The world of Eisteddfods:
I can honestly say that ‘Eisteddfods’ had a massive effect on my life, as a young performer. From the triumphs to the tears, there isn’t one thing that I would change.
I couldn’t wait until the newsletter would be issued at dancing school at the beginning of term, announcing that Pre-Eisteddfod rehearsals were about to commence for the year. Eisteddfods truly matured me as a performer.
I will always remember waking up on early on a Saturday morning, popping on my dancing tracksuit over the top of my costume, because no-one would ever dream of showing any part of the costume until it was your turn on the stage. No way. Bumping into the opposing dance schools, the ones that no matter how hard you tried and how many different facial expressions you gave to the adjudicator, they would always manage to take out the golden position of first, was always tricky.
Rehearsing in the car park with your teacher, who was holding up the latest ghetto blaster and skipping around on the concrete, trying not to tear a hole in your latest Jazz Boots. It was all glamour back then!
My personal favourite, hands down, is when you see the dancing school mothers in the audience. They usually sit together, one writes down all the scores and the comments from the adjudication whilst the other one is there, trying to draw every single costume that comes onto the stage. Happy times people.
I was one of those people that wanted to be in every number. Didn’t matter if I was strong at a certain section, I just wanted to be up there. Back in the day when I was competing, I was pretty much the only boy at my studio, so I was always pretty much guaranteed that front and centre position. However, the one time that I was not placed in the downstage centre position, I walked out, aged fifteen you should note…that never happened again, let me tell you!
I took my costuming quiet seriously also. Don’t judge me, but I used to dress up in my costumes at home on the weekend prior to competing and make my parents take photos of me in all different poses and locations e.g.: in my blue sequent jacket by the pool!
Knowing that ‘Eisteddfods’ were coming, I remember, you would be sat down at dancing; you would be told all about who the adjudicator was and what they have done.
There have been so many brilliant dancers in my opinion that have trained in Brisbane. People like Kate Wormald, Kane Bonke, David Skotchford, Ashley Wallen, Michelle Hopper and Sean Mulligan to name a few. One of my biggest dreams as a young ‘Eisteddfod’ performer was one day to be an Adjudicator.
Well a few years that dream became a reality.
It was the strangest feeling the first time I sat in ‘The Chair’ for the first time. All I remember being told, as a performer was this and it was no laughing matter…
Rule number 1: Don’t EVER look at the Adjudicator.
Rule number 2: You must sit behind the adjudicator and not make a noise after your school had performed.
Rule number 3: Regardless of where you come, ALWAYS congratulate other place winners.
Rule number 4: NEVER touch the wings on entrances or exits.
Rule number 5: NEVER wear any of your own jewellery on stage: watches, earrings etc.
So as you can imagine, when I take to the chair I already have so many expectations. My teachers were so wonderful and creative and always pushed us to a point of brilliance but never to the point where it wasn’t enjoyable.
They took some much time and care whenever picking music, as they always said to me, you have one chance on the stage, so make it original.
I was so nervous for the first time I adjudicated. Wanting to write the best comments, make sure I placed everyone competitor in the right order and that I would say the correct things when speaking on the microphone.
Then I realised, everyone up on the stage will be thinking the same things that I used to think growing up on competitions.
What do I look for as an Adjudicator? I look for originality in song choice and that also includes age appropriate music choices. There is nothing worse in my opinion than watching younger children dancing to songs that are not age suitable. How well a group works together. Choreography that is executed well, a great range of technique shown in jazz sections, clear diction and strong vocals in a song and dance section, great rhythms, light and shade in tapping.
One of the most amusing stories that I can share with you is when I’ve been adjudicating and the person pencilling for you decides that they should pop down their own personal comments on the report card, thinking that you don’t mind. Or indeed, when they lean over to you and tell you “they’re not very good are they?”
The best thing about Eisteddfods is the fact that young performers get the opportunity to perform. At the end of the day it’s a competition, it’s one persons opinion as the Adjudicator. I do my utmost to create a positive atmosphere, where people gain confidence and most importantly…Dance.
By Nathan Wright
See Above Video!
Purely just for laughs… Nathan filmed this once he wrote the article about Eisteddfods. These steps were from a jazz solo of his when he was eight! The music has been added over the top…doesn’t really fit…just for a laugh really!