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PRE-FLIGHT CHECK MANUAL

Mission checks can be stressful for everyone, which is why we think you deserve to know exactly what criteria our pre-flight check will be using at Balast Off! And how the process will work.

ABOUT THE PRE FLIGHT CHECK

To maintain the integrity of the  Skylab, Apollo & Gemini tracks, there will be a quick peer check on Saturday morning before official classes begin.  At this time our trained staff will group dancers who are at similar points in their dancing together and place them where they feel  the attendee will be best served during the weekend based on our detailed pre-flight check criteria.

 

 

You will need to arrive at the venue for the Pre-Flight Check by no later than 9:45 am  on Saturday morning in order to check into your assigned flight check by exchanging your access badge for a flight check ID number.  

Doors will lock and the Pre-Flight check will begin promptly at 10 am, no late comers will be admitted.

HOW WILL THE PREFLIGHT CHECK WORK?

The pre-flight check is a bit different than a level test, and we're hoping a lot less stressful for everyone involved. 

 

Basically it will just be an extra hour long class like any other class you would take, no three songs to somehow show off everything you've ever learned and impress the judges who may or not be looking at you during the three seconds your partner chooses to do something crazy and makes you look like a dork.   No getting stuck with a partner who decided to jump in and you know, just see if he could get into the advanced level even though they have never done balboa before… (let's just say that we too have had our share of level test woes)

 

Instead there will be a teacher teaching a class like normal, you will work through the move or concept as normal, rotate around a whole bunch like normal, and by the end of the hour our exceptionally talented staff of instructors will have grouped together individuals who learn at the same pace and are at similar points in their dancing.  Also you'll have an an additional free hour of classes that weekend from some of the best international instructors in the world!  How bad could that be?  

THE CRITERIA

We here at Balast Off! believe in transparency and letting you know and understand our values and what goes on behind the scenes of this event.  With that in mind, this year we wanted you to know exactly what our flight check crew will be looking for during each of the checks.

 

That's why we are publishing the below,  an exact copy of the detailed mission criteria each of our flight check crew has been given and told to use as their metric during the pre-flight check :

MERCURY MISSION

 

TRACK DESCRIPTION

You've taken a few classes, maybe attended a workshop or two, have a good grasp on all your basic Balboa movements and have started to feel comfortable going out and social dancing Balboa for an entire evening.  You're looking to expand your Balboa vocabulary with some new moves, footwork variations, and really want to work on how to refine and stylize the basics you've learned, as well as start digging into some partnering and musicality concepts.

OUR CREW WILL BE LOOKING TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE FLUENT IN THESE MOVEMENTS

While there is no official pre-flight check for those attending the Mercury mission, recruits will be expected to be comfortable with all their balboa basics including:

  • A down hold Basic (aka a Single Time Basic)

  • Adlib steps (aka Repeaters, Scootches or Progressive Shuffles) in all directions

  • Paddles

  • Come arounds

  • Lollies

  • Toss outs (aka throw outs)

  • Out & ins

  • Swivels

If a recruit displays a severe lack of understanding of some of these basic movements, they may be asked to join the beginner flight school for the weekend.

 

THE GEMINI MISSION

 

TRACK DESCRIPTION

You've taken more than just a few classes and have attended a dedicated  Balboa workshop weekend  or two.  

  

You can do everything mentioned in the previous level description and you are fluent in more than just the basics of Balboa and Bal-Swing. You know quite a few footwork and styling variations and you easily do them to songs of all tempos; including ones that are up to 190 beats per minute. 

  

 You are interested in finessing the flow in and between moves. You would like to understand musicality better and are hoping to have a bunch of new moves, ideas and concepts to take back home with you by mission completion. 

OUR CREW WILL BE LOOKING TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE FLUENT IN THESE MOVEMENTS

  • A down hold basic (aka a single time basic) 

  • An uphold basic (aka gather basic/double time basic) 

  • Adlib steps (aka repeaters or scootches) 

  • Paddles 

  • Come arounds 

  • Lollies 

  • Toss outs (aka throw outs) 

  • Out & ins 

  • Swivels 

IN ADDITION OUR PRE FLIGHT CHECK CREW WILL BE LOOKING FOR RECRUITS IN THIS MISSION TO DISPLAY

  • A clear awareness of partner mechanics / partnering 

  • A very solid sense of rhythm and timing 

  • An emerging sense of body awareness 

  • Minimal arm led/muscled movements 

  • An inward bias (follows not sitting back into the leads hand) 

  • The ability to keep up with the material being presented in class 

 

THE APOLLO MISSION

 

TRACK DESCRIPTION

You've been dancing Balboa for several years now and are probably one of the more advanced  Balboa dancers in your scene. 

  

 You're extremely comfortable with all your Balboa fundamentals and are possibly starting to teach Balboa in your own home scene.  You regularly use alternate rhythms and footwork patterns within your social dancing and feel comfortable dancing to tempos in excess of 220bpm.   

  

You're interested in really digging down deep into advanced partnering mechanics, more challenging figures, fine-tuning  your basics  as well as developing your own personal style. 

