Judging Calypso Judges

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Today, Saturday, April 2, over thirty people will seek to complete a three-part certification course in judging calypso and soca art forms. “Today is the real test. We will be doing simulation exercises, to see how people interpret what they see and relate it to the marking scheme that we’re using,” says long-time judge Rudolph Ottley, who is conducting the course. Ottley heads the all-female Divas Calypso Tent in Trinidad and has been a calypso judge since 1991.
The full day session at the Palm Haven Hotel follows evening sessions on Thursday and Friday.
Organised by the Saint Lucia Calypso Association 2009 (SLCA) and accredited by the University of the West Indies (UWI), the course represents efforts to take the art form to new levels in Saint Lucia. “This is the first time, I’ve done (the course), with UWI,” explains Ottley, who also facilitates an annual course in Trinidad.

Trinidad's Rudolph Ottley - calypso & soca juding facilitator

The comprehensive course includes history of calypso and soca, the difference between the two artforms, and dissection of the judging criterion for each area, among other topics.
Ottley is heartened by the quality of individuals at the sessions and says judges should have a grasp of both music and language. “Calypso is a package. Lyrics is the storyline but you carry the story with music.”
The accredited training is offered free of charge, with the only catch being that participants must make themselves available when called upon to judge calypso and soca competitions.
Ottley says SLCA should try to get as many people as possible, as it is important to rotate judges throughout the season. The final selection of judges will be done by the SLCA.

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