Ok, in the previous post I said that there's no agreement among the judges during the final of the Mundial de Tango (Pista) or Tango World Championship. I showed you the charts that convinced me, but I didn't properly measure and show the degree of disagreement.
This second Power BI report has a page for each year available. You can select any two individual judges and see how far they agreed with each other about how to rank the couples. So, if you think, for example, that two of the judges dance a similar style to each other, you can see* if their opinions about the finalists' quality of dance correlate with each other. (Spoiler: nope.)**
To change the year, move to the next page using the arrows at the bottom centre. If the report is too small, misbehaves, or won't fit on your screen properly, try popping it out with the diagonal arrow thing at the bottom right hand corner. You might have to scroll the selectors right and left to see all the judges.
The judges' rankings of the couples do not correlate with one another.
1.00 is a perfect correlation: each judge agrees perfectly with him-or-her self. A low correlation between two judges means they didn't agree much, and a negative correlation would mean they ranked the couples in the opposite way to each other. There are one or two cases of small negative correlations.
I'm sure all the judges' opinions on people's dancing, in various circumstances, are highly valuable - that's why they were picked to judge - but they have nothing to do with one another, and their collective decisions are therefore, to put it mildly, not much help to anyone else in distinguishing between the finalists.
One reasonable interpretation of this result is that the judges have an impossible task; all the couples in the final dance in much the same way, and there is no real difference between them that the judges could possibly agree about. It is as though you, I, and five of our mates solemnly and conscientiously gave scores to the aesthetic qualities of six eggs from the same nest.
Why are the eggs all from the same nest? Perhaps because any excellent dancer with a visually-apparent difference of style and musicality would, on the face of it, have much to lose and nothing to gain by entering this competition. But even if the dancers were different, while all good, it's not clear that would help; it might be even more meaningless to decide between them.
There may be different interpretations: go ahead and put them in the comments, and let's see if we can think of a way to tell which is right. One would be that there are real differences, but the judges don't agree about which ones are important; they are using totally individual and independent criteria. No information is published about what criteria they use.
In order to distinguish between the couples, the judges would have to agree both on what differences exist and on which ones are important. For example, because of the way the couples get to the final, one of them is usually much older and less mobile than the others. It seems to me that the judges have agreed that the differences which go with that are not important, although I don't have the couple-number data to show that; the only way to get it is to watch the video.
As for what it means, and whether it is a good thing, we began to talk about this in the comments on the previous post.
I think it is a good thing that the Mundial is not like a ballroom competition, with the rigidity and the arms-race that implies; that could be very toxic for something that wants to remain a living social dance. I don't think that finding the best dancers out of a good bunch is what the Mundial is really for. As I said before, it makes more sense to think that its purpose is to bring a steady stream of decent young salonsters to public notice, while honouring the occasional veteran; it's a very pretty industry-promotion and heritage-publicity thingie, not a sport.
Indeed, perhaps the Mundial has a somewhat paradoxical role in protecting tango from ballroomisation. All the finalists indisputably have good looking technique, whereas there are ballroom schools teaching a genuinely ballroomised argentine tango with a totally different technique and approach, completely clueless about the social scene. The international dance associations even include it in some of their competitions (and that, for UK readers, was what Vincent and Flavia were up to with their "Tango World Champions" thing, which I've explained elsewhere). We can fairly confidently say that nobody dancing that way would ever get to the Mundial final, at least not in the Pista category - and that is a good thing. It's good that the Mundial exists and people can discover, quite easily, that the ballroom competitions are not it. But the relationship between regular ballroom schools, various international dance organisations, and Argentine tango, is another interesting subject for further research.
It would be great to have judge-level scores from earlier rounds. I'd expect to see a lot more agreement at the lower end; if we could combine that with video, we'd be able to learn something about what criteria are really being applied. And, if so, I'd expect to find that those criteria are by their nature useless in the final. Unfortunately, that data isn't published. If you think you can obtain it, please comment.
