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Expert Advice

Are You the Next Ladies Pro/Am Champion?

By Jennifer Foster

This month, we have a special guest article from one of our very own Twin Cities ballroom champions.

Ladies, you have it going on! But what is it? Let’s talk about that.

When you are on the competition floor, do you really know your assets? What do you bring to the partnership besides being a follower in a pretty dress, alluring makeup, and extraordinarily rock-hard hair? Plenty! I want to make sure you know a few more things that you can access not only to entice the judges into noticing and marking you, but maybe even take you down the path to becoming a pro/am champion!


Of course learning how to follow is good, but what does that mean, exactly? Should you match your partner? You’d be surprised what that really means in terms of partner dancing. The way we move with our partner should be well matched, and when you look at different couples, you’ll see that no two really move alike. In fact, champions tend to stand out in the way they move—intentionally looking different from everyone else, but in a good way. As newbies, we often aspire to look alike, and it makes us feel better (similar to our high school days). The syllabus teaches us patterns, and we learn how to create the movement with the steps we're taking, but between the steps—that’s where the magic is. Once we’ve learned how to land safely on A, then move to B, it’s how we go between A and B that gets us on the judges’ radar. Eventually, the leader and the follower are leading and following each other because of the nuances your technique brings out. Instead of counting, you rely on your partner, and they on you. This is called partnership.


After a period of time, when we are no longer surprised by our teachers' leads, A and B soon include C (and so on), and we can then add additional body, leg, and arm actions to create individuality and expression. This will begin to free you from total dependence. Get ready for an occasional loss of balance at this stage, which is a necessary evil. How many of us fight the desire to stay bolt-upright with our shoulders, hips, and feet aligned? Unfortunately, too many. That is often what a lady might try to do when left to her own devices—not a safe place! Don’t go for this line; it will appear that you’re standing still and creates a brittle, stiff body. Instead, commit to your lines and go for contrast in the shapes your body makes. Your upper and lower body will counterbalance themselves in the shapes you make. In fact, your partner needs this from you.


This is your inner mantra! A strong girl doesn’t just look in the eyes of her teacher and wait for that nonverbal what are you doing? On the contrary, she is focused, both outwardly and toward her partner, not afraid to look out during Cuban walks. Digging a little deeper, you begin to find power from within that allows the muscles to connect and add the drama and flair of arm movements. Things somehow start working in tandem, and it’s beautiful. You have taken hold of both technique and passion, and your dancing starts to represent you.

Remember that there is no other you, and you’re on your way to becoming the best you can be on the dance floor. Rise to your challenges. Be yourself. Who knows? You may be the next champion!