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Is 22 too old?
Posted by lifelovendance
11/12/2010  7:52:00 PM
Hi...I'm kind of new to this community, so please bear with me.

I have had a passion for ballroom for years and now I am a teacher trainee at Arthur Murray. I've been dancing in different styles my whole life, so I pick up dances fairly quickly.

I know this question has been asked time and time again, but am I too old to think about competing? I know that most competitors start at like age 5, so...

Also, this particular studio teaches only American style (although some of them know International Style). This concerns me because I think most major competitions are International Style (is this correct?). I would like to know both, but is it too late to learn both? Am I going about this the right way? Please help!
Re: Is 22 too old?
Posted by anymouse
11/12/2010  8:29:00 PM
22 is a bit old to start if you plan to be a world champion, but you should still be able to have a significant competitive career.

If competing is your real goal though, you may want to think about getting out of the teacher training program and moving to a studio that trains amateur competitors who compete together in partnerships (or more specifically, finding a specific teacher with a history of training amateur couples to competitive success). The reason is that as an amateur you will have far more opportunities to compete against peers at each level of development - you can start competing with only months of total dance experience dancing against others of similarly limited training, and then just keep moving up levels as you build skill and experience through the highest amateur division where you will first go up against those who danced as children. If you then decide to turn pro, you will hit the ground running, prepared to be not just a professional teacher but a professional competitor.

In contrast, if you stick with the teacher training path, most of your time will be concerned with what marginally interested social students need to know - lots of fluff, very little substance or depth. And that's the part of your training that is even about dancing, rather than about sales. You may face restrictions on who you can have as a professional partner (they may have to work for your studio or an allied one). As a junior professional you will have fewer competitive alternatives than as an amateur - the chains do have internal divisions for low level pros, but mostly you would get your initial experience doing pro/am comps with low level students. In contrast to a ladder of 6 or so divisions to climb in the amateur ranks, there are really only 2 pro divisions, and they have about 80% overlap of people - in other words, while the lower division wouldn't have you competing against the national champions, you would be competing against people who are competing against them.

The amateur divisions also offer additional age categories for those over 35, 45, or 55, while most professionals retire from competition to refocus on teaching, judging, or raising a family by their mid thirties.

If you do stick with the teacher training program, you are likely to have better prospects in the professional american style divisions than the international ones - fewer of the overseas trained former amateurs who dominate the professional international style competitions take interest in american style, while the studio system has more of a tradition of pursuing it. People with a diverse dance background before ballroom may also find their previous experience more directly transferable to american style than to the more uniquely ballroom techniques stressed in international style.
Re: Is 22 too old?
Posted by yeehah
11/15/2010  12:53:00 AM
I started dancing "competetive" style when I was 23. After I completed silver, I moved to another studio who taught American style and did teacher's training.

9 years later I danced in a competition and became the 1997 "Professional Gauteng Amercian Rhythm Champion". I pursued with teaching and training and became the South African 2000 American Smooth, American Rhythm and Showdance Champion. I successfully defended the title in 2001.

So with hard work and dedication it's never too old to start. If you want success and are prepared to work for it, you can do it. Good luck
Re: Is 22 too old?
Posted by belleofyourball
11/15/2010  10:24:00 AM
first of all anymouse gives good advice...and 2nd...

If you have talent and drive and a work ethic you can succeed (assuming your ambition doesn't override your sense). You can probably, with enough work win in American Rhythm or Smooth. If you stay in America you can probably even climb the ranks of International Latin and Standard. (I see far fewer pros in America competing in that than the American divisions so there is much less competition.)

As far as are you going to win at Blackpool or any real overseas competition...don't hold your breath. It isn't even about age though that is a factor. Most of those people have access to the best coaches and training money can buy. They've been practicing for years and competing for just as long...then we start talking about the politics of those competitions and let us not even get going on that :~}

Good luck...I hope you do well and that your ambitions are met with success.
Re: Is 22 too old?
Posted by anymouse
11/15/2010  12:12:00 PM
"I see far fewer pros in America competing in that than the American divisions so there is much less competition"

In international style there is a pretty sharp divide between the graduates of intense overseas youth programs (or those from the first comparable US programs who are just starting to turn pro), and with very few exceptions almost anyone else.

American style might have more competitors standing between an inexperienced professional and a title, but they are going to have a much more variation in strength and experience, so progress in climbing through the ranks is likely to be more apparent.

Despite this, it's probably wiser to pick a style based on what has personal appeal. Investing a decade or more of life in something isn't worth doing unless it's going to be personally rewarding.

Had a look at results from last year's Ohio Star Ball. In the open professional category entry sizes are quite comparable between International and American style. In the rising star, smooth is moderately larger than standard, and rhythm much, much larger than latin.
Re: Is 22 too old?
Posted by lifelovendance
11/16/2010  5:06:00 PM
Thank you so much for your responses!

I would say that as far as competitions like Blackpool, I would love to compete just to do it. It doesn't matter if I win or not, but just the experience itself must be exciting. Plus, I've never been to England! And hopefully, by the time I'd be thinking about something of that magnitude, I'll have another full-time job to fund coaching and the like.

I've been training for about a week now in Bronze I rumba, cha-cha, salsa, EC swing, waltz, foxtrot and tango. I think we'll be out of Bronze I by next week or so given the speed we're moving. The only thing that gets me is knowing both the lady's and the man's part. I think I get them mixed up, but other than that I'm picking them up quite well
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