is lacking. Dancesport is an adopted sport from the West or perhaps it is like comparing Chuck Norris or Jean Claude Van Damm to Jacky Chan or Jet Li. You will still say a "Kwai Loh" doing Kung Fu or perhaps a white lady wearing a cheongsam or qipao, if you know what I mean. It just does not gel up.     

On dance costumes, I have this to say in my talks with the local Chinese competitors. The Grade A dancers wear Brackleys Tails, Ronn Gunn and many Italian sounding names that I have not heard before. For the ladies Chrisanne, Edda Hsu and even one of them wore an Aspen International. For shoes, Dance Naturale, Freed, Supadance and Ray Rose are quite common. So why are they not supporting their local brand? Many of them told me that their local brand are alright for low key club competition but not the Nationals. Many will not buy a dress off the rack, even if it fits them. I accused them of being bias, but they retorted that technical failure of costume is so common and many have gone through patch up work with safety pins. I am sure there is no need for me to mention China made dance shoes for I believe quite a few of you have experienced it in Malaysia. 

All said, many of them still buy their own cloth and choose their tailor to stitch a gown to their design, that is a better option they quipped. So to all of you who intend to go to China to buy your ballroom gown or Latin costume, perhaps select your cloth, have a design in your mind or better still bring a picture of the dress you want and get it tailored there. Tthey can copy and do a good replica within 24 hours. To those who still want to buy off the rack, do not be discourage, you may still get a good discount but "Caveat Emptor". 
The picture is the Oriental Pearl TV Tower taken from the boat on a Huang Pu cruise.