Ballroom Dance > Dancing down

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by muyv, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. muyv

    muyv Member

    Every once in a while, I see posts complaining about others dancing down, i.e. they think some people who should be dancing in higher level are dancing in a lower level, taking away trophies from those who deserve them better. I actually have some thoughts on this that is probably not of the majority. So I want to share, and welcome you to share your thoughts.

    I have never danced down personally, but I wish I could have stayed in the lower levels longer to build a better foundation of my basics. I wish other dancers have stayed in syllabus levels longer so that it would not have been too awkward for me to stay there honing on my basics. I've only competed in Standard, so I can only speak of standard. I think often couples move up too quickly to PreChamp or Championship level. The result is that you see half of the PreChamp field is dancing fancy routines, while still struggling with basics. I had been an example of those, basically I moved to Novice level after I learned only the Bronze figures, and placed out of gold with my bronze routine + one or two silver figures. I remembered distinctly, after we placed out, I was like "what? I'm done with syllabus already? but I still don't know half of the figures in the book, and I'm still struggling with my natural spin turns."

    I'm not really for dancing down, but I do wish the level of dancing at the syllabus level is higher than what it currently is. I think I'm seeing such a change in recent 2 years. People dancing gold final now is so much better than people who are dancing in gold final 2 years ago. If this is the consequence of some people "dancing down", then so be it, I think it is a good change, to have a longer time to work on basics and build a strong foundation for open routines.

    One may argue that you can still work on basics when doing open routines. True. But the point is that the focus is not as intense as in the syllabus level. Couples doing open routines inevitably has to spare much of their time to work on their open figures.

    On the same token, I wish there are some real open couple participate in the Master of Syllabus event at MAC. Right now, really only syllabus dancers do it, occasionally you would see Novice couples, but extremely rare to see preChamp couples there. It may due to the schedule, but it is a pity nonetheless to not able to see high level couples doing a full syllabus routine beautifully.

    Just my 2 cents. Would love to hear what others has to say on this.
    smidra86, Gorme and syncopationator like this.
  2. dbk

    dbk Well-Known Member

    I do agree that many in the higher levels need more focus on their "basics" - but I don't think dancing down has anything to do with it.

    There is nothing about being in a higher level that prevents you from working on your basics... and (good) higher level dancers work extensively on "basics." If a couple isn't working on "basics," i.e. technique, in gold/open, they're not going to work on it just because they're in a lower level.

    The level system puts dancers in the correct division relative to other dancers. It exists to make room for people who have not been dancing as long as you, or are slower to grasp material. The levels have everything to do with who is around you... so if the quality of dancing is suffering in your area, holding people back (or allowing them to dance down) will accomplish nothing but bloated and discouraging lower levels.... it won't really make the dancing any better.

    I don't know the situation in your area, but the same thing happened in my area in Smooth in the last few years. The floor went from one good couple and two or three so-so couples, to a solid semi-final of good dancers... and the gold floor is full of dancers just as good as 'so-so' open couples of a few years ago.

    It has nothing to do with dancing down... it's just a build-up good dancers in the area. It takes years to develop a community of high level dancing. And it does take a community, i.e. several high level competitors; if there are only one or two good high level dancers, they may leave to find more competition and challenge elsewhere. Or the community is relatively new, or low-leveled, and it takes a while for couples to learn and get better. Once you have a good number of good dancers, it will attract more - as well as setting a good example for (or mentoring!) even more couples.

    At least, that's what happened in my area. But whatever the reason for the increase in good dancers, they were not "dancing down" - they were dancing the correct level relative to the other dancers at the competition.
    danceronice and Bailamosdance like this.
  3. ajiboyet

    ajiboyet Well-Known Member

    Interesting and very valid point of view, @muyv
  4. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    My previous partner and I used to do it, before they started interleaving the MOS heats with the Open heats.
  5. syncopationator

    syncopationator Active Member

    My thoughts:

    on "dancing down": there are rules in place to prevent people from dancing down. I believe you are dancing at your level of proficiency until you place out according to the rules. I will dance at my level until the rules tell me otherwise because I choose to earn my level of proficiency and the only way I know to do that is by winning.

