The Ballroom Dance Company

Ballroom Dance Instruction for Singles and Couples

Ballroom Dance Lessons and Classes in Portland Oregon


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Improve your Dancing...
Start Competing Today!

Our students compete locally, nationally and internationally. Students of different ages & experience levels compete in their own categories, so you will be on the floor competing with other dancers of similar age and experience level. If you do not have an amateur partner, you can compete with your instructor as your partner. This is called "pro-am competition."

What is Pro-Am?

Pro-Am competition is a category in DanceSport where amateur students partner with a professional dancer, similar to what you see on “Dancing With The Stars.” In these events only the amateur is judged, leaving the professional free to concentrate on helping you look and dance your best! There are several age classifications and level divisions available, allowing professional partners to dance with all their students, and to ensure you compete against other dancers of similar skill. Every dance style is available, so you can choose the dances you want to compete in.

Age Categories

Each competition has slightly different age division breakdowns, and it is often possible to compete in a different age category. Pro-am age categories usually are:

-Pre-Teen: 12 & younger

-Junior: 13-15

-Youth: 16-18

-Adult: 18-35

-Adult B: 35-50

-Senior I: 50-70

-Senior II: 70+

Types of Competition

Dance Styles

Pro-Am competitors choose which style(s) of dance they compete in. They may compete in one, or many styles of dance. There are four major categories the dances are grouped into: International Latin (cha cha, samba, rumba, paso doble & jive), International Standard (waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, foxtrot & quickstep), American Rhythm (cha cha, rumba, east coast swing, bolero, mambo, west coast swing, salsa, nightclub two-step, merengue & new york hustle), and American Smooth (waltz, tango, viennese waltz, foxtrot & argentine tango).

Group Flights

Most pro-am competitors try group flights for their first competition. This is where you, your instructor, and other couples compete together on the competition floor. You enter a specific age and skill division. Your instructor will help you choose the level right for you.

Skill Divisions

Competitions are usually divided by ‘syllabus,’ meaning competitors are restricted to specific steps appropriate for their experience level. Your instructor will teach you competition choreography in advance, to prepare you for your competition. The levels are: Newcomer, Pre-Bronze, Bronze, Full Bronze, Open Bronze, Pre-Silver, Silver, Full Silver, Open Silver, Pre-Gold, Gold, Full Gold, Open Gold & Open Championship.


In solo competition, you and your instructor are the only couple on the floor. Judges usually give you individual feedback, and mark you on a scale of 1-100. Your scores are compared with many other couples who dance solos during the competition. The top-marked solos re-dance at night, and scholarships are usually awarded to the top solos of the entire competition. Solos are great for dancers who have a particular song they love dancing to, or if you would like the judge's individual feedback which you cannot get in group flights. Solos are limited to 2 minutes and 45 seconds, but choreography is unrestricted allowing for maximum artistic expression and showmanship. Solo events are exciting and often highly competitive.

Scholarship Events

Most competitions offer multi-dance scholarship events. These are highly competitive events where competitors are judged on their overall ability in several dances. The top three couples are usually rewarded with scholarship money to help further their dance training. We are proud Ballroom Dance Company students are highly successful in these events, securing thousands of dollars in scholarship funds from various competitions. They prove The Ballroom Dance Company is Oregon’s top choice for pro-am competition.

Annual pro-am competition opportunities include but are not limited to

The following are just a few of the many Pro-Am Competition opportunities available to students:

Late April/Early May EMERALD BALL (Los Angeles, California)

Early May PORTLAND OPEN (Portland, Oregon)

Early September EMBASSY BALL (Irvine, California)

Mid October AUTUMN DANCE CLASSIC (San Francisco, California)

Late July/Early August SEATTLE STAR BALL (Seattle, Washington)

Late November OHIO STAR BALL (Columbus, Ohio)

Early/Mid December HOLIDAY DANCE CLASSIC (Las Vegas, Nevada)


Costs vary between competitions, so you‘ll need to discuss the event you‘re interested in with your teacher for specifics. Firstly: you pay your instructor for their time, talent and expenses. Our instructors average these costs out between all their students, so the more students compete, the less each student pays. The other cost is for the event. You will need to buy tickets to the event (often discount packages are available) and pay entry fees. Here are typical pro-am competition entry fees. Actual fees vary per competition:

Single Dance Entry $30-$40

Scholarship (Multi-Dance) Entry $100-$150

Solo Entry $50-$100

Professionals Available for Pro-Am Competition

The following professional dancers are available for pro-am competition at The Ballroom Dance Company. Please contact them today if you are interested in competing with them!

Shawn Gardner

Shawn Gardner has been passionate about dance since the age of 10. She's a professional instructor with over 18 years teaching experience, and specializes in sharing the joy & benefits of dance with children & families. Her patience, enthusiasm & natural ability to connect with young dancers is evident in the numerous students who took their very first lesson with Shawn that have advanced to compete and perform for large audiences. Shawn's ballroom career began in 2005. Just two years later, after training under Sunnie Page, Shawn was crowned National Champion in both Bronze & Silver International Standard at the 2007 USA Dance National Championships. She's available for private lessons for all ages, Pro-Am competition, wedding lessons, beginning competition preparation, show dances & more. Please book directly with Shawn by calling 971-998-5120 or by e-mailing

David Semken

Dutch Professional National Champion David Semken is a Finalist in all major European professional competitions, and coach to numerous national and international amateur and professional champions. He is an elite level coach who has coached competitors in all age divisions to win national and international championship titles in both standard and latin, including Blackpool’s 2014 Professional Rising Star Ballroom Champions. He is available for pro-am competition and performance, and also coaches amateur couples and individuals of all skill and age levels. He is available for private lessons exclusively at The Ballroom Dance Company 7 days a week, which can be booked through our front desk at (503)639-4861 or e-mail Privates are $95/45mins

The Ballroom Dance Company
8900 SW Commercial St, Tigard OR
503 - 639 - 4861


I-5 to exit 294,
Follow 99W west
Left on Hall,
Right on Commercial
(you'll see Salon Natalia)
Ballroom is on your left


217 to exit 292,
Right on 99W,
Get in far left lane
Left on Hall
(you'll see Salon Natalia)
Right on Commercial


I-5 to exit 292B
(Kruse Way toward 72nd)
Left on 72nd
Right on Hunziger
Left on Hall
Right on Commercial

Look for the burgundy & gold building with the "BALLROOM" marquee