Best strategy to train for 9-dance?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by famfam, Jul 14, 2012.

  1. famfam

    famfam Member

    I am a silver/gold level dancer, competing in amateur, and after some consideration, I decided that my longer term goal would be to compete in 9-dance and try to dance it at the championship level, hopefully being able to compete at Nationals (and win I would hope lol).

    Currently, I am primarily training in smooth at a gold level (just got routines, and I taking lessons to get that competitive for the collegiate scene in the Fall). I also want to do something with my rhythm, as I want to develop those skills alongside my smooth skills, as they both obviously will need to improve a lot as I go up in levels. Does it make sense to focus on one or the other? Or is it more logical to develop them simultaneously, and use the skills in one to help the other. I see that being preferable, except for the fact that it would prevent me from maximizing the time in improving one style (and slowing down my progress in it somewhat I would assume).

    So basically, I wanted to figure out what would be a good strategy for developing both styles. One then the other? Simultaneously? Alternate and take breaks? Man up and do international? (But seriously, would training in Latin be beneficial instead of training in rhythm for now?)
  2. dlliba10

    dlliba10 Well-Known Member

    I'm considering the same myself, and the battle in my head is whether to think of myself as a Rhythm dancer who also does Smooth, a Smooth dancer who also does Rhythm, or a flat out 9-dancer, giving equal preference to both styles and each of the 9 dances. Your speculations seem to be dead on, as it's impossible to do three things at once -- focus on Smooth and that leaves less time for Rhythm and vice versa. Focus on both equally and while you may become stronger in both styles, the learning curve is a bit less steep than if you focused on one or the other.

    Circumstances forced me to focus primarily in Rhythm until my Rhythm partner went abroad for a semester, whereupon I began focusing exclusively on Smooth. My learning curve in Smooth this past semester has been enormous, going from Silver through Gold to Novice in a matter of months because of my exclusive focus. It will be an interesting experience when I return to 9-dancing in the fall (hopefully our Rhythm hasn't gotten too rusty), but I foresee a pretty equal split in attention on my part. I just love all the dances (and both my partners) too much to give preference to one style or the other.
  3. smidra86

    smidra86 Active Member

    So a couple of things. Famfam, 1. You are going to have the same disadvantage in smooth just like I do and it's that we are rather short. Most champ smooth couples are extremely tall. 2. I would like to start doing 9 dance at some point with my partner too, and here is the advice I was given from one of our coaches: you may only do rhythm when you can make it in Latin. 3. That being said, the same applies to smooth, you need to constantly be developing your standard. in orde to develop your smooth further. You will never be really good at smooth if you don't have a great basis in standard. Which is why Latin is also so important for rhythm...

    Regardless my take is that you need to constantly work hard making all 4 styles good just to do well in just 2
  4. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I am not sure I agree with that. I am thinking of the top 9 dance pro am couples and they don't dance latin or standard. They focus on rhythm and smooth.
  5. smidra86

    smidra86 Active Member

    I'm not saying that they necessarily compete in it. I'm saying that they probably still will take lessons not necessarily in latin but most likely in standard to improve their smooth. For latin it was just something that my coach had said to me the other day, which in a way is true.
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    actually, I know of one top 9- dance lady who has begun to compete in standard now...and I know of one top 10-dance lady who is also very successful in smooth...good dancing is good dancing
  7. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I also do not agree. Find a teacher that is competent, knowledgable, and trained in your intended style, and let them train you as thoroughly as they would want to be trained themselves. Rhythm is not a step down from latin, not a style where all you have to do is "downgrade your latin info".

    Closed position knowledge is an integral part of smooth, so any standard training will immediately affect your smooth positively. Latin styling and body actions are not the same as rhythm, and so they do not positively affect your rhythm. Learning how to work and train hard, become intimately aware of your body, and how to affect its actions, from a strict latin teacher, will affect your dancing positively overall. But you can get that kind of training from any teacher from any style, as long as they know what they are doing.

    Work hard and work smart. Get the best teacher you can afford. Whatever style you choose.
  8. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    yea, as regards the latin/rhythm issue, I would say that there seems to be way too much disparity in perspective on how "latin" rhythm should or should not look, so deliberately getting latin training for 9 dance can cut both ways
  9. dlliba10

    dlliba10 Well-Known Member

    This. And what Larinda said. A related musing: if you have already become proficient in Latin by the time you decide to branch into Rhythm and Smooth, knowing how to pick selectively what aspects of Latin will help with the other styles might be beneficial, at least in terms of partner connection and body/foot speed.

    That said, training my body for Latin hip action destroyed my Cuban motion. Perfecting my New Yorkers caused my crossover breaks to become unstable. The lengthening of the body and straight legs in Latin threatened to make me lose my groundedness and body rhythm in Rhythm. It took a while to reacclimate my body to what it's supposed to be doing in Rhythm as opposed to in Latin.

    I in fact found the opposite to be true: my Smooth training helped positively affect my Latin dancing. Finishing lines, engaging the entire body, working with and through the partner connection, establishing the leader-follower roles: our Smooth coach has helped us immensely in understanding and practicing all these concepts, a training that helped me understand better what my job was in Latin.
  10. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    That's interesting! I would guess that all dances help influence the other ones, but while I commonly hear that standard training helps smooth, I hardly ever hear that latin training helps rhythm, especially as rhythm is being done today.
  11. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    Have to jump in here and say... observe top latin dancers do chacha and samba... there is alot of body rhythm in latin too!
  12. dlliba10

    dlliba10 Well-Known Member

    Right! Apologies if I implied that -- I didn't mean to. Just body rhythm of a different beast / nature!
  13. famfam

    famfam Member

    I'm glad to have created a non-trivial discussion about the differences in styles. I have found that I also "understand" the Latin dancing more due to the smooth training that I have started (as my partner has as well). I've honestly not had enough rhythm training (my school does pretty much exclusively latin at the silver and above level, as opposed to rhythm) to know the "real"differences between the styles in terms of styling and motion. I do know cuban motion is different, and some level of how it works, but never had learned any in depth "rhythm technique". I would like to do some of that eventually, as I think rhythm can be beautiful/challenging in its own way.

    I'd like to hear a bit more about people's opinions on the training aspect of it, in terms of the balance of which to train in first, or how to split up the time. I know a lot of the advice will be along the lines of do whatever you'd like, just work on it hard, however I imagine due to the nature of the dancing, there must be a bit of a logical reasoning for training one way or another (or at least anecdotal evidence that would lead to some sort of strategy)
  14. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    My smooth instructor/training laid a good foundation for my standard dancing. :)

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