Thursday, November 8, 2007

...Lest Ye Be Judged

Recently for some reason (maybe because it's on all the time) I've been catching the end of The Next Iron Chef. This show is an elimination competition to select a new Iron Chef for Iron Chef America (the rumor is that Mario Batali is leaving). Because I'm only seeing the last couple of minutes, the only part of the show I've seen is the judging, during which the judges criticize the food. The part that makes me cringe is when they're criticizing the food to the chefs' faces ("Did you even try the cauliflower?"). Maybe it's when I'm tuning in, but I don't remember anyone saying anything nice to the chefs about their food.

This is one of the reasons why I don't watch "American Idol" (which is famous for snarkiness) or "So You Think You Can Dance." The only thing I can imagine worse than being humiliated in front of coworkers is being humiliated on TV, though I recognize that in the case of these two shows, the potential tours are worth the cutting remarks. Still, I can't bear comfortably people saying mean things to each other.

Yet, I realize that judging that comes with remarks is more useful than judging that just gives you a place. Zirpu and I each have learned a lot from post-event meetings with judges. When we went to the Dance-O-Rama in Las Vegas in 2005, we were really inspired and learned a lot from the 400 other dancers, but though we got buttons for each event in which we participated, there were no meetings with judges. All we learned was that we had danced better or worse than people who placed around us, but we didn't know what we had done.

Of course the Arthur Murray Showcase judges are much nicer than these people on TV. However, I must say that our favorite judge/coach is Bill Jacobson, a Canadian Arthur Murray consultant, whose remarks often include the phrase, "That was pretty. . . mediocre." He's always loved our dancing, because even when we're doing it wrong we're dancing together.

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