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Oh, my!
Posted by jofjonesboro
3/15/2011  10:24:00 AM
Get some rest before you respond in anger, Jonathan.

First, do you really expect me to believe that no student of yours has ever struggled when trying to dance with someone else?

To understand the problem with your argument, realize that one could make the *exact* same argument about am-am couples.

Your friend already made such a statement. I was responding to it.

Your automotive analogy is misapplied. The differences between learning as a pro-am student as a member of an amateur couple actually resembles the differences between driving an automatic (the pro-am student) and driving a straight-shift.

argument goes: By dancing exclusively with only one other person, you make it impossible to dance with anyone else.

You have possibly misunderstood and certainly misrepresented my argument. Students learning with other amateurs learn their mechanics better because they must do so. Teachers function most effectively when they can observe their students without having also to serve as partners.

There is only one advantage to pro-am over am-am competing. With pro-am, newbies can get "into the dress" much faster. They do so because they're competing based on the amount of money that they have to spend and not on their progress as developing dancers.

Yes, Jonathan, I'm well aware that the mechanics of dancing - in theory, at least - are the same for all dancers as individuals.

There may be some point to your "discussion" of the comparative demographics of pro-am versus other dancing paths but I can't tell what it is. Sadly, your entire point is based on the false assumption that all students who choose to do pro-am do so freely with a full understanding of the ballroom world.

When we meet folks who tell us, for example, that they've only been dancing - dancing, not competing - for a year and have already been to competitions, it's obvious that newcomers are being pushed into pro-am.

You just finished telling a former pro-am U.S. champion that she doesn't take her dancing seriously.

And your point would be . . . ?

Even if what you *meant* to say was, "Not in my experience", that would still only apply to the infinitesimal fraction of the entire body of people you have observed closely enough to actually be able to accurately gauge their true level of commitment.

Do you understand why this sentence makes absolutely no sense?

But as it happens, I do run the websites of 7 competitions, . . .

Care to name them?

The industry being fueled is the Pro-am Dance Industry, not the ballroom-dance industry in general.

What do you suppose would happen to the U.S. dance competition industry if 93% of all entries suddenly disappeared?

Obviously, a considerable number of pros, studios, and competition organizers would have to find another way to earn a living, bringing us to the crux of this disagreement.

No discussion of pro-am can be honest without including the real issue at hand: money. Those in the pro-am industry pursue that career path simply because it is far more lucrative than just teaching and coaching amateur couples or competing as members of professional couples.

Also, you seem to be trying to make the point that none of these people would dance (not compete, dance) at all if there were no pro-am. Because I regularly meet and dance with former pro-am competitors, I feel pretty safe in saying that a significant number - if not most - of them would.

It is clear from your last message that you have quite a lack of respect for the U.S. pro-am industry, but that doesn't mean it is not deserving of respect from the rest of us. It has produced some excellent dancers and teachers through the years, one of whom is me. And without it, you'd likely be dancing your next competition in a high school gym.

You know, I dont really care where Im dancing as long as there's decent music, a workable floor, and friends with whom to dance. This point is a blatant appeal to snobbery.

What I do not respect are the tactics used to keep the flow of new students moving into pro-am. You yourself stated that some children are pushed into pro-am ("9 to 99"), an absolutely disgusting situation.

But you know what would really happen if the ballroom-dance competition industry in the US collapsed? 99.99% of the people in the US wouldn't notice at all.

jj











Re: Oh, my!
Posted by silver
3/15/2011  11:06:00 AM
Using numerical statistics from the US Census Bureau and approximating the number of ballroom dance participants I see at large events, I calculate that approximately .04 of 1% of the people in my region, which is one of the faster growing regions in the US, would take notice if our ballroom industry went away. Of this number of participants, maybe 1/2 of us take any kind of regular lessons and I would guess that far fewer of us are serious about ballroom or latin. I am also convinced that there would be far more, long-term interest from more people if studios would change their approach to how they entice people into the various avenues of their revenue stream.
Re: Oh, my!
Posted by jofjonesboro
3/15/2011  11:31:00 AM
I am also convinced that there would be far more, long-term interest from more people if studios would change their approach to how they entice people into the various avenues of their revenue stream.

