I am an AM student who wants to compete, but the AM franchisee won't let any of his teachers in his studios compete in any competitions other than AM's and they are usually out of state which becomes costly. I do like my teacher, but can't pay for him to go to out of AM competition. Should I just leave and find an independent ? That means starting all over again.
Yes, leave and never look back. You will be starting all over again but hopefully some of your training will make the process easier. Your costs will be much less at an independent studio and you will have complete control over how much you spend and where you go to compete. AM's often can't compete in the real dance world and they don't want their students finding out how little they know when they have paid so much. You won't be sorry.
Brava, ladydance! Truer words were never spoken. I'm a competitive dancer training at an independent studio -- we've had several "gold level" AM students coming in for smooth coaching ... but what good are fancy steps when there isn't any technique to carry them ?!
The only thing I can add to Ladydancer is, you will find the cost to be less than what you were spending at A.M. most of the times.
There was a gal that was winning all kinds of championships for several years in the A.M. world. She wanted to dance outside A.M. and started with my instructor wanted to hit the local comps right away. He told her she wasn't ready, but she pushed and pushed. The customer is always right...right? She came in dead last in every rhythm heat. She didn't know cuban motion yet. It was pretty shocking to her and made her really mad.
As Ladydancer said, don't look back. It's the best move you can make. There ARE great dance teachers out there!
I have experience taking lessons both at AM and FADS. In my opinion, the major difference between these two organizations is the emphasis on technique. While there have been many champions come out of AM, I think that the emphasis at AM is on "social" dancing, and technique takes a back seat. It takes a special student and a special teacher to succeed outside the AM world. On the other hand, FADS seems to put a lot of emphasis on technique, as witnessed by the many US and world champions that FADS has produced. And, sometimes it seems that the "social" aspect of dancing gets lost at FADS.
In my opinion, I believe that this difference comes from the "founders" of these organizations. Arthur Murray was renowned for teaching the current "fad" dancing of his day, and even had a string of TV shows. His emphasis was to get everyone out on the floor and enjoy dancing. Quite the opposite, Fred Astaire was a stickler for technique. He insisted that all his partners perform his choreography perfectly without any errors. He held himself and his partners to a high level of technical achievement. After the Cold War was over, there were a lot of immigrants to the US from the Eastern Block countries, and many were excellent dancers and teachers who found their home at FADS.
Both organizations have found success in the dance world. AW is, I believe, the second oldest franchise operation (KFC is the oldest). Others may make comments about AW, but you cannot deny their success. FADS the same way.
Go to an organized competition and you will usually find students from both AW and FADS there, and usually there are more FADS students.
The problem with your AW franchisee and outside competitions comes right down to "money". If you take a teacher off the floor, that teacher will not be able to conduct lessons, and the studio will lose money while the teacher is gone. Thus, the reluctance on the part of the owner. Have you set down with your teacher and talked to him? Have you talked to the owner? If so, and the owner still will not support your desire, then, yes, find another studio. And, another studio could be another AM or FADS studio, in addition to the choice of independents.