Pro-Am Ballroom Dancing- What is and How to get started?

Published in  
Ballroom Dance
February 1, 2020
From the captivating rhythms to the elegant shapes the dancers create, to the ecstatic audience, and the glamorous costumes, Pro-Am Ballroom Dancing is fascinating in every aspect of it.
The Ballroom Dance Scene is growing bigger every day. Why?

Ballroom Dance is a fascinating dance genre in every aspect of it- from the captivating rhythms to the elegant shapes the dancers create, to the ecstatic audience, and the glamorous costumes. Once it was a privilege of the few, but now- a journey to paradise for everyone.

So what exactly is Pro-Am Dancing?

Simply put- It is a dance couple that consists of a Professional dancer partnering an Amateur dancer. Couple dancing is a little bit tricky, not only to acquire the skills to move with someone in unison but to find a partner! There have always been more girls than boys in dance, hence the “single ladies.” WAKE UP, BOYS!

Thanks to TV productions like Dancing with the Stars and Strictly Come Dancing, Ballroom Dancing became incredibly popular, seemingly overnight. In the shows- a professional dancer partners a celebrity. In this case, even though the celebrity is an expert in their field, they are amateur in the dance field.

After watching this beautiful like broadway spectacle on TV, more people are entering the dance studios every day. The beautiful part of it all is that it brings people from many different backgrounds and stories together to do the one thing they love- dance.

Me, being on the professional side, I can say with pride that I enjoy teaching amateur students and see them grow every day. It is quite a unique part of our job. We meet interesting people and help them achieve their dreams and goals; however big or small they might be. Putting light in someone’s life is priceless.

How does Professional- Amateur partnerships work?

Professional dancing with an Amateur (known in short as Pro-Am) is quite a simple concept; it is sometimes referred to as student-teacher dancing.

Now imagine you have always wanted to learn to dance, and this is your passion since you were a little kid, but you don't have a partner in crime? Many Professional dance teachers would gladly take you under "their wing."

Usually, in the Pro-Am field, the professional is the teacher and the partner of the amateur dancer. The Pro is the "plan for progress" maker for the student.

Performance opportunities for Amateur Dancers

Ballroom Dancing in all its glamour. Atanas with his Amateur students at Seattle Star Ball.

Whether you are in for the social, fun side of dancing or you are very competitive and hungry to win and improve your craft every day- our industry has much to offer.

Social dance parties are a great way to get yourself more familiar with the social world of Ballroom Dancing. Those are usually hosted by different ballrooms where you meet other people and dance in a lead- follow fashion. Some dance studios throw thematic parties like a costume party; others do seasonal- like a Spring Social dance; they can have a DJ or a Band playing the tunes of Ballroom and Latin- American music.

Another excellent performance opportunity for all students is Studio Showcases. They are a natural step up from the social dance party where you can dance with your instructor in a more formal setting, with dance costumes, hairdo, and music of your own choice, if you wish.

The holy grail of all- Ballroom Dance Competitions. Do you like Broadway productions? Oh, of course, you do, who doesn't? Anyways, can you imagine the glam of it, but you are actually IN IT? My students love competitions. It is for one a great way to measure your improvement, but more of it is the experience of meeting more dance buddies, enjoy fantastic music, and one that is enticing to me - travel.

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Where to start as a competitive Ballroom dancer?

We as Professionals are lucky to be in the US, so are you as a student. Ballroom dancing is well developed here thanks to many years of continuous work of the National Dance Council of America and other member organizations to promote and grow the competitive dancing on both the Amateur and especially the Pro-am field.

  1. Find a partner
  2. If you are new to Ballroom, you might wonder where to start. Finding a Pro should not be a difficult task since most ballroom dance studios are owned/ managed by professional dancers. Just ask Google, and you are off to the races.  
  3. Goal setting
  4. Once you find the professional part of your couple, you should set your goals. It can be anything from learning to dance Cha- Cha to music with a partner in a social setting to winning the World Championship for Pro-Am Ballroom Dancing. Goals help you commit and stick to the plan when you don't feel like it because dancing is a skill that the body has to acquire through continuous repetition, and sometimes we get tired of Rumba basic, but hey, in the end, it is all worth it.  
  5. Make a plan
  6. Devise an action plan with your teacher. Having a structured approach to learning new skills in Ballroom dancing, in my experience, is of great help and keeps the students' minds organized in lessons.  

If your goal involves competing, together with your partner, you should find the appropriate age category and proficiency level that would most suit you at the moment. For example, if ballroom dancing is still a new concept for you, starting to compete in the Newcomer/ Bronze levels might be your best bet. Your fellow competitors will be of similar skill level, and you will feel that you have a shot at this and room for growth.  

The Appeal of Ballroom to different people.

In my mind, it is straightforward why Ballroom Dancing can be appealing to so many people.

First and foremost, dance is a language on its own; it's an expression outlet. The best part- it is universal! Everyone can speak it. Wouldn't you want to be able to communicate with someone without having to learn their native tongue in advance?

One thing makes Ballroom different than other styles of dance. It is a partner dance form, where the proximities of the bodies allow for genuine and uninterrupted communication-  the power of body language.  

To name just a few of the other special ingredients that make ballroom special:

-glamorous events and costumes

-fun and exciting people to be around

-traveling to places, you never thought you would go

-meeting new fascinating people sharing the same passion as you.

Pro-Am Ballroom Dancing is one of the best things that has happened in our form of dance after the introduction of the structured syllabus. Since then, the art of couple dancing has been made easily accessible to the masses regardless of age or gender. What more beautiful than having a universal language that everyone understands and has access to. Cheers to many more years of making people happy and achieving their goals. 🍾🥂

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