This practice is not only allowed but even demanded for pro/am competitors. I was working with one for a few months and she told me (what I've been told many times before) that her professional partner regularly brought in one of the judges for special "coaching" at a rate of $125 to $150 per hour.
Later, she told me that she couldn't afford her share of our lesson and practice fees. I haven't seen her since.
How much integrity can any competition have when the competitor can virtually buy a trophy?
I would not equate taking double-price lessons with famous teachers as "buying a trophy". Instead, this is a basic cornerstone of how all serious amateur and professional couples get their training -often from experts that they might be judged by once a year if at all. Its precisely those kinds of lessons where the key ideas needed to take dancing to a higher level of performance come from - the ideas that seem shocking or even outright wrong to those who've only seen these dancers on video, and never talked with or danced with them.
A number of times I've been given a very far-out and seemingly impractical idea by a local teacher, and just have not been able to make any sense of it or make it work. Then an opportunity comes up to work with the world-class expert who trained them. And then I find out what the local teacher was trying to say, but had not quite communicated accurately. The idea might still seem very challenging, but when tracked back to its source (or the nearest living thing to its source) you can start to see how you will eventually be able to incorporate it into your dancing to dramatic effect. Secondhand sometimes is just not enough.
But of course not every expensive lesson is worth the money. Unfortunately it takes some knowledge and experience to know who is and isn't worth the money. If you have more experienced friend without a financial stake in the opportunity, that can be a good recommendation for what is and isn't worth the money.
Anonymous. It only takes one rotten apple to spoil the barrel. When Dancesport was formed there was all these noble ideas that a judge would remove himself from the judging panel if any of their pupils were on the floor. This was a voluntary thing. It only took one person to make another think, if they are going to so can I. It gets even more ridiculous here where we have three different styles of dancing. Some teachers only teach one of the three styles. So why would they have any interest in the other two or keep up with the latest techniques. But there they are New Vogue teachers judging Latin. No wonder people leave the sport in disgust. Would it be fairer if the judging panel stood aside at the completion of each dance and another panel took their place.. Why not.
That depends on the skill and experience of the pro, and the dedication and " talent " of the student.
Its fair to say, that there are those in the pro/Am circuit are there for many different reasons.. but.. there are some very serious talented Amats.who cannot find a partner, but rather than bemoan the problem.. compete
I had the pleasure of coaching an amat couple a few yrs back, and the lady was an ex. amat. partner of Joe Jenkins. She was a past 3 times US Pro/Am. champ., and was a remarkable dancer.. the reason she stayed as an amat. was her profession ( Dr,in 2 sciences medical and research )
Terence, you state that there are good dancers who compete in pro/am because they cannot find partners.
While you may be correct in some cases, I believe that it is equally true to say that many of them do not want an amateur partner. I am making an observation and not a supposition.
A couple of years ago, I listed myself on a couple of partner-matching boards. Over the intervening months, I received a surprising number of responses (surprising given my age).
Unfortunately, every response - without exception - involved a lady in the same situation: she was competing in pro/am and wanted to practice more but couldn't afford to pay additional lesson fees just to do so with her pro.
I did give one of these women a try for a few months. As it turned out, she kept trying to shift more and more of the cost of our lessons and practices over to me (I described this situation in another post). When she let it slip that she was spending more on her pro, I decided to stop being a chump and dropped her.
I went back to the partner-matching sites and changed my notes to read "no pro/am competitiors." The responses stopped.
I'm a bit confused. It sounds as though you dropped the pro/am lady because of financial reasons rather than because of a lack of dancing skills. Perhaps I misunderstood your objections to pro/am ladies?
I sympathise with your ( and all seekers ) search.
Of course there are going to be ladies with ulterior motives ( as there are , men ). but.... i would not despair as quickly as you have seem to have done.
I would lay down some ground rules from the git go.
Agreement on... Cost, Location for lessons, practice time and floor fees.