Bottom line: there's no evidence here that there's any point in remembering who won.
*You'll notice some straight vertical and horizontal lines in the charts. Judges rank a lot of couples equal with one another. They don't give forty different marks to forty different couples. I haven't done the calculations over the marks seperately from the rankings; I thought doing rankings would be clearer, as the judges don't work around any common average. Some judges give out marks only from a restricted set of integers, but others try to make fine distinctions. They see each couple dance three tracks. The see them in groups of ten to a dozen couples, and the couples don't all dance the same tracks - have a look at the post on Music in the Mundial for a description of the procedure, and links to video.
** To be fair, there is one case of a nearly 0.7 correlation, which is very impressive compared with all the others, and you probably could say the two judges involved went together. I won't spoil that one, as it would be much better if you tried to predict who it would be and then looked. Maybe it's real, or maybe it just had to happen accidentally somewhere. There are also some cases of unimpressive 0.3 or 0.4 correlations looking strong against a background of zero to negative correlations. People who are personally acquainted with the judges might feel there was something to say there, but I'm sceptical that it isn't pure chance.
Friday, 29 July 2016
Ok, in the previous post I said that there's no agreement among the judges during the final of the Mundial de Tango (Pista) or Tango World Championship. I showed you the charts that convinced me, but I didn't properly measure and show the degree of disagreement.
Monday, 25 July 2016
You would think it would be easy to download the scores for a fairly simple dance competition. There are forty-odd pairs of competitors, there are seven judges, the judges observe the competitors doing their thing, and each judge utters a score for each pair. The scores are recorded and tabulated, an average is calculated for each pair, and they are ranked accordingly. It's that simple. They don't even do a 'sporting average' - which would mean they knocked off the highest and lowest scores before calculation. Repeat yearly.
As it turned out, it's rather a pain, but the data for 2015 was published by someone who apparently knew what they were doing and could create a relatively sensible PDF table of results, so I started there. But below, you can explore results for each year from 2012, which is where we start to get half-way useful data. [Edit: I forgot to mention that I use, here, only the Tango Pista (improvised Tango de Salon) competition in the Mundial. I do not look at Tango Escenario (choreographed 'Stage Tango'). That might be a useful comparison.]
The data is not perfect; in particular there are errors in the names of couples where I had to look these up from different documents that were very poorly formatted and I didn't have time to fix all the problems. There are lots of messed-up accented characters, and some town or country names mixed in with the couple names. But relationship between couple ID number and score should always be right, and the name recognisable, where it's available at all.
It's possible that there is cleaner data somewhere else, but I decided to go entirely from the official website and do the data cleaning myself. If two people do this independently, that's no bad thing.
Before starting, I had some questions.
- How much agreement is there between the judges about which couples are better than others?
- If the highest and lowest scores were rejected before calculating the average, as is done in most competitions with subjective scoring, how much difference would it make to the results?
- Supposing there is agreement between the judges, is there anything we can observe about the couples that explains high or low scores?
It's interactive. You can navigate between the pages using the arrows at the bottom, and select the year using buttons. It has a page of notes, but I'm going to repeat the gist of them below. The big tables take several seconds to load. If you can't see it well, it may behave better if you make it full screen using the arrow thing at bottom right.
The data all comes from http://festivales.buenosaires.gob.ar/, but you can download my cleaned-up compilation instead (from a few minutes after posting time).
For some years, the names of the couples are not given in the final rankings, only their competition numbers. Where possible, I have looked up the names from the published scores of preliminary rounds. I assume that the couple's ID number stays the same throughout the competition. Not all couple numbers appear in the scores of preliminary rounds, perhaps because they reached the final via other rounds in other countries or other competitions. In these cases, the couple name reads "Not Provided" with the year and ID number.
