Baby Ballroom is a documentary series that originally aired on Channel 5 in the UK. Following the world of young ballroom dancers from the renowned ZigZag Dance Factory in Wolverhampton, the show gives us a rare insight into the competitive world of ballroom dancing. Forgot any preconceived notions you may have about watching kids sashay across the dancefloor because this is an excellent show.
The dance studio is run by Warren and Jane Bullock who, in their heyday, were dance champions in their own right. Now retired, this formidable duo created a dance school that sends a never-ending stream of winners out into the world. And what a dance world it is. From the very pricey dresses and suits to the custom made shoes, ballroom dancing is a costly endeavor in which only the most talented survive.
Baby Ballroom follows a number of the school's most ambitious couples as they navigate their way through the dance season in the UK. Kids as young as 9 or 10 years old travel the country every week for private lessons and competitions with some putting in as many as 40 hours a week of dance practice. And while there are one or two parents who simply want their kids to have fun, the majority of the parents are fully invested in creating dance superstars.
Interviews with parents, dancers and Warren & Jane are the staple of the documentary series. Each episode follows their progression culminating in either a dance competition or a drama involving the partnerships that have formed. But for all the seriousness of the business, the show is very light-hearted and there's a lot to like about it. The kids are cute and work so hard that it's easy to root for them come competition time. Warren and Jane are fun and engaging and clearly love what they do and overall the parents are not as pushy as we've seen on other dance-related shows.
Ballroom dancing requires a level of dedication that most of us will never encounter. So in that respect, it's a fascinating show to watch. However, don't be surprised if the costumes, fake tan and beauty regimes required from some of the younger female dancers cause you to raise an eyebrow. But that's not the fault of Baby Ballroom, that's just par for the course in the wonderful and competitive world of dance.