on thursday nite at the usual weekly social dancing haunt there was an informal competition held in preparation for an upcoming festival involving several exciting events and a much more in depth competition evening.
one particular comp was a "lindy-battle" of the likes which has never been (to my knowledge) held before in australia. the term "battle" to me raises images of hip-hop, break and popping/locking and the format of this wasnt too far from that. we were dividing into 2 teams of 6 couples and to take 2 phrases of music in turns. captains were elected and about 3 mins planning was provided before it commenced.
i fucking loved it!! i had the time of my life. i cant think of a better way to approach competitions. it was like one big massive jam but with your buddies, and the opportunity to jump back in with further ideas again and again. usually with comps you are either dancing while your opponents are or only get one opportunity to out-shine each other during the "shine" periods. this back-and-forth format with "listening" and "speaking" roles opens whole new doors for playing off each other and using the inspiration provided by other parties' efforts as the basis of taking your own dancing to the next level. i might liken it to that "coversation" that occurs during a social dnace between the lead and follow. ..just en mass
i also especially like that it is in team situations. the pressure is not on just one or two people to perform every single time and it leaves it open for alot more variation and showcasing of different people's strengths(weaknesses).
i liked the fact taht the teams were chosen randomly at the last minute as well. there was no time to get caught up in the competitive clicquey stuff because you had no idea who you were going to go with anyway. i also liked the fact that you had to make friends with your team mates just like THAT. it made for a really nice vibe. the fact taht i had some very fine friends on the opposite team meant that i was playing up for them - and the whole (not serious) agressive/fighting/ battle thing - by doing all sorts of playful gestures in an effort to wind them up a bit (and the crowd).
i think i've decided that i prefer there to be as little planning as possible, allowing people to actually respond to the other team as they bring it - rather than just going through the motions of what was planned 5 minutes ago.
not to say that there isnt any value in having a few tricks to fall back on when you're stuck for ideas.
i also think that a flexibility across the team in regards to whom is dancing next and what will be performed allows for more variation and interesting dynamics on the floor. a captain/team that is unwilling to get carried away in the moment/fly on the seat of their pants would be a great hinder on overall creativity of the battle.
i like to think that the actual competition coming up will inlcude a nicer balance between lindy-hop and silly stuff (that's not say that i wasnt one of the main drivers behind the silly stuff - but if i were alittle smarter i would try to hold back and have the silly stuff in context a little more). i'd also like to see more musicality and kick-yo-ass lindyhop/charleston/swing dances.
i did however like that fact that there werent that many aerials going on. i suspect that it would cause a much more dangerous situation than the standard competition-aerial situation. aerials in themselves are quite crowd pleasers but generally a spectating crowd is alot more diserning about how aerials are included/inserted into the dancing in a competion - there is time to watch and listen carefully during a spotlight. but this team-battle-thang is far more frenetic and chaotic ...with some couples being kicked out unprepared by their own team members ..and the music, all but the phrasing, is ignored.
for photos see flickr.com and search dogpossum.