In this report, as well as the official average, I also calculate what I call the "sporting average" as used in most subjectively scored competitions; that is, the average if you ignore the couple's highest and lowest score. Finally I calculate the standard deviation of the scores.
The pages are as follows:
- Scores chart - shows the scores given by each judge in the selected year.
- Hi/Lo chart - shows the high and low scores averages for each couple.
- Ranks chart - shows how far the judges agreed on how to rank the couples.
- Scores table - shows how many places each couple moves if you ignore high and low scores in calculating the average.
- Ranks table - shows detail of how each judge ranked the couples. If they gave two couples equal scores, those couples get the same rank.
- Competition ID - we'll come back to this below.
- Notes, basically this information.
- A table of all the data, not as it looks in the underlying spreadsheet, but as it looks after Power Query mashes all the years into one data set for calculations. This also shows the average score and the standard deviation calculated over the population as a whole; you can select individual years and judges.
Question 1: agreement between the judgesThere is not very much consensus between the judges on either the score or the ranking of any particular couple. They make it difficult for themselves to make fine distinctions by not awarding the full range of marks. Marks are out of ten, but the lowest that appears in any of the clasificatorias (not shown in this data) is 3.75.
I see a floor in the marks for the final; in 2015 the flat lines at 7 stand out in the scatter of scores, as though the judges felt collectively that anything lower would be impolite.
The second-placed couple in 2015 has a high score of 10 and a low score equal to that of the lowest couple. The first-placed couple were not ranked first by any judge. The only couple ranked first by more than one judge was placed 9th. To find the lowest-ranked who were placed top by at least one judge, we have to go down the couple ranked 25th overall. The lowest-ranked couple with a top-three ranking from at least one judge were placed 39th of the 41 couples. Looking at the other years, 2015 does not look atypical. In 2012 and 2013, exactly one of the top five was placed first by more than one judge, and in 2014 two of them were, including the winners.
There seems, looking at the Hi-Lo charts, to be slightly more consensus at the bottom than at the top, but this could be just because of the unofficial floors (which it looks as though not every judge agrees on). When I look at the chart of rankings, rather than scores, I don't see any more agreement at the lower end than the higher end.
In the ranking table, you can de-select a particular judge or combination of judges to see how your favourite couple might have done without them.
On only two occasions from 2012 has any one of the top five couples been placed first by more than one single judge.
On the final page of the report you can look at the standard deviation in the scores awarded by individual judges. Some judges appear in more than one year, sometimes with their names formatted differently, as full names were given in only one year. If a judge has a higher standard deviation, it means they awarded a wider range of marks; presumably, they were more convinced that some couples were better than others. A lower standard deviation means they awarded similar marks to everyone. Unfortunately the judges don't seem to agree on which couples they are, or are not, so convinced about.
Question 2: Sporting AverageBecause the marks are, in my view, all over the place anyway, eliminating high and low scores before calculating the average doesn't make a lot of difference to the competition overall. It does make a difference to individual couples: it would have reversed the top 2 in 2015, and the couple placed 30th would have risen 8 places. This is the largest gain in any year, and also occurred in 2014. The largest loss is 12 places in 2012, and there seem to be bigger losses than gains for individual couples generally; someone goes down by a lot and everyone they drop below gains one. This seems consistent with the observed 'marking floor'; when a judge disagrees with their peers, they apparently tend to do so by awarding a very high mark rather than by going below the general 'floor' for that year.
Question 3: Is there anything we can observe about the couples that goes with high or low scores?There isn't, in my view, enough agreement between the judges - or enough good video - to say much about this question.
I noticed is that there was a pattern to the numbers pinned on the couples' suits; there are a lot more lower ones. Closer inspection of the source data shows that this probably has something to do with the geographical origin of the couple and their route to the final. The system of awarding numbers is not covered in the published rules, but it seems the lower numbers are given in Buenos Aires and the higher numbers further afield.
