How to start competitive ballroom dancing

For as long as music has existed, dancing has existed. Dancing is a form of expression that transcends languages and political boundaries. Like two oars in a rowboat, dancing and music work together to transport performers and audiences alike to realms where daily worries are temporarily forgotten. This is true for all dance genres from folk dance to contemporary dance to ballroom dance. This article will focus on ballroom dance and more specifically, how to start competitive ballroom dancing.

From the poorest pauper to the richest royal, dance has a place at every level of the socio-economic spectrum. In fact, some of the most popular dance genres, which generate millions in ticket sales every year, began as obscure folk dances. River Dance is a great example of this. Until River Dance came along, Irish folk dancing (e.g. jigs and hardshoe) were nothing more than, well, . . . folk dancing. There wasn’t much flare, and certainly no global demand. Then something happened. Savvy producers realized that by adding incredible lighting and other tech effects, reinventing the music, and creating stunning choreographies, an obscure folk dance style can be transformed into a veritable world-touring sensation. Which is exactly what happened. Today, the phenomenon of turning an obscure folk dance into a pop-culture sensation is referred to as “Riverdancification.”

In a way, ballroom has experienced a similar pop-culture phenomenon. With the emergence of shows like Dancing with the Stars and America’s Ballroom Challenge, ballroom dancing has become something “cool” for all ages, instead of just being something that geriatrics do at Moose Club Christmas parties.

Because ballroom dancing is great for people of all ages, it’s NEVER too late to start. Not only that, but if you’re keen on getting involved as a competitor, there are many opportunities available, too.

Here’s how to get yourself on track for competitive ballroom dancing

(1) Find a studio where you can take lessons.

Surprisingly, ballroom dance studios are just about everywhere! Chances are, you have one within a 30-minute drive from your home, even if you live in a rural part of the country.

(2) Find a reliable ballroom partner

As with team sports like cricket and basketball, when you are a ballroom dancer, you are also part of a team–not just your studio’s team, but you are part of a team comprised of a “couple.” Find someone who is willing to join you on the ballroom journey. Ballroom lessons are a perfect excuse for a weekly date with your spouse.

(3) Work with your coach to determine the best routines and competitions for you and your partner.

Defer to your coach on how to best prepare for routines and competitions that will work best for you and your partner’s progress. You can also get a feel for what’s out there in the ballroom competition world by going to the World DanceSport Federation webpage.

(4) Study on your own by watching videos.

Self-study by watching videos is a critical component of your progress. Not only will videos provide great examples o style and routines to emulate, but they will help motivate you!

(5) Have fun, and don’t take yourself so seriously.

Although ballroom dancing can seem a bit stuffy to the outside observer, it ought to be performed with lightness and enjoyment. Doing so will help you find happiness in the experience, and your audience will be uplifted, too.