Founding Day 2013 notes on judging and team Kosrae

Founding Day 2013 fell on a Monday. The steering committee wanted floats pre-positioned by the evening before, so floats came in on Sunday night.

Despite all of the advance communication and cautions to teams, the floats were not all ready at 8:00 for judging. The judges, however, cannot wait until 8:45 to judge the floats, by 8:45 they have to be headed up the parade route. The judges must start at 8:00, floats ready or not.



The Kosraeans had difficulty locating a truck and then when they went to get the truck, the truck would not start. KSO did not opt to decorate on Saturday, which meant waiting until midnight on Sunday to start work on the truck. The discovery that the truck would not start did not occur until Sunday, which led to a mad scramble to find an alternate truck. Eventually a truck was brought up from Kitti. One member noted that the college had said it had no trucks for teams to use, but that another group was indeed using a college truck, they felt that was unfair.

The Kosraeans had little time to work on the truck. The bamboo rack from which the fish hung proved not to be structurally capable of standing for the whole journey, so two people had to walk behind the truck and keep the structure from falling. Some x-cross member supports would have prevented this paralleogrammatic failure.

The fish were heavy and swang, which added to the structural issues. And while the fish were very authentic, they did not make the float all that attractive except to flies. Interesting concept, but it did not play out well with the judges. KSO would come in sixth out of eight.

Rain bedeviled the marking of sheets yet again this year. Rain remains a problem. I guess the college has to provide umbrellas to judges as not all came prepared with rain gear. That or the judges will have to be asked to ensure they have an umbrella.

Once again unity featured in the theme - 20 years of unity through culture. On May 10 the Pohnpei Youth Council will celebrate diversity, which is what I continue to feel is the appropriate theme for odd year founding day celebrations. The college celebrates unity 729 days. On this one day we celebrate our diversity, our differences. When did celebrating differences gain such a negative connotation?

Mid parade judging was held at centerpoint.

One judge noted that en route he had difficulty ascertaining which group was which. Some groups such as PingMwok had a sign on their truck done as a woven mat which proved very helpful to the judges. The steering committee had earlier made a decision that banners would not be provided to groups. Groups may need to determine a way to display the group name during the marching phase. Alternatively, ensuring that there are programs at the field for the judges that lists the parade order might help. Still, a judge could become confused where a group had multiple units.

Early miscommunication led to some teams thinking that they had to perform both a dance AND a cultural presentation while other teams thought they had to perform a dance OR a cultural presentation. Pohnpei National heard OR and did only a cultural presentation. Yap also heard OR and did only a dance. Kosrae heard AND and did both. The complication was the two rubrics. Maybe they could be combined into one rubric with some clever linguistic merging, but lacking the time to combine them, the team had to pick a rubric and be judged by that one rubric.

Pohnpei National would be the only team to pick the cultural presentation rubric. Their score carried them to second place, suggesting the possibility that the dance rubric represented a more challenging rubric.

One faculty member sent me the following note, "Just thought to let you know that I think this year's Founding Day's activities were great!  I like the culture presentations that performed/presented by various groups.  To me it is more meaningful.  For instance, there is an explanation of Kosrae's dances.  I have watched many performance by Kosrae, but it is the first time, I understand a little bit what they mean."

The president also noted the educational value of the explained performances. This has not usually occurred in prior years. The understanding of the need to dance and perform a cultural ritual led to a better than usual culture day. Not just a series of dances without explanation, but dances and cultural demonstrations that carried real value. This concept should be retained for 2015. Dance and a cultural performance in a 30 minute format, a single rubric that somehow fits for both and is usable by the judges. On the "to do" list is a combined rubric for dance and performance.

The table was down one deck orginally which left the judges and table in the rain at the start of the day. The chairs were also too close to the table for the judges to fit behind the table. The table was moved up one deck, but this left the table a little too low. There is no optimal way to set up the judges.

The dance/performance section of the program was judged by seven judges selected by the participating groups, instead of eight as had been the original design intent. All eight groups made nominations. Each group was responsible for ensuring their judge was in place for the start of performances at 10:00. Six judges were in place by 10:00 and a seventh arrived in the nick of time to judge the first group. The eighth judge did not arrive. In my design, however, the responsibility for ensuring a judge was in place did fall to the judge coordinator but rather to the team. The loss of a judge would, according to the model, be to their own disfavor.

KSO performed against the dance rubric and ranked in at seventh rank out of eight. They did the banana tree pulling chant and two women's sitting songs. I had the sense that they might have done better to pull a massive chunk of prismatic basalt - something that would be truly impressive and demonstrate the true power of the chant. Banana tree trunks are just not impressive.

I am not sure what they might do to compete against power houses like Yap or the exotic and enchanting canoe songs of Pohnpei done sans bikini top. Nukap took eighth position, the only team to score lower than Kosrae, dancing Polynesian style to modern Polynesian music. I am not sure what Kosrae could do to score better - the true traditional dances are lost in the mists of time, decimated by the disease-ridden and missonary-influenced 19th century. Maybe they could adapt their Christmas marching, blending in some river dance type synchronized foot work to simply generate their own style of dance. Toss in some Maori facials for effect. What can a group do which lost its dance culture? Any dance form is "non-authentic," none are more "non-authentic" than any other "non-authentic." Freedom to innovate is just another word for nothing left to lose in terms of dance forms.

A judge watching the Kosraean dancers. One judge chose to sit separately in part so that they could capture photographs.

The legend of Waguk refers to single man solo dance competitions to win the heart of a princess, so there is precedent for a solo dancer free styling like a mad man to win the love of a lifetime.

President Daisy with Pohnpei National students.

My son enjoying the day.

Pohnpei state campus did a canoe dance that brought them third place in a tie with PingMwok.

The business office tallied scores. After lunch I moved the tallying team behind the judges. Three problems developed as the day went on. Judges were not initialing their forms, initials were hard to decode, and some rows on the rubric were being left blank. Forms probably need to be turned over to the tally team earlier in the day.

The comptroller created some incredibly useful meta-tallying forms that let him track which judges had which teams scored - a cross-grid of teams and judges. He saw the need for this from the first time he saw the rubric sheets. This was an oversight on my part. The grids helped us sort out which sheets were missing from what judge for what team.

The location of the flags proved problematic for the judges in the location to which the table was moved. In fact, the flags were a view blocker for many in the grandstand. Another location for the flags ought to be found.

Yap performed stellarly and captured 190 out of 196 points. All of the judges were impressed.

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