Hello - I have always dreamed of competiting in ballroom dance - and have started lessons a few months ago. I am currently at bronze level. My dance teacher has told me about a local competition coming up - and even though my goal has been to compete, I had absolutely NO idea what competitive ballroom dancing entailed. He said it would be a pro-am type of competition (which I prefer), however, can anyone please tell me what the average cost is to the student of a studio who wants to compete in a pro-am competition? Thanks...
There are different costs associated with entering a competition. First is the fee usually per entry, for the dances you wish to compete in. Second is the cost of hotel/meals. Third, most teachers charge the students a fee for competing with them, or split their expenses among all of the students they are taking to competition. Lastly will be the cost of dress, shoes, makeup, hair etc.
I'm going to give you an "averaged" costs. 1) Costs per competition - every "comp" is different depending on the organizers. 2) Many give a discounted per entry fee if you buy a "package" 3) A package can be a combination of "hotel room, admission fee to your dancing session e.g., morning or evening", evening show ticket, meals...so you would have to see if the cost of a Package is better for you than paying for everything separately. 4) You would also pay for your "pro" hotel room, his admission ticket, his meals, his travel time, parking for his car...anything 5) Some studios also charge a studio fee...your going to pay the "studio" a fee for competing with the "pro" as they deem it "time away" that they could be earning $$$ in his absence. 6) Hair - your hair will have to be up-do and off your shoulders, get an appointment with the competition hair vendor 7) Make-up - also Comp vendor unless you know how to do your own stage make-up 8) any accessories your going to purchase to accent your 9) Ballroom competition dress (rental or purchased). 10) Shoes - do not go onto the comp floor with dirty used shoes. 11) Will your "pro" charge his fee per entry or will it be per dance... 12) Will your "pro" charge a "recall" fee per dance or entry if you dance scholarship and your recalled back to the floor to dance again, in addition to the fee per entry that the organizer will charge. These are things you need to find out from your "pro" before you decide that it's worth it to you. Many people will compete in a studio vs studio match up rather than an organized competition because it will not break the bank per se and it gives them an idea as to what to expect on a smaller scaled back cost range. The questions are best answered by your teacher, just remember you will pay all his costs and his charges to dance with him - unless other students are also dancing, then his cost(s) other than the entry per dance fee - should be split amongst the competing students.
Competing is expensive. Getting your "equipment" is 1/2 the battle - your dresses, smooth and Latin as well as open toe and closed toe shoes. Competition shoes need to be in flesh tone, tan or copper depending upon your skin coloration. The idea is to elongate your legs. Dark and colored shoes will cut your leg line and make you look short. Go for a good quality shoe with good padding - your feet will thank you after 50 heats! You can dance bare legged or use fishnet pantiehose. I can tell you Nordstrum's carries great fishnet pantiehose that has small netting and thin material so your feet don't burn after wearing them all day long. Capezios fishnets feels like Brillo pads between your legs.
Try and get used dresses to save on the costs. Many studios have a cork board where students can listed dresses for sale on. Your local dance shoe shop may have an area for consigned dresses.
It's better for you if your instructor takes a string of student to a competition. This way you all can share his/her expenses: room, travel, meals, entry fees to the ballroom.
The New Comer Division is less strict on new students. Meaning you can get away without having to have costumes as long as you dance in a dress in the style of the section you are dancing. Remember too...if you and another competitor dancing equally, the judges will fall to the costumes to break the placement tie.
I like local competitions so I don't have to stay at the hotel. BUT dancing off package you can count your heat fees to be about $10/$15 more. The competition will provide a room for the off package dancers to change in. You will have to ask where that room is located. Just remember the competition is NOT responsible for safeguarding any costumes left unattended these changing rooms. Dancing off package means too as a group you all need to find a restaurant to eat at.
I do my own hair, makeup and nail polish to save on cost. The drug store or a beauty supply carries fake eyelashes and glue. Mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, blush and lipstick, fingernail polish ARE part of the costume look. Remember you are not going for a soft business type look, this is a stage look. Many girls wear crystal eyelashes. (Halloween is coming up, you can stock up on these when they go on sale.) I go to a tanning salon for a spray tan so I have that fresh off the beach look.
With hair in Latin/Rhythm your hair must be out of your eyes/face. Most times girls can just have their bangs pulled back and banded.
In smooth your hairCAN NOT move. Put it in a bun, a French roll, braided and tucked under, etc. Crystal combs can be used as well as screw in hair crystals. Just make sure they are not too heavy, you don't want them to fall out when you do tango.
If your hair is too short to look good pulled back and braided you can always use a hair peace. Just be sure to put a hair net over that one area (not your entire head) and attach ccrystal combs and crystals hair screws. Get a good instant freeze hair spray and use liberally.
You should make up a floor bag to take with you. Bottled water, a package of dried fruit for pick me up snack, breath mints, aspirin, extra hair pins, safety pins, band aides, (and mole skin with a small pr of scissors never know when your shoes might rub blisters) a small hand towel to wipe the sweat off your face, your shoe brush, an extra pr of dance shoes if you have them. I also take a sewing needle and a spool of dark as well as light colored thread, you never know what might happen. I also have a highligher to mark my heats as well as check off where we are in the competition in the catalog. If you don't have a team jacket/robe you will need a wrap of some sort to keep your muscles warm between heats. The ballroom is kept cool for the dancers.
Thank you ballroom chick and others who replied. Everything written has been very valuable advice, it is printed and I plan to follow much of this advice. Last question for now? I am trying to put a ballpark figure to all of what you wrote here (dresses, make-up, shoes, misc) - in addition to the fact that the studio will surely charge for the pro's time to teach the dances/routines, practice, etc.
Is it reasonable to assume approx. $5,000 for a bronze pro-am (equipment/dresses and pro's cost for practices, etc)?
I am all for keeping costs down so here is what I do. I do my own hair, make-up and nails. There are a few very helpful videos on Youtube on how to do make-up. I only splurge for professionally done hair and make-up for the really big comps. I bought all my dresses from Asian dressmakers through Ebay. They cost about $200 each and were made to measure. This way I can have more than one. I find I can get sweaty and uncomfortable under the lights so if there is a couple of hours wait between individual dances and championships, I can change dresses. Try rooming with another competitor if you are going out of town. I have roomed with my pro partner when It was only the two of us. I wasn't about to pay for two hotel rooms. Be up front with your studio and your pro about how much you feel comfortable spending. I have a limit. Know beforehand what kind of meals he eats, for example. Steak or burgers? I do not pay for my pro partner's time because I pay for coaching for the both of us from a Champion dancer. So I have no studio or pro expenses except for entries, hotel, gas and meals. He is very good at keeping costs down. I get an exact accounting from him after every comp. Not counting entries, dresses and shoes, I spend around $1000.00 for an out of town comp. Less than $100 for a local comp. I love competing in the pro-am category but I am not going to be a blank check.