Reported by Allison Hayes
Competition numbers are low for ballroom dancing in Vancouver and some dancers have to pay their coaches to have them as a partner.
Kyryl Dudchenko, a veteran dancer and ballroom dancing coach based in Vancouver since 2000, said the numbers in newcomer and middle levels of ballroom dancing are not seeing much movement, causing competitions to shrink in size.
“I think the dancing in Vancouver is quite stagnant right now. I think it’s going down for very, very different reasons,” Dudchenko said. “In the economy, in the way that people spend and keep their extra money.”
It’s costly to compete
Because of lower numbers, many dancers seek out the ‘pro-am’ categories for competing, because it gives them the ability to dance with their instructor instead of having to seek out a partner, which is not always easy. Normally this would mean a dancer would have to compensate for their instructor’s time, and it can financially add up.
Elizabeth Vinkovska, who has been a ballroom dancer since she was 17, said in her current pro-am partnership, she matches her instructor with competition fees. The highest she’s paid to enter a competition was $220. She then had to pay the same amount to her instructor to participate.
“The struggle right now is not having enough competitors on the floor. For example, during our last competition it was just two couples,” Vinkovska said. “The whole point of ballroom dancing is to compete, and there isn’t a lot of competition.”
Despite this issue Vinkovska said she is still happy to compete at the pro-am level.
“I don’t mind the pro-am category. I actually really enjoy it because I’m able to get feedback right away from my teacher if I’m doing something wrong,” she said.
Margarita Smoliakova, a mother whose daughter is getting back into ballroom dancing after a five-year hiatus, said there is a lack of boys interested in the sport.
“We started because we found a partner,” Smoliakova said. “But also he danced with his sister in a different category… the waltz and jazz standards, he danced with another girl. Not enough boys, it’s always been a problem.”