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Judging All-Styles Battles? What is the best format?

cypher_shotThere has been a decent wave of All-Styles battles lately. I think they are good events for dancers to be tested outside of their own box. But to some, the word “All Styles” can be confusing if taken too literally.

To the dancer, it could sound like either of the following:

-A battle where one must be able to DO ALL styles of dance specified (the more you are good at, the better).
-A battle where ANY style dancer can enter (not limited to just bboys, or just lockers, etc) and you are not judged on any specific style, and the point is to just battle.

This is where I feel it can get confusing for both judges and dancers. How exactly do you judge a b-boy against a locker? Do you choose the dancer who can do more styles? Do you choose the dancer who killed it regardless of what style they did?

In my opinion, before choosing between two different style dancers, the dancers should already pass some of the obvious:

-Dance on beat (stay time).
-Show they know the styles they are showing (if they try more than one). Both feel & technique (not just doing different styles for the sake of doing it).
-Just DANCE to the music! Not showing much thinking, or what move to do next.

But the question will eventually rise.. “What if both of them pass the above and are both good at it?” To me, I always start looking at it from a musicality point of view. Which one of them is interpreting the music better? This shouldn’t be confused with “which one knows the song better?” Musicality and knowing the lyrics or the breaks of the song are two totally different things.

Let’s take it a step above that. “What if both of them have equal musicality?”. At this point it will probably come down to the personal opinion of the judge. Some judges prefer to look for certain things over others. Some look for an overall package of technique, dance, tricks, and crowd. For myself, I like to look for musicality and creativity in the dancer. I want to see the locker try to do what the b-boy did, but with their own twist. I see it as trying to 1-up everything the other person does. I’m not saying I want the locker to suddenly try to b-boy, but I’d like them to go outside of their locker “box”. Like maybe do moves that can be crossed over into the bboy style, but still give it that locker feel. To me, this shows that they know how to lock differently than a typical locker (but it should STILL look like locking if they go towards that approach!). Being creative and able to get into moves multiple ways is a plus! (in my opinion it shows they have a greater understanding of of the dance). A lot of moves in different dance styles have similar movements, so it would be cool to see the dancers be able to fuse the other person’s style with their own, and do it really well! I also feel the judges shouldn’t restrict the dancers to a certain formula in my opinion. Because then the dancers are just going to think too much about it, and it takes out the raw aspect of dancing.

This conversation can go on for days. I think it all ultimately falls on the judge’s taste. You just can’t judge two styles and say which one is better. It all comes down to each dancer’s presentation at that moment. People have different tastes and not everyone will be satisfied with the outcome of any contest, so dancers shouldn’t feel discouraged if they didn’t advance a round.

My advice for anyone planning to throw an all-styles battle in the near future (assuming it will be in the same format as most of the previous all-style battles recently).

-Let the dancers know what kind of battle it is (If it’s who can DO all styles? or if it’s Do WHATEVER style?)
-Tell the judges to let the dancers know what they are looking for during the event.
-As far as formatting for the rounds, I think all rounds should be two rounds each. (Some may disagree of course as venues may have certain time constraints which is out of anyone’s control).

But ideally, I feel one round should be the 1st dancers music. The second round should be the 2nd dancer’s music. But BOTH have to dance to both songs. I think the music can make or break the battle. I’ve been to some battles where each dancer will only get their own music, at one round each. And they aren’t tested to dance to the other person’s music. To me, it makes it harder to judge when it is 1 round of their own music each. Some could feel that it’s a little unfair, because ofcourse the person will be good at their own music. The true test is to see them get down to music that isn’t their first preference. BUT!!!! If it’s a CONTEST, and not a BATTLE, it would make more sense for the dancer to just get their own song. When it’s a contest, I see it as just performing.

I feel like All-Styles Contests (not battles) might be the best formula for the situation, but I attended an all styles battle over the weekend where the music was all DJ’s choice. To me, it turned out pretty good and tested all the dancers ability to adapt to any music. They had poppers dancing to R. Kelly’s “Bump & Grind”, b-girls dancing to Twisted Sister’s “We’re not gonna take it”, and lockers dancing to 2 Live Crew’s “Hoochie Mama”. It was interesting to see everyone’s interpretation of the music. That really brings out the true dancers. I would like to see more of this music format. My only feedback on it, is to change the song after each person gets their first round with it. This format gets my vote most definitely. But I would prefer non-pop songs, but just good music that can bring out the essence of any dance style.

I’d like to hear what you all have to say. If you’ve ever judged one one of these, or battled, watched, let’s hear all perspectives. What do you look for in the dancers, or what do you look for in the format? Maybe this can help out in future events.


14 Responses to “Judging All-Styles Battles? What is the best format?”

  1. There are many who can do a lot of styles well. But the one known most would have to be hands down, Brian Footwork Green. This video here doesn't even show all the other styles he can do, but he destroys it! A true dancer.


    Posted by One Cypher Dance Blog | 02/03/2016, 8:10 pm
  2. You cannot have a ballet vs b-boy cause the music cannot be the same. That is where the line is drawn. If it can flow to the same music, then is capable of being measured against others genres.. Oh, yeah, that is what it is.. You are actually talking about dance genres, not "styles", I believe

    Posted by SLAP | 11/12/2015, 11:41 pm
  3. You cannot have a ballet vs b-boy cause the music cannot be the same. That is where the line is drawn. If it can flow to the same music, then is capable of being measured against others genres.. Oh, yeah, that is what it is.. You are actually talking about dance genres, not "styles", I believe

    Posted by SLAP | 11/12/2015, 11:41 pm
  4. Who can do "all styles"? I have never seen one. I have seen Skitzo do many but no one ever display all. I doubt there is a person, alive, that can do that, "effectively"… Would be happy to be shown otherwise, though

    Posted by SLAP | 11/12/2015, 11:38 pm

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