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.


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.


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.

Upcoming Competitions and Dance Opportunities


Every dancer would want and need that big opportunity to help them grow in their craft as it is essential.

So here's a list of competitions and dance opportunities for the end of the year and 2019.


Here's something completely different from perhaps most of the competitions we've shared.

The OKH International Dance Competition is a competition with a difference. It is Singapore's first ever 'stay-in' Competition.

Comparable to an artist in residence or AIR as it has accommodation, courses offered to participants as they lodge at the Prestigious Nanyang Girls' Boarding School.

This year is filled with such excitement as both Miss Claudia Dean and Miss Dusty Button will be a part the 2018 OKH International Dance Competition. They will not only be a  Guest Judge in the competition, but also provide the dancers with first-rate trainings.

Save your spots before it's too late!


APAF 2019 is going to take place in Singapore on January 25 – 28 2019.

An exciting lineup of prizes are awaiting talented dancers in this festival.

Participants will be awarded with Distinction Gold, Silver, Bronze trophies and certificates of participation based on their performance. The Top 3 Winners from each category will be awarded with overall Champion, 1st Runner Up and 2nd Runner Up. Apart from this, the Top 3 Winners will be invited to perform in APAF Finale Concert


Livorno Danza was formed in 2011 with the purpose of creating new opportunities to young dancers.

Each year, there are around 1,000 dancers from different countries who take part in it like Europe, USA, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Mexico, Japan and several other countries around the globe.

The competition is set in a in highly professional and the same time a very joyful atmosphere. where the most talented dancers can win money prizes but also important scholarships and, sometimes, job contracts.

Partnerships enlaced during the past years, with the Peridance Center in New York, the Conservatoire Nacional de Lyon, the Iwanson Contemporary School in Munchen, the Copenhagen Contemporary School in Denmark, the Delattre Ballet Company, Martha Graham Center in New York City, the Raça Centro de Arte in Brazil, the Spoleto International Competition, the Greek National Opera in Athens, the Conservatorio Nacional in Lisbon, the Henny Jurriens Foundation in Amsterdam.

Find out more details and opportunities here:


An upcoming Asian Cup with over 1000 participants competing in Hong Kong and Macau.

The Dance World Cup is the leading international dancing event in which thousands of dancers from around the world participate in a variety of competitions.

Announcing their third Asian Dance World Cup qualifier for 2019. The chairman of Dance World Cup, John Grimshaw will be attending this qualifier to greet and start  a new era in international competition for dance.

World cup qualifier will be held at the Y-Theater, Chai Wan on 8-11 February 2019 for participating nations like Hong Kong, Macau, and Mainland China.

To learn more about this upcoming dance cup, check out

“Promoting an all-embracing passion and expression of art in motion”
The second Masterpiece IBC is going to be held at the School of the Arts (SOTA), Singapore this June 17-22, 2019.

There will be professional international coaches to conduct masterclasses enabling delegates to master their craft and enhance their potential.


Budapest, Hungary is awaiting short, new dance productions for their coming International Dance Festival this coming January 9-12.

The Festival offers opportunities for individual dancers and dance groups to develop their artistic concepts in which they will get feedback on the development of their work that they can use to develop themselves.

Deadline for applications is on December 1, 2019.
See guidelines of submission here:


To be held at the beautiful Castellana, Italy on the 21st and 22nd of July 2019.

The competition is open to different genres like Tap, Theater Dance, Hip Hop, Contemporary / Modern, Jazz / Lyrical
Classical Ballet / Neoclassical.

Registration ends on 15 July 2019.

More info on the competition on their website:

Taking part in such events like these will surely broaden not only a dancers mind and technique but as well as their artistry, understanding, and love for their craft.  

How to Deal With Rejection as a Dancer

image source:

image source:

“Fall down seven, get up eight.”

It is impossible to pursue a dance career without rejection. A dance career may bring pride on stage,  achievement, and the contentment of honing your craft each day. But what’s really behind all these delights is the constant battle with rejection. Putting yourself out there, may it be auditioning for a company, a summer program, a competition, or even in class and being told that you are not good enough is a never-ending risk.

You are not in control

There’s nothing wrong with being rejected as much as it feels like it. Think about it, a dancer spends an immense amount of time dancing, it becomes their lifestyle until rejection hits you in the face. Dealing with rejection is to remember that you, not your profession: You are a human being who dances-learning each step, and every rejection is a step closer to success.

Be Strong and grow a thick skin

Know that being turned down doesn’t mean you lack any talent as a dancer. It only means that you don’t fit the vision of that specific choreographer, director or teacher on that specific day. Despite this, see what opportunities can and will surprisingly open up as a result of this barricade.

Move on

Yes, you are upset, but when it’s over,  give yourself a set time to be upset about it, and then let it go. There is absolutely no reason to dwell in the past and on your bad experience. Learn from this experience and move on. Get back to work, and work hard, and it will pay off eventually. Always remember why you are dancing in the first place, and what drives you to dance---never lose focus.