Coaching regularity , and future aspirations .
Until that has been settled, to both satisfactions, then practice time only on a trial basis.
I know of one lady in Atlanta right now ( very talented ) and dedicated ,middle forties (?) attractive, very slim and single.. shes about 5.8 in heels and does both Amer. and Intern. style to about a novice-- prechamp level . They are out there.. ya just gotta keep on looking . there is a studio in Marietta which has regular fri, nite dances ( i used to work out of there ) there have been several really good lady prospects for Comp. work ( that was 3yrs back ) worth looking into .
We did have an original agreement. She always wanted to change it because - as she claimed - she has teenaged children and complained about her budget being stretched thin. It turned out that her "needs" had nothing to do with her family.
Still, your advice is very sound.
Except for her age, the lady that you describe sounds as though she'd be a good match. At which studio does she dance?
I know the studio that you mention in Marietta. I have danced there often in the past and took some classes there for a while some years back. I used to inquire regularly about potential partners but was always told that no one was interested (possibly because I'm not very good looking ).
I haven't despaired. I currently have a partner in Dalton but the distance limits us to two sessions a week (she lives in Chattanooga). Right now, she's having some family problems so it's been spotty but I'm going to try to stick with her. I'd like to work with someone in Atlanta as well because two days a week is just not enough for me (my Dalton partner knows what I'm doing; she works with someone else in Chattanooga too).
"Anonymous. It only takes one rotten apple to spoil the barrel."
And there you are mistaken.
Due to the skating system of mark tabulation used, under most circumstances an outlying mark has no greater effect than a mark one place above or below the norm. The marks are NOT averaged, instead the algorithm finds the placement at which a majority of judges have marked you at or better, specifically to reduce the way in which an outlying mark could distort an average.
Lets say a couple "deserves" 6th place, but their coach marks them first. Unless they are tied with someone in the ordinary tabulation, that first place mark is no different than a 5th place mark in it's effect.
And the opposite is true as well. A couple who "deserves" first receiving a 6th place mark from their teacher's arch-enemy will in the absence of a tie be no more adversely affected than if that "bad apple" had marked them second.
Corruption and favoritism are bad, no question about it. But a single "bad apple" can do very little damage. The placement you get is the placement that a majority of judges thought you should have, and not the average of what they all marked you.
"Would it be fairer if the judging panel stood aside at the completion of each dance and another panel took their place.. Why not."
It would be outrageously expensive to staff competitions with that many judges. Ordinarily you have two to three times as many as are working, but that's so that they can go on real breaks, not be standing up and sitting down after every dance or round.
This has been a very interesting discussion, as I often wondered how the competitions were judged. My only experience in these matters has been local contests, some of them as a fund-raising tool for a worthy cause (you raise money by convincing people to "buy" votes for you... if someone wants to cast 100 votes for you, they pay $100 to the worthy cause!) But I digress. I just wanted to make the comment that the only analogy I can make would be with another of my favorite sports -- boxing. Could you imagine if a fighter's trainer was allowed to judge his fight? It would be even more corrupt than it probably already is!
Anonymous. So you beleive that judges should judge there own pupils. Let me tell you what once happend to me.With the past record I should have been placed 3rd. Two judges were so intent on marking their pupils 1 st and marking their main opposition as low as possible. What happened was I came first. It has happened before and will happen again. I have the copy of the marks from a competition in S. Africa. At the end of each dance two judges were replaced by another two. Have you considered what would happen in a competition with six couples and three judges. It`s not uncommon in some comps to have only three contestants in an event. I`ve seen very recently where there were three couples dancing one dance only, the Cha. Two of the couples danced out of time. The other couple never missed a beat. They came last. This is absolutely true. One of those judging later in the evening came to the couple who were placed last and said I marked you first and told them they were the only ones who were together. They were not his pupils and had never even met before. So you tell me. Are you in favour of judges judging their own pupils . Yes or No. Even as recent as last weekend I saw the worst decision I have ever witnessed in a competition. This was in the major event when a couple unheralded who had only been back in the country three days could not have been placed any lower. There record in Europe which was much higher than the others didn`t mean a thing. So what am I to conclude from that. I think the placing had been decided before the music started playing. I will add one more thing. I was at a Seminar and sitting quietly in the corner. I was the only amateur present. When one of the speakers said. We have all been in the situation where the organizer of the competition has told us in no uncertain manner who the winners should be. What do you say to that one.If this is to become an Olympic Sport. It never will unless the method of judging changes.