So, taking this as a proxy for where couples came from, I checked to see if it was also related to their scores, and this is shown in the final chart, "Competition ID". Answer: not really.
The line in the same chart shows the average score for each block of 10. There are more couples with lower numbers, so perhaps we'd expect their average score to end up closer to the overall average of all couples than it is; it's rather higher. But those couples are also likely to have had more serious competition in previous rounds, which should also drive their average up compared to everyone else arriving via other routes. There isn't an obvious relationship between couple number and score as such. The foreigners are fine too, there just aren't that many of them.
More precise geographical origin of the couples is at least partially given in the source data, but as it's mostly in the form of tiny flags in graphics it would be a lot more work to get it, which I haven't done.
So, basically, no, there isn't anything I can say about how to do well, based on this data. There's no couple who did so clearly well or so clearly badly that you could watch and learn.
General remarksIn my own opinion, it's rather unrealistic of me to look at the Mundial as though it were a sporting competition. If it were you were really going for an exciting sporting competition, or some sort of mechanism for identifying the best dancers, then you would probably design a rather different event. It might, for example, include challenging tests of the ability to dance well to a variety of music, including milonga and vals, on a floor more than one-third full. There might be more rounds, with the judges taking longer looks at fewer couples in each. Judging criteria would be a matter of public record, rather than rumour. And there would be a system for creating agreement between the judges over time, beyond simply agreeing that scores below 7 were impolite. What it is, rather, is a marketing exercise for the 'Tango Salon' industry, designed to honour the heritage and disseminate awareness of the music and dance, while bringing lots of young couples who dance in a certain popular, standard-ish way, to public attention and prosperity.
If you are choosing a teacher, having reached the final in the Mundial indicates that a couple dance well in a particular style and have good tango technique, at least when dancing with their competition partner - as opposed to the very different sort of technique that is used for "Argentine Tango" on Strictly Come Dancing. It is not evidence that even one judge in the final thought they were the best. They may have been, but the chances are the judges didn't know - or if they thought they knew, they certainly didn't agree - in which case, I definitely don't know, and you don't know, either. Their ranking within the final says very little, if anything at all.
This is, in my opinion, pretty much how it should be. I don't think a true sporting competition in these circumstances would necessarily be a good idea. It didn't do ballroom any good, as a social dance.
In particular, I think it's probably a good thing that the judges don't agree. Standardisation would be toxic.
I do have a couple more questions.
- Can we seperate the level of disagreement between the judges from the question of whether there is any real difference between the couples that they could possibly measure? I can compare the real data with simulated data based on having and not having a real difference, and the results are amusing, but I think I end up assuming what I set out to prove. It might be more interesting to compare the Campeonato de la Ciudad.
- Does the order in which the couples are called - in four rondas - have any relation to their scores? I do have at least partial data for this, but putting it together requires some more work.
- It would be nice to have tidy data about geographical origin, but again, it's a lot of work to peer at all the little flags in the published data and write down what they are, and it probably doesn't tell us much more than the competition ID numbers do; most of the people who are both interested in entering this competition, and competent enough to do well, are Argentinians.
Great, I can get all the files and mash up the data with Power Query.
Do you think you're going to win this?
Tuesday, 21 June 2016
Matthew has made a brilliant little piece of art; the way the Remain campaign should have been done.
If you are on a mobile you will have to "request desktop site" (it's always there somewhere) - it's because of the music, which is hilarious.
Saturday, 4 June 2016
This post studies the music used in the final of the Mundial de Tango in the years 2012-2015. I have no information about how or why the music is chosen, or whether any guidelines exist for the person or committee choosing the music. In this post I simply observe what they actually chose.
DataI compiled this data by watching the videos in this playlist. They are kindly provided by Aires de Milonga, a website I recommend; they provide these videos for nothing, but they offer additional services to those who subscribe a very small annual sum via Paypal.
Each final consists of approximately forty couples, and is divided into four Rondas. For each ronda, three tracks are played. Only tangos are used; no milonga or vals.
