“Dear brothers in the art.
There is an increasingly popular dance category called Top Rock. I’m not going to get into the debate of whether it is a valid style or not. Some old schoolers object and thats fine but the fact is that it exists. There are workshops for it. There are competitions for it. It is being judged around the world and has been since at least Mighty Four many years ago. Maybe it’s a novelty but there’s no denying that it seems to be quite popular. And whether we like it or not, we live in the competition era.
Recently I judged a competition (Juste Debout qualifier) with 80 entrants. More than the locking and the popping combined at the same event. (There was a short debate about the results on Facebook afterwards that highlight exactly the point I’m making here). I also entered a Top Rock competition in Taiwan with 100 entrants. That’s a fair number for consideration.
But something is wrong. There is no clear definition of what it is.
Can we reach some sort of concensus as to what may or may not be considered within this relatively new style? I have judged a few competitions myself and have my own guidelines but it would be helpful if there was a shortlist of guidelines that anyone could use. People seem to be so afraid of constructive debate and take criticism too personally.
It’s not an attack if we disagree with each other. Many of us are advanced in years and it’s time to make things clear for present and future generations that will be even more confused about something that should have been fixed from day one.
I really think we miss a lot of opportunity to fix things because of various issues but our scene and what’s happening worldwide is bigger than any disagreements we may have with each other.
My own criteria look something like this: u r disqualified for jerks and burns, house dancing, tap dancing, being off beat, touching the floor with ur hands, footwork!!
I want to see interesting variations, freedom in movement, good grasp of basics, form, structure, clarity, syncopation, flow, power. I’m not impressed by 1000 steps if they r executed poorly. That’s not to say u can’t incorporate other things into ur style but it must be done tastefully and without breaking rhythm. I’m personally looking for more movement and connection to the music than steps and karaoke effects, but I have judged with people who rate the opposite. I have also seen judging where it’s very clear that the judges have NO CLUE as to what they r supposed to look for.
I mean it’s fine that everyone has their own idea of what constitutes Top Rock. Or is it..?
NOT IN A COMPETITION SETTING!
Anyway, just some pointers from the more senior in our scene before the kids start telling US what it’s all about. We have all these 21st century methods to spread knowledge and yet they are not being used. We don’t need a panel discussion and all that fanfare, we just need to get to the point.”
– Kevin aka DJ RENEGADE