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Re: Why in the US?
Posted by belleofyourball
3/22/2011  1:07:00 PM
In my experiences in Europe there are more available partners because there are a lot more people who are dancing period.

Europe is very different than the US. We spend all our time slouched in front of the idiot boxes becoming idiots. We used to have dances and people who knew how to dance and people who knew how to converse, oh and did I mention people who knew how to get their giant behinds off couches period?
Re: Men as followers
Posted by endora
3/25/2011  7:59:00 PM
Telemark, why so hostile? Perhaps jodymichelle should have said "part of her job", but you can't possibly be indicating that just because a man can lead in a pro/am - and not as the pro - he's finished with his training forever.
Re: Men as followers
Posted by LORENABRAVO
3/14/2011  1:37:00 PM
Funny, I was just having a conversation this morning with my partner about the wildly unfair attitude towards pro-am students.

Quickly, dancesportdave, Im not sure if there is a rule regarding men competing as followers. I would suggest contacting the organizers of the competition and asking them directly.

The question was asked, If the men could lead properly, why would they want/need to pay a pro partner to dance with them? Well, for starters, the rate of learning can be much faster in a pro-am situation than in an amateur partnership. In the former, the entire lesson is spent on the leader and he gets to try out his understanding and ability to execute his actions on a presumably more responsive follow. He then gets immediate feedback about what he could be better to move more efficiently with the lady, as the lady, in this case, would have a much clearer understanding of where she should be and how she should arrive there. In an amateur situation, especially at the beginning stages, its a case of the blind leading the blind. Yes, they take lessons together, but when left to their own devices, they will probably struggle to apply what they learned.

There are dozens of other advantages to dancing pro-am which I started to write about but decided to delete as this post is already getting very long

Are there many valuable lessons that can be learned in an amateur partnership? Absolutely, but that should not cause one to dismiss the advantages of learning in a pro-am situation. As with all things, there are pros and cons.

There are MANY pro-am students that take their dancing very seriously and work just as hard as everyone else to improve. Most cant actually afford to have all of their practice time be accompanied by their teacher, so they have to practice on their own quite a bit. Its not fair to lump them in with the other pro-ams that dont really take the dancing very seriously.

In regards to those pro-ams that are just competing to get to dress up and have a good time Need I remind anyone that it is those pro-ams that fuel the entire ballroom industry? Without those pro-ams who are happy to spend huge amounts of money to get to dance around with a professional for the sake of having a nice time, we would not have any of the competitions that all of the professional and amateurs attend. They are also the ones that pay the salaries of many professionals and get them to all of their competitions. Eliminate that entire body of people that we love to demean, and suddenly we have far fewer competitions and the professionals would have far less money to spend on receiving training and traveling from one competition to another. Competitions would become a rather sad affair and spectators would end up watching much smaller events with whatever professionals happen to be local. The entire industry as we know it would wildly altered. Everyone that participates in dancesport in the US is to some degree begin carried by pro-ams, so please, regardless of how one feels about their dancing as a group, lets be a little less insulting, shall we?
Sorry, dude.
Posted by jofjonesboro
3/14/2011  7:43:00 PM
. . . the rate of learning can be much faster in a pro-am situation than in an amateur partnership.

No, it cannot. Your statement is absolutely and demonstrably false.

In an amateur situation, especially at the beginning stages, its a case of the blind leading the blind (sic). Yes, they take lessons together, but when left to their own devices, they will probably struggle to apply what they learned.

Nothing is funnier than watching those who do pro/am as they discover that they can't actually dance with anyone but their pros.

There are MANY pro-am students that take their dancing very seriously and work just as hard as everyone else to improve.

No, there aren't and no, they don't. In fact, avoiding the hard work of learning to dance is one of the big selling points used to con amateurs into doing pro/am.

The central problem with pro/am is that the student has no partner, no one with whom to practice, no one to share the expense.

Also, in an am-am lesson, the professional is freed to watch the students from all angles. When the professional must also serve as a partner, the professional loses those perspectives.

Pro/am is appropriate for a very tiny percentage of the ballroom dancing public, typically the elderly for whom the prospects of an amateur partnership are nil. Everyone else is much better off with an amateur partner.

Need I remind anyone that it is those pro-ams that fuel the entire ballroom industry?

Only if you want to repeat another lie.