You make an excellent point. There are many good dance instructors who make good livings just teaching lessons, classes, and workshops.

With the recent increase in ballroom dancing, every instructor in the US could have had a fully booked calendar the year round.

But the temptation of pro-am money is just too much for many pros, especially those whose teaching skills fall far short of their dancing level.

jj

PS Thanks for the analysis.
Re: Oh, my!
Posted by Telemark
3/15/2011  12:40:00 PM
But the temptation of pro-am money is just too much for many pros, especially those whose teaching skills fall far short of their dancing level.


Well, yes. At the very highest levels of dancesport (where professionals teach at all, not all do) there is often a considerable overlap between performance skill and teaching ability, but for the vast majority of instructors, what makes them useful to their students is their ability to teach, and not to perform.

In preparing students for teaching qualifications it is rather taken for granted that they can already dance quite well, but they do have to dance for about a minute at the very start of the exam session, just to prove that they can, and then rest of the time is spent examining their knowledge and understanding of technique, and on their teaching ability.

I'm sure that's just as it should be, and it seems to me that it is rather a waste of a real performer's ability not to seek a competitive partnership with the best available partner, or equally, a waste of real teaching ability to become a hired hand on the competitive floor.

But money talks.
Re: Oh, my!
Posted by belleofyourball
3/15/2011  12:09:00 PM
jj,

As a Pro/AM myself in the American Smooth and Latin...I wish to speak to what you are saying.

Yes there are abuses in the system but they aren't universal. There are too many of them and when I first began to dance I was one of the people who was paying too much for someone else to make me look good. It isn't what I wanted from dance. I went out and sought someone who was a professional and didn't just dance me around blindly.

I work, and I work hard. I drive five hours round trip to dance with him and it would be unfair to an amateur partner to say...gee I can only dance with you one or two days a week. I just can't drive that far more often than that. At home I practice until every step is right, without him. Yes I do it by myself and I can perform and dance better than a lot of the so called professionals out there. I wouldn't be in the top certainly...but I would give them a run for their money including with a different partner. My pro has taught or is teaching several of the top professional and amateur couples, that are on the circuit right now.

I guarantee you that he has a couple ladies where you assertion is true. You can tell, you can see them. I can promise you it isn't with me. I can also promise you that I take my dance seriously... When I do take group classes, which I do if I can, the men appreciate the fact that not only can I follow, but I know the footwork. By the way I have on occassion when the woman count was too low, taken on the part of lead, which I can also do because if you are going to learn to dance you just have to have both sides.

Now, would I give almost anything right now for an amateur partner, I would. But I'm not going to stop dancing
Re: Oh, my!
Posted by jofjonesboro
3/15/2011  12:43:00 PM
Now, would I give almost anything right now for an amateur partner, I would. But I'm not going to stop dancing

I've had a couple of partner prospects over the past year but neither turned out to be suitable. I want a partner but am not willing to accept just anyone.

Still, I haven't stopped dancing. I attend from one to three dance socials each week.

Does the scoial dancing offer the same rigor as competition preparation? No, of course not. However, social dancing is a lot of fun and I am steadily improving (especially in floorcraft).

Finally, the dance floor is the best place to find another partner.

jj
Re: Oh, my!
Posted by Some Help
3/20/2011  5:15:00 PM
Jofjonesboro,
Oh my, indeed. You can dish it out, but can't take it, eh? I saw your interpretation of a perceived (in your view) "insult" to you on a rival forum (in a thread called "is it a rumba", you, in post #5 took offense at an innocent comment in post in #4). Good grief, surely you don't need to artificially invent "slights" to your comments.
Well, the 'just anyone' ladies that you refer to in your prior post here probably have had a lucky (or wise) escape from partnering with you. Mid- to late- 60s guy, with more emphasis on your desires than on your actual skills - well, I'm sure those ladies can admire your passion, even if your technical expertise isn't quite what you yourself would want in others. (Um- don't be so certain that some of us haven't seen you dance and witnessed your ... skills.)
Please return here with your "last word/last retort" here and keep us all amused! I, for one, await.
Re: Oh, my!
Posted by silver
3/21/2011  10:43:00 AM
I have my popcorn and soda. Is this show is gonna be good or what? A thickening plot. A thrown gauntlet. I can't wait for the intermission to be over . . ..

