Quaterfinals | Dance Mission Theater | Friday, July 22, 2011 | 10:00 AM PST
Philly | Jacksonville, FL | Hampton Roads, VA | Tennessee | Baton Rouge, LA
(Disclaimer: My blogs will be all over the place sometimes. I’m trying my best to free write without going back and touching up the blogs)
The keyword for this bout was nerves. We as a unit were all pretty nervous and anxious. A lot of people didn’t realize we were a relatively new team. Only one member of the team returned from 2010 team that represented in Los Angelos, as well as the three “new” coaches (myself, Kavi Ade, & Denice Frohman). The previous two years, I helped “Just” Greg Corbin coach, but never made any of the major decisions. My work as coach was strictly in a preparatory & consultation role. This year, Greg turned the bout decisions over to the coaches he appointed. I was indeed nervous our first bout. I’m sure Kavi and Denice were too. We tried our best not to show it however..
Slam poetry is a lot like chess sometimes. In chess, you have to understand what pieces to move and when. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a piece or two for better position on the board. Sometimes when it looks like you’re winning, someone has you exactly where they want you. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a piece or two to get yourself out of a sticky situation. There’s a rule at BNV, you can only repeat TWO pieces in the first three rounds of competition. Meaning, if you do POEM A, and POEM B twice in your first two quarterfinal matches, you are not allowed to repeat ANY of the poems you’ve already performed once you get to Semi Finals. However, if you are fortunate enough to make it to Finals, you may perform any piece you want.
We started the bout spitting 2nd. The first piece scored relatively well but we end the first round in 4th place. In the 2nd round, our piece didn’t score well at all. I’m not quite sure why it didn’t resonate with the judges because normally it scores out the roof. The poem is beautifully written and it’s a true story. Safi spit with a lot of passion and I was extremely proud of her for sharing such a personal story. The low score it received put us in 5th place after two rounds *boooooo the freaking judges*
The way BNV was setup in 2011 is the top 10 teams from the East, and the top 10 teams from the West, advance to Semi-Finals. The position you finish in your Quarter Final bouts is critical. If you come in 1st in both of your quarterfinal bouts, you finish the day with a 2. If you come in 1st place in your first bout, and 2nd place in your second bout, you end the day with a 3. Finishing in 5th place in one of your bout pretty much assures you won’t be advancing to Semi Finals since the lowest possible score you can get at that point is a 6.
Being in fifth place after two rounds was a scary feeling. The Team worked so hard to get to The Bay, and I didn’t want them to go home after one round. Being in this position caused us (coaches) to do two things we didn’t want to do:
- We put up two of our stronger pieces, which we didn’t want to do (wanted to try and save them for our 2nd bout, and Semi Finals).
- Putting up these pieces meant two of our poets (Sinnea & Charmira) wouldn’t get to touch stage, something coaches try to avoid.
Strategically, it worked. Both poems, “Good Music,” and “Homicidal Rainbows” scored perfect 30s, and we finished tied for third with Tennessee. Landing a 3 isn’t ideal, but it means there’s still a possibility to make it to Semi Finals. The competition was amazing. Jacksonville finished the bout 1st, Hampton Roads 2nd, Baton Rouge 5rh.
After the bout, the team and entourage hung around the venue for a while to talk. Greg gave great motivational words. Kavi let them know that PYPM has been in this position before (3rd in a quarterfinal) and still made it to Semis (the 2009 team did it, Kavi was a member of the team). I spoke a bit about their resilience and coming back from being in 5th and landing a 3. They fought to give themselves a chance to fight. From that, we left the building and started to walk over to our next bout. The mood was loose and light. I heard joking around and wise cracks (typical PYPM 2011). Everyone knew what needed to be done, and what was in store for us. What needed to be done? We needed to come in first place. What was in store? The teams from Greensboro NC, Toronto, Providence RI, and the defending champions, New York City in round 2 of quarterfinals.