By Kaylee Anderson and Joel Torgeson
Looking to climb the ranks a little while competing? Do we have a list for you! Here are ten things that will help you kick some serious butt in Bronze, and maybe even get you to a final or two.
- Smile. Do you want free points on the dance floor, no matter what level you are dancing at? Great; then smile! Ballroom is all about performance, and smiling shows you are relaxed, having fun, and engaged in the music. If you’re dancing Rhythm or Latin, smiling at your partner is a great way to show you’re excited to be at the other end of their arm. If a judge sees two couples dancing at the same skill level, but one is smiling and the other is not, you can bet your biscuits they’ll mark the smiling dancers over the sour ones. Even smiling at members of the audience makes your performance all the more convincing.
- Stand Up Straight. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was a movie, not a life mandate. Hunching over your partner looks much creepier than sticking your chin in the air, and good posture will help you look put-together. Remember to stand up straight when you’re walking onto the floor as well! It’s an easy thing to do that can bring your dancing to the next level.
- *Shine in your Basics.* Showing the audience polished technique is much more important than knowing a bunch of flashy, trashy moves. Trying something you only learned the other day doesn’t usually go well, so stick to what you know. Keep your invites clean and simple, and avoid trying to sneak higher level moves into Bronze. Advanced moves require advanced technique, so changing something to make it Bronze-legal won’t always give the desired effect. Simple, clean moves and good technique are your best bet for making a callback in Bronze.
- Achieve Great Feets. Footwork is critical to proper technique and it’s an easily-assessed red flag for the judges. Make sure you are closing your feet and articulating them when necessary. Building a house on a bad foundation usually results in a shaky building, and the same logic applies to your feet and the dancing you build on top of them. Accurate footwork helps you finish your bodylines and makes your dancing look that much cleaner to the appraising eye.
- Fake it ‘Till you Make it. Confidence is key when it comes to dancing, even if you don’t feel confident at all. Ballroom dancing is performance bordering on acting, so even if you feel down about your dancing, don’t show it! Envisioning yourself as your dance idol while you’re on the floor is an easy way to boost your self-esteem and show the confidence necessary to get marked.
- Floorcraft is Fundamental. Getting around the floor in one piece is an essential part of showing good sportsmanship. Being aware of your surroundings, warning your partner if they are about to run into someone, and being polite if you get into a traffic jam are all important elements to floorcraft. Keeping your partnership from plowing into another couple shows you have control, and that can go a long way in a heat where no one is respectful of other dancers on the floor. Practicing good floorcraft also helps strengthen your partnership. Nothing says respect like saving your partner from a bump on the noggin!
- Pay Attention to Your Partner. Showing your partner courtesy, both on the dance floor and off, is a great way to improve your dancing. Never let negativity cross from one partner to another, especially during a competition! Lead your follow gracefully onto the floor when it’s your turn, and be sure to thank them for the dance, even if all you do is smile at them! Follows, make sure you support you leads and the hard work they are doing navigating across the floor. Remember, you’re dancing with another person, not by yourself! Maintaining a healthy relationship off the dance floor can also make your dancing that much better. Bringing your partner little snacks or thoughtful gifts on the big day can brighten their mood and help your performance glow.
- Every Moment Counts. In the first few rounds of Bronze, judges only have a few seconds to look at each couple before they have to move onto the next. We’ll say that again: a few seconds. You have to stay on your A-game at all times, because if the judges only see you for that one time you looked at your feet, well, that’s life. Keep your smiles bright, your chins high, and your confidence dazzling, and you’ll always have your best foot forward with the judges.
- Know When to Let Go. Control all the variables you can—stay hydrated, well-fed, well-groomed, etc.—but don’t sweat the small stuff. You can’t control the judging panel, the music the DJ plays, or which flight you are in, so do your best to remember that some things are simply out of your sphere of influence. Do your best to hold up your end of the bargain, and if the rest of it goes to crap, so be it. You did your best, and that’s all that really matters.
- Have Fun. Yes, this is a cliché, but it’s a cliché for a reason—it’s true! If you aren’t having fun, it definitely shows. There’s a reason you’re dancing (and we’d guess it’s because you like doing it), so don’t be afraid to show it. Having fun and not caring too much about the rest is a guaranteed way to stay positive, have a great time, and maybe even final in Bronze. In any case, there’s nothing to lose by enjoying yourself!