Image: Ben Wright
As with most sporting events, this one did not come without its controversies. York won pretty much all of the dancing events at Roses. This category includes contemporary dance, ballroom dancing, pole exercise and cheerleading.
The way such sports are judged is that the home team puts together a panel of judges and they award each winning dance with points, and the team with the most points wins the overall points for Roses. York won all five dance fixtures, as well as cheerleading and pole exercise. The only team to lose to Lancaster was during the ballroom dancing fixtures. York won 81 per cent of all the points available at this year’s Roses. As a result of this, some Lancastrian students have come forward, questioning whether there were some bias in how the judging was put together.
Despite these accusations, York’s way of putting together the judging panels seems to be pretty fool proof for not allowing the home team to be at an advantage. There is a tournament exec committee, who meet frequently throughout the year and decide on changes to the constitution, points for each fixture, as well as rules which are ratified at the committee meetings. While it is the home team’s responsibility to appoint the referees and judges for each fixture, the dance teams I spoke to about this seem to have done so in a fair and impartial manner.
The dance and pole exercise teams did so by searching for people in
their respective professions who live in the area, purely for convenience, if none were found they looked elsewhere in the country. Still, there is no clear bias that appears here. For the cheerleading squad, they hired head judges from one of the largest cheer and dance companies in the UK, implying they too were impartial to either team performing. This still does not satiate the Lancaster teams, wondering how they managed to fall so far
since last performing against York.
A member of the Lancaster team stated that they “definitely expected to do better” and “didn’t agree with how the judges scored the dances”. As well as this, a member of the Lancaster cheerleading team was confused about how they lost because the York team “dropped so many stunts compared to [the Lancaster team]”. While the same member of the Lancaster team admits that she couldn’t see any clear errors made by the York team, she and other members of the team agree that “3/5 dances of [theirs] were better”. As well as this, they have competed against York twice this year and have beaten them in ballet both times. They have previously “been much much closer in all the other categories” compared to the results of Roses.
While Roses may have been an anomaly for the Lancaster dance team, the confusion surrounding the judging system is one that probably still needs to be looked into. Even students at York began to become suspicious of the York wins, one student said “it is a bit ridiculous that these fixtures are put together under the fact that anyone can win. When we can see from this weekend, it simply wasn’t true.” Another student was shocked by the collapse of the York Hornets, leading to an hour-long stop, still proceeding to win the competition, stating: “You don’t get to retake penalties in football if you sky them.”
Throwing around accusations about judging panels being rigged is not in the spirit of Roses, and also has little to no evidence grounded in reality for this sports competition. However, what has come out of this conversation is that the judging systems used for dance competitions appear to need rejuvenating; most of the errors made in the judging probably don’t come down to fixing of the panel, but instead the actual methods used to judge the dancing. It isn’t a sport like football or netball, where each goal equals a point for the team that scores. The evaluation of this is necessary to make dance sports a more equal community for everyone performing.