6 Reasons Why You Should Compete

Is it really necessary to step onto a beautiful dance floor at some competition and compete? Hmm, good question.

Many DanceSport virgins wonder why they should take the plunge into ballroom dance competitions. “Social dancing is so fun!” they recite while trying to resist the draw of the rhinestones and hair gel.  I’m probably preaching to the choir, but let’s list out the reasons everyone should compete so we can prove to our accountants why we write off our DanceSport competitions under “mental health expenses” and “education costs”.

1.   Ballroom dance competitions are a positive experiences.

Studies have proven that experiences make people happier than possessions. And let’s face it, if you love competing like most of us do, you don’t have a lot of possessions other than bottles of self-tanner and suede-soled shoes.

2.   You’re surrounded by people who love doing the same thing as you.

Instead of feeling competitive, remember: you don’t have to explain to anyone in this room why you needed to get up at 4:30am to do your hair or why being on DWTS is not your ultimate goal.

3.   The energy of the event.

Whether it’s the nervous kind or the excited kind, unless you’re a stone-hearted, brain-dead fool, you are going to be excited when you’re there. And that feel-good glow will last you into the next work week, at least.  Which leads us to number 4…


(*included with your registration fee) You will be happier. Woohoo!

5.   Like you needed MORE motivation to get better?

Whether you think of a DanceSport competition as a progress check or a short-term goal or a long-term goal, having a date X to have achievement Y complete is a great kick in the pants.

6.   Great music and great floor.

All the music is the perfect tempo; the floor is big and uncrowded.  How often do you get those conditions at the local dance club social?

Author: Kate Bratt – Riot & Frolic
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review


6 Steps To Improving Your Dancing for Your Next Competition

6 Steps To Improving Your Dancing for Your Next Competition

Most dancers want to dance as well as they can. We take lessons, practice and care for our bodies as part of doing so. Sometimes we think that preparing for a competition requires the same things, perhaps just more of each. The truth is, preparing for a competition has one additional requirement – A Plan.

PHASE 1 – The Assessment

The best preparation for any competition starts right after the last competition. This is because your self-assessment will be most relevant then.

  1. Give yourself a little time to relax and reflect on what you enjoyed in the competition experience before you start to focus on your performance.
    • Some people only need a few hours a few for this, most people need just a day, some people need more.
    • This timing certainly does not mean that you will stop reflecting on your enjoyment, it just means you will also start your planning based on what you learned.
  2. The first thing to do is critical, but is very often forgotten. It is to honestly and clearly list everything that you did very well.
    • The list could be on paper, or verbally with your partner and/or coach.
    • The reason why it is important is that anything that does not get attention gets weaker over time.
    • Every competitor has some strengths. Make sure that you acknowledge them and put some conscious effort into maintaining and enhancing them so they do not become weaknesses as you work on other things.
  3. Then, list the things that felt uncomfortable to you, or did not look strong in your video.
    • Once you have listed them, check which of these four areas they fall into, choreography, form, technique or style.
    • Choreography – could be forgotten or awkward choreography. It could also be choreography that you had planned to change after the comp. Just do not get into a trap of blaming difficult choreography for problems that are caused by your form, technique or style, or thinking that flashier choreography will cover up problems in those areas.
    • Form – is really just the word we are using here to refer to the foundational elements of technique. Balance, coordination, partnering, posture, timing, hold, and foot positions. We separate this group because without each of these elements, the next level of technique will still not be enough to make you look your best, and may not even be possible.
    • Technique – is what we referring to as the specific elements of foot and leg action, shape, weight shift, body orientation, body action, power, and even floorcraft.
    • Style – includes musicality, arm-styling, presentation, audience engagement plus your own intangibles.

