Month: September 2012

The Championship with no Champions

We have just attended the third annual UK Wheelchair Dancesport Championship which was held at Watford Colusseum on 29th September.  The venue itself was great, a lovely building with lots of reminiscences of its art deco history and very accessible, which is a key factor for any Wheelchair Dancesport event.

If only the same could be said about the competition itself. 

Dancers came from various corners of the UK to compete and show off their talent on the dance floor.  It anything can be said, the introduction of a national championship three years ago has certainly given wheelchair dancers in the UK something to work towards and inspire and motivate them to work harder and improve their skill, this was certainly evident in the performances of many of the competitors on the floor.

It is great to see such enthusiasm for competition and the willingness to take part, however, the reward for any competition is the prize.  The very definition of competition in its crudest form is “the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating others”.  It is incredibly sad that the WDSA (UK) the national body for Wheelchair Dancesport in the UK fail to recognise this and failed to present the medals and give results at the competition itself.  It is standard practice at any competition in any sport to give results at the end of the competition.  Instead, without pre-notifying competitors fully or informatively, the competition pack handed out on the day simply stated “we felt that to present the medal directly after the championship was completed, was rushed and did not give us time to honour the outstanding work of the dancers, officials and all those behind the scenes people who ensure the smooth running of a dance championship.”. 

Instead the results and medals were to be announced at a Gala Dinner to be held that evening to which a general invite had been sent but no mention that this would also double as the medal presentation.  This Gala is and should be a separate event.  Many dancers were not attending the Gala, including ourselves, and the WDSA were fully in the knowledge of who was and was not attending prior to the evening having taken bookings, so they clearly knew that less than half of the competitors were attending and failed to inform them they would not get their results or medals, yet the WDSA do not see the fault in this.  Little did the competitors know they would have to pay £35 for dinner and invariably a night’s accommodation just to find out the result of the National Championship and receive their medals.  Even paying spectators were left at the end of the day having watched and supported the dancers not knowing who actually won anything.  We would be asking for our money back feeling cheated out of the end result of the day.  It is frankly, disgusting.

The entire organisation of the day was a shambles.  The invite to the competition did not inform competitors of the judging panel, a must for any national event.  From the outset on the day, there was no warm up session on the floor to give dancers the feel of the floor.  It hadn’t been thoroughly checked over, given we tripped over a nail sticking up out of it and asked for debris to be cleared.  The running order was thrown out of the window after round 1, so none of the competitors knew when their heat was so as to be ready.  Granted, some rounds did not go ahead at the last minute, but announcements were just not forthcoming to inform competitors what the following round would be and to prepare to come on the floor.  It was a nice idea to have a single entrance and separate exit to the dancefloor, which is great when competitors know when they are meant to go on and make their way there, but not when the heat is just announced and then forced (with no exception) to run round the perimeter of the room to get to the entrance to the floor.

At Debutante level, different music was played for each heat of the same round.  The same music should be played for each heat so all competitors in that round dance to the same track so there can an even judgement from one heat to the next.  At one point the judges on the floor had to stop a dance half way through as the wrong music was being played.  Well done to some of the Debutantes for having a bash at a very slow quickstep that was foxtrot track, while no one on the platform realised their error.  No head or chair adjudicator was noted in the program. 

At Amateur level in both Ballroom and Latin sections, dances were played in the wrong order, again, this is standard practice for the dances to be performed in their set order.  One running order actually had incorrect dances listed for sections.  The poor MC who was just reading information given to him did not know what was going on which only added to the confusion.  The only redeeming feature to the music was the jive in the final – the theme to Disney’s Duck Tales, nice perhaps for juveniles, but it still did bring a smile to our faces (we are kids at heart!).

Many of the competitors left with no knowledge as to how they did or knows who won their section and at point of writing, still do not.  The result of the Amateur Combi 2 Ballroom and Latin was given in the corner of the room after everyone had gone, but only because we demanded our results before leaving, otherwise when were we ever to be told our placing for national ranking and points. 

The sad thing is that the WDSA does not see the fault it has made and unfortunately, this is the very national body that aims to hold an international competition next year in the UK which is open to world class competitors.  One hopes there will a steep learning curve in the art of competition running and promotion between now and then.

So there we have it a Championship, with unknown Champions.