SnowBall Classic ballroom dance championship returns to Vancouver

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      is one of the most prestigious ballroom dance competitions in the world and it’s returning to Vancouver later this month. Now in its 30th year, over 2,500 spectators will attend the two-day show to watch couples dance, twirl, and compete for a spot at the top.

      The event is organized by , a registered nonprofit volunteer-run society founded in 1968 to promote and encourage amateur social and competitive dancesport. It is the governing body for amateur dancesport in British Columbia. SnowBall is now, with thanks to its volunteers and sponsors, one of the largest competitions of its kind in North America.

      “We’ve hosted World Championships in the past, but this year we are hosting an International Open event so there are quite a few couples coming from Europe,” DanceSport BC vice president Pinky Wong says.

      SnowBall Classic is an amateur event but world-ranking athletes from as far afield as Denmark, Italy, Estonia, Croatia, Iceland, and Poland will be there to compete. The inclusive competition has age categories from juvenile to senior. And the senior dancers, starting at age 35, are split into four age groups up to 65 years old and up.

      “We have a member who’s 80 years old and he’s still competing,” adds Wong.

      There is also a pro-am category, which allows individuals, typically female, who wish to take part but don’t have a partner. They can compete with a professional or their coach.

      DanceSport BC

      DanceSport BC director and SnowBall chair Cherry Zhu says that shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars have really helped engage a younger demographic. But budding dancers should be warned: it takes years of hard work and training to get to the Championship level.

      Competitive ballroom dancing is known as dancesport. These competitions combine the elegance, drama, and romance of ballroom dancing with the vibrant athleticism and excitement of Latin dancing, by adding the element of sport. Dancesport events exude tremendous excitement and energy. Dancesport competitors not only embody grace, sophistication, and artistry, but also possess a very high level of skill and athleticism.

      The dancers have to work their way through seven ranks from newcomer to championships. There are five dances in each discipline, meaning that some couples will compete in 10 different dances. In ballroom, athlete-dancers must master the waltz, tango, slow foxtrot, Viennese waltz, and quickstep. And Latin consists of the cha-cha, rumba, samba, paso doble, and jive.

      DanceSport BC

      At SnowBall, in certain events with large entries, couples will have to go through preliminary rounds, quarter-finals, and semi-finals. Only the best six or seven couples will be called back by the judges to the final round. So it takes skill, stamina, and passion to make it to the top. And Wong is proud to share that dancesport is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a sport and is being considered by the IOC for inclusion as a medal event in the Summer Olympic Games.

      Breaking, which is one of the dancesport disciplines, has been included in this year’s Youth Olympic Games (YOG) hosted in Buenos Aires. Two breakers from Canada qualified for the YOG. One of DanceSport’s own members, Emma Misak, from Surrey claimed the silver medal in the b-girls competitions this past weekend at the YOG.

      The Showcase of Champions, which is sure to be a weekend highlight, invites couples to demonstrate their fantastic dance skills and athletic ability—without the pressure of being judged. Olympic medallist Misak has also been invited to perform. Not to mention, it’s another chance for the audience to enjoy the fabulous dancing by these talented athletes.

      Seeing dance on-screen is one thing, but experiencing it in real life is a truly exhilarating spectacle.

      takes place Saturday and Sunday (October 27 and 28) at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel (7551 Westminster Highway, Richmond). Tickets start at $30 for a day session pass and can be purchased from the website. For more information, as well as sponsorship opportunities, visit the .