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A Newcomers Guide to a Ballroom Dance Competition


Knighttime -

KNIGHTtime by Stephen Knight, FADS Vice President and Executive Dance Director


With my over 20 years of teaching experience, I know it can be intimidating for a new dance student to make the decision to enter a Fred Astaire Dance Studios Dance Competition. Whether it’s a regional, inter-regional or national dance event, there’s a consistency to how our Dance Competitions are organized and run, but nearly all of it may seem unfamiliar. So here is my guide to help you feel more confident, and ready to start your competitive dance journey:

  1. The first thing I want you to do is ignore is the word ‘competition’. Instead, think of it as an event where students of all ages and levels of expertise will be showcasing their passion to dance.
  2. Focus on doing the best job you can do, and do not spend time or energy comparing yourself to anyone. You are your best judge, and your only competition!

At Fred Astaire Dance Studios, we encourage our students to take part in Dance Competitions, because they are not only fun, exciting and memorable – they will also help you achieve your own personal dance goals. Our responsibility is to help you receive the benefits that you are seeking. The beauty of a Fred Astaire Dance Studios Dance Competition is that you will have a great experience from start to finish. Our events come complete with glamour, excitement, dancing, new friendships, and fond memories to last a lifetime. Your dance instructor will guide you every step of the way, including:

  • What to wear – on the dance floor, and off
  • Scheduling
  • How the event will run
  • The on-deck area
  • Heat sheets
  • Videos & Photography
  • Hair & Makeup
  • Setting your expectations as a newcomer

After you’ve made the decision to attend – and months before the competition takes place – you and your dance instructor will start making travel arrangements & plans to attend, and deciding on your dance routine for the judges. Feel free to ask as many questions as you have – it’s part of our job to make you an informed competitor. As a beginning dancer, remember that you will compete only with other newcomers who’ve had the same amount of dance training as you. So this is the time to show off all the technique you’ve been learning, and have some fun! These events will take your social dancing to a new level of skill, allowing you to have a keen sense of pride, confidence and ownership. You’ll progress even further from the Judges’ scores, and from observing other Pro/Am dancers in the ballroom. And, you’ll make new friends and be part of your studio’s competitive team! I recommend everyone experience at least one of our dance events and to have the courage to get out there and dance. I promise, you will be so proud of yourself.

The last thing I want to say, is remember that this is your hobby and not your career. Allow us the opportunity to show you a world of many possibilities that will bring newfound joy to your life. I look forward to seeing your beautiful smiles out on the dance floor and watch as you begin your journey.

Stephen Knight is Vice President & Executive Dance Director with Fred Astaire Dance Studios. He also serves as Dance Coach and Regional Franchise Director for the FADS Wisconsin Region. A National Champion during his competitive years, Stephen is most well-known for his choreography, and for creating a large portion of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios Silver Syllabus. For more information on the members of the Fred Astaire Dance Studios International Dance Council, contact us. And to get started on YOUR dance journey, contact Fred Astaire Dance Studios today.