The world of ballroom dance competitions is increasing being driven by “Pro-Am” (professional-amateur) contestants. How does the pro-am system work and why do dancers choose this system? The simple answer is that professionals or teachers of amateur students take the place of amateur partners (as in amateur-amateur competitions) and help their students look and dance their best in competitions. There are several age classifications and competency-level divisions, allowing professional partners to dance with all their students and to ensure that they compete against other dancers of similar skill-level. A wide variety of dance styles are available for the amateur students to choose the dances in which they want to compete. Here are some pluses and minuses that amateurs may want to consider in advance of entering this very popular world within the U.S. and Canada:
• You can maximize the quality of your performance by dancing with a professional in a competition, as in ‘Dancing with the Stars.’
• You do not have to be at the highest competency level to compete. Depending on your skill or level of preparedness, you can compete as: Newcomer, Pre-Bronze, Bronze, Full Bronze, Open Bronze, Pre-Silver, Silver, Full Silver, Intermediate Silver, Open Silver, Pre-gold, Gold, Full Gold, Open Gold or Open Championship level.
• Your teacher is likely to be more supportive than an amateur partner whom you may have fear of losing especially if you feel insecure about your dance capabilities. You are less likely to lose a teacher as a partner on such emotional grounds. Moreover, your teacher has the incentive of remuneration he/she receives from the pro-am partnership.
• The downside, obviously, is the cost factor. Pro-am competitions are expensive in terms of travel, food, accommodation, registration fees, cost per competition, etc. not just for you but also for your teacher partner. Teacher remuneration will also depend on the professional status of your teacher – the higher the distinction, the higher the cost is likely to be. The ball gowns and accessories, hair do, and make-up at the competitions also add considerably to the overall cost.