    On the other hand, I have encountered many folks (a few on DF who were giving my partner a hard time about this on another thread) who "dance up" and look down on others like myself for dancing at my level. Just because you proclaim yourself as a pre-champ or championship level doesn't mean you belong at that level. I believe there should be rules in place to prevent people from dancing up in order to preserve the quality of dance at each level. Then there would not be any doubts as to who belongs at what level because everyone would have earned their way up.
  6. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I do proam but I would have to say that I have noticed that the quality of each level is getting better, so it is often better to stay in a level longer before moving up. The quality of bronze dancing I saw at USDC and Ohio was at the level that silver used to look like ( minus the silver figures of course), silver dancing technique was similar to gold level and open gold level looked on the pro level in many of the heats... especially the younger dancers.
  7. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I agree. I remember when I spent a little bit of time working on open bronze routines, and what I did not like is that my lessons started to be geared naturally towards the choreography and timing of the open routines, and less on technique.
  8. stash

    stash Well-Known Member

    If there is a competition where double registering is involved I see no problem in dancing up. 1) It gives the couple more opportunities to dance. There are a lot of factors in callbacks and sometimes for whatever reason you don't make a callback in the "right" level, and your bummed out because you still have lots of energy and are still pumped. I don't like having to pay $40 plus travel and food expenses just to dance one round... I like to get my monies worth. 2) It's a good test to see how you fall against the other couples in the higher levels, and see what it's like to dance that level. 3) In the wcs community the point system works so that you have to point out of a level to move on--and you can't leave the level your in until then. And you have to start from the ground up. This system fails for a number of reasons, but the biggest being that those who have done wcs for years but have never competed have to compete at the novice level--which could swing one of two ways, they completely sweep the floor and win which is not fair to those belong in that level, or the judges don't look at them because they aren't doing the "basics" even though there is no syllabus in wcs. 4) What's the harm in pushing yourself and testing your boundaries?
  9. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    No harm at all... if that is what you are doing. If you know you are a bronze dancer and you decide to do some silver to see how you would do , that is fine. There are some competitions where you can do two scholarship levels and I have seen someone win both the bronze and the silver scholarship level. That is when I have thought " oh, that is a shame, the bronze students didn't get to have a chance to win their scholarship there". For good or for bad there are all sorts of rules in competition, and competitors have a variety of reasons why they choose to enter different levels, so the bottom line... dance your best and don't get too attached to results! :)
  10. syncopationator

    syncopationator Active Member

    Not really what I meant. Double registration is indeed a great thing because you get to push yourself at the next level. Asuming you are already dancing at your level. No harm there and like you said, you arejust pushing yourself.

    I don't know about the wcs world, but this is a ballroom dance forum and what you describe I have not witnessed in the ballroom world. Not to say it can't happen, but it doesn't happen enough to make a real impact.
  11. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    I think that with pro-am, there is a sort of level gap after silver, because such thing as closed gold multi-dance is very rare, so people who want to do some single dances and a scholarship, either have to do silver or do gold/open single dances and an open scholarship. That makes moving out of silver much harder, and some dancers want to stay in it longer.
    Mr 4 styles likes this.
  12. stash

    stash Well-Known Member

    I realize this is a ballroom dance forum, but what you suggested sounded in your above post about having a system in place that prevents people from moving up too reminded somewhat of the wcs system so that is why I mentioned it. I just wanted to give of an example how this can hinder more instead of help in a lot of ways.
  13. syncopationator

    syncopationator Active Member

    I guess there would be some bottleneck. Here's something interesting... A past coach once told me that when she was dancing in youth back in Russia, they would compete almost every week, sometimes 2-3 comps because they needed to accumulate as many points as possible so they could move up through the levels. There they have the kind of system where you have to earn your proficiency level. So the way they got around it was to participate in as many competitions as possible. If the same system were in place in the US would more competitions pop up and would participation increase? Maybe this deserves its own thread...
    Gorme likes this.
  14. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    But if you have experienced westies who decide to start competing, assuming the former, they will just win and win, which will point them out of the lower levels pretty quickly. Assuming the latter, they'll toil away without winning until they tweak their dancing to appeal to the judges, and then they'll point out quickly.
  15. Jananananana

    Jananananana Active Member

    I agree with you completely about working on your basics regardless of your level. However, when push comes to shove and you're at a competition, you need to dance at the level you are at and not down. In the syllabus levels, in am-am many people breeze through (I'm one of them, smidra is one of them, etc.) for various reasons. For smidra and me, our previous dance training has allowed us to move through quickly. However, both of us still work on our syllabus. My partner and I work on our basics at every practice.
    If you're dancing up and you have solid placements (top three couples out of a semi, for example), take a hint and start dancing at that level regularly. Don't just dance at the old level to collect scholarships or ribbons. Don't be a ribbon hoarder.
  16. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    they arent very pretty anyway and get sucked up by the vaccuum...
    Jananananana likes this.
  17. muyv

    muyv Member

    Wow, so many thoughtful comments. Thanks for sharing!

