What is Pro-Am in Ballroom Dancing ?

What is Pro-Am Dancing?

When we speak about ballroom dancing, we can speak about the social activity of dancing, dancing for pleasure and without any specific goal other than to enjoy and have fun. Also we can speak about the great dancers that we see in competitions and on TV usually performing figures that look magnificent and impossible for a regular amateur dancer. But we can also speak about the category of dancers that link the two above, Pro-Am Dancing.

As the name suggests, Pro-Am is a partnership formed of a professional dancer, and an amateur dancer. Very similar to the popular TV shows like BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing , or Dancing with the Stars, the purpose of this partnership is to give the amateur dancer an opportunity to experience the thrill of competitive dancing and have the expertise of the professional dancer and teacher. In this way the dancers have a great time on the dance floor and do their best as they are guided on and off the floor by a professional.

This type of dance competitions are relatively new to the dance industry, but rapidly growing in popularity in  UK, European,  US and Asian dance community. Competitions organisers are now introducing Pro Am sections for most of the events with a multitude of choice for the amateur dancers.

Sections and Entry Options

Pro Am Competitions are organised so that each individual dances in their prefered category. This is why most of the competitions are separated on Dance Styles, Age Groups, Level and Number of Dances.

Dance Styles

Most of the competitions offer Ballroom ( Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz and Quickstep ) and Latin (Cha Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive), as well as American Rhythm ( Cha Cha, Rumba, Swing, Bolero and Mambo) and Smooth ( Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot and Viennese Waltz ) and in addition to that, in some competitions you can participate in special styles such as Carriebean Mix Style ( Salsa, Bachata and Merengue) and Argentine Tango.

Number of Dances

By the number of dances that you dance at a time, the Pro Am competitions are: 

 – Single Dance Events: You can chose to dance a specific dance ( for example only Cha Cha or only Waltz and Quickstep)

 – Multi Dance Events: In this case you can chose to dance 2, 3, 4 or 5 dances at a time and be judged on them

 – Scholarship Events: In the scholarship event you must dance all the dances comprised in your chosen section ( for example for Ballroom you would need to dance all 5 dances, for American Smooth, all 4 dances in the section).

 – Championship Events: Same as in the Scholarship events, but the level of the Championship will always be higher and the competitors more experienced.

  – Team Match: In this type of event, the teams are comprised of a minimum of 2 or 3 couples ( depending on the organiser) that take turns dancing all the dances in the section.

Age Groups

The separation in the age groups is very much up to the competition organiser as is the style selection. Generally there are age groups for Under 16 or 25, 25 to 35 years, Over 35, Over 50s and Over 60 years. The more competitors, the bigger the separation of ages. We would advise to participate in competitions that have a better separation of the age groups, in this way you will test your dancing abilities against a fair competition. There are also Championship events that are not separated by age group, only by the dance style section.

Level

From a level perspective the competitions are separated by specific rules. It can be World Dance Council, ISTD, IDTA Rules, depending on the main organisation under which the competitions are organised. So, the levels can be:

 – Closed – Limited to the Syllabus Figures – which includes:

 Newcomer  | Pre Bronze  |  Bronze  |  Pre Silver  |  Silver  |  Pre Gold  |  Gold   |  Gold Star

 – Open  – Any figures allowed

Pro-Am is a great step in the evolution of Ballroom Dancing, a way for dancers of all ages to enjoy this sport, art even more and to challenge themselves in becoming the best possible dancers while having fun. If you are interested in starting your Pro-Am journey, contact Bogdan and Anna and they will help you dance your best.

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Ballroom Dancing – Mind and Body benefits

There are many forms of dance, from ballroom to barn dancing and disco to Morris dancing. Dance has always been a part of human culture, rituals and celebrations. Today, most dancing is about recreation and self-expression, although it can also be done as a competitive activity. Dancing is an enjoyable way to be more physically active and stay fit.
Here are a few benefits that you can have from starting to dance, not only physical but also psychological.

Health benefits of dancing

Dancing can be a way to stay fit for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. It has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including:
  • Improved condition of your heart and lungs
  • Increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness
  • Increased aerobic fitness
  • Improved muscle tone and strength
  • Weight management
  • Stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis
  • Better coordination, agility and flexibility
  • Improved balance and spatial awareness
  • Increased physical confidence
  • Improved mental functioning
  • Improved general and psychological wellbeing
  • Greater self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Better social skills.

Like other forms of cardio exercise, dancing also seems to have mood and mind benefits. A 2007 study found that hip hop dancing improved energy, buoyed mood and lowered stress in ways similar to aerobic exercise.

A more recent study, published earlier this year in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, linked dancing to improved “white matter” integrity in the brains of older adults. Your brain’s white matter can be thought of as its connective tissue. That tissue tends to break down gradually as we age, which leads to a loss of processing speed and the thinking and memory problems that arise later in life, says Agnieszka Burzynska, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Colorado State University and that study’s first author.

The psychological benefits are also impressive. For decades, some therapists have prescribed dancing as an effective therapy for those who suffer from social anxiety or fear of public speaking. The idea: if you can loosen up enough to boogie in front of strangers, you’re a lot less likely to feel self-conscious when hanging out or speaking in front of an audience. Research dating back to the 1980s supports the idea that dancing can curb anxiety.

Dancing also seems to encourage social bonding and what psychologists call “self-other merging.” Like chatting with a stranger and finding out you both attended the same school or grew up in the same neighborhood, moving and grooving in rhythm with others lights up brain pathways that blur the barriers your mind erects between yourself and a stranger, and so helps you feel a sense of connection and sameness, suggests a study from the University of Oxford.

Getting started with Ballroom Dancing

You can dance in a group, with a partner, or on your own. There are lots of different places where you can enjoy dancing, for example, at dance schools, social venues, community halls and in your own home. Dancing has become such a popular way to be active and keep fit, that most fitness clubs now offer dance classes in their group exercise programs.

Dancing can be done both competitively and socially. It can be a great recreational and sporting choice, because anyone of any age can take part. It doesn’t matter whether it is cold or raining, as dancing is usually done indoors.

The gear you need for dancing will depend on the style of dancing you choose. For example, tap dancing will involve buying tap shoes, whereas ballet will need ballet slippers and ballet clothing. To get started, simply choose a style you enjoy, or would like to try, look in the Yellow Pages or online for dance schools in your local area and join a class.

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