Controversy Brews Over Dance Competition Rules

Issue regarding the selection process for the Singaporean entries to a dance competition.  The vice-president of the Singapore Ballroom Dance Teachers’ Association (SBDTA), Ms Aleena Tan has called the dance competition unfair for restricting entries to the Singapore DanceSport Federation’s members.  She says: “It has to be an open competition where dancers can fight it out to be picked.  It cannot be dominated by one organisation or a few couples.  Better dance couples could be out there, but they wouldn’t get the chance to participate because they aren’t members of the federation.”

There are about 60 registered ballroom teachers and five dance couples who are members of the SBDTA.  The association here is an affiliate of the World Dance Council, which is another prominent international dance organisation.  This is a different organisation from the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) of which the Singapore DanceSport federation is a member.

Whether ballroom dancing is a sport is the main point of contention which prevents the two from working together.

Members of the Singapore DanceSport Federation (SGDF) are ranked based on the number of specific dance competition they take part in throughout the year and how they are placed in those competitions they took part.

For Ms Tan, the definition is clear.  “Ballroom dancing is an art, it shouldn’t be looked at as a sport.  All these restrictions and regulations when entering competitions tie down people who just want to dance in a competition.”

Mr. Robert Ong, adviser to the SGDF, says of the 24-year-old association: “Like all sporting systems recognised by the International Olympic Council, participants who want to take part in such international competitions have to be a member of the national sports federation or association of their countries.”  SGDF has about 220 active members, he points out that membership in the federation is open to anybody and is not exclusive to any particular dance studio.  He said: “The SGDF is the local national sports association for dance sport in Singapore and hence, participants will have to be a member of the federation.”