USA Dance Competitions – Why focus on them? | Ballroom Dancer

So like I mentioned in my first post since I woke back up to the world of ballroom dance blogging, I mentioned that one of the reasons that I switched studios was to focus on dance competitions that are nationally recognized. The 2 organizations that fit this mold are NDCA and USA Dance. Most ballroom dancers know the NDCA competitions and championships. USA Dance, however, sometimes gets overlooked.

USA Dance – The Organization for Amateur Couples

I guess the primary reason to choose USA Dance and focus on this organization is that it is made for amateur couples. All of the competitions are for amateurs only and with a few exceptions, you won’t see Pro-Am couples on the floor. But just because they are amateur couples doesn’t mean that everyone dances amateur-ish. Some of the the dancers you know competed and won the USA Dance National Championship. Val Chmerkovskiy comes to mind. So, on that note, if you want to compete seriously as an amateur couple, I don’t know why you wouldn’t focus on the USA Dance organization. Other organizations (*cough* NDCA *cough*) are really tailored for the Pro-Am couples. The vast majority of the dances are for them and the cost/bonus structure reflects that.

USA Dance – It’s a non-profit so you’re supporting a good cause

USA Dance is a non-profit organization with its mission to expand the footprint of social dancing worldwide. They are also the organization that is spearheading the movement to include ballroom dance as an Olympic sport. As an aside, can I just say that I think it is completely ridiculous that ballroom dance is not considered a sport. I mean DanceSport has “Sport” in the name for God’s sake… but I digress. As a non-profit with chapters all over the country, there is a community aspect in addition to a competitive aspect. You can give back both with your entry fees and with your time at your local chapter, if you so choose.

USA Dance – You actually have to qualify

So the rules to make National Championships is that you need to place in the top 60% of the dancers in a dance in a National Qualifying Event (NQE). Then, you can participate in Nationals. Then, if you do well there, you could represent the US in International Events. This process of having to qualify appeals to the sportsman in me as well.

USA Dance – The best deal in town

I saved the best for last. The best part about competing in USA Dance comps is the entry fee. For the most part, you will only have to pay about $100 to enter and you can dance all you want. That is an amazing bargain when you consider the fact that you can easily spend between $1,000 – $2,000 easily on an NDCA comp.

So what’s the drawback?

Well the big drawback is that the NQE events are primarily located on the East Coast. That’s a bit of a jaunt for me. Although the entry fees are extremely affordable, that’s offset by the travel costs.

All that said, I can’t wait for the next one.

Ballroom Dancing | Finding the Perfect Frame, Part II : Let your nose drip on your partner

The perfect frame is something that all male ballroom dancers struggle with (or the lead if you’re a same-sex partner couple). I mean, there’s always a lot going on. Your back needs to be engaged, you need to provide your partner with plenty of room for shaping, and the frame simply should not move. One of the most important things to remember is that you need to keep the forward poise.

This last part is one of the hardest parts because in the effort to provide your partner with plenty of dance space, sometimes the temptation is to lean back a bit. This, of course causes a bit of bow-back, which isn’t good for any part of ballroom dancing. In my last lesson, my instructor told me something that he had said before, but for whatever reason, it sunk in this time.

He said, “Your ballroom poise needs to be as if you have a runny nose and, when it drips, it would drip on your partner.” I know, a pretty gross analogy, but the image sticks in your mind. The funny thing that happened was, I did this and it feels like you are cowering over your partner, but you’re not. The thing is that you feel that you are more forward than you actually are. I did this and my instructor was extremely happy.

The other thing is that, with that position, the swing and sway was easier, I was more steady on my feet, and the dance was much more powerful.

So that’s the thing to remember: drip that snot on your partner for better smooth dancing.

Ballroom Dancer | Re-connect in the converging lines of swing

In my last lesson, my instructor talked to us about the concept of “Converging Lines of Swing”. This concept has to do with one of the most difficult things in Smooth Dancing: going from open position to closed position and regaining body contact.

All too often, there is a desire to reconnect too quickly and at the wrong phrase of the music and your body movement.

But before we discuss that, let’s quickly review timing of one of our favorite and most romantic dances: The Waltz.

As we all know, the waltz has the beat of 1-2-3, 4-5-6 to accommodate the ¾ time. When you dance the waltz, you lower at the end of 6, continue lowering through 1, begin the rise on 2, rise through 2 to half-way through 3, and then begin to lower. That rise through 2 and the beginning of 3 is the line of swing that we’re talking about here. It also happens through beats 5 and 6.

So the idea with reconnecting in the converging lines of swing is as the couples swing up in open position, that it the opportunity to re-connect. Now, depending on the move in play and how far apart the 2 partners are, this may not be possible right away. If it doesn’t happen right away, no problem. Simply wait for the next opportunity. The biggest mistake you can make is to try to rush it and then have an awkward connect.

And Waltz is definitely the dance to not have awkward connections. J

Ballroom Dance – Dance With Me Studios (Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy’s studio) is coming to the Woodlands!

For all my Houston peeps, I just saw on the Dance With Me website that Maks, Val, and Tony are going to open up a new studio in the Woodlands! This is particularly exciting because when my wife and I were looking for a new studio, we seriously considered Dance With Me because of its premier instruction and focus on competitive ballroom. The only reason we didn’t go to them is because they didn’t have a convenient location.

So for anyone that’s serious about getting very good on a competitive scale, I would highly recommend considering it.

That’s all for now…

Ballroom Dancing Man | Ballroom Sex and does it happen?

One of the things that many wonder about ballroom dance and the intimacy it produces between partners is whether sex happens between partners or between student and teacher. Well before we talk about that, let’s discuss the intimacy and vulnerability that happens between partners as they learn to ballroom dance.

Ballroom dance is a very intimate dance. You have to feel each other’s intentions on such an intimate level that, if it’s a good partnership, a connection is inevitable. You see this all the time when you watch dance shows like Dancing With The Stars where the connection is so close that the stars break down with this person and sometimes even form romantic relationships. Now with teacher and student, this can be because they are pushing someone to do something they never thought they’d be able to do. It can also be that they were never used to having someone push them before either which can lead to a connection through respect. But mostly, dancing and moving through dance has a way of pulling emotions and feelings that a person otherwise wouldn’t allow themselves to feel.

So that discusses how intimacy is formed between student and teacher. How about student to student. Although some of the points above do carry over, this case has more of a social component. Dancing has always been an expression of desire. A desire to be close to somebody, a desire to gain their favor, a desire to just have some time together. Ballroom dance class is a great avenue to achieve all of these goals in a safe environment. It also produces an environment, where, even if just for a little while, you have some alone time with that student that catches your eye.

But all of this doesn’t answer the key question: Does ballroom sex happen? Well, from a teacher-student perspective, I really don’t know. I haven’t seen that dynamic play out. I can say that I have seen some single female instructors look at some male students in a flirtatious manner. Now, how much of that is the game and how much of this real, I really can’t say. On the other hand, from a student to student perspective, I have witnessed a number of couples pair up romantically out of dance class. So from that perspective, yes sex does come out of it sometimes, but not in the hedonistic way that we envision.

That said, I’ll be interested to see what I observe as my wife and I dive deeper in the competitive ballroom dance circuit…