PHASE 2 – The Plan

  1. Develop your plan.
    • Issues related to form, really should be at the top of the list.
    • The only thing you might want to do at the same time as focusing on form is making any adjustment in choreography, and only if it is absolutely necessary make a change. The reason to attend to choreography early is to allow you to practice your form within the choreography you will actually use – Please note that unless the choreography is awkward or inappropriate for the level of dancer, it is it is generally better to maintain your choreography while you deal with issues of form.
    • Technique would be next and will reinforce good form.
    • Style is very important for every level of dancer, but will rarely be the only thing in your plan, unless you are an advanced and very proficient dancer.
  2. Schedule your plan
    • The first part of your plan should be laser focused on addressing the top 1-2 things on your list. If you master these, and have time, then address others.
    • The next part of your plan should be spent making sure that your new skills are integrated seamlessly into your routine. Start and stop as you need to, video tape yourself. Make sure all the bugs are out and transitions are smooth.
    • If you have the time and inclination, you may also go back and forth between these first two phases as you master one skill, and before you start working on another.

PHASE 3 – Rounds

  1. The final phase of your preparation is specific competition preparation with repetition, stamina building, and confidence building by practicing competition rounds
    • Rounds are important for everyone – For your first competition, you can also start the assessment and plan noted here with a session of practice competition rounds at the point when you know your routines, feel good about your dancing.
    • The more similar the rounds are to a real competition the better, so if it is set up in a studio with other couples on the floor at the same time, great!
    • Even if is just with you and your partner, still do not skip the steps. Set up real competition music to play in the correct sequence, for at least 90 seconds a song — You could also have songs playing longer to allow 3-4 repeats of your routines. This really builds stamina and confidence, and makes the 90 second song of a comp feel like a breeze.
    • Do your entrance and exits as you would in a competition, and if you make a mistake, continue as you would in an actual competition.
    • In the day or two right before a competition, focus on your strengths and your confidence. After the competition, begin again to focus on your assessment and plan, to get ready for the next one.

Author: Miss P [Celebrate DanceSport]
Photography: Egorich.ca
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review

Back-Leading: What is it, and How Leaders Deal With It

Back-Leading: What is it, and How Leaders Deal With It


Back-leading is likely the single biggest challenge leaders can expect from their partners on the dance floor, simply because it’s so difficult for followers to give up control over where they move. It happens when a follower anticipates what the leader is going to do next, and moves before they are led. It may also take the form of sudden resistance to a step they aren’t familiar with. While it might be tempting to engage in a tug-of-war with your partner for control of the dance, there are other (much more productive) ways a leader can respond.

Consider going with it!

In some dances, like argentine tango and west coast swing, a follower can make ‘suggestions’ or even outright ‘hijack’ the movement. This is fine, as long as they don’t lead the majority of steps, and you can actually make the dance more fun by going along with it.

Avoid the step.

Your partner may be trying to steer you away from moves they don’t know, or might aggravate a past injury. If they seem to back-lead more on certain types of moves – dips for example, or multi-spins, you might want to just avoid those steps entirely.

Make sure you’ve balanced your partner properly.

Your partner might be back-leading – or they might be trying to keep their balance. When you dance, shift your weight 100% from one foot to another on every step, and make sure your partner is doing the same.

Increase the assertiveness of your lead.

Many followers fall into back-leading if they aren’t feeling enough lead themselves. So tighten up that frame, increase the pressure slightly, and make sure you never ‘leave your arms behind’ on any movement. They should move with your body, as one unit.

Gently let your partner know.

If your partner is still not getting the message, you might need to tell them, delicately, that they need to wait for you. This can range from a simple ‘would you mind waiting a bit longer for my lead?’ to the more risky but humorous ‘tell you what, you can lead the next one, what do you say?’

(Practice) Have them close their eyes.

If your partner is someone you practice with regularly, and the floor is not crowded, suggest they close their eyes while you dance. This forces them to rely completely on the pressure through your frame, instead of guessing the movement from what they see. Stick with the patterns you know best while trying this – no dips!

(Advanced dancers only!) Be creative!

This doesn’t work for everybody, but in my lessons, I’ve found it to be a good way to teach your partner not to anticipate if all else fails. Look for places where they tend to back-lead, like a spot turn. Then throw in a variation the next time you try it! Make sure it still meshes with the movement, and don’t sacrifice your technique. Will she be surprised? Very likely. Will she be more patient next time in case you try it again? Definitely!

