The Big Leagues of Latin & Ballroom Dance

An Inside Look into the 2019 Asia International Dance Championships

Maybe you’ve seen hit television series like ‘Dancing with the Stars’ or ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, but none of these compare with the experience of a live international Latin and Ballroom dance championship. We’re here to give you an inside look into all things Cha Cha Cha!

Hong Kong Dance Moms attended the 2019 Asia International Dance Championships right here in Hong Kong and interviewed Mark Robertson, the Managing Director of the hosting organisation, DansinnHeavenly.

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With several hundred amateur, youth, and professional dance competitors from all around the world, and over 500 audience members, this event was like the Olympics of Latin and Ballroom dance. There were dance competitors from Russia, China, Hong Kong, USA, Canada, Ukraine, Macau, Lithuania, Taiwan, South Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom, Iceland, Poland, Australia, Denmark, Thailand, Slovenia, South Africa, Germany, Japan, England, Italy, and the Philippines. As well as iconic Ballroom and Latin dance adjudicators from Great Britain, China, Russia, Norway, South Korea, Denmark, USA, Italy, Hong Kong, Macau and Japan.

What is the Asia International Dance Championships (AIDC), and how did it all begin?

M.R: The AIDC started in 2015, and in Hong Kong we [DansinnHeavenly] have been running a dance studio for many years, and have employed some of the top dancers and trainers in the world. We wanted to bring a high international, top class event to Hong Kong, because the Hong Kong crowds are real dance aficionados. The diehards travel all over to follow some of these top competing couples, so they are a very intelligent and educated audience. Therefore, we wanted to bring them to Hong Kong rather than them always having to travel overseas, and that’s how AIDC was born. Since then, we’ve grown year by year.

What are some significant features of Ballroom and Latin dance?

M.R: Latin and Ballroom are two different dance styles. In Ballroom, the couple tends to remain together, with flowing gowns, dresses, elegant movement and more classical music. Whereas Latin uses exotic beats from Latin America, Brazil, and Spain. Within Latin, there are more exotic costumes, vibrant sounds, movements, and not so much of a fixed hold, but there is open choreography as well. So these are very different styles, yet both very elegant in their execution as well.

What are the different competition categories within the Asia International Dance Championships? 

M.R: The different categories are the “Under 21”, which is our youngest category for contestants between the ages of 16-20. Then there are the Latin and Ballroom categories which are followed by the ProAm, which basically means a professional-amateur partnership. This is basically a student-teacher dance partnership, which is a very popular and expanding category. We’ve divided up ProAm into single dances, multi-dances (like a three dance challenge), and then a scholarship (a championship, which is a five dance challenge) to allow people flexibility, a varied selection and mix. Lastly, we have the Amateur and Professional categories.


How do Ballroom and Latin Dance competitions work?

M.R: Essentially what happens in the competition is a series of knockout rounds. For instance, with the Amateur Latin category they will dance and compete in four rounds. Let’s say in the first round they start with 48 couples, so then in the second round there will only be 24 couples left in competition. In the semi-finals the remaining couples will be half of the second round, and then half again into the final. That’s the essential structure of the competition.

What are the judges looking for?

M.R: Amongst the Ballroom and Latin categories, each discipline has their own required criteria. In my area of specialty, which is Latin, judges are looking for presence, timing, musicality, posture, partnering, elegance, and of course there are other fundamental and technical requirements. These then become deeper and more profound when you get to the top and the margins are much less, so it becomes a lot more defined. We’re so blessed to have an internationally acclaimed panel of adjudicators from all over the world who we bring over to adjudicate, which also adds to the value and prestige of the event. The couples want to participate, because they know that they’re also being judged by these experts.

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What is the training regimen like for a professional Ballroom and Latin dancer?

M.R: It’s literally a fulltime job, these dancers are absolute artists, experts in their profession, and they’re athletes as well. They are practicing and training every single day, including visits to the gym, nutritionists, private lessons with their coaches/trainers/expert teachers, and are travelling all over the world. They are also demonstrating, competing, teaching, and conducting workshops. When they start to get to the higher echelons of their status and ranking, it is a full time job.

What types of career opportunities are there for Ballroom and Latin dancers?

M.R: A dancer can become a teacher, a coach, an adjudicator, a dance studio owner, a lecturer, or a performer. They can essentially cover all of them, and will gradually start to work out which ones are their preferred ones, and their greater skill sets. And they will gradually become a master, at one or several of these professions.

From your own experience, what advice do you have for young aspiring Ballroom and Latin dancers?

M.R: I started dancing when I was 7, and for me I feel that I’ve been completely blessed to have an amazing childhood by dancing. I truly loved it, truly enjoyed it, and was never pushed into it by my parents. I’ve made friends for life, also some who are here today, we’ve grown together in the business. It is such a great social community. It is healthy, and you definitely avoid boredom as a kid. As a dancer, you have no time to do anything else but dance. It’s such a beautiful art form that combines artistry and sport. It is fantastic, and we truly love our business and are blessed to be making this our profession and our passion.

For anyone interested in learning more about the Asia International Dance Championships, visit their website here.

Dance is known for its element of live performance, so when you get a chance to see it live, you should jump at the opportunity! Whether it’s a performance, workshop, class, or in this case a championship, dance will literally move you.