The truth is that the ballroom-dance industry has pushed many students into pro/am primarily by misrepresenting the nature of the ballroom dance world. When a professional tells an amateur that the amateur will be better off doing pro/am than by finding an amateur partner, the professional is lying.

If you want fewer insults, try being more honest.

jj
Re: Sorry, dude.
Posted by Waltz123
3/15/2011  1:30:00 AM
Nothing is funnier than watching those who do pro/am as they discover that they can't actually dance with anyone but their pros.
Never had that happen to a single one of my students in my entire career as a teacher.

To understand the problem with your argument, realize that one could make the *exact* same argument about am-am couples. The argument goes: By dancing exclusively with only one other person, you make it impossible to dance with anyone else. By this logic, amateur couples who spend their entire careers together would also not have the ability to dance with anyone else. That is, of course, preposterous.

The notion that a reasonably well-trained pro-am student can only dance with a seasoned pro is about as realistic as the notion that somebody who learns to drive on a BMW 3 Series could never possibly drive a Ford Focus.

Once you learn the basic concepts of driving, you can drive any car reasonably well. It's true that more expensive cars tend to be easier and more fun to drive, but that applies to any and every driver, regardless of skill level. Switching cars sometimes takes a period of adjustment, but this is mostly a matter of fine-tuning, growing accustomed to the individual personality, feel, and idiosyncrasies that any particular car has, and figuring out what it is and isn't capable of. In the end, the basic skill of driving, with all that it encompasses, remains constant.

Like driving, the fundamental skills of dancing are largely universal. Teach a student how to stand up straight and dance on time, and they will do that whether they dance with you or someone else. If that someone else is the dancing equivalent of a Ford Focus, your student will still be able to stand up and dance on time with them, probably even the first time out. This assumes that you have taught them well, of course, but then the same could be said of any type of student.

Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying the overall skill level of pro-ams as a whole is necessarily better than or even equal to amateurs as a whole. But I believe your reasons are irrational, the degrees to which you take your arguments are blown wildly out of proportion, and it serves to perpetuate an unnecessary stigma about pro-am dancing. So let me set the record straight:

The primary difference between pro-ams and amateurs is age. Pro-am overall encompasses the entire spectrum of ages from 9 to 99, with the bulk of the bell curve representing the 30-70 set. In stark contrast to that, professionals and amateur couples are comprised primarily of youth and young, athletic adults. There is, of course, a subset of older amateurs, but the numbers are comparatively small, and only bump the mean age up slightly.

Starting age and total career span are also extremely important factors, and here the pro-pro and am-am couples have it all over the pro-ams: The difference in mean starting age is probably a good 20-30 years.

As for commitment level, you could probably make the argument from a statistical standpoint based on age alone: Your average 75-year old is not looking at laying down the foundation for a career spanning 30 years into the future.

But that's all statistics -- It says nothing to the individual making a decision about which path is better for himself. If said student is 18 years old, has all the drive, ability, intelligence necessary, has the time and money to spare, and has selected a well qualified and highly skilled teacher, is dancing am-am a better choice than pro-am on his path to a professional career? Not necessarily.

Each path has relative advantages and disadvantages, some of which have already been pointed out. In the end, only a few lucky people are that aforementioned 18 year old who has everything... Most of us have limits on our life that make our situation less than perfect. So the best choice is often determined by the limits of our individual situation.

There are MANY pro-am students that take their dancing very seriously and work just as hard as everyone else to improve.
No, there aren't and no, they don't.
Congratulations... You just finished telling a former pro-am U.S. champion that she doesn't take her dancing seriously.

It's awfully presumptuous to make an argument about the commitment level of an entire group of people, the vast majority of whom you've never met. 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.

Need I remind anyone that it is those pro-ams that fuel the entire ballroom industry?
Only if you want to repeat another lie.
Are you a competition organizer? If not, then what information or statistics can you show us that proves her wrong?

I'm not a competition organizer, either. But as it happens, I do run the websites of 7 competitions, whose organizers send me a file each year containing a list of every single entry. I just sampled the data from the last 7 years and found that 93% of the entries from these comps are pro-am, leaving only 7% to everything else. The numbers don't lie, and neither, apparently, does Lorena.

If 93% doesn't qualify as "fueling an industry" in your book, I don't know what does. What do you suppose would happen to the U.S. dance competition industry if 93% of all entries suddenly disappeared?

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.

Regards,
Jonathan
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

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