Modern Jive Points Index
About Competitions
On The Day

Marshalling is about getting people to the right place at the right time.

There are two groups of people that benefit from marshalling:

  • Competitors
  • Judges
Recall and Entry Listings

Usually the heat entry listings are printed on paper and displayed near the marshalling area. At the 2014 Chch Champs we trialled an online system where people could view entry listings on the website. The term 'recall' is used in the context of when competitors are recalled to enter the next round.

How Heats are Filled

The heats in the first round are filled according to any seeding in place and then by mixing entries from different studios to make the heats more exciting and varied.

For subsequent rounds, entries from the previous round and repechage (where applicable) are sorted in descending order of score, heats are then filled automatically to give the most even spread of ability.

Example: 24 entries going into 4 heats (6 entries per heat)

  • Entry 1 goes into Heat 1, Entry 2 to Heat 2, Entry 3 to Heat 3, Entry 4 to Heat 4
  • Entry 5 goes into Heat 1, Entry 6 to Heat 2, Entry 7 to Heat 3, Entry 8 to Heat 4
  • Repeat until all entries have been allocated to a heat.

This ensures that the best entries do not end up in the same heat.

Allocating Floor Positions

Floor positions are allocated randomly. Therefore there is always the slim chance that an entry may find themselves in the same position for each event. A future development would be a more intelligent floor positioning algorithm to avoid this.


Judging is the process of scoring, marking or ranking competitors. Judges scores are then combined to produce an overall ranking to decide which competitors might go through to the next round or win a trophy.

Strong Ranking versus Weak Ranking

A judge has to produce data that is used to rank all the entries in a heat or round. There are two types of ranking:

  • A Strong Ranking is a ranking without ties.
  • A Weak Ranking is a ranking with ties.

Judges need to be able to rank all competitors in the time available. This then determines the type of ranking used for each round. The higher the number of entries the harder it is to rank the entries within the time available.

Where there are 8 entries or less, a judge can comfortably produce a strong ranking.

For more than 8 entries, judges use a weak ranking. Two common variations used in dance competitions are:

  • Yes or No (Selected or Not Selected). This is equivalent to ranking competitors between 1 and 2 with ties allowed.
  • Yes, Maybe or No (Selected, Alternate or Not Selected). This is equivalent to ranking competitors between 1 and 3 with ties allowed.

In some dance competitions, competitors are ranked across the entire round as opposed to within a heat.

In theory with strong ranking, one judge could theoretically judge an event, however with weak ranking one judge would produce ties. By having many judges and combining all their weak ranks we can come up with a strong ranking.

In practice many judges, usually seven, are used to judge the competitors. This also has the added benefit of reducing effects of any potential judging bias. Judge bias is inevitable in every sporting competition, in some ways this is even beneficial so long as the organiser chooses judges carefully. In Modern Jive competitions where the style itself is influenced by many other dance styles such as Ballroom, Salsa, West Coast Swing etc. we do not want judges from one particular style.

Preliminary Rounds

In preliminary rounds there is often a wide range of abilities and a large number of competitors usually arranged in at least two heats. A weak ranking is sufficient to provide enough information to determine which entries go through to the next round.


For finals we are aiming to get an overall strong ranking in order to award 1st, 2nd and 3rd places. Judges are required to give a strong ranking which will provide enough information to separate the entries.

Variation Among Judges' Ranks

It is important to understand that variation amongst judges' scores is expected. Each judge will view different parts of the competitors' performance and will also apply the judging criteria slightly differently, therefore it is reasonable to expect some variation in the scores supplied by the judges (see analysis of actual data below). Potential factors include:

Factor 1. Consistency of a Competitor's Performance
  • A heat occurs over a length of time (e.g between one and a half and three minutes) where all competitors dance at the same time.
  • Judges cannot watch all competitors simultaneously for duration of the heat.
  • For a given competitor, Judge A might see their best 20 seconds and rank them high while Judge B might see their worst 20 seconds and rank them low.
  • It would therefore follow that the more consistent a competitor's performance the lower the variation of the resulting ranks.
Factor 2: Variety of Criteria

Modern Jive is one of the most flexible partner dance styles around. There's even a mathematical principle behind this - basically it's all down to its lack of specific footwork. So much variation is possible that it is impossible to rigorously rank and weight criteria for competitors to judged against especially where there is variation in how Modern Jive is taught. To quote a national champion, judge and studio co-owner:

"If I watch Ballroom I see a floor of people trying to look the same, when I watch Modern Jive I see a floor of people trying to look different."
  • While criteria are often listed in order of importance, there is no absolute scale showing the weight of each criteria and as mentioned above, it is not possible to come up with one nor would we necessarily want one.
  • Each judge will have a slightly different internal comparative scale which they use to come up with an overall feel for how well a competitor performs.
  • By having a variety of judges, the winning competitor is the one who scores best in the eyes of all the judges.
Factor 3: Similar Level Performance from Competitors
  • The closer a heat is, the wider the variation of scores.
  • The judges have to produce a ranking even if they think that all the competitors meet the criteria to the same extent. So how each judge finally splits the ties will vary such that the final rankings could all be completely different.

Ranking is the process whereby all the judges' scores are fed into an algorithm and a final overall ranking is produced for each round.

The main challenge is to combine the judges scores in such a way that the best couple or dancer wins. This may sound fairly obvious but until one delves into the mathematical world of scoring or voting systems do you then realise that the best couples do not necessarily win!

Finals can sometimes have up to 3 songs (slow, fast, spotlight), so we must be able to combine the judges' scores for each song.

Performance categories such as Teams and Showcases are often scored against a number of criteria, for example: timing, teamwork, technique, choreography, performance, costume etc. Some of these criteria may be weighted, for example, costume is not usually considered as important as the other criteria. Again, any ranking system must be able to combine scores for each criteria to give an overall ranking.

Breaking Ties

Another challenge is how to deal with ties. In some dance competitions, ties are broken by the head judge or by examining scores from previous rounds.

The Scoring System calculates the overall ranking using three different methods or algorithms. If there is a tie from the first method then the second one is used and so on. If there is still a tie after the third method then judge rankings are used to finally break any remaining ties.

Results & Scores

Once all the finals have been scored the competition has come to an end and all that remains is to publish and share the results. This is done at prize-giving and then the results are posted online. An individual's scores are sometimes made available online.


The results are given for competitors who place 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

By standardising the scoring system for competitions it is now easier to display results and to allow people to highlight results for a particular studio.

Online Scores

We sometimes display scores online for competitors after the competition so that if people could see that at least one judge put them 1st, 2nd or 3rd then that would be encouraging. We can also allow individuals to see which judge placed them where in order to see useful feedback or maybe book a private lesson to improve their dancing.