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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.


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

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.

Re: Oh, my!
Posted by Some Help
3/20/2011  5:15:00 PM
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
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...)
This took you a week?
Posted by jofjonesboro
3/21/2011  9:41:00 PM
Just as anymouse does, you remind me of a bad high-school debater. You apparently believe that if you just vomit up enough verbiage then you prevail through sheer tedium.

I'll deal with the crux of this "disagreement" first.

For obvious reasons, you are ignoring the entire basis of partner dancing: it is an activity for couples. There are no individuals on the dance floor. Pro/am tries to redefine it as a pursuit for individuals. The pro/am student has, in truth, no partner.

I know from my own experience and that of other amateurs that your response about learning mechanics is simply untrue. By learning to follow a lead who is also learning to dance a particular figure, the follow learns the feel of both his correct movements and his mistakes. Understanding how it feels when he is doing something improperly gives the follow the ability to give her partner critical feedback when they practice. This interplay works in both directions.

There is no practicing in pro/am other than the student's practicing alone. With no one to notice and correct mistakes, practicing alone can serve simply to ingrain bad habits.

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

I find myself wondering how you run your lesson when you're teaching a couple. When my instructor addresses my partner, I don't walk off of the floor and sit down. I pay as much attention as when the instructor directs her attention to me; my partner does the same. Understanding what one's partner must do is critical to becoming a good lead or follow. The fact that the instructor is not talking directly to one partner does not mean that the other one is not learning.

Consider a class during which one of the students asks a question. Although the teacher may direct the response to that student, all of the others in the class learn something from it.

There is not "another separate skill" in my automotive analogy (had I already named one separate skill?). The driver of the standard-transmission can easily drive an automatic but one who has learned to drive only an automatic cannot operate a stick shift without difficulty. Similarly, one who learns with another student learns to deal with mistakes and problems; a pro/am student doesn't.

The fact that you can come up with a counter arguemnt doesn't mean that it's a good one.

Re: Oh, my!
Posted by Waltz123
3/21/2011  5:39:00 PM
You just finished telling a former pro-am U.S. champion that she doesn't take her dancing seriously.

And your point would be . . . ?
My point is exactly what I wrote previously: You are being presumptuous.

You have no idea how committed she is, because you don't know anything about her, except that she was at some point in the past a pro-am competitor. This fact should have zero meaning, unless you first subscribe to gross over-generalizations such as, "100% of pro-am competitors are uncommitted and don't take their dancing seriously, without exception."

She's actually a professional competitor and teacher now, and has been for quite a few years. If your logic is to be applied correctly, she could only have become serious about her dancing the day she turned pro, as though there were some mystical transformation that occurred at the stroke of midnight. After all, there's no way she could have possibly worked hard, understood the true meaning of commitment, or taken her dancing seriously at 11:59 pm the night before.

Yes, this scenario is as absurd. And so is the logic that suggests it. Can a person's commitment level change over time? Certainly. Does it necessarily correspond to their status as a professional, amateur, or pro-am? Of course not. The old adage "You can't judge a book by its cover" applies to this as much as anything else.

So I return to my original point: It is presumptuous to think that you know anything about someone's motivation or thought process based solely on the group against whom they decide to compete.

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.
Nobody here is criticizing social dancing. It's entirely off-topic.

We're discussing whether or not pro-am competition dancing has value and merit. I'm defending it against what I believe to be misguided criticism by offering opposing viewpoints, in order to balance out the bias. In other words, I'm not attacking amateurs or their methods -- I'm simply defending pro-ams. Fascinating that you've decided to label that as snobbery.

In fact, last time I checked, a snob is defined as one believes that something or someone is beneath them, like, for example, pro-am dancing and those who participate in it.

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

Care to name them?
(Amused by the implication of bogus statistics) -- Nashville Starz, City Lights Ball, California Open, Vegas Open, Wisconsin State, Atlanta Open, and Capital Dancesport. The sample data included various events between 2004 and 2011. Data wasn't available for certain competitions during certain years for a number of reasons, but I still managed to include roughly 30 events altogether, for a total of 125,614 entries.

What's interesting is that the margin of variance from one competition to the next was tiny -- only about 2 or 3% -- not too shabby for a collection of unrelated competitions spanning over 7 years and 6 states from coast to coast. This suggests that the data is extremely consistent with almost all competitions of the same ilk (i.e. NDCA-sanctioned multi-day combined pro & am comps).

The industry being fueled is the Pro-am Dance Industry, not the ballroom-dance industry in general.
The industry in question is the competition industry as a whole -- not just pro-ams, but professionals and amateurs, too. With only 7% of their current income, U.S. competitions could not afford to operate, putting an end to the competition industry as we know it.

Sure, many pro-ams would continue to dance in some form, but without that money stream flowing into the competition industry, there would be precious few options for amateur and professional competitors in the United States. With only a tiny fraction of the venue options, audience, and income we have now, the number of competitors and skilled coaches would dwindle, and so then would the standard of competitive dancing.

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.
Sorry... Where exactly in the phrase "9 to 99" did you find the word "pushed?". That's your word, not mine. But it does bring up an interesting point:

Your usage of verbiage such as "pushed" is an attempt to project your viewpoint onto others, as though to say that each of those children *must* feel the way you do about their situation. I don't know any child competitor who gets pushed, kicking and screaming out onto the dance floor. The ones I've watched seem to actually enjoy it.

Putting kids into ballroom is no different than putting them in ballet, karate, gymnastics, or any other physical skill-based activity. Kids enjoy physical activities, and require their parents' guidance. And every once in a while, a child might need a gentle push when he wants to quit for the wrong reasons, to teach them the value of persistence. This is the experience of all normal parents, and it is a far cry from the freakish "stage mom" type we've witnessed on cable TV.

Sure we're all appalled by stage moms. But they are the minority, and they exist as a minority in all types of kids' activities. There is nothing specific about ballroom that makes it more disgusting than any other kids' activity from the standpoint of the parent-child dynamic. Perhaps more relevant to the current discussion, there's nothing about pro-am ballroom that breeds stage parents more abundantly than amateur. Actually, the opposite is far more likely.

In addition to the kids, you also impose your viewpoint on the adult pro-am competitors by suggesting that they are not willing participants, that they are being pushed, tricked, or duped into competing. Nobody could possibly do that willingly, because everybody must think like you, and if they don't, they're not smart enough to know what they really want.

Contrary to what you believe, these people might actually be intelligent enough to make their own choices, and be satisfied with them. Before you go about making public blanket statements about other peoples' will and desire, think first about whether your words really reflect their point of view, or whether you're simply projecting your will onto them.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some unsuspecting pro-am students whose bank accounts need to be bled... :)

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