I had an amazing time at this competition held in Calgary, AB, Canada over 3 days!
I am going to start with the caveat that my review is based on my experience as a pro/am student dancing in international style only.
Information on the website can be found here and they also have a facebook page you can follow. This year was the 7th year hosted by Jean-Marc Généreux and France Mousseau, Martin and Diana Lefebvre, and Kelly Lannan & Eric Caty.
In addition to ballroom and latin competitions, the event also has Country & Western Events, Salsa, Bachata and Argentine Tango events. An entire day is devoted to youth events on Sunday.
The competition also features a celebrity workshop series, after-parties and several top-notch showcase performances, this year included the Salsa World Champions from Italy, members of semi-pro salsa formation teams and performances from Ballet Alberta.
It also included the Canadian Open Professional Championships in a 4 styles and a professional show dance competition–two of the biggest “wows” from the weekend.
So lets get down to the ‘nitty gritty’.
The registration and entry fees for this competition are comparable to others across Canada with early bird prices of $25 for single dances and $40-$100 for multi-dances (increasing by number of dances in the event). There were scholarship events for each style for $100 each plus 10 single dances.
Tickets are reasonably priced and several different package options were available, both with and without hotel accommodations, some with the workshops included. Competitors were required to purchase a minimum full day and evening pass to compete ($130 for full weekend).
There were lots of options for events including closed and open single dances as well as closed and open multi-dance events. The multi-dance events included 3 age categories (A, B, and C) and the scholarships were under 35 and 35+. There were 6 couples in both the ballroom and latin open scholarships and these were danced in the evening.
The facility was well set up with separate changerooms (with a volunteer monitoring the doors for security), easily accessible bathrooms, and practice room, a separate room for the workshops (which also doubled as a second after-party room), lots of vendors, and water stations in the ballroom.
The floor was neither sticky nor slippery with a great texture and while it was regulation, it got a little tight for 6-7 couples doing ballroom. For latin the floor space worked out better. For filling the space in the ballroom, it was very balanced overall.
There was space to warm-up in the hall and space to stand behind the tables as you got ready for your heats and the room was not too crowded (although I believe they were sold out!). The temperature in the room was good if you were dancing, although sometimes got a little warm towards the end of the night. Overall the temperature control was good.
The lighting was also good. The floor was bright for competitions, and they were able to adjust the lighting for the showcase performances as needed, adding an extra element.
The music was good and consistent, although for myself I found I didn’t recognize a lot of the melodies, so sometimes it was a little harder to connect with (but that is me personally). The music played about 1:10 for daytime events, and my biggest complaint is that the paso music was cut before the second highlight for pro/am.
The prizes consisted of a combination of “Rocky Mountain Dollars” for single and multi-dance events valid for next year’s entries, medals for multi-dance and scholarship events, and all competitors in the scholarship received a gift bag containing a leather clutch with jewelry, make-up and make-up remover inside–a really nice touch! All pro-am competitors also received a beautiful framed picture hand-drawned by one of the organizers.
There were top student awards in each style and overall, although there are no explanations for how these awards were won, and top studio and top teacher awards (which are explained on the website).
Students competing in the evening scholarship were introduced between dances, which is always an appreciated touch.
One point I would like to mention that was ‘above and beyond’. When I first received my heat lists, all of my multi-dances were grouped together in a row, meaning I was facing having to dance 16 dances without a break. When we pointed that out to the organizer, the heats were rearranged where possible to give some breaks, such as putting the bronze multi-dance between the gold ones. That was much appreciated.
One small minus for this comp–all competitors were required to wear wrist bands as ‘proof of ticket’, including professionals. Because I have long sleeves on both my dresses, I was able to ‘hide’ my wrist band, but others without sleeves were not. It was a little distracting on the floor.
The atmosphere of this competition was amazing all the way through. There was excitement in the room, friendly conversation, lots of cheering and it was well scheduled.
I highly recommend it for any pro/am competitor looking for a well-valued competition in the fall.
Many thanks to the 6 organizers for all their hard work!