Highland Highlights

By Loraine Ritchey

To Tape or not to Tape:

Highland Highlights: DANCER August 1999

To tape or not to tape that is the question? "No Videotaping allowed" These words on some entry forms both in Canada and in the USA have caused more than one parent to ask, "Why can't we video, what is the problem?" "Why can't I video my child, what are they afraid of?" "My teacher can't go to every competition and wants the tape to see what my child did!" "I want the video for when she no longer dances! "It is good for my daughter to compare herself with the older dancers to see what the dance is "supposed" to look like" Face it we are in the technology age, cameras are readily affordable and 90% of us have some sort of video equipment. We tape everything Johnny's first smile, Suzie's first awkward steps and yes the soccer, baseball, family outing.

Gone are the great bulky tri-pods and huge cameras. We are now seeing tiny one- handed apparatus that play back instantly. Highland is not the only venue dealing with the taping dilemma. There will be more aggravation both among organizers, dancers and parents.

Canada and Scotdance have for a number of years requested that videotaping of the Championship and Choreography competitions be disallowed. Organizers have "complete" control over the non-video request when a competition is held inside in a facility rented etc. by the organizers. They are perfectly within their rights (as per the legal advice I was given USA/Canada) to stop any videotaping. It is a similar situation as not being allowed to tape at a theatrical performance etc.

Outside in a public arena, well the no taping rule would be more difficult to enforce and many other factors come into play. Whether you are taping your child or someone else's, the age of the dancer even the country state and province adds to the confusion. Rule of thumb here is (as I have been informed) if you are in a public or open to the public area such as a park etc. Organizers cannot stop videotaping or picture taking. They can only request that you do not.

Why the non-video rule? Ontario, Canada and Scotdance seem to have been the first group who made the "no video " request. Why? Speaking to various members of Scot dance, judges, and teachers the reasons are somewhat varied. The organizers of various competitions were receiving complaints from YES! "PARENTS". The parents were annoyed that their children were being video taped by other schools. Also in the days of the bulky cameras parents were once again setting up equipment in front of the dancing platforms and "being obnoxious". Younger dancers were feeling distracted by the video cameras literally shoved in front of them and some felt that this placed them at a disadvantage. "Parents were using the tapes to second guess the judges!" Well believe me you don't need video equipment for that. Any competitive parent, no matter the venue has always and always will second-guess the judge, referee, umpire etc. The fact that the judge missed "little Suzie" touching the sword and still giving her a first is not going to change just because "little Joan's" dad has it on tape. "Judge not unless you be judged!' Yes! There are rules; you must not confront a judge. You have a complaint, there are procedures open to parents and teachers. However, there will always be controversy.

Not so long ago Championship judging (USA/ Canada) was judge A, B, C etc. Parents since the judges rotated spent ages figuring out who Judge A was and how they marked their dancer in a Championship. Championship results are posted (this is SOBHD) and although parents and dancers etc, are not told "why" their dancer received a 2nd from Judge C; now at least the judges names are posted and the placement. Speaking from my own perspective, the times that I have adjudicated scholarship hopefuls in Drama with 5 other judges, I have had no problem putting my name to my work and decision. I cannot see that anyone confident in his or her own ability would find it a problem, videotape or not! To "copy" another dancer or schools work would be very difficult. The steps etc. but to get a "working" tape the dancer would have to have at least a three camera angle shot. Videotaping is very much one-dimensional.

As with everything that involves Highland there are 6 sides to every questions. No one is totally right or wrong. The Easter Regional (USA) decided "No Taping". The competition is being held inside and organizers are perfectly within their rights. Marguerite Reid, spokesperson for the competition said, " it was just getting chaotic parents pushing in front to video. Dancers having cameras shoved in their faces. The competition is too important. One of the reasons we decided to that the regional indoors was so that we could have control over the dancing environment. This was it will not matter if it is pouring with rain or 104 degrees, the dancers will have a controlled environment where it is the same for everyone. Not allowing the distraction of video cameras is part of that decision"

Other championships, especially in the US have decided on other approaches. The USIR held in Houston and also last year in Detroit, one being held indoor and the latter outside had areas roped off specifically for taping. There was also a professional video- tape available for parents etc. to purchase. As always check with the organizer of any competition, as rules will vary, country-to-country, organization-to-organization.

As always for Questions and Comments, I can be reached at

Loraine Ritchey, 1127.W. 4th Street, Lorain, Ohio, 44052.