Joel and Clara Marasigan

Broadway Ballroom Dance Festival



So how many of you knew about the Broadway Ballroom Dance Festival last Saturday April 4th??? I was surprised to learn that some people didn’t compete because they didn’t even know about it! OMG! What a waste! My immediate reaction to that is that I, personally, as a dance enthusiast and coach, didn’t do a good enough job spreading the word around. In order to support our local competitions and ensure that they are a success, we need to tell everyone about it! So tell everyone about it! [For those of you who are not in the loop, check out the ‘Upcoming Events’ page of our website to see what local events are offered.]

Although it wasn’t the first ‘in-house’ competition to be held at the Broadway Ballroom, the Broadway Ballroom Dance Festival was definitely the most comprehensive and successful one to date! It was the first ever competition organized by Michelle Peng, Roland Mitchchenko, Michel Guimond and Alain Doucet that had a full slate of Amateur and Pro-Am events right ‘in house’ at the Broadway studio. As I do most of my teaching at Broadway and had entered the competition with one of my students, I was very excited about the prospects of this new event.

The timing of the Broadway Ballroom Dance Festival couldn’t have been any better. There aren’t any other competitions here in Vancouver in April, and being just before the Canadian Championships, it was the perfect opportunity for our local couples to get out there on the floor. Many of the top amateurs in BC were in attendance, as they prepare themselves to go off to Montreal for the Canadian Championships this Easter weekend.

I remember back when Joel and I were competing, we’d be searching high and low for competitions to gear us up right before the Canadians. There was never anything here in BC and sometimes nothing even in Canada. We ended up going to San Diego, Montreal and even as far as Asia (when we were living in Italy). We understood the importance of doing a competition a couple of weeks before the Canadians. It’s like having a dress-rehearsal. You need to try out your new dress, get rid of the competition jitters and to test yourself before the big event. That way, if there are any last minute refinements to be made, you can still take care of them for when it really counts!

studyingCompetitions are just like tests. You need to be tested on a regular basis to see if you are improving or not. You need to prove to yourself that what you have been working on for the past few weeks or months have really sunk in. Maybe it’s a concept like shape, speed, musicality… or perhaps it’s a more emotional goal, like keeping your anxiety or excitement in check. In any case, as I always say, the competition environment brings out distractions that you just don’t experience in your regular practice sessions. Therefore, the only way to get over them is to test yourself on the competition floor as frequently as you can.

I remember when I was studying back at UBC, my Anthropology class had monthly quizzes. I thought to myself: what a bother! I have to study all the time in order to pass these darn tests which contribute to quite a substantial portion of my final grade. I was ticked off that I had to keep studying on such a consistent basis, but let me tell you… when it came time to study for the final exam, I was laughing! Because I had kept up all semester, there was no need to cram! [And of course, meanwhile, in my Chem class, which didn’t have any quizzes, I was pretty much cracking open the textbook for the first time right before the exam! As many students are probably realizing right now during exam time, trying to cram in a whole semester of work into one week is very stressful indeed!  Needless to say, I got a much better grade in Anthropology than I did in Chemistry.  Hehe…]

Maybe you can cram for exams at school, but you definitely can’t cram for dancing. Not only do you have to know the information, but your body has to take time to actually learn the actions and internalize them so that they become automatic. This is not something that can be done right away. It takes time to learn it, think about it, understand it, experiment with it, think about it some more, try it with your partner and then drill it in until it stays. Physical skills are not that easy to learn… and of course in the world of ballroom dancing, not only do we need to learn them ourselves, but we need to learn it with another human body attached to us!

bbinterior-nightThe moral of the story is that you need to participate in competitions to become a better dancer. You need to be tested on a consistent basis to ensure that you are making improvements. If you keep saying that you are ‘not ready’ or that the competition is too ‘small’, you are missing the point. The point is to test yourself against yourself. You need to prove to yourself that you can do what you set out to do. Whether the competition is in a big hotel, local studio or even a small gymnasium, the experience you get from competing is something that you can’t get anywhere else.

So go and take advantage of what these organizers are putting out there for you! They are actually saving you a lot of time, energy and money. Consider yourself lucky that you don’t have to go elsewhere (like we did) to get the experience that you need. And when you see these organizers in and around the ballroom, please thank them for giving you this opportunity to dance. I’m sure they would greatly appreciate it and hopefully they will continue to put on events like this one in the future.

If you went to the competition, tell us what you thought!  Make a comment!

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