On The Absolute Scale of Perfection 05/05/2011

Except for the few people who have made first hand experiences with it, the new IDSF Judging System is still a rather abstract concept. It is time, therefore, to offer everyone insight into how the system is used by Adjudicators to evaluate the performances by the world’s best dancers in Grand Slam competition. Here is a first glance at how the Waltzes of the six finalists in the Seoul, KOR, Grand Slam leg were graded by eleven expert judges.

Video Proof

Even if video is not (yet) mandatory to the use of the system, all solo dances in Korea were recorded “neutrally,” with a single camera following the couples around the floor – no zoom or travelling. Atsushi Yamada's HD footage was transmitted live to a giant screen for the benefit of the public in attendance, particularly all those without floor side seating.

Aside from improving the spectator experience, the video recordings create a lasting legacy of top-level DanceSport for everyone to enjoy, or to make a more personal assessment of the competitive performances. The couples themselves can analyse their dances and how they were graded in exhaustive detail, allowing them to improve on certain criteria more specifically in future competition. 

Judging Criteria

One could argue that nothing has changed in terms of judging criteria but their name. From the criteria used in traditional judging evolve the five Programme Components and their corresponding abbreviations.


Posture, Balance, Coordination


Quality of Movement


Movement to Music




Choreography and Presentation

New Approach

If there is something new in the new system, it is the numerical marking scale from 1 – or very poor – to 10 – outstanding – and a methodology of applying deductions for determined errors or occurrences. Maybe the required hardware and software should get a mention as well. And, above all, the unprecedented level of transparency that the system offers to athletes, coaches and the public at large!

Finalists' Waltz at the 2011 IDSF Grand Slam Standard in Seoul, KOR

Equipped with only this basic information, almost anyone with a background in judging DanceSport should be able to make his or her assessment of the six Waltzes. Or, by using the score sheet as reference, get a new appreciation for the process that established the final standings in Seoul! Remains only the final question to be answered: when to award the "10" for absolute perfection? You'll know it when you see it!





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