FAQ

Who can join the team?

The only requirement to join our team is that you are a student in a degree-seeking program at any university. We welcome undergraduates and graduate students from the University of Michigan and other schools in the local area! If you aren’t a student, check out our sister organization, the ballroom dance club that is open to everyone!

What is the time commitment?

Some members of the team are extremely committed and dance almost every day, but this is not a requirement to join! We have many members who only come for a lesson or two per week and the occasional practice. The level of commitment is completely up to you, none of our lessons are mandatory.

What dances do you teach?

In total, you can compete in up to 16 styles of dance. For the American style we have Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Cha Cha, Rumba, Mambo and Swing. In International styles we have Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Quickstep, Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba and Jive. This may sound like a lot, but you’ll learn them a few at a time over the course of the first year with our professional coaches to guide you every step of the way! There are also a lot of similarities between the styles e.g. American and International Waltz, Cha Cha. You don’t need to know every style to attend a competition, at the beginner level you compete each style separately so you can pick the ones you know and skip the ones you don’t!

What should I wear to class?

Ladies, come in something that you can move easily in. Nothing too constricting like tight pencil skirts/tight body dresses. Leggings/shorts are fine, but feel free to dress up! A flowy skirt/dress would be great – most dancers generally wear spandex under skirts/dresses. For shoes, most people come in flats. Nothing that doesn’t stick with the bottom of the foot such as flip flops, but sandals are usually fine. You will see some team members in ballroom dance heels, but flats generally are the best for your first time (and regular heels don’t have a special dance sole).

Gentleman, wear what feels comfortable. For new dancers we recommend a pair of slacks, dress shoes, and a button-down shirt.  A tie might be “overdressed”, but tight jeans or sneakers would be difficult to dance in.  It’s not critical, of course, and if you’re more comfortable in sneakers, by all means, come as you prefer! 
We also ask that everyone wear shoes for the entirety of the lesson. In other words, NO BARE FEET.

Do I need to bring a partner?

No, there are plenty of people for you to dance with!  If you do want to bring a special partner, that’s cool too.  You can rotate with the other people, or keep your special someone to yourself.  Either way is fine.

Furthermore, should you want to find a committed partner, we will do everything we can to make that happen! We host partner-search events (kind of like speed dating but with dance partners), advise you on what to look for in a partner, and provide partner search sheets to help track all the wonderful new (and old!) team members searching for just the right dance partner.

Are there tryouts?

Only if you have previous competitive ballroom experience.  If you don’t, just come to the newcomer classes, learn, and have fun :).

What if I have two left feet and no rhythm?

That’s fine!  Actually, most of our best dancers started with ZERO dancing experience.  We started by tripping all over each other.  We’re good at teaching people from scratch.

Will I be competing on Dancing With The Stars?

No, but you can say you did.  Also, who knows what the future holds?

I have danced before, will this help me with ballroom?

If you have dance experience that’s awesome! You’ll find that your previous dance training will help you pick up the basic moves more quickly, however, you may also find that you have to retrain your body to the specifics of ballroom technique (e.g. learning to move your hips for Latin can be challenging if you’ve had ballet training).

How much does it cost?

Your membership dues for the team will cost $60 each semester. Membership dues are heavily subsidized by the University and the generosity of our coaches. The $60 gets you approximately 20 hours of lessons from our Olympic-level coaches, access to expensive practice space, and a number of fully-paid-for social events throughout the semester. Outside of our team, one hour-long lesson with a ballroom coach can cost $100 or more, so $60 for a whole semester of lessons is an incredible deal!

There are additional costs if you decide to compete (dance shoes, competition entry fees), but competing is totally optional and we value all of our members whether or not they choose to compete. The team also heavily subsidizes competition costs to encourage more people to participate!

How do I join?

Just show up to any general lesson or practice session! The schedule of the lessons and practices can be found on the home page. Feel free to contact the board (ballroom-exec@umich.edu) for more information.

How do I get on or off the team mailing list?

Once you’ve paid dues you’ll automatically be added to the team mailing list. To unsubscribe, please contact the board (ballroom-exec@umich.edu).

How often do I need to practice?

Beginner lessons with our coaches are held once a week on Saturday (from September to April). If you miss the Saturday lesson or want to go over the material again, a review lesson is held during the week, usually on a Monday or Tuesday evening. We also have one coached newcomer practice per week with some experienced team members available to answer questions, usually on Thursday evening. None of our lessons are mandatory so you can fit them around your schedule!

Where does the team compete?

The team competes at several competitions hosted by other schools such as Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State. The team also hosts our own home competition, MichComp (usually in March). The biggest competitions we go to are the Arnold Sports Festival and the Ohio Star Ball for the national collegiate championships. While going to these competitions is not mandatory, we highly encourage competing as it’s super fun!

What are the available levels?

Newcomer, Pre-C, C, B and A. General breakdown of levels:

Newcomer – Newcomer, Pre-C/C team – Bronze, B team – Bronze/Silver, A team – Gold/Novice/Pre-Champ/Champ

What are the requirements of each level?

Anyone is eligible for the Newcomer level lessons. In order to enroll in levels Pre-C, C, B and A, couples must try out at the beginning of the semester. For more info, feel free to contact the board at ballroom-exec@umich.edu

Which style should we practice more, American or International?

You may find many members of the team focus their energy on the International styles. However, practicing both International and American styles is crucial to improving quickly as it provides more opportunities to compete (you’re in double the events) and keeps your dancing well rounded.

How does the team closet work?

On the website (michiganballroomteam.com), there is a tab under ‘Current Members’ titled Team Closet. Once a newcomer has paid dues, they will receive an email that includes the password for the team closet, as well as some other password protected areas of the team website. Instructions about how to borrow items are displayed on the page. Currently only ladies’ clothes are displayed on the page, but we do have some menswear as well, so contact the board (ballroom-exec@umich.edu) if you are looking for mens’ competition attire.

Which competitions should we go to?

The Ohio Star Ball (Fall) and the Arnold Sports Festival (Winter) are the biggest and most enjoyable competitions to attend. However, if possible, we recommend to going to one or more smaller competitions beforehand, to get a taste of competing and work some of the nerves out.

How am I going to learn so many dances?

It may seem like a lot at the beginning, but you will be surprised at how quickly you can pick them up. It also is incredibly helpful that many of the American and International styles overlap in basic steps and basic technique. This will allow you to practice your competition skills in a wider variety of dances, without being overwhelmed.

How can I compete when I don’t know anything but the basic?

In competition, the people who move on to later rounds are the ones that do what they know well. It’s better to do a few moves with strong technique and confidence, than many moves sloppily. Many team members have had great success and even won competitions by repeating one or two basic moves over and over for a whole round! If you attend open practice space at DTS you can also ask more experienced team members to help you learn new moves, though please be respectful of their time as they are also trying to practice their own dancing. Over time, after mastering the basics, learning new moves will come easier.

Who can I ask questions about technique?

As a rule, you should ask A and B team members any questions you have about technique. Many C and Pre-C team members are great dancers, but they are still in the process of learning technique and so should not be teaching it to others. Our coaches, Steve and Susan McFerran, are the final say on correct technique.

Who can I ask questions about literally anything else?

Our whole team is a great resource for any questions you have. Whether you have questions about competitions, costuming, try-outs, or more, we are here to help! If you are interested in connecting with a team member to help answer your questions, look out for our Ballroom Buddy program! You can also email your question to the team board at ballroom-exec@umich.edu