Author: Ian Crewe – SocialBallroom.Dance
Cover Photography: Anna Lebiedzińska
Exclusively for Dance Comp Review

4 Reasons Why Learning to Dance Can Be Great for Your Marriage

4 Reasons Why Learning to Dance Can Be Great for Your Marriage

Posted On 09/22/2016 by Juan de Dios Garcia


When I first met my wife almost 20 years ago, we were training to become dance instructors at the Arthur Murray studio in Redlands CA. I can’t speak for her, but I was a mess. I didn’t know how to dress and i was awkward when it came to women. Fast forward a year later, i started to get the hang of dancing, Cari and i were spending more time together as friends. Then one day, I got the courage to ask her for a date. We went to a salsa club. It was right around Halloween so everyone dressed up in costume. I didn’t know what to expect other than dance with a girl I really liked. We didn’t talk much that evening, but we said a lot. As the evening progressed, the dancing become more intimate. A fun crazy salsa turned into a slow romantic salsa. It was amazing. We both walked out of the club that night knowing one thing. We weren’t friends anymore. We were dating.

Exciting how one thing like dance can shape the way one looks at another. Learning to dance can be exciting, but as a couple, it could be the best thing that ever happened. We’ve all heard the saying “Happy wife, happy life.”  But this technique you won’t find in a book. Only in the comfort of your partners arms and on the dance floor. Here are 4 reasons how learning to Ballroom Dance can be great for your marriage.

1. Communication

A Harvard Study on happier marriages cites that the number one cause of all divorce is communication.  Marriage counselors spend the majority of their sessions on how to listen, and to use words like “I hear you” and “What I’m feeling…”. It could prove to be uncomfortable at first yet necessary. Taking a dance class could ease the pain and help get you communicating without you even knowing it.

Learning to Ballroom Dance specifically focuses on one lead and one follow. One person communicating and the other listening. The main difference is that it has nothing to do with what you are saying verbally, but what you say physically. You show your communication through your bodies. Although that may make some husbands happy to know that their counterparts don’t get to talk, you and your spouse have to be in tune with one another to know who’s communicating at what time. Before you know it, this new skill trickles into other parts of your life and you no longer have to fight about why “someone” didn’t take the trash out.

2. Commonality

Usually, everyone has their own thing. One golfs, the other has book club. One goes to the bar, the other plays tennis. Having nothing in common tends to put a strain on marriage. If you have kids, it may be harder. For 18 plus years, children are usually the one thing couples have in common. And when they’re gone, it’s like two people getting to know each other all over again. The great thing is that a dance studio is nearby to help.

Most couples come in for 3 reasons.

  1. Getting married (it’s so cute. They don’t know what’s about to happen in 5 years)
  2. Need something fun to do together
  3. Have tried everything to reconnect and are looking for one last thing

In either case, it’s a win win for all stages of the marriage.  Dancing is a learned skill. Which means everyone is on the same page when they first start. There is no better than the other, there is only happiness because finally we get to do something together. And it’s fun. In a recent post, I talked about Andreea Berfield, a student at Arthur Murray Los Gatos, who’s dream was to learn to dance with her husband. What she didn’t realize was what dancing brought to them as a couple.  “Dancing forces us to stop and not think about work.  We get to focus on each other and do something fun together”.

To read about Alan and Adreea’s story, click here.

Most importantly, you’re sharing this undivided attention with someone you really care about. It can’t get any better than that.

3. Romance

There are certain things that can make one person swoon over the other. The ability to play an instrument or sing, the ability to be a culinary master and the ability to Dance and sweep them off of their feet. And if you’re my wife, the ability to put things away. Makes her happy every time (especially the dish soap. Sorry I’ll do it next time). Although learning to dance can’t help the previous two, it does prove to be one of the more exciting of the options. There’s nothing like the old attache of “Dinner and Dancing”. It just sounds like fun. Listening to a live band, moving as one. It’s the epitome of what a couple should feel like.

I remember taking Cari to Las Vegas for a weekend trip years ago.  When we were walking through the lobby of the Bellagio, we noticed a band playing at a bar and decided to check it out.  It was so cool, 4 guys playing some cool jazz, dancing in the early afternoon, what could be better?  An older couple was dancing on the floor next to us with some cool moves.  We chatted with them a bit and asked the famed “What advice would you have for a young couple like us?”  To which she answered “Dance”!  Please explain.  “Every time I get mad at him for not doing something, he just scoops me up in his arms and dances with me.  It could be in the middle of the living room, anywhere.  And I forget what I was mad at him about.”  He chimes in and says “Works every time.”