OUR CREW WILL BE LOOKING TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE FLUENT IN THESE MOVEMENTS

  • All movements listed in the previous missions

  • A functional texas tommy 

  • A behind the back toss out (reverse toss out) 

IN ADDITION OUR PRE-FLIGHT CHECK CREW WILL BE LOOKING FOR RECRUITS IN THIS MISSION TO DISPLAY

  • A clear awareness of partner mechanics / partnering 

  • A very solid sense of rhythm and timing 

  • A clear sense of body awareness 

  • The ability to keep up with the material being presented and quickly figure out movements without much explanation 

  • A sense of flow 

  • A consistent pulse 

  • No arm led or muscled movements 

  • Follows staying over the balls of their feet and not dancing with weight in their heels (ie. Lindy hop connection) 

  • Continuation of momentum, not cutting movements short 

  • Follows, moving through their toss outs 

  • Each dancer maintaining a good frame through bal-swing 

  • An ability level that places them in the top 25% of the non-invitational level dancers attending the event this year.

 

THE SKYLAB MISSION

TRACK DESCRIPTION

You've been dancing Balboa for quite a while now and are probably one of the most  experienced Balboa dancers in your region.   

  

You've mastered all your Balboa fundamentals and have spent  a great deal of time going back to and geeking out over the basics. You are most likely  teaching Balboa in your own home scene and have been getting consistently placed in one of the  top two non-invitational  missions available  at most national level events you attend.   

  

You not only use alternate rhythms and footwork patterns within your social dancing, but can also lead/follow them  as a  partnered movement  as well as an individual styling.   There isn't really a tempo out there  that truly scares you anymore  because  you've mastered the art of staying relaxed at any speed.  You're interested in getting really nitty gritty, geeking out  over some really subtle stuff and would be totally fine with spending 2hrs working on fine-tuning something as "simple" as a down hold basic.

While Skylab recruits will be expected to know and be fluent in all the movements  listed above for the Mercury, Gemini & Apollo tracks, our checkers will be looking more at HOW you do these movements than if you simply know them or not. 

OUR CREW WILL BE LOOKING TO MAKE SURE YOU ARE FLUENT IN THESE MOVEMENTS

  • All movement's listed in the previous missions

  • An above par texas tommy 

IN ADDITION OUR PRE-FLIGHT CHECK CREW WILL BE LOOKING FOR RECRUITS IN THIS MISSION TO DISPLAY

  • An above average sense of flow in all movements. 

  • Excellent posture and frame through all movements. 

  • An excellent sense of timing and rhythm. (i.e. clear footwork, not muddy) 

  • An excellent sense of body awareness. 

  • Quickly picking up moves with little to no explanation. 

  • Follows who aren't "just following", who demonstrate a clear awareness of the their own movement, body, timing, ect. and are actively engaged in the dance. 

  • All Lead/Followed movements initiated from body and not extremities. 

  • Minimal to no excess noise present in all movements. 

  • Turns are balanced, evenly paced and have excellent timing. 

  • Follows demonstrate always finishing rotations with stretch. 

  • Leads exhibiting the utilization of various textures and tones. 

  • Follows who help bring their leads up a level. 

  • Leads who help bring their follow up a level. 

  • Both Leads & Follows demonstrate an above par level of partner connection, awareness and adaptation. 

  • A sense that each dancer is making curated stylistic choices that support their emerging style. 

  • An ability level that places them in the top 10% of the non-invitational level dancers attending the event this year.

 

THE SPACEX MISSION

TRACK DESCRIPTION

You've spent years thinking about, studying and practicing balboa outside of organized classes.  You know who you are as a dancer and have been making very specific choices over the last several years to coalesce all the various aspects of your dancing into one unified concept.   Let's not even begin to mention how much time you've spent in front of a mirror trying to perfect that one line you make in that one move you do.  You've got ideas at this point and would love some quality time with peers to bounce them off of, refine them with, and test them out on.  

 

You've most likely been dancing Balboa for at least 7-10 years now and have been consistently getting placed in the invitational track at every international level Balboa event you've attend in the last 2-3 years.

Dancers invited into this mission will be given 4 hours of broad concepts/ideas led by our international instructors, then 4 hours  of dedicated peer practice time over the weekend (mentored by Shani Brown) where they can work together on their dancing and explore their own concepts and ideas as well. Dancers in this track will also be allowed into any of the other missions they choose to attend that weekend keeping the lead/follow ratio in mind.
 

HOW ARE INVITATIONAL DANCERS SELECTED

To remove any possible bias from our invitational process, Balast Off! assembles a team of 5 international Balboa instructors from all over the country each year who nominate dancers from around the world they believe deserve to be considered for invitation into this year's SpaceX mission.  Once all the nominations are in, our panel then votes on the list of names they have compiled.  We use the results from this process to compile the list of dancers to be invited to each year's invitational mission.

IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED AN INVITE AT THIS TIME

At this time all official invitations from our panel have been sent. If you have not already received an invitation for the SpaceX mission you will need to be present at the Pre-Flight Check on Saturday morning in order to be considered for this year’s SpaceX mission.

OUR PRE FLIGHT CHECK CREW WILL BE LOOKING FOR RECRUITS IN THIS MISSION TO DISPLAY

  • An ability level that places them in the top 5% of all dancers attending the event this year.

APPEALS

After completing the pre-flight check and attending your first hour of the away mission you've been assigned to immediately afterwards, if you decide that you are not happy with your mission, simply do not understand why you have been assigned to the mission you have, or have any other question in regards to your mission assignment, we will be hosting a dedicated time to meet with you, discuss your mission and if applicable, give you some concrete feedback for things to be working on.  Because we've been there.  We get it.  Appeals will take place at 1:40 at UAH in room 127.