2016 Choreography Competition FAQs

Our choreography competition is a highlight of the Sweet Molasses Blues Weekend. Talented dancers and performers from around the world have participated in this unique and exciting event. If you’d like to throw your hat in the ring, make sure you include that in your registration. We will contact you closer to the date to firm up details. Even if you don’t have a completed piece at the moment, that is a-okay! Entry is completely free.

If you’re interested in participating but not sure what to do, The Choreo Project in New York City is a great way to get involved!

You don’t have to participate in the Choreo track, either. Prelims will take place Saturday afternoon during the final intensive class block.



2:20-3:20 Judged by Sara Cherny, Mike Legenthal and Dan Legenthal

3:30-4:30 Judged by Sara Cherny, Devona Cartier and Julie Brown

Sign ups will be at the Registration desk. Judges will pick their top choices from each session, and all judges will see video of the top routines before picking finalists.

Finals: Saturday night at the Main Dance

Sweet Molasses Blues 2016 Choreography Competition Guidelines

We are so excited to have you participating in the Choreography Competition. Whether you are a choreographer, a dancer in a choreography, or both, please take a few minutes to read our guidelines.

For prelims all three categories will be considered for what choreographies advance to finals, with Blues Aesthetic the most important category. Please note that no matter how wonderful your choreography and performance are, you will not advance to finals without Blues Aesthetic.

For the finals we will consider performance and choreography separately, possibly awarding different prizes in each category.

Blues Aesthetic:

Are you dancing blues? We look for some of the things that all of the blues dances have in common- grounding, pulses, posture, and timing related to the music. We also look for you to display the aesthetic of cool* and ephebism**.


Interest- Does the choreography draw the viewer in? Does it have unexpected or surprising elements that affect the viewer? Emotional effect (surprise, delight, sadness, etc.), contrast, nuance, complexity all fit in this category. We also look for intentional use of space (blocking)- do you move or not move with intention? Does the choreography make intentional use of unison, harmony, contrast, discord, and lag between dancers?

Development- We look for a change or a development over the course of a choreography. This can be in the form of a story, in the form of movement ideas that change or repeat, or in the form of characters that experience an emotional journey. We look for there to be change, while the piece as a whole feels cohesive.

Music- Does it not only make sense to the song, but does it seem inextricably linked to the song? Does it capture the spirit of the song? Are there rhythmic elements, textures, etc. that seem inspired by the music? Does the choreography acknowledge the musical structure and phrasing? If there are lyrics, does the choreography make sense to the lyrics? If there is no audible music, can the audience see the implied music? Does the dancing contribute to the music, rather than just borrowing?

Choreographers, please note: When dealing with culturally loaded content, please make sure that it is provided with appropriate context and execution. If you are in any doubt, please contact one of the weekend instructors.


Movement Quality

  • Rhythms executed cleanly and clearly
  • Movements use aesthetic of cool and ephebism
  • Movements are well integrated within your whole body and the ground
  • Textural elements such as sharpness and softness look intentional

Performative Elements

  • Are your emotional elements clear? Does the audience know what your are feeling? (Including detached or lack of feeling, if that is the intent)
  • Is it clear if your focus is on yourself, another performer, the audience, the universe, etc.?
  • Engagement- As an audience member, do I feel engaged by what you are doing, have I “bought into” the performance?
  • Intentional use of unison, harmony, discord, and lag between dancers

* combination of composure with vitality

** youth, power, vitality, flexibility, drive and attack



Take a peek at the winners from the past 3 years:


Elizabeth and Curtis SMB 2015


Ruth and Mike won in 2014, but unfortunately we cannot watch their video due to the music being under copyright. You can check out their delightful dancing here


Adamo and Vicci SMB 2013