Awards for Dance

Justice is Bling

I have been sitting up (just now) cramming for a meeting tomorrow.

I am in my third year sitting on the Metro DC Dance Awards Finals Selection Committee. The public narrows it down to three, or five, nominees and then this committee decides who gets the awards. We each get one vote. We’re supplied with DVD’s of everything. The performance/performer with the most 1’s wins. The system is set up to run quickly, so we really only discuss if there are two items with same number of #1 votes.

I’ve sat on a few grant committees. I don’t mind the work of it. I find it interesting, and I like that my judgment is trusted. For some reason, I’m really uncomfortable tonight. Yes, I’m about a week late turning in my ballots (which are supposed to be turned in before the meeting), but that’s not it.

Some of what I watched, I watched with more pleasure, cause it was more to my taste. Who am I to say that my taste deserves an award? Is the thing that I and most people will give a ‘1’ too really the best? Moan, struggle, angst… but seriously: the stuff I ‘liked’ more – does that mean that it’s ‘better’?

I’m tired of judging my peers work. Ok. I’m not tired of judging my peers. But I’m tired of my judgment impacting them. There were very few performances that I saw that didn’t deserve an award, and none that I saw that I was like – holy shit, that just has to win. And there were things that weren’t nominated that I thought should be. That I saw cause there were other categories, or people, in the video, so I happened to see them watching for other things. (Chris Morgann’s sonnets thing for citydance really didn’t suck at all. Little rambly, but good.)

Lady Justice

I like sitting on grant panels. Hearing what people might do. Seeing what they have done. But I don’t like these awards. I know they serve a great purpose for our community. They really help to raise the winner’s profiles. And that’s a service. Shit, I want one! Nevertheless:

I read in the LA Times last night that from 1918 to 1948 (or something) art was in the olympics. You could win a medal for watercolor painting, or sculpture. I’m glad I wasn’t a judge. I’m off the committee after this year anyway, but I’m really struggling with trying to fill out these ballots. I’m not sure how to give my peers justice. I don’t feel it’s mine to give. And I’m tired of giving them judgment.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.

One thought on “Awards for Dance”

  1. I considered not going to the voting meeting, but in the end decided that not to go would be putting an odd pressure on my peers who are on the committee, who were also voting. I went, voted, argued for what I thought. Glad it’s done.

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