"Anonymous. So you beleive that judges should judge there own pupils."
I don't believe it is ideal, but banning it would mean either that the best available experts are not available as judges, or are not available as teachers. There's already nowhere near enough true experts to fill the world demand for either coaching or judging work, and most serious competitors would not be willing to accept second rate in either category!
"Let me tell you what once happend to me.With the past record I should have been placed 3rd. Two judges were so intent on marking their pupils 1 st and marking their main opposition as low as possible. What happened was I came first."
The skating system of marking makes such simple explanation unworkable. You would need high marks from a majority of judges get first place - it can't be just the two you cite, at least half the panel must be involved.
What can happen to elevate a mediocre couple is where there is widespread disagreement amongst all the judges over all the couples. Then someone who is universally seen as neither particularly outstanding nor particularly offensive can win. But this generally happens when you have either very sloppy dancers with a lot to object to, or inexpert judges who are looking for their whims rather than anything comprehensive.
Have you considered what would happen in a competition with six couples and three judges.
Running a serious competition with three judges is almost unheard of. If it occurs as a result of economic or scheduling reality, everyone realizes that the result are a bit dubious.
"When one of the speakers said. We have all been in the situation where the organizer of the competition has told us in no uncertain manner who the winners should be."
And having judges who don't teach is going to protect against this how? If anything, having teaching income should make them more resistant to alleged manipulation by a competition employer.
"What do you say to that one.If this is to become an Olympic Sport"
Along with most who are serious about dancing, I rather hope that our artform is never abused as an Olympic "sport" You will find that most of the olympic dreamers in the dance world are either low level dancers who think the idea is fun with contemplating how much damage it will cause, or IDSF bureaucrats who see it as a way to solidify their power.
Anonymous. Well answered. We probably have many more competitions than you do. In smaller competitions its not uncommon for there to be only one couple entered in their grade. They will take to the floor and dance their dances whether it be one or five. There could also be two or three or more dancers , and maybe only one dance. The same. They all get there full quota. Sometimes it can be very interesting if a really good couple are alone it becomes a Demonstration. But that doesn`t alter the fact that to be on the floor judging your own pupils cant be right. And if that one rotten apple does, then the rest do it also. Otherwise they put themselves and their pupils at a disadvantage. Would you agree with that last sentance
"But that doesn`t alter the fact that to be on the floor judging your own pupils cant be right."
I disagree. I don't think it's ideal, but I'd rather have experts who teach the competitors than 2nd rate dancers who aren't expert enough for any competitors to want to study with them. Besides, if a judge has couples in the event, they are as likely to have several as just one.
This isn't stuff you can learn from a book - you need first hand experience as a dancer yourself, then as a teacher, and also as a judge, before you will really be expert at any of those things.
"And if that one rotten apple does, then the rest do it also."
If they judge based on who gives them business, then they are all bad apples. You started out saying one bad apple can ruin it, I contend that they can't - one has very little effect at all, a few can be a problem and move overall placements slightly, but it takes a majority of the panel to generate a drastically wrong result. That's why we use the skating system and not a simple average.
"Otherwise they put themselves and their pupils at a disadvantage. Would you agree with that last sentance"
Absolutely not. A teacher who develops good dance skills in their students will have their students well marked by any skilled judge. Only the inept need resort to corruption.