Ballroom Dance > College Dance Comps (was NDCA vs USA Dance Point Rules)

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by Laura, Mar 16, 2005.

  1. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Yes actually, because quality of dancing is more a result of following quality guidance than one of throwing an overwhelming amount of time and money into it.

    That doesn't mean that things can't evolve in a direction where those with less than total devotion will find a ceiling on their careers, but such an evolution does not necessarily mean that the quality of dancing would have increased - only that the game has become one in which hobbysits can't play.
  2. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Exactly my misgiving, Chris.
  3. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Yep, that's along the lines of what I was thinking...that in truth "raising the level of dancing" is just a sort of code for "getting rid of those who aren't going to play this game as if they were full-time professionals."

    Look at Olympic-eligible (I refuse to call it amateur any more) figure skating, espeically among the ladies. The champions are very young, funded by their parents, train heavily, many are home schooled. Michelle Kwan was considered an oddity because she tried to go to UCLA for a year and live in the dorms and have a regular college life. It didn't work out for her skating, though, so she's on leave. Sarah Hughes was considered an oddity because she managed to live at home with her family and go to a regular high school with her siblings while she was in training. She's since cut herself back to only skating in shows while she's at Yale. The level of ladies figure skating in this country is very high -- so high that if you haven't started by age 7 and aren't already showing reams of talent by 10, you are washed out.

    On the upside, though, the USFSA (United States Figure Skating Association) has found ways to provide opportunities for other than Olympic-track skaters. They have a system of tests that people can aspire to pass, they have an adult nationals for people not on the Olympic track, and they have a huge volunteer system, including training programs where people can learn to be test judges and competition judges. They've found a way to keep interested people involved.
  4. swan

    swan Member

    As far as I know the rest of the world still have similar categories like ours in dance competitions, thus encouraging various age groups & levels (aka dance 'hobbiests' :)) to participate.

    But I have to agree with Laura - I saw something which I got a bit concerned...IDSF - track is no longer amateur dancing. I witnessed TWICE in China. The current #2 Pro in China (I saw him winning that 2nd placement in the largest China competition) actually entered into IDSF and in November IDSF comp placed 6th and more recently just last weekend 3rd! And placed 1st in the IDSF Pan Asia category. P-L-E-A-S-E! He's right behind the current #1 China pro, Jeffery Zhi-Feng Qi (who's the 2004 Blackpool Pro Rising Star #3, behind Victor Fung).

    But perhaps that's what we're trying accomplish here by establishing the World Class category after this year's Nationals? To eliminate the Pro Vs. Amateur distinction?
  5. Laura

    Laura New Member

    I'm of two minds about all this, and maybe I'm just stuck on the terminology.

    If the idea is to eliminate the pro-versus-amateur distinction, then I think they should just go whole hog and have absoutely no rules at any level about who can earn money from teaching or demonstrating. Pro/Am couples could compete if they wanted, Pro couples could compete, Amateur couples could compete: what I'm saying is to turn the whole thing into a proficency-level system based totally on dance merit. The best dancers will rise to the top, the lower-level dancers will rise or sink to their level. The whole system would be simplified, and it would no longer be the case that certain "amateurs" could teach while others couldn't, or that certain "pros" would be scared off from trying to compete because the entry point for pros is currently so high. It would all be a dance meritocracy...eventually the highest levels would be occupied by what are now the serious pros and the amateurs who are de facto pros. The whole concept of "amateur" would be gone. This is actually a system that I am in favor of.

    On the other hand, if the various organizations are going to keep up the sham of "amateur" competititon by continuing to have rules where some people can earn money and others can't, and and where people who are for all intents and purposes "pros" compete in so-called "amateur" events and basically have no incentive other than a picky dress code to move into the professional ranks, then in my opinion I ask what's the point? If they want to keep up some form of "amateur" versus "professional" distinction, then make it really distinct.

    I think that's where the "World Competitor" thing comes from in the NDCA and USA Dance -- from an attempt to reconcile these two points of view. It will be interesting to see what happens.
  6. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Interesting and insightful perspectives, I think, Laura. I also found your earlier comments about figure skating (was that this thread? :? ) to be right on point. 8)

    It will be interesting to see what happens.

    As a person entering this whole mess from the adult-beginner pro-am perspective, the bar seems quite high, perhaps too high. What does amateur really mean these days, anyway?

    Oooh. I started typing out a long reply, but found myself sounding angry. Be back later with something appropriately PC. LOL. :car:
  7. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Get thee to a collegiate or (real) amateur adult syllabus competition and you'll see that the bar to entry is really quite manageble. It's a shame that this is not easily seen, though, because it scares off potential participants such as yourself.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Exactly. I think the biggest issue is with the lack of information sharing. :?
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Okay. So here's what I'm angry about. There's no information out there. Okay. Very little. So an unsuspecting youngish to midlife adult who loves dance walks into the neighborhood dance studio expecting to walk out six months later dancing like a star. Or at least like the folks he/she used to see on PBS as a kid. Or the guy in Shall We Dance.