Over the four years, this gives a total of 3 x 4 x 4 = 48 tracks, but there are actually 49, because in the first ronda of 2013 something happens off-camera during track 3 that bumps the floor and disturbs the competitors' concentration. A fourth track is played, in the same style.
To begin with, I noted the orchestra, singer, and title of each track. I then searched for the tracks on tango.info and on YouTube until I was reasonably satisfied that I had identified them correctly.
The full data set can be downloaded here: if you notice an error, please describe it in the comments. The tracks are announced at about the 3-minute mark of each ronda, immediately after the couples do their preliminary walk around the floor so the judges can see their numbers.
Style rotationI perceived the tracks for each ronda as covering a predominantly dramatic style, a predominantly rhythmic style, and an in-between, lyrical, or other style, in no particular order. I have added these wholly subjective categorisations in the full data set. You will probably disagree with at least some of them, perhaps many. The word "Lyrical" is fairly meaningless and just refers to the in-between or mixed or melody-led style of track that isn't either of the others; often it is the track that would allow competitors to show off the technical achievement of a slow, smooth, graceful walk. I may update my classifications to make them a bit more meaningful and regular.
The use of these three broad styles in each ronda makes sense on the basis that each couple gets the chance to show off a broad range of technical and musical powers. Each ronda in each final obviously needs to be stylistically similar to the other two. I note, though, that 40 couples seems a lot for a 'final'; the naive observer might have expected to see, say, only ten different couples, and see them dance for a little longer or to a wider range of music.
OrchestrasThe orchestras used looked like this.
|Orchestras of recordings used in the final of the Mundial de Tango, 2012-2015|
It seems notable to me that there is absolutely no Biagi, and absolutely no Canaro.
Given the volume and excellence of their output, if they were going to be used at all, you'd think they'd be in there somewhere, over the four years. If you were practicing for the final, and you didn't have this data, you might spend time with those guys; but it seems you'd be wrong.
It can imagine a pretty good argument for not using any Biagi. There's no reasonable substitute, so if you used, say, one of the great Biagi instrumentals in one ronda, it might seem very unfair not to use another in each of the four Rondas. Everybody needs a roughly equal chance to either shine or make fools of themselves; and that would make Biagi too prominent and would mean you had to sacrifice something else. I hypothesise that if there were a vals competition, there'd be plenty of Biagi in there.
There is already a widely-held belief that Argentinians consider Canaro a bit 'common'. Nothing in this data really supports or dispels such an idea; but they don't use any in the final. Nor do they use any of the orchestras that come to mind as stylistically similar to Canaro's most currently-popular output; Lomuto, OTV, Carabelli, Típica Porteña, etc. So it does support the idea that this style of music is not considered appropriate for competition. And again, if there were a milonga competition, we'd see Canaro.
Years of RecordingThis is what the years of recording look like.
|Year of recordings used in the final of the Mundial de Tango, 2012-2015|
|Decade of recordings used in the final of the Mundial de Tango, 2012-2015|
CommentaryIf you were doing well in the Mundial and you were practicing for the final, it would make a lot of sense to spend about a fifth of your time on each of D'Arienzo, Di Sarli, Pugliese, and Troilo, and the other fifth on exploring how what you have learned applies to whatever else you like among tracks that can be used as stylistic subsitutes for those four; provided that it is not Biagi, not Canaro, and not anything recorded before 1934.
You would also think about three (or more - this is very subjective) broad classifications of style, and you would focus on forming a range of improvisational habits that worked well for each style, regardless of the orchestra.
If you dance socially in Europe, it might also make sense to spend some extra time improving your dance to the 50's output. There's some support in this data for the widespread idea that the Argentinians think the Golden Age of tango music began and ended five to ten years later than the Europeans think it did. You may be less familiar with the nearly 30% of these tracks that were recorded after 1945, and you will probably have no chance to show what you can do with anything before 1935, so that experience is somewhat wasted. Being able to hit 80% of Biagi's off-beats will also be 100% useless, while being able to dance to 50's tangos generally without getting the giggles could be something you need.
