I caught some of last year's IDSF World Championship competition on KQED today, and it was really interesting to watch how (mostly) familiar dances are done in very unfamiliar (to me) ways. Unfortunately, I only got to see a few dances, and only two of them included the solo dances, as opposed to groups. Though I did get to see one woman get her scarf draped over her head and waltz around like that for a while until it fell off, because neither partner would free up a hand to fix it. That was funny.
I have to say, the Viennese waltz was really horrible. I don't know if it was the strict steps they were doing that looked funny to me, but most of them barely even seemed to be dancing with the beat. I think there were only two moves besides the basic step (a fake-out non-dip, and a skitter-around-in-place thing) and they weren't even used very musically most of the time. I don't know if the music is a surprise to the contestants (it probably is) but still, I could do way better choreography on the fly than all that.
And of course, the basic ballroom hold always seems extremely wrong to me. I know the motivation behind it, since it's about impressing judges, rather than connecting with your partner and the music. But I guess I wouldn't make a very good judge, since I don't actually like to see arched backs and heads sticking out at odd angles. Oh well.
One thing that did really intrigue me, though, was the quickstep. This dance seems to be what ballroom types do when they want to polka and only have swing music. They pulled out a lot more musicality for this dance, too, compared to the Viennese waltz. I've never encountered quickstep in the world of social ballroom, but it looks like it could be really fun. Entertaining footwork and some really fast traveling possibilities. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for opportunities to learn some.