The Reality of Ballroom Dancing

Alright, I’m going to go on a warpath here about reality television, because lets be honest with ourselves: we all like to watch the drama. Rather, I would like to bring up a discussion that came up on a dance forum I love to kill the time with. Someone had started a thread about has reality tv shows like Dancing with the Stars really done anything good for the ballroom community. I think we  all agree it has. However, it does come with its drawbacks.

Now I do not know how many of you reading actually know what a ballroom competition looks like other than how it is portrayed on TV, so I am just going to assume you know little to nothing at all. One of the things us competitive ballroom dancers bemoan is when we get the question, “When will we see you on Dancing with the Stars.” For one thing, most if not all of us are not “stars.” So we are knocked out of that part of the show. For the other, many of us started late in life, either when we were in college or event some in their 50’s. This means that many of us will never become professional dancers, and for most of us that is not our goal anyway. So that knocks out out of the professional end of that show. So the short answer is no! Many of your ballroom dancing friends you will never see on that show.

So now you know you will never see you best friend on at least Dancing with the Stars. But most likely you still think that your friend dances in competitions that are set up very similarly to dancing with the stars. Again this is a no! Like most reality TV, competitive ballroom dancing looks nothing like the tv version. Usually your ballroom friend will be out on the floor, with tons of other couples and anywhere from 7-12 judges trying to recall lots and lots of dancers. Those judges do not have a full 1 minute and 30 seconds to watch your friend on the floor. At most they have about 5 seconds to make their decision and move on to the next couple.

Also they don’t get scored from 1-10. However, if a judge likes them, they get their number marked down on a sheet and if they get enough judges to mark them down they get a recall. Hopefully your friend is good enough to make it too the final. If they do, the judges will mark each couple from first to either sixth or seventh place, depending on how many couples are in the final.

Another huge difference is that they don’t spend one week learning a routine and then go out to perform it. Many couples spend weeks and months working on anywhere between 4-10 different routines depending on which style, or styles, they are dancing. Many couples also use the same routines for a few competitions, or even a years worth of competitions before they switch around their routines.

If you want to see what a typical ballroom competition, I would suggest taking a look at WBroth11’s channel on youtube. He has many ballroom competition videos in varying years and comps.

For now I think I will leave you with that. If you would like to read more about the differences (and some similarities) between competitive ballroom dancing and Dancing with the Stars, please let me know if the comments! Also put any questions in the comments as well. I will answer them the best I can!


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