The best part is, regardless the reason, you get to spend a moment holding your partner close and look into each other’s eyes. It’s the epitome of romance.

4. Social Calendar

Having a new hobby with your loved one can prove to be a very exciting venture. But when that hobby happens to be a worldwide phenomenon, you’re immediately included in a group of individuals and couples that share the same hobby. Your social calendar not only opens up to the vastness of dancing but to the many opportunities it surrounds. I rented a jeep Wrangler once while in Phoenix. I’ve always wanted to try it out and didn’t see very many on the road. Immediately within 2 hours of the rental, I saw Jeep Wranglers everywhere I went. And when at a stoplight I saw the person next to me with a Jeep, they looked at me and nodded as if to say “hey fellow member of the Jeep Wrangler club”. I was in the club and it was everywhere jeeps are sold. You’ll be amazed at how many places you can go dancing. At the beach in Mexico when a mariachi band plays. When you’re in Puerto Rico and the concierge says try this restaurant in the heart of old San Juan and a live band is playing salsa all night long. It’s everywhere. Time to take advantage of it.

In addition, the community at a dance studio will take you dancing all around your immediate area. Julie was a student at the Arthur Murray in San Jose.  Before she joined, her life was spent taking care of her kids and husband, watching TV, staying at home.  Not much of a socialite.  Years later after dancing, she was going out almost every night.  Whether it was dancing at the studio or going out with her friends she made while dancing.  She had the time of her life.  Conversely, her kids worried saying that she was staying out too late and needed to stay home more often.  Julie says “I’ve done my job taking care of you kids.  It’s time I take care of myself”.  Mostly they were upset that she had more of a social life than they.

One Last Thing…

I once had a coach tell me “There’s no original mistake in your body. Everything you are doing has been done before”. For a moment I thought “then what makes us unique?”.  And then I realized it has nothing to do with uniqueness, it has everything to do with feeling. And that made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I’ve seen every couple come into the studio. There is no original reason why you are here. Others have been here before. I say this to let you know, that you are not alone. Whatever you are going through whether exciting or challenging. We are here.

WARNING: Learning to dance may lead to an enhanced life. It will change your outlook, make you happier, healthier and live longer. It will make your marriage better and increase many other things that we can’t express in this blog.

Blog credit:

Dancing with Toronto Celebrities 2016 was Huge Hit!

Thank you to everyone that participated, attended and supported our first annual
Dancing with Toronto Celebrities!

Over $40, 000 was raised to support our celebrity’s selected charities.

The evening consisted of a very posh cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres , silent auction, three course dinner, celebrity and professional performances, group performance from the Arthur Murray Staff, general dancing and a live auction. It was an amazing evening full of glitz and glamour.


Five celebrities competed to win the coveted Mirror ball trophy and to also raise funds and awareness for their selected charity. Our five celebrities and their charities were Ashley Greco (Look Good Feel Better), Cristina Lopes (DEBRA Canada), Trevor Bell (Cancer Society of Canada), Melanie Mason (McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine) and Marianne McCord (Be Brave and Believe).

The winner was determined by judges scores, audience votes, funds raised and received all proceeds from the evenings live and silent auction.

The winner of Dancing with Toronto Celebrities was CHUM FM’s Ashey Greco!

Following the celebrity competition, we had the Stars of Arthur Murray Competition. In order to compete, students needed to raise a minimum of $2500 for their selected charity. our two competitors and their charities were: Joe Scire (PC Children’s Charities) and Georgina Tollstam (Trillium Health Partners Foundation). The winner was also determined by judges scores, audience votes and funds raised.We are pleased to announce Georgina raised $7,500 and Joe raised $12, 500!

The Winner of the Stars of Arthur Murray Competition was Joe Scire!


Words can not describe how proud we are of everyone! It truly is such a beautiful thing to see how the love for dance was able to make such an event even possible.

Thank you again and we will see you all next year!