Sorry, I just couldn't resist. I'm an aging smart a#$.
Re: Oh, my!
Posted by Telemark
3/21/2011  12:34:00 PM
Yawn.
Re: Oh, my!
Posted by Waltz123
3/21/2011  5:38:00 PM
Your automotive analogy is misapplied. The differences between learning as a pro-am student as a member of an amateur couple actually resembles the differences between driving an automatic (the pro-am student) and driving a straight-shift.
On the contrary, yours is the "misapplied" analogy because it introduces another separate skill into the equation. The operating of a stick shift is an additional activity layered on top of the basic skill of driving. A professional teacher is not better than a student because he can layer an additional activity on top of his dancing, like say juggling bean bags. He's better because he excels at the same basic set of skills. So the most accurate comparison would be one where the parameters are most similar -- in the case of driving, one where the basic function of the cars is the same, i.e. both automatic.

This brings us back to the simple premise that if you are reasonably well taught, making the transition from pro to amateur partner should not result in the complete inability to dance, as you suggested.

We can also look at it conversely: If you've witnessed the complete breakdown of a student when put in this situation, what you've seen is someone who was not, in fact, reasonably well taught.

However, if that's the case, then it was the ability of the teacher (or perhaps even the student) that was to blame... not the fact that the prior training was pro-am in nature. Chances are that if that same student had switched from one amateur partner to another, under the guidance of the same unskilled teacher, you would have witnessed the same breakdown... possibly worse.

Students learning with other amateurs learn their mechanics better because they must do so. Teachers function most effectively when they can observe their students without having also to serve as partners.
All arguments in favor of learning as a pair can be countered either with arguments against it, or arguments in favor of learning as a single. I'll take take your points above as examples:

#1 Students learning together learn the mechanics better.

FALSE. Concepts are absorbed much more effectively when undisturbed by outside noise, such as a partner whose own problems aggravate your own. When the second half of the partnership is relatively problem-free, the learning process is quicker and more concentrated.

True, having someone compensate for your weaknesses will not enable you to learn. But that again points to the deficiencies of the teacher, not to those inherent in pro-am dancing. A good pro-am teacher will recognize problems and fix them, not by compensating but by teaching. And bad teachers are bad teachers, whether they work with singles or couples.

Also not to be overlooked: By sharing the lesson with someone else, you get exactly half the attention.

#2 Teachers function more effectively when they can observe their students.

PARTLY TRUE: Some aspects of dancing are more easily observed from afar; Others from close-up, and others still can only be felt by the partner. Couples' teaching methods tend to be better with the visual, while singles' teaching methods tend to be better for the partnership and feel-based skills.

You also have to realize that the each method can be used by either party. It is as simple a task for pro-am teachers to use various methods to enable them to get a third-party perspective as it is for a couples' teacher to insert himself into the partnership to get a feel for what's going on inside. The best teachers employ all methods, selecting the ones that best suit each situation.

For outside perspective, pro-am teachers can observe a student dancing solo, watch a video (either of a recent performance, or one taken on the fly in studio), and of course, hire a third party for a coaching lesson. Coaching is generally much more effective with a pro-am teacher as a partner because he's in the best position to retain and later reproduce the information learned on the coaching lesson, being that the bulk of the information is not new to him; It serves as more of a guide.

Finally, and most importantly, is the skill of the pro himself: Having already put in the time required to learn the skills, he doesn't typically need to physically stand outside the partnership to know exactly what it looks like. The more skilled we become at our craft, the smaller the gap between what we imagine it looks like, and what it actually does look like.

You can argue all day long about the merits of learning as a couple, and it's easy to counter with arguments in favor of learning alone. But that will quickly grow tiresome. I think it's much easier if we all agree, as I said before, that there are relative strengths and weaknesses to either method of learning. In a perfect scenario, one would do both and capitalize on the benefits of each.

(Continued in next message...)

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