Arts, On Campus, Column

Getting the Most Out of Showdown

I am proud to say that last weekend I attended my very first AHANA Leadership Council (ALC) Showdown, and it was great. My attendance, along with the fact that I am a second-semester freshman at Boston College, gives me all of the qualification I need to immediately begin telling people what they should do. Note-taking, while not required, is strongly recommended for this lecture.

There are a few things with which I take issue. The first is the division of categories. For the handful of people who don’t know anything about Showdown and yet have read this far into my column, Showdown is divided into three competition categories. The first is the overall competitive dance competition, the second is the cultural dance competition, and the third is the showcase groups. The first two categories have a monetary prize that the winner of each group can donate to the charity of its choice. The showcase teams are not competing for anything, instead they are just there to dance.

But I don’t think the showcase category should exist. If you didn’t go on the nearly impossible-to-find ALC Showdown 2017 Facebook page, you wouldn’t know there was any such distinction at the competition. I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t lived and breathed Showdown for the last two weeks while The Heights has been covering it. The showcase category only serves to confuse the audience and to narrow down the talent competing. Exhibit A: Full Swing put on an incredible Star Wars-themed performance. This performance won them the People’s Choice Award. Clearly, the crowd at Showdown loved them just as much as I did. Yet, they were ineligible for the prize as they were a showcase team.  

The showcase category exists officially as a way for dance teams who didn’t quite make the arbitrary cut for competition to still be featured in the show. I don’t think this distinction needs to be made. If they are good enough to be in the show, they should be good enough to compete. The cultural and competitive distinctions can remain, but the showcase category should not.

My other gripe is that I think Showdown should include more dance teams. This year, there were 15 dance groups, and the show ran about three hours long. That’s a long show. But, I think it should be even longer. There are dance teams at BC that a lot of people haven’t heard of or seen perform. I think clubs like BC Ballroom Dance and Conspiracy Theory, along with the people who dance at the various club-sponsored culture shows throughout the year, should get to perform at Showdown.

I don’t know the schedule for Conte Forum off the top of my head, but I imagine Athletics doesn’t have anything else planned in the rink for the night of Showdown, so it’s not like the event would run up against anything else. The obvious counterpoint would be that people would start leaving the show and going home if it ran so long. It doesn’t matter. They already bought a ticket, so there’s no financial incentive to keep the show short, plus people started leaving after two hours—or mostly after BC Irish Dance (BCID) performed—this year anyway. It didn’t seem to matter much then. Those who want to stay can stay, those who want to leave will leave anyway, regardless of length. Start the show at 6 p.m., include any team that wants to be in it, and give everyone the full eight minutes to perform. You could even cut out some unnecessary showtime by removing or shortening the intermission. At 15 minutes, it’s longer than any basketball or hockey break. It doesn’t need to be nearly that long, or exist at all.

I don’t mean all of this to sound like I hated Showdown. I think Showdown 2017 was fantastic. Every group did a phenomenal job and, while I haven’t seen past year’s performances, I am told that this year was way better. In particular, I really liked the Dance Organization of BC’s Bachelor performance in the competitive category, as well as Masti’s poignant critique of big oil tainting water in India in the cultural category. My personal and entirely unprofessional opinion was that those two teams should have won their respective competitions. Regardless, BCID and AerodynamiK gave stunning performances, so it’s good.

What I do mean to say is that there are ways to make something that is already a huge BC tradition, and a whole lot of fun, even better. The event would have more talent, more potential for display, and an ever wider draw for attendance than it has already. I’m aware that this would be more work for ALC and the other organizations that give their time to make Showdown possible, and would probably be even more of a logistical nightmare than the event already is. But if the goal is to give people as much enjoyment as possible, and also to apparently pay for a student center (don’t even get me started on that), I think that my ideas have a good deal of merit. Fix these things, and we’ll end my showdown with Showdown.

Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor

March 29, 2017