How can I determine if Competitive DanceSport is suitable for me or my child?

Competitive DanceSport can be a rewarding activity for individuals of any age or gender. Both the competitive and artistic aspects of this activity are enjoyed by dancers. To gauge its suitability, consider trying out group classes that are open to both competitive dancers and those seeking recreation. This will provide an opportunity to experience and assess the nature of Competitive DanceSport firsthand.

What is the structure of your group?

  • We have a structured group program for dancers of all ages. For children aged 3-5 years old, we offer a special program called Pre-Ballroom. In this program, children learn how to move their bodies, stretch, and do physical exercises suitable for their age. They also learn dances like Polka, Samba, and Disco, and have their first non-competitive performances. It is highly recommended for children in this age group to attend two classes per week to stay engaged and interested.
  • For young dancers aged 4-5 years old, they can start competing in our Kinder Ballroom group. They learn the basics of dance and attend competitions and performances, either individually or in couples.
  • For children aged 6-14 years old who start their DanceSport education later in life, they join our Newcomers groups. In these groups, they learn the basic steps and patterns of the Waltz and Cha cha cha, and prepare to learn the rest of the ten-dance program. They also start attending competitions and performances, both individually and with partners. Private lessons are recommended at this stage to help them prepare their own routines, along with attending two group classes and one private lesson per week.
  • Experienced dancers aged 6-12 move to the Syllabus group, where they continue to polish their technique and learn basic patterns for all ten dances of International Style. They are recommended to attend two group classes, at least two private lessons, and Competitive Rounds classes. Regular competitions, both solo and with partners, are also encouraged.
  • By the age of 12, dancers with enough competition experience move into the Open Division. Training primarily happens individually, with dancers attending seminars based on their preference for Latin, Ballroom, or the ten-dance program. Competitive Rounds classes are also part of their training. It is recommended to have at least three private lessons per week per program and participate in around 10 competitions per year.
  • However, it is important to note that anyone can start competing and become a successful dancer at any age. We offer individual programs for adult dancers based on their level, as well as open seminars and rounds classes every week.

Our class meets twice a week or more. Is it possible for me to attend only once a week?

  • It is important to note that regular attendance is crucial for keeping up with the other students and feeling comfortable as part of the group. Missing classes frequently may result in falling behind and losing interest.

When is the best time to start taking private lessons for dance?

  • Private lessons should be started as soon as you or your child decides to pursue competitive dancing. In order to fully develop as a dancer, a combination of private lessons, group classes, practice rounds, conditioning, and self-practice is essential. The number of private lessons needed depends on the dancer's level. Ideally, dancers should aim for 2-3 private lessons per week, or 4-6 joint lessons (where the cost is divided among multiple students). Additionally, if you or your child dances recreationally but has missed some classes and requires extra assistance, our team members are available to provide the necessary help.

My friend claims to be a World Ballroom Dance Champion. Does this hold any significance?

  • In the world today, there are millions of dancers participating in competitive ballroom dancing. This field is governed by two major federations: the World Dance Sport Federation and the World Dance Council. In the United States, these federations are represented by the USA Dance organization and the National Dance Council of America, respectively. The majority of prestigious competitions are organized by these two federations. If your friend has indeed won one of the world events organized by these renowned federations, it is indeed a notable achievement. However, it is also possible that the event in question was organized by a smaller organization. To accurately determine a dancer's true ranking on a global scale, websites like www.dancesportinfo.net can be consulted. These platforms compile information from various events worldwide and assign ratings to each dancing couple.

I have heard that some coaches in the Ballroom dance industry are competing in amateur and some in professional divisions. Is there any difference?

  • This may seem confusing, but there is a historical reason behind this.In the past, dancers who participated in dance solely for recreational purposes were categorized as amateurs. These amateurs were not allowed to earn money from dance-related activities such as performing or teaching. However, as dancers became more serious about their craft, they had the opportunity to turn professional. This involved passing exams and competing in the professional division.In the late 90's, dance organizations in many countries started to change the rules. They allowed amateur dancers to teach, enabling them to spend more time at the studio honing their skills and becoming better dancers.Interestingly, there are currently no rules preventing individuals without any dance experience from registering in the professional division. This means that highly skilled dancers and coaches, whose couples consistently place at the top in national competitions, can still compete as amateurs. On the other hand, there may be individuals in the professional division who lack the ability to effectively coach a competitive couple.Therefore, it is important, as with any sport or art activity you choose for your child, to ask for more credentials, meet with other students, and observe dance competitions. This will help ensure that you find a coach who is not only qualified but also capable of producing successful results in competitive dance.

What is the ideal age to begin competing in dance?

  • The age at which one can begin competing in dance varies depending on the competition and the proficiency levels. Most amateur competitions have 12 age groups, ranging from Teddy Bear for children 7 and younger to Senior 4 for those aged 62 and above. This means that technically, preschool-aged children can compete. However, the proficiency levels in ballroom dance, such as Newcomer, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Novice, Pre-Champ, and Championship divisions, play a significant role in determining the appropriate age to start competing. Newcomer through Gold divisions are considered "Closed" or "Syllabus" divisions, where dancers can only perform movements and routines from the syllabus book. On the other hand, Novice through Championship level dancers are allowed to use "open" movements in their choreography, which includes any movement that can be used in the context of the dance. These proficiency levels are also known as "Open." Most amateur competitions require Teddy Bear and Pre-teen dancers to use syllabus-only movements in their routines. However, it can be challenging to find competitions for Juniors and Youth in syllabus divisions. Consequently, at NIKA Dance Academy, we focus on preparing competitive dancers aged 12 and older to progress through their required Syllabus levels as quickly as possible, so they can successfully compete in Open divisions at a younger age.

