ALC Showdown Should Combine Culture and Competition Categories

ALC Showdown, the annual dance competition hosted by the AHANA+ Leadership Council (ALC), has undergone a physical evolution since its inception in 2002, growing first beyond the capacity of Robsham Theater, then the Flynn Recreation Complex, and finally settling in Conte Forum, a venue the event still sells out. This year, however, ALC made structural changes to the competition.

In past years, more than a dozen dance teams performed in three categories—Competition, Culture, and Showcase—each with different time constraints. Teams in the Competition category were given eight minutes to perform, while teams in the Culture and Showcase categories were limited to six and four minutes, respectively. First and second place prizes were awarded in the Competition category, while only first place was awarded in the Culture category. All teams were eligible for a People’s Choice award, decided by audience votes via text. Each dance group designated a charity to which their prize money would go, should they win.

This year, ALC leadership eliminated the Showcase category. Teams were designated as Competitive or Culture, and could compete accordingly. All teams were eligible for the ALC Choice award,  an award given to the team that best embodied the mission of ALC and that garnered the most crowd engagement. The award is in place of the original People’s Choice award.

Teams connected to a culture organization on campus are required to compete in the Culture category. This requirement has prompted other teams to break with previous cultural club affiliations over the last few years. For example, Females Incorporating Sisterhood Through Step (F.I.S.T.S.) and Sexual Chocolate were connected to Black Student Forum. These teams have since become unaffiliated with these cultural organizations in order to compete in the Competition category. The Competition category awards are generally more highly valued than those of the Culture category, even though the prize money is the same. When 11 dance teams compete in one category, and only four compete in the other, the current distinction seems a little meaningless.

Like the ALC Choice Award, Showdown should embody ALC’s mission. ALC should eliminate the distinction in categories. To ensure that the charities are not adversely affected, ALC should designate first, second, and third place awards, along with ALC’s Choice. The monetary values should also be adjusted accordingly.

In prior years, the Culture category was necessary to ensure that cultural dance styles were represented at the event. This year, the audition process that was once selective in choosing the teams for the Competition and Culture categories was eliminated, and all teams that applied were allowed to compete. In light of this change, there is no longer a need for a delineation between Culture and Competition. The Culture category should be dissolved, as its original purpose has been accommodated by the change in the audition process. This should allow Presenting Africa to You (PATU), Masti, and Vida de Intensa Pasión to compete for the most highly valued awards at Showdown. Further, the newly-added ALC’s Choice award—which is decided based on votes by ALC members—ensures that one team is recognized for highlighting diverse experiences through its performance.

The difference in categories, especially with unannounced changes, is also confusing to audience members. A single category streamlines and simplifies the competition and its rules.

The different categories are extraneous and limiting because of the rigorous and elite nature of groups in both categories. Dance teams throughout both the Competition category and the Culture category perform at similarly elite levels. Denying Culture groups the opportunity to be judged for their talent in the greater context of all BC dance groups is a disservice to the hard-working and accomplished members of the dance community.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated AreodynamiK’s relation to the Korean Student’s Association. It also erroneously mentioned that teams competing in the Culture category could not be cut from competing.

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