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Gruppenpreisplatteln and Einzelpreisplatteln are two of the highlights of the biennial Gaufest, held in every "odd" year. Each Verein (club) within the Gauverband may enter the Schuhplattler competition with one group of four to six couples. One of three dances is performed; which one and the order of performance are determined by pulling a number out of a hat the day before the competition. For Einzelpreisplatteln, couples may be from the same Verein or different Vereine.
Einzelpreisplatteln is typically held on Friday, and as many as 80 couples participate from ages 16 up in four age groups. On Saturday morning, the nervous and excited groups assemble to have a 10-minute practice session, get pictures taken, then wait their turn to perform before the seven judges. The dance is either "Haushamer," "Haitauer," or "Reit im Winkl."
What are the Preisplatteln Rules?
The rules governing the dance are contained in the Operating Rules and Procedures and Preisplatteln Rules sections of the Bylaws and Rules of the Gauverband and can only be changed at the biennial Delegates Meeting, held in "even" years. The official rules are updated after each Delegates Meeting and posted on the Gauverband website. The competing Vereine and individuals should be sure to consult the latest Operating Rules. (Located at About Us/Bylaws)
The group is judged on timing, spacing, posture, how well the skirts bell when the ladies turn, whether the men's "hits" are sharp and well timed, Ländler timing, and Tracht.
What Happens at Competition?
The audience of up to several hundred people is quiet and everyone concentrates on the performance. It's a true test of nerves for dancers, judges, the lone musician, and audience members alike. The music ends, the group or couple exits the floor, and the tension is broken with audience applause and cheers; the dancers hug and even shed some tears of joy, frustration, and tension release.
An average of twenty groups participate in Preisplatteln. Each group is on the dance floor only about three exhilarating minutes. By the time twenty groups enter, dance, and exit the floor; scoresheets are picked up and distributed; and a short break is taken, two or three hours have passed. Einzelplatteln also takes two to three hours because age groups are divided between separate rooms to speed along the competition.
After the Competition
Afterwards, the judges, two Vorplattler, and Vortaenzerin tabulate the results. The scores of all the judges are compared, the high and low scores are removed, the remaining five scores are added together, and the groups and couples are ranked from first place down. By the time of the gala banquet on Saturday evening, only a few people are "burdened" with knowing the results of the Preisplatteln, and they are sworn to secrecy.
And the Winner Is!
Einzelplatteln results are announced on Saturday night. For each age group, the couples taking the first three places are awarded medals. Everyone must wait until early afternoon of Sunday's picnic when the first five places of Gruppenpreisplatteln are announced, from fifth up to first. After each is announced, the group performs its dance once more, receives its prizes, and returns to the congratulations of the others in their Verein. Every Preisplatteln participant, regardless of place, receives a metal participant's pin.
To see the winners of Gruppen- and Einzelpreisplatteln, go to Gaufeste and then select the Gaufest year.