It may be tough and uncomfortable, but it should never be devastating.  It should always be an opportunity to remember that you are still a wonderful dancer, and that dance is an extremely subjective art form. Lastly, know that dealing with rejection is to realize that you are never alone – every dancer experiences roadblocks and obstacles even the ones we admire, even the best dancers in the world. Always remember that no one, not a single successful dancer has turned out successful without rejection.


How Dancers Prepare Themselves for a Performance



Have you ever wondered how dancers prepare themselves for that big moment on stage?

Weird, and normally superstitious, but most dancers have these pre-performance rituals that help them get their minds focused before heading on stage.

As a dancer, each performance means technique, artistry, and musicality to think about. A study from the Ohio Center for Sports Psychology, says that dancers should use the same mental preparation for performance as athlete’s do for competition or training.  

Aside from those very demanding rehearsals at the studio, dancers also need not only their stamina working, but their minds fully active and positive---mental preparation, that is.

Here are a few yet very important things that dancers do in  preparation for their performance:

Maintaining Positive Attitude

Having a positive mind doesn’t mean that positive things will happen, however, always remember that your mind is powerful and dancing, it’s always just "mind over matter". Staying stuck with a  negative outlook will just bring you down and lead to a poor performance and we all know that you wouldn’t want that.

The Right Food

“You are what you eat”.

We all know that saying, don’t we?

During the time of rigorous training, dancers need to eat, but of course only the right food. The idea that dancers do not eat just because they are really skinny is a big fat lie. With the right amount of carbohydrates, protein and the good kind of fat, and dancers are more than good to go on stage with enough energy to keep them going on those fouettes, and grand pas de deux. Learn more about the good food here.

Practice Makes Perfect

It is impossible to get to those flawless turns and no sweat leaps without practice. Never stopping until you get it right may sound a bit tough, but it does work. It works like muscle memory. The more your body does it, and at the same time with your mind correcting your body on every single run through this will definitely pay off on not only the day of performance but throughout your career of being a dancer.

Pep Talk

Some of us may hate getting a pep talk but giving yourself a pep talk may be the only thing you need before stepping on stage.

That little voice inside your head giving you that push you need will be one of the most important things you will ever want to hear---a form of motivation perhaps. Imagine putting yourself down, and thinking negatively, how do you think your body would react to that?

Finding Focus

Technique, artistry and passion in what you are doing is nothing without focus.

Focus on what you are about to do or else, all those tiring rehearsals will be put to waste and you wouldn’t want that, would you?

Before stepping on stage, always make sure to remember your blocking, your steps, and all those corrections from your teacher or ballet master.


All dancers are different and may have different ways of preparing themselves before the show. Some may have beliefs about eating nuts before the show is bad luck, or wearing something red or their favourite clothing they could consider to be lucky is another. Whatever it is, these are just minor things dancers believe to help them make a great performance. Practice and practice with full attention and dancing with their heart is still the most important thing to make dancers amazing on stage.


2018 Star of Canaan Dance International Ballet Competition

(c) Stephanie Ma

(c) Stephanie Ma

Another competition happening this summer is the Star of Canaan Dance International Ballet Competition (SCDIBC). To be held at the Y-Theater, Chai Wan with an opening ceremony on the 30th of July, and a closing ceremony on the 2nd of August.

The opening ceremony will showcase an inspiring performance by Sora Teramoto, from the USA, and a ballet performance accompanied by a live Chinese orchestra. Whereas the closing ceremony will be showing an outstanding competitors’ performance, Grand Defile performance by all competitors, and guest appearances of principal dancers of Arts Ballet Theatre Florida.

The said competition aims to discover future world-class dancers and at the same time nurturing them into the best they can be. Aiming to provide young dancers in Asia with opportunities of high-quality dance education and international exposure and promoting appreciation towards dance.

The stage will be filled with dancers from different nations showcasing their skills in both ballet and contemporary dance. Not only does the competition inspire young dancers to challenge themselves in attaining higher technical levels and to perform with artistry and confidence, it also provides valuable opportunities for them to gain international exposure and train under renowned masters of ballet.

Adjudicating will be representatives of various prestigious institutions, like The Royal Ballet School and Je Monte Sur Scène. This, and a list of schools offering scholarships like the Houston Ballet,  Arts Ballet Theatre Florida is just one of the many things to be looking forward to.

(c) Stephanie Ma

(c) Stephanie Ma

Master classes will be conducted by remarkable ballet masters from all over the world, like Andrei Vassiliev, currently artistic director and founder of Vassiliev Academy of Classical Ballet and Ms Harriet Chung,  who has been nominated best actress in the 2015 Heckers award.

Ballet competitions like such are not only to be appreciated by competing dancers alone, instead, this could serve as a great inspiration for young dancers aspiring to enter the professional field of ballet, and of course a support for dance scene and budding dancers.

Show your support, and come to see the competition! For ticket information, check it out, here and for any further inquiries or help, contact with regards to SDCIBC, and for inquiries.