Tips for the competition team

Tips for Newcomers

Look happy: You’re dancing! Look like you’re having the time of your life, not like you're worried about taking the wrong steps.

Fake it: Even if you're not sure about everything, just go for the feel of the dance and fake your way through a round. As Rachael said, if you stare down a judge in Tango, they might ignore that weird step you did a few seconds ago and write down your number.

Relax: It’s important to remember that when you’re dancing in a round, there are other couples on the floor and not everyone is staring at you. So relax, dance and have fun.

Timing: Make sure you’re not rushing in the slow dances (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot) and that you start on beat 2 for Rumba and Cha-cha. Judges check newcomers for timing, so even if you look a bit strange, they’ll still write you down if you’re on time.

Presentation: Your 1.5 minutes dancing each round are a show. Look happy, walk on and off the dance floor nicely, and present yourselves like you’re the most amazing European ballroom dancers in the world.

Lastly, enjoy this moment and keep in mind that you are part of a select group. Not everyone is talented enough to dance in a competition! Hold your head up when you dance -- be proud of yourself and above all, have fun making happy memories that you can look back upon.

Preparing and practicing for competitions

You have to be able to survive on the dance floor for 1 1/2 minutes; you have to get the judges' attention; and you have to look good. For surviving for 1 1/2 minutes, learn to recognize the beat of the music right away, and practice remaining composed even when people bump into you or get in your way. Also, make sure you know how to string steps together and what direction each step should face. For getting the judges' attention, you must project: hold yourself up straight, make your movements big, and have lots of energy (even in slow dances like Rumba). For looking good, you should make sure your frame with your partner is correct, make sure you're on time with the music, and look confident. We'll do rounds in our Intermediate and Advanced lessons specifically to practice these, but you should always think about them in any lesson or practice you go.

Finding Partners

What to look for in a partner: Looking for that perfect someone to reign the dance floor with? Let us help you choose the lead/follow of your dreams:

Time commitment: Is this person wiling to practice with you as much as you want to practice? Goes both ways, if you don't come to practice as often as the other person, they may be disappointed and vice versa. IMPORTANT: talk about which competitions you can make to and make sure there's at least one or two you are both free for.

Skill level: Are the two of you evenly matched in skill level? (Newcomer-Newcomer, rather than Newcomer-Silver) If one person is ahead, be ready to take some time (which may get frustrating) to make the other better. On the other hand, the extra practice will help you form a better connection!

Height: This may seem superficial, but having a guy of the right height really helps (step size, appearance, arm's length, etc). The guy should be taller than you, but not too tall (I think the ideal height is having the lead be about 1.1 times the follow's height).

Their Style: Do they like latin more? Standard? If it's the opposite of the one you like more, it'll be a battle when you decide what to practice.

So there's our advice! None of it is a MUST, but just things you may want to consider when choosing a partner. Of course, once you have a partner, nothing is set into stone--you can always switch it up for another competition. However, choosing a good partner and staying together for a long time will make you an even better dancer.If you'd like help finding a partner, email ballroom or ask one of our officers at a lesson.