    What do they get? If they're not lucky, they get lied to, misled, and manipulated into buying low-quality instruction for premium prices. If they're lucky, they find reasonable quality instruction at a fairly good price. But, even with good instruuction, if they compete, most of them get herded into the pro-am realm, where they pay (most of them) premium prices for the rest of their dance "careers" while never getting taken seriously by anyone in the know in the business, no matter how devoted or serious (or good?) they are. Meanwhile, their money keeps a whole lot of dance pros in business.

    At the same time, those dance pros and others are out participating in the real life of dancesport, talking about "raising the bar" for the sport in the US. Great. Raise the bar if you want. The US has been behind in dancesport for a long time, so maybe some raising of the bar is in order. Okay. Fine.

    But there's something wrong with this picture. The folks who are paying through the nose for the love of dance are often out of the loop, getting demeaned or disregarded in forums like this one. But there are venues out there that would be perfect for their participation. And the wannabe dancers are serious about dance. And they make sacrifices, personal and financial. So what's up?!?! :x

    The situation ticks me off. To heck with PC. If I hadn't found DF accidentally, I'd still be out there, struggling with my bad and mediocre ballroom teachers and wanting much more. The whole US system ticks me off. :evil:

    Sorry. I'm really mad, so I'm probably not being objective. :?
  10. DancingMommy

    DancingMommy Active Member

    Actually you are being completely objective. We've all been there more or less. Some more... Some less... Some of us did get lucky... And some of us are still floundering.

    I'm still looking for a decent Latin coach. I'd have to drive to Tampa to take from Paul Killick, but last I heard he's back in the UK. So where does that leave us? High and dry, that's where. And we have an awesome Standard coach. It's SOOOO unfair!!! <stomps foot & pouts>
  11. Laura

    Laura New Member

    pygmalion, you've pretty much hit the nail on the head.

    When I started in Pro/Am at a franchised school, I got GREAT instruction (taught by someone who has since become an NDCA US Champion, and briefly by someone who has since become an NDCA US Rising Star Champion). I danced in a few Pro/Am comps. However, in 1 1/2 years of participation, I had *no idea* that there were such things as amateur couples. I thought that there was Pro/Am, and there was Pro, and that was it.

    Fast forward 3 1/2 years when I took up dancing again, across the country, in an independent studio. Six months after starting Pro/Am with another GREAT teacher (who has since become an NDCA US Rising Star Champion), I started a group glass that he and his Pro partner designed specifically to get adults to pair up and start doing competitions. I got my several practice partners out of that class, and my first competition partner too. It was a fantastic experience and I'm so glad for the day that I randomly decided after a 3 1/2 year break to take up competitive ballroom dancing again.
  12. swan

    swan Member

    I'll chime in. I was lucky enough not being scammed much. However, a very nice woman I sold my ballgown to, I found that she's being scammed! And probably is till this day!

    The instructor would enter 75 entries w/o her knowledge & expected her to pay for it (and she did). I was like, 75 dances? I could hardly managed 3-4 rounds X 5 dances and that's 15-20 dances maximum.

    And she's like, I'm too old (she's a good looking lady in her late 40's/early 50's but looking like a early 40's Asia lady). No one would want to partner with me. And because where she lived (some place called Thousand Oaks or something), there was only 1 studio, a famous chains, that's where she's stuck. I took a look at her instructor. Well, that guy could pass for a latin dancer, but Standard? And how much did he charge her for a lesson? $100+/45 minutes! He later left that Chain studio & took all the students w/ him. Man, top Standard instructors in the country charge that much.

    And then he would set their expectation totally wrong. He's got this other lady as his Open A lady. This lady who bought the dress from me said oh, she's really good & they'd probably be in the final. I was like, right, they wouldn't even crawl out of the first round. And of course, I was right. Her friend was so depressed when she didn't get recalled into the next round & I witnessed it that night!

    I was very upset about this whole thing for a while, because these people are such nice people & they really want to learn how to dance.

    W/ that kind of system, I'm ALL for eliminating the distinction between Pros & Ams. Heck, I could even teach & probably produce better students than that 'bozo' in Thousand Oaks!
  13. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Hmm. It's not the scamming that bothers me so much. I suspect that there's scamming in virtually every big-dollar business, and I don't expect the dance world to be that different. Besides, I honestly think that the majority of dance teachers and studios out there try very hard to be ethical and treat their students well. It may seem otherwise because the bad guys get the most press. :? But I know lots of good dance studio stories for every one bad story.
  14. tbrennen

    tbrennen Member

    The current rules for the USA Dance World Class level are far, far more restrictive than the rules originally envisioned for USA Dance competitors. Our original concept in the DanceSport Council, back in the fall of 2002 (!), was to remove all monetary restrictions, completely, for ALL USA Dance competitors and simply base every level of competition on the dancer's skill (OK, still leaving the age categories in, too). That's what competition is all about. These concepts came out of the DanceSport Council in a moment of forward-looking clarity and a complete set of rules to implement these concepts was formulated. Unfortunately, this concept was not only too forward-looking for the NDCA (which was not consulted) but also the USA Dance Governing Council. Basically, over half the Council was very, very unhappy with this concept. Remember that back then we were still called the US AMATEUR Ballroom Dance Assn. We also went out and asked competitors what they thought. They were split on the issue. Actually, they were pretty polarized. So, the concept of no restrictions was whittled away over the next two years and we ended up with the rules we now have. Yes, they are less restrictive than before for the top level dancers but, no, they are not less restrictive than other countries.

