When you open up the program for the Australians, you will notice that the day is packed full of events. These events are first broken down by style, then age group, and finally division and Grade. In Australia, there are several different divisions for competitors to work their way through But what do the grades actually mean?
Professional: At the top of the tree, the professional division represents the pinnacle of dancesport. Dancers who choose the professional division dedicate their lives to dance, competing, teaching, and often owning studios or performing in shows around the world.
Open: The open division is the premier event for non-professional, or Amateur, competitive dancers. Any dancer in the graded division may enter to test themselves against some of the best dancers in the country, and indeed the world. To make an open final is a huge achievement in itself, and to win the title is something that all dancers dream of.
Amateur Graded: The majority of dancers will find themselves in this category, which is further divided into A, B and C grades. C grade dancers are usually just beginning their journey, while A grade dancers can, in some cases, spend almost as much time and effort as the professionals and usually feature in the Open events as well. The A Grade event is a closed event, open only to Australian couples, who must complete 5 dances in their chosen style. B division dancers perform 4 dances, and the C grade division performs just 3. Dancers elevate through the system by achieving places and gathering points.
Recreational division: This is the first point of entry for anyone wishing to compete in dancesport. Dancers are restricted to routines that only contain syllabus steps, to allow them to focus on developing the basic technique of each dance. They are also only permitted to wear practice or streetwear, mainly as a way to lower the cost of entry into the sport.
Pro-Am. Separate from the other categories, pro-am features professional division dancers partnering their students through the event. In Pro-Am events, the partnership is marked as a whole, with both the professional and partner being judged as a couple.
Teacher-Student. Slightly different to the Pro-Am, Teacher-student events allow teachers, regardless of if they are professional or amateur, to dance with their students. Unlike the pro-am division, only the student is being marked in these events.