Further research, or exercises for the interested readerYesterday I attended the first round of the related competition organised in London (there were 14 couples, one from the UK). You might be wondering if the pattern I've seen here was followed, or if it is followed in your own local competition, or the European competition, or anywhere else. I haven't gone through my notes yet, but the data so far says no. Despite dividing thirteen couples into a rather excessive three rondas, I don't think they followed the rotation of styles, and Pablo played both Canaro and OTV. I probably won't attend rounds 2 or 3, as it costs £25 to get in, and that adds up to a bit much, but if you feel like having something to focus on while you're there, go ahead and collect the data. It would be good to note the couple numbers in each round, too, along with your personal top six, and the results.
My guess is that no guidelines are published anywhere about the music, so the practice in local competitions is probably completely unrelated to what's done in the final. I have not tried to collect data for the semi-finals, either, and there's no reason to assume it's the same.
An interesting exercise for the reader - or for further research - would be to consider what three tracks you would use if you wanted, by observation, to identify the best dancers - by your own definition - in a room.
[Edit: I think the announcement at yesterday's competition was that there were 13 couples, but my notes show 14 different numbers; so I've changed it to 14. I could be wrong].
Wednesday, 18 May 2016
Sometimes people take video clips of tango events I travel to. And occasionally, like everyone else, I can see glimpses of myself dancing, in between other couples.
If I see myself leading, which is rare enough for me not to be used to it, the one thing that really hits me is how TINY I am.
Now, this could be partly in relation to my partners. I usually (not always) change into flat shoes if I want to lead, and most (not all) of the women I dance with usually (not always) wear about a 7cm heel for following. I am about 166cm tall, which when I look it up turns out to be two to four centimetres taller than average for an English woman. The women I dance with vary a lot in height, but most of the time their heels will prevent them looking much smaller than me. And I am rather lightly built, so I don't look like much of anything from a distance.
But I don't think that's what makes me look tiny. What does that is the contrast in size and bulk of us as a couple, with the other couples led by men. And that's something I simply never think about, and am never aware of, until I see it.
I am like a little dog that doesn't know what "small" is.
Wednesday, 11 May 2016
How did I miss this? SilkDamask.org:
"These red, silk satin French-made “barrette/Tango boots” are in the collection of the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto (http://www.batashoemuseum.ca) and date circa 1910s-1920s. Even if you do not fancy dancing, they just beckon you to have some fun, don’t they? In order to dance the Tango, the shoe needed to be well-fitted and secure. The lacing, or barrette-style straps, run up the ankle (and often the calf, as in this example) adding a provocative, sensual twist – appropriate for the dance itself."Look at them! I don't have permission to use the image; if I can find a way of getting in touch, I will ask, and if it's ok I'll add it here. But comments are restricted, and I can't find an email.
Everything SilkDamask writes about the requirements for a tango shoe still applies; it must hold firmly to the foot, flatter the leg, look beautiful, be sensually pleasing, and fit well. They must also have a very flexible sole, on which the dancer can easily pivot. The fashion for heels is thinner, and the shoes themselves are generally less substantial.
These days we have numerous manufacturers to choose from, and they compete for the custom of serious dancers on comfort, fit, function, beauty, and to some extent price, although generally not on prompt delivery or reliable service.
I invite you to compare the Yeite glossy red by Balanceo, the Silver Ramona by Madame Pivot, and the Recoleta in purple polka dots by Regina. From the Argentine manufacturers, Fabioshoes make this rather gorgeous practice shoe. Comme Il Faut have continued to make their more extreme, colourful, elaborate and detailed designs, but are possibly collected as art objects about as often than they are used to dance in, at least nowadays in the European market.