It may seem like mobile apps and ballroom dancing belong not so much in different eras as in entirely different dimensions. And it’s certainly true that in a time when digital connectivity sometimes encroaches upon the physical realm, activities such as dancing are more precious than ever.
However, numerous apps have been developed to help dancers. These tend to either make life simpler, or are aimed at allowing you to take advanced control of your practice session. Here’s our review of six names you’re likely to come across:
1) Ballroom Competition Trainer
Ballroom Competition Trainer has earned a reputation for being “the” ballroom dancing app to download. Its main agenda is for practicing rounds, although has an extensive range of additional features. For practicing rounds, you’re able to choose how long you want each dance to be, the tempo, and how much break you want, so that you can practice running rounds without interruption. This enables you to prepare for an authentic performance in advance, right down to timing your breathing, whilst also being a helpful general practice tool.
We found this app both helpful and useable, although it can take a bit of getting used to if you’re not normally an app user.
2) Ballroom Player
Ballroom player is a slightly simpler take on the ‘running rounds’ app concept. We found that it does everything that Ballroom Competition Trainer does, but has a very accessible interface. It’s ideal if you want a no-nonsense way to practice your rounds whilst having control over tempo and breaks.
Remember the days of rewinding cassettes to the point of exhaustion, or of flicking through CDs for the half-time tracks? Not anymore. This well-thought-out app links to your playlist, and allows you to take control of the speed. It’s a helpful time-saver, but also gives you enhanced direction over your practice session. It’s particularly useful if you want to simply focus upon practicing one style, but at multiple different speeds.
There’s potentially less place in the world for apps such as Anytune, as Ballroom Competition Trainer and Ballroom Player also offer the tempo control feature. However, there’s something very practical and straightforward about Anytune, which means it’s ideal for when really targeting precision during early rehearsals.
4) Hudl Technique
Many of us rely upon our teacher to know whether our spines are aligned, our frames at the perfect angle, and our rhythm flawless. However, this app enables you to undertake the analysis yourself. It works by creating a slow-motion video of your performance, which can then be analysed for every detail, including angles, axes, and actions. It’s an app that’s aimed at perfectionists, but can also be helpful if there are elements of posture or rhythm that you are particularly keen to improve.
One thing that certainly captured our interest was the capacity of this dance to capture the detail of how dancers respond to different shoes. Our philosophy is that dance shoes must be paired perfectly with the dancer, whilst offering optimum support. We’ve always believed in this, so it was no surprise that when we put this app to the test, we found that the type of shoe can have a dramatic influence on dancing analytics!
If you’ve ever been curious about ballroom dancing, but are a little hesitant about taking the plunge, this app will teach you the basics. It introduces you to the early figures, and uses the phone’s own features to instruct you on your timing and alignment. Although it’s aimed at beginners, all advanced dancers know that continuing to practice those basic, fundamental steps is crucial to the perfect performance. Therefore, this is a handy app for dancers of all levels.
Whilst this app can certainly never replace a teacher, we found that it has a surprisingly high level of accuracy.
Taking An App For A Spin
Ballroom dancing apps have really made the digital space their own. Most are free, and may offer genuine benefits to the practicing dancer. Therefore, downloading them and taking them for a spin can be a harmless way to see whether they may improve your dancing.