    Also, given the preferences of many with in USA Dance, there would be no (self-described) professionals allowed to compete even in the World Class. However, the requirements of the USOC pretty much force us to do this. I myself don't mind. Bring the pros on! The good ones will raise the level of my dancing and the bad ones will be beaten.
  15. tbrennen

    tbrennen Member

    Laura brings up a good point and one that deserves clarity in the Rulebook. I have pushed on this before in the DanceSport Council but it is still not clear how the proficiency points relate between Gold and Novice or if they even do. I'll bring it up again and maybe we can get some clarification in the rules.

    I think that most of you in this thread have expressed some frustration about the proficiency point system, both as it was and as it is now with 5 points (and how it does not match the NDCA system). I can only address a couple of the issues you brought up. First, there was a group of people who were very unhappy about the previous 3 proficiency point rules - the Pre-Champers. A dancer would get 3 points and then essentially get thrown into the shark pool - Championship. It IS the top-out point for competitors and when you just came in from Pre-Champ, it can be not only intimidating but, either immediately or eventually, frustrating. However, that doesn't help the Bronze, Silver, or Gold competitor who is competing against couples who won't leave their level because they haven't been forced to yet. A serious question: do y'all think that there should be a number of maximum proficiency points for syllabus that is different from the number for the open levels? Why? I am interested in hearing the different reasons. Maybe this can be dealt with.

    When Novice was first clearly separated from Syllabus, Novice was put between Gold and Pre-Champ on a single proficiency ladder. Eventually, however, the East and West Coast thing came to a head within the DanceSport Council (easters vs. westers) and the Easters won and Novice was put on the parallel track with syllabus. Actually, from a true proficiency level point of view, Gold and Novice as they are now practiced, are pretty much on a par although my guess is that the Gold winners will often beat the top Novice couples simply through good technique. Someone mentioned in this thread that they saw a couple do very well in Novice simply by doing syllabus. There is a couple in the SF Bay Area who is still doing almost all syllabus and doing very well in Pre-Champ (4th place out of 4 rounds at the Snowball in Vancouver). Anyway, the East coast people did not like Novice in the line between Gold and Pre-Champ and it was moved to the side. Awkward? You bet. But, it seems to be working.
  16. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    That's the spirit!

    Now, why would the East Coast people want Novice off to the side? Most of us treat it as Pre-Prechamp,'s not like that wouldn't dovetail nicely in between Gold and Prechamp.

    'Nuther thing. I would think that a couple who was good enough to get 3 Prechamp points would be good enough to do reasonably well in Champ. Obviously they wouldn't do as well as they'd done in Prechamp, maybe not making finals initially, but that's life--get over it or get out.
  17. tbrennen

    tbrennen Member

    Actually, a good Pre-Champ couple often gets stuck for years without making finals in the Champ. As many people have noted before, Championship level is like that old commercial, "They check in but don't check out". There is no place for the top level couples to go.
  18. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    But, no matter how many points you allow per level, people will eventually always accumulate at the top level with no-where to go...

    If Championship were consistently large enough, say Okta-finals, perhaps it would worth splitting Championship into two new levels (and probably renaming Pre-Champ in the process). However I don't beleive that is the problem. Many competition seem to have small semis or quarter finals at best in Championship and Pre-Championship.

    The current rules just appear to serve to further eliminate the opportunity for non-Championship dances to serve on the very USABDA boards that are affect their dancing fate....
  19. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    Not everyone in a given level is going to be able to make the final of that level. It doesn't mean they're not ready to begin dancing at that level. And a couple who has placed out of Prechamp can usually make some cuts in Champ. If they can make some cuts, I would say they are in the right place. If they are dancing a level below and often or always winning, I'd say they're dancing at a level that is too low for them.

    It seems like some people aren't happy unless they can be at the top of whatever pack they're in. And although I totally agree that different levels are important for making dancesport accessible, that's exactly why we need to get couples who are ready to move up, OUT of those levels. To keep them accessible.

    Not everyone who "graduates" Prechamp is going to be able to make finals in Champ. But why can't these couples adjust their goals to see how many cuts they can make? Meanwhile working on the most important part -- improving their dancing.
  20. NielsenE

    NielsenE Active Member

    Exactly.... I remember getting emails from people at Blackppol 2-3 years ago and they were completely excited that they only missed being called back to the '192' by one mark -- they didn't make the cut and they were still happy....

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