When can my child expect to move up to the next competitive level in dancing?

  • Typically, dancers participate in competitions at their current proficiency level and may also compete at the level above. Therefore, gaining successful competition experience is crucial in order to progress to the next level.

Is having a partner a requirement for competing in ballroom dancing?

  • Initially, ballroom dancing was intended to be performed by couples. However, it has evolved over time to include various forms of competition. In addition to traditional partnerships, there are options such as Pro/Am, where amateurs are partnered with professional coaches during competitions, Mixed Am/Am, which follows a similar format but with an amateur coach, and Singles, where individuals compete on their own. All of these divisions are recognized as official and have official World Championships.

Is there any homework to do?

  • Yes, there is always homework assigned during each lesson or class. Typically, students are required to review and practice the material covered in the lesson until their next session. Usually, completing the homework should not take more than 10-15 minutes.

Ballroom dance is a quiet form of activity, that does not take much energy. Is that true?

  • Ballroom dance is often mistakenly perceived as a low-energy activity that requires little effort. However, this misconception arises from observations of recreational classes or exceptional dancers who effortlessly create an illusion of ease. In reality, ballroom dance demands a significant amount of energy and can burn as many calories per hour as intense sports such as hockey. Competitive dancers, in particular, must vigorously contend for their position in competitions while simultaneously maintaining a seamless and graceful appearance.

Is participating in group dance classes sufficient for achieving success as a competitive dancer?

  • A successful dancer's competitive ballroom dancing program typically includes a combination of the following elements:

1. Private lessons: These lessons focus on a customized program for each dancer or couple, and are where the majority of the work is done.

2. Technical group classes: These classes are designed to help dancers learn and refine the technical aspects of their dance style.

3. Practice rounds: These rounds allow dancers to simulate and experience a competition environment, helping them develop their skills and confidence.

4. Conditioning lessons: These lessons, either taken at the studio or in the gym, focus on improving the dancer's physical conditioning. They may include dance conditioning, ballet, pilates, yoga, and other exercises.

5. Self-practice time: Dancers are encouraged to dedicate a certain amount of time each day to practice on their own. This can range from 15 minutes a day for beginners to up to 5-6 hours a day for dancers with professional aspirations.

6. Regular competitive experience: Dancers typically participate in 3-4 to 20+ competitions per year to gain valuable experience in a competitive setting.

By incorporating all these elements into their training program, dancers can increase their chances of success in competitive ballroom dancing.

Why do we request friends and family to leave the ballroom during lessons and classes?

  • Our teachers, who are all current or past dancers, have undergone extensive training for thousands of hours. They understand the challenges and difficulties dancers face when trying to focus on their material. Learning and attempting new things can sometimes be embarrassing, especially when it's something we have never done before. When we have non-dancer family or friends in the room during technical lessons and classes, it adds an extra level of pressure, shyness, and makes it difficult for us to concentrate on the new material. That's why it's important that family and friends are only present during competitions, pre-competitive rounds, and shows. During those moments, we have already prepared our material, but we greatly appreciate the emotional support from our loved ones as it helps us perform well.

What should I wear for lessons and classes?

  • Please keep in mind the importance of being neat and prepared for the lesson or class.For little girls, it is recommended to wear a leotard, a soft skirt, leggings, socks, and ballet shoes. It is also important to pull their hair up into a bun. When choosing colors, black, grey, and white are preferred, but nude, baby blue, and baby pink are also acceptable. Please avoid skirts made from hard net material as they may be uncomfortable for young girls.For boys, tight shirts and either khakis or non-oversized sweat pants can be worn. Similar to girls, it is preferable to choose black, grey, and white colors.Older kids, youth, and adults have the freedom to choose any comfortable clothing. However, it is crucial that their attire is always fresh and clean. Teenagers and older dancers should shower at least once a day, wear clean socks, and have a clean shirt. It is important to teach your child to use deodorant after each shower but to avoid using strong perfumes.Young ladies are allowed to wear makeup, as we understand that they may need to experiment before a performance.

What about dance shoes?

  • It is crucial to have the right and high-quality shoes. For young children who are not yet competing, ballet shoes are recommended. Teddy bear and Pre-teen competitors should invest in a pair of low-heel ballroom shoes. Juniors and older dancers can opt for heels up to 2 inches for boys and up to 3.5 inches for girls. However, it is important to consult with your coach before purchasing any shoes. The proper support for the young dancer's foot is essential.

Dance competition attire: Are there any rules?

  • Yes, there are rules regarding costumes for Teddy Bears and Pre-teens in dance competitions. These rules are set by the organization that runs the competition, and while they are generally similar across different organizations, there may be slight variations. It is possible to create or purchase a dress or costume that can be used for a season or more. For Juniors and older dancers participating in open divisions, the requirements are more flexible, but it is important for the costume to look good on the dance floor. It is recommended to consult with your child's coach regarding their costume and overall look. The impression they make on the dance floor can have a significant impact on their results.

My or my child's partner is sick or cannot come to dance for any other reason. Should we still come?

  • Should your partner be sick or unable to attend dance for any other reason, we still encourage you to come. Participating in activities like ballroom dancing not only develops your child's professional skills, but also instills discipline and important values for life. It's important for your child to know that their craft is a priority to you as a parent, and that their plans won't be disrupted. Additionally, there are always aspects of dance that your child can work on independently. We will provide the necessary support to any child who missed a class or lesson for any reason, so that they don't feel left behind.

Join our Facebook group. And regularly contact your coaches with any questions you may have.