    Just a few more comments to clarify my points.

    So in what scenario do we call a couple is "dancing down"? In my mind, for NQE's, I would only call a couple is "dancing down" if they have pointed out according to the system (which technically could not happy at NQE's) or if they have won first place at that level at previous Nationals. Maybe some people would draw the line at top 3, in stead of first place only. I kinda agree with this and would follow the rule myself, but just want to be more careful when it comes to accusing others. Other than this case, I don't think people are dancing down at all. I think they are dancing at a fine level if they haven't made top 3 at that level at Nationals (or beat the couples who made top 3 at that level).

    I don't consider people are dancing down just because they have made the finals of two consecutive levels. In fact, I think in many cases it is the other people who are registered at the higher levels should probably reevaluate their estimation of their own dancing. Take for example the Standard final at Nationals this past year, the top 3 in Novice all made final in preChamp. Looking at their dancing, do we think they all dancing down to be in Novice level? I don't think so at all. I actually think they are level headed dancers, with a clear understanding of what their levels are, and where their priorities lies. It is those who are dancing at PreChamp dancers who placed worse than these three couples, should probably ask themselves, that maybe they have placed their levels too high. (I guess I'm insinuating that >=80% of preChamp dancers are really only at Novice level, probably a bit harsh :p)

    I breezed through syllabus level myself. But even today, when I look at those old videos, I think it was not really an indication of my dancing ability, but rather an indication of the lack of competition at those levels (in that year). Too many good dancers breezed through syllabus level, and there weren't too many competitions left at syllabus level. (And I'm not even talking about a particular region, but on a National level). But they breezed through only to get stuck at preChamp level. There is a significant gap between the PreChamp final level and the Champ final level, a much larger gap than any of the previous levels. People rush though syllabus levels to preChamp, then they stuck there, (and even worse, some would claim themselves champ level dancer, and look down on others, just because they were registered at champ events). It would be better if we all take our time going to the next level when we have really mastered the lower level.

    And for these reasons, I applause on those who have the patience to stay on the course longer, aren't ashamed to be called a syllabus (or Novice, or PreChamp, which ever that is suitable for the situation) dancer and build a solid foundation. I do concur with syncopationator, that sometimes there are a subtle kind of "look down" from people who "dance up", as if those dancing down couples are not keep terms with good sportsmanship. Sometimes, we just need to understand things from the other side. Maybe they are only there to develop their dancing skills on the best path they think they should take, and it has nothing to do with collecting ribbons.

    On the other hand, I have no problem regarding keeping a two level bandwidth, one at your actual level, one at a level up. I am really only discussing the issue on when to move up your actual level.
  18. Jananananana

    Jananananana Active Member

    1. Double check the point system. Nationals 1st place doesn't point a person out.

    2. I will disagree with you there. I don't think an entire semifinal or quarter final of dancers overestimates their dancing. The definition of competition is an event at which you challenge others to figure out who is better. Once you're just dancing a level and wiping the the field because you know you'll win, you're no longer competing. Now, dancing down is a different thing depending on the competition. Every competition has its own rules on what that means. USA Dance uses a point system. College comps use ye ol' "YCN point" system.

    3. Ah, prechamp vs. novice. I don't think people take prechamp and novice seriously enough to be in the appropriate level. The problem with these two levels is that you can use the same routines and really the only thing that differentiates them is the fact that there's one dance more to do in prechamp. I don't think people get stuck in prechamp. It may seem that way, but I think that's prechamp fulfilling its role as a level. It's the level you hover at before you're ready for champ. On your point about the difference in quality between the final in prechamp and champ, let me remind you that champ a few years ago was also split and a level called "world class" developed, which was short lived. Prechamp is a great level to be "stuck" in. You aren't limited by routines or by a syllabus, it's highly competitive, and you can concentrate on technique rather than learn new steps.

    4. I don't think there's shame in being called syllabus at all. I just feel that if you want to call yourself a competitive dancer and go to competitions to compete, you need to challenge yourself and actually compete. Otherwise you're just social dancing with a number on your back.
    dbk, frotes, Gorme and 4 others like this.
  19. syncopationator

    syncopationator Active Member

    Well I wouldn't want to get my rear handed to me by a bunch of social dancers, so I'm going to jump to champ so at least I can say I got my rear handed to me by some world class dancers.
    dancelvr, smidra86 and samina like this.
  20. ajiboyet

    ajiboyet Well-Known Member

    Hehehe. True.

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