Ties at dance competitions ...Good or Bad?
Ahhh yes, the infamous “tie-breaker.” There are fewer things at a jam that can bring a bigger tidal wave of emotions than seeing a judge throw up that “ X “ with their arms. However, these emotions can range from jumping in excitement so hard you start spilling your RedBull everywhere...to being so angry you’re already planning out how you’re gonna call out the judge, key their car, and then light their house on fire.
Why is that? How is it that a tie can sometimes feel so rewarding, while other times it feel like we’ve been cheated? Are ties good? Are they bad? Should we stop having them all-together at events? Should we all just give up and eat tide pods?
To get to the bottom of this, let’s talk about some pros and cons!
The two round(s) might actually be equally matched:
This is especially true at international level events, where dancers are generally at a comparable high-level of skill. This makes deciding a winner much more difficult, versus a local event, where the skill gap or the difference between the quality of the rounds between dancers is usually more evident.
For the sake of fairness, the judges may just need one more round to decide who is the overall winner of a battle.
It can intensify the battle experience!
As a spectator, seeing a hype battle between two skilled dancers may entice you to crave more! Giving the crowd one more round of intense battling can really amplify a jam’s experience. The increased pressure can also motivate the competitors, further increasing their potential. It’s nail-biting, dynamic, and can make the eventual winner feel that much more satisfied.
It gives the competitor a second chance.
This is more specific to people participating in the battle. There are definitely times when we’ve gone out and felt like we totally derped your round. You feel anguished at first, but suddenly you see those beautiful ties and bless the dancing gods for a chance at redemption. On a film set, you get plenty of takes to get your round perfect. The tiebreaker is pretty much the only second chance we get in competitive dance.
Judges may use it as a “cop out”.
We know judging is hard work. Not only is there the pressure of knowing your decision can affect the reputation of or the livelihood of a dancer and their family, but having to do it for 6+ hours, starting from prelims to the finals can really take a toll on a person.
I think we’ve all seen the judge who zoned out or was texting during the hypest moment of the battle, and then throws up the tie because they aren’t actually sure who the winner is.
We’ve seen the judge that throws up the X because they know their homies lost, but don’t want to “fully” betray them.
These problems stem more from poor judge selection and lack of transparency / training, but nonetheless it paints a poor picture for the tiebreaker. Long story short...don’t be this kind of judge please.
It can kill the hype.
After an intense battle, you would think that a tiebreaker would always be even crazier, right? Well...in practice that’s not always the case. Sometimes the competitors literally “left it all on the floor.” They’re out of moves or...oxygen. Their top-rocking is in slow motion, and sometimes can only bust out a basic set without having cardiac arrest. Don’t get us wrong, dancing is hard work. We aren’t expecting you to carry a respirator with you. It just isn’t a good look for tiebreakers
The worst though is when two competitors are actually just….bad...but equally bad. So we all have to sit and watch while the judges call for a tie-breaker to decide who is the least bad of the two.
It takes up time:
This primarily affects promoters, but it does trickle down to the whole event which which means it affects you. The extra rounds can delay a jam. Some venues are on tight schedules, and jams don’t always start on time (expect an eventual blog post on this topic to come). But in short, even if used well, sometimes we just don’t have time for a tiebreaker round. It can result in a rushed event, or fines and contract issues for the promoter if they go over (meaning the jam might not happen next year!)
The TL;DR is that tiebreakers aren’t inherently good or bad. At the end of the day, they are just a tool. A hammer is a craftsman tool, but if used improperly, can cause more pain than pleasure. This post is to help us articulate some of the costs and benefits of the tiebreaker. The next time you are attending or planning to throw a dance event, weigh the costs and decide if you want to allow your judges to give ties. And if you do, you can now be aware of the baggage that comes with it and prepare accordingly! Happy dancing!