The Rise (but not fall) of Pro-Am competitions
Many of you reading this will have had your first experience of ballroom dancing at one of our social classes, practice nights or events. Whether you come along with friends, your significant other or as a brave single, there is plenty of fun to be had Ballroom and Latin dancing. Once you’ve mastered some of the dances we may encourage you to get some recognition for all your efforts in the form of an examination, which is also an excellent way to gauge your progress. You get a nice medal and certificate too…
Examinations can be danced with your teacher or a regular partner, which typically poses little problem in our dance school at least, as there are plenty of willing partners and teachers to go around. It is just the candidate, not the couple that are assessed in examinations meaning that any prospective partner you have needn’t worry about someone critiquing their performance!
For those that want a different sort of challenge there are of course competitions. These are comparative assessments, made by a panel of expert adjudicators (mostly!) that test you against similar aged and experienced dancers. Competitions can be over 1 dance or as many as 10, which would include all 5 from both disciplines (ballroom and Latin) but under their regular format, all dancers require a partner.
Many people think that competition dancing simply isn’t an option for them due to not having a regular partner. For some, the fear of being assessed in a public forum is enough to put them off but that isn’t the main reason for a lack of partners, although it is quite a significant factor. Simply put there are just a tremendous amount of single, predominantly female dancers attending dance classes and events. Now of course we do get single men coming along to class, even at Dizzyfeet, but these are quickly snatched up in a heartbeat or given a rota of who to dance with on a given night! Finding a suitable, single male dancer that wants to dance with the same partner regularly AND take part in competitions is quite simply as rare as rocking horse s….
Well, perhaps not that mystical, but you get the idea.
This makes competition dancing all the more difficult as you need a regular partner to take lessons and practice with. You can’t compete one week with one partner and then another week with someone else, nor can you dance with your teacher. It’s also a little hard for two ladies to dance together when they both want to do the ladies steps!
So what can we do?! (I hear you cry….)
More and more competitions are now offering Pro-Am or Teacher-Student events on their timetables. Before we go on:
Pro-Am – A professional teacher/dancer partnering an amateur student/dancer
Teacher-Student – An amateur or professional teacher/dancer partnering an amateur student/dancer
(this can also be called Am-Am under the correct circumstances)
These new competitions have provided an opportunity for so many single dancers to finally get onto the dance floor and perform. As with regular open competitions dancers are put into categories according to ability and age with sections for children right up to 80+ (not too many of those although I know a certain lady that would be eligible…). They gain a greater amount of security and assurances dancing with an experienced dancer and the chance to feel glamorous and elegant like their dancing heroes.
Pro-Am or Teacher-Student events aren’t just restricted to those without dance partners. Any amateur dancer can take part with some regular competitive couples deciding to challenge themselves at a higher level and teaming up with a professional partner, specifically for the Pro-Am events.
It’s not only the UK that is experiencing a boom in the Pro-Am category. A quick look through the dancing calendar shows that you could be strutting your dancing stuff somewhere in continental Europe almost every month. If you were to expand that to the rest of the world, most weekends are covered too! For those that want to combined a couple of different passions, the majority of competitions are only over a day or two so there’s plenty of time to visit what the locality has to offer – Disneyland Paris anyone??
So whatever your dancing situation, there’s probably a Pro-Am competition that would suit you. They certainly offer a different challenge to regular competitions so why not have a go, even if it’s just once a year?
We’re even running an event of our own in January 2019 – plenty of time to prepare yourself!