Bias in Judging?

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 How do dance competitions work?

There are three levels to competitive dance; beginner, intermediate, and advanced. A dancer enters a level based on how many hours they train each week.

To enter at the beginner level, a dancer typically trains for 3 or less hours per week. And to enter the advanced level dancers usually train for 8+ hours a week.

Judging is based primarily on technique, various dance skills, and execution of the dance. Points are also given for costuming and choreography. Although there are rules to scoring, judging can be subjective.

Depending on a routine’s score, the dancers receive silver (lowest), high silver, gold, high gold, or platinum (highest) based on their performance. Also, scoring is different based on what level a routine is entered in.

Dance competitions involve many styles of dance; ballet, lyrical, contemporary, tap, jazz, pointe, hip-hop, open, just to name a few.  Also a dancer can compete as a soloist, a duet/ trio, a small/ large group or a production with other dancers.

The inequality between males and females

The competition dance world is highly competitive. It is made of mostly females with few males participating. And as they get older, the number of males drop even more. Male dancers tend to get bullied for participating in dance.

What is unique to dance competitions, is that males and females compete against each other. While in other sports like swimming or gymnastics, males and females do not compete against each other. In most dance competitions there is not a separation by gender.

Through the 8 years I have been competing, I have noticed that males generally score higher than females.

It seems to be that males are given high awards and recognition to encourage them to stay in dance. I also noticed even when the males aren’t as good as the females, they still seem to score high.

Another thing I have noticed is that males tend to receive more special or stand out awards compared to females.

Special awards are given for a variety of things such as artistry, technique, choreography, and performance factor. You can even win scholarships for future training, competitions or conventions. They are given to soloists or groups that really stand out to a judge.

Being a dancer is very expensive when you add up the prices for shoes, costumes, tuition, competition fees etc. And since there aren’t as many males in the competition dance world, many studios advertise male tuition as free. They do this to attract more male dancers to their studio.

POWS blog states, “Within the dance studio environment boys are nurtured and often receive preferential treatment compared to the girls and this may be in part to prevent boys from disengaging”.

This statement supports my idea that some males receive special treatment to keep them in dance.

Do all males deserve to score higher than females?

Don’t get me wrong, many male dancers are very good and deserve the extra recognition. But when males are recognized by judges with the intention of trying to keep them in dance, it takes away a females opportunity to get that recognition they deserve.

Many females work just as hard as males and aren’t awarded for it because males seem to stick out more to judges/ teachers/ choreographers. They stick out due to the lack of males in the industry.

Currently males and females compete against each other, but if more males joined maybe that wouldn’t be the case anymore.

Male’s bodies are built differently than girls which makes some skills easier to do for them, like turning or getting height on jumps.

Dance is becoming male dominated just like most other sports and it is not fair to the females that work just as hard.


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