Floorcraft: the art of traversing the floor without bumping into people. And for competitions, the art of looking good to the judges.

If you observe professional couples, you will notice that though they move extremely fast, they almost never bump into each other, much less crash. Contrast this with say, a division of newcomers at Comp who consistently run into each other. What’s the difference? It’s a matter of observation.

Charting a Path: Pros, when dancing, are constantly observing what’s going around them. It’s not just a matter of what moves the couple themselves are performing, but also seeing couples around them and whether they are performing moves that could lead to potential collisions. Pros avoid these collisions by maneuvering around each other and making adjustments. So what should you do?
Observe: The ballroom floor does not consist of just you and your partner. It’s a shared space, and not only must you avoid infringing on the space of other couples, you need to watch out for those who would infringe on yours. Good communication with your partner is necessary since the two of you are able to have a 360 field of view. In doing so, you’ll be able to signal to each other potential collisions and make the necessary adjustments to move around obstacles.
Roles: The leader is in charge of driving. Since the leader is often the one moving along line of dance and the follower has her back to LoD, the leader is responsible for maneuvering around collisions. That being said, when the leader is backing LoD, the follower is responsible for notifying the leader of possible collisions, either by squeezing his hand or momentarily taking control to avoid a collision.

Collisions1: Collisions are a very common occurrence at competitions. If you’re in one, don’t say shit. Instead, you need to focus on keeping your cool and recovering. There are two methods of recovery. 1) Begin moving away from the collision site and proceed as if nothing happened. 2) Stop, regain control, and begin when you can. Obviously, 1 is better than 2 since stopping for prolonged periods of time is unadvisable. But sometimes Option 2 is better than Option 1, if there’s a lot of traffic or you just need to find the music beat again.

Collision2: Let’s say you’re doing a progressive dance such as waltz and a collision of couples happens in front of you. Or, as you’re moving along, you notice a large clump of dancers all clustered together. What you do not want to do is to join said collision or clump. Instead, maneuver around the obstacle by either going inside or outside. Usually, inside is the way you’ll go so you won’t be squeezed between the obstacle and the edge of the dance floor.

Competition: In the first rounds of competition, running into people doesn’t happen often. Ironically, it’s in the later rounds of competition that crashes happen more often. I’m not too sure as to why when you advance in heats, collisions occur more often. My hypothesis is that those who advance in comps are those who dominate the floor. They don't care about others, they just move. So, as you have more of these "alpha-couples" on the floor in greater concentration, collisions are more likely to occur.

Looking Good1: One of the easiest ways to stand out amongst the couples is to cover the most ground. Hence, at competitions, you’ll notice the couples in the finals are usually pretty tall: by virtue of their height, they just naturally move further. Work on being able to move large distances without straining yourself, your legs, or your partner.

Looking Good2: Before you enter the floor, plot exactly where you want to be. For spot dances, middle of the floor or near the majority of judges is a good idea. For moving dances, you want to hit your stride when you begin moving in front of judges. In short, use your smarts to see where the judges are so you won't be lost in a sea of dancers. Judges have a tendency to cluster instead of being evenly spaced out, so observe their tendencies and use the floor to your advantage.

Looking Good3: Let us take waltz as an example. When you waltz around the floor, you must move around couples. In addition, you have two choices as to how you move with regard to the boundary of the floor. You can waltz along the boundary, hugging the edge. You also have the choice of being closer to the center. Both have their pros and cons.

When hugging the edge, you are in front of the judges. But you have longer distances to cover Furthermore, if you’re not careful, you can be boxed out by those moving inside relative to you. That being said, you can’t not be near the edge at all. Otherwise, you’ll just be making very small loops, and progressive dances will have turned into spot dances. That’s not impressive at all.

In short, hug the edges, but not too much, lest you get blocked off from executing a turn.