Ballroom Dance > Picking a Pro to do Pro/Am...

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by swan, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    one can steer clear of a teacher, but not of an owner....
  2. lynn

    lynn New Member

    Hmm, having my teacher's teacher give a where have i heard that before :lol: ?? Sorry, but i kind of wonder about this. If my teacher has indeed learned everything from his old teacher, then i guess i can't really see the point, but if my teacher hasn't learned everything from his teacher, he probably needs to be re-educated. Of course, this assumes that there's no growth in both individuals which is not the case. But my point is just that i would prefer someone with an entirely different perspective.....
  3. saludas

    saludas New Member

    Well, actually, you never learn 'everything'. Dance education has been described as 'peeling away the layers of an onion'....

    however, we aren't talking about the teacher of your teacher. We're talking about the studio owner, coming up with an outside instructor for a proam situation. Still, it's certainly not to be considered as a real lesson...
  4. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Communication is never perfect - I have a running list of situations where what my teacher says doesn't really make sense, because it's an incomplete version of something her teacher teaches that does. But beeing able to fill in the gaps between infrequent visits with generally compatible advice, and being able to get into areas that haven't yet been covered in those visits...
  5. lynn

    lynn New Member

    proam situation aside, i'm curious, how often does it happen that your instructor or the studio owner recommends an outside coach?? ie, just an overall evauation of where you stand.
  6. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I agree w/ chris...people use different language to explain the same, if they are different gender...sometimes they can say or show sometihing your pro wouldn't :oops: that is a story for another day
  7. swan

    swan Member

    Actually this is very common. Folks like Ann Gleave & Richard Gleave, Michael Barr, etc...They're coaches of many top standard pros. When these 'teachers' are in town, the pros will let the students know because if we book lessons, that helps ease the 'expense' of our coaches' bringing in these top notch coaches...

    And'll never learn all the tricks from great masters. We've got a Chinese saying (very bad one actually, and I think it's the wrong thing to do from teaching perspective :))

    Teach all the tricks to students & they become smart, and they beat the master & there's no more 'master'...

    Because of this philosophy, most of the Chinese Kung Fu masters never taught everything they knew to the students...So the students either have to master the fundamentals & invent new things or that 'method' will eventually become less & less...

    In fact, it's still somewhat true in the China dancing scene. It's taking this long for the Chinese to start being recognized in the dance world because finally the door is open for outside folks to come in to teach new tricks...The old Chinese dance teachers were just keeping things to themselves...

    Russia has opened up a lot earlier & thus you could see the nice results from today's dance scene...But China is catching up really fast...(after all, you've got 1.3 Billion people to choose talent from to train from ground up :))
  8. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    i see an outside coach about every other month except that I have seen three since the first week of july 8)
  9. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

    My teacher recommends me to take outside coaching EVERY TIME an outside coach comes in. So far, have not been able to afford it. However, next time - definitely! As i have money. for a short amount of time, at least. :D
  10. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Another thing is that the seniour teachers keep learning - each new career stage, such as switching from full time competitor to full time coach/judge brings new perspectives. So what they may teach today may be more complete and more insightfull than what they taught a decade ago.
  11. swan

    swan Member

    Very true...

    BTW - a lot of studio owners will bring in visiting coaches every month. This is to help improve their own dancing as well as the pros who are stationed in that studio. The more they learn & keep up to date, the better they can transfer the knowledge to the students.

    I know these lessons could be very expensive. If the coaches are willing to take singles, I'd encourage folks to take them to reduce expense. If you're competing pro/am, sometimes you do want someone to look at you as a 'couple' & help out. It's just more expensive. Like I said in my original post, I would not do it, only because of expense purpose...But if you could afford it - go for it!

    Now...I do have one comment about these coaching lessons. If you do pro/am with your pro, esp. in 10 dances, I have a warning. A lot of pros will do 10 dance w/ their students, but they're really good in 1 style. In this case, the 'weaker' style they are in - you'd better not taking coaching lessons with, because chances are, it'll be going to your pro mostly & little on you. I have facts on this one...I've got a friend who went thru this. The pro did not even know Paso basics (and I am talking about 'steps'!!!! Not even techniques). She ended up paying the lessons for the top coach to teach the pro the choreography & steps. And later she got very upset that the teacher took the same routine & turned around teaching to his other students, which my friend PAID for.

    But if your pro is relatively good, then I think occasional coaching lessons (again, if you can afford them) would be valuable.

    Now sometimes you get lucky, because your pro has a pro partner who can look at you even 5 minutes here & there. There's normally no charge on that. In fact a lot of top coaches come as couple, and they often 'borrow' each other during lesson time to either demonstrate certain point or to take a look (esp. if you're taking as single).
  12. lynn

    lynn New Member

    sorry if i'm hijacking this thread a little, but what happens if your pro is good at one style and not another but you want to compete in both??
  13. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

    How "bad" is he at the other style? I've found that most pros are pretty decent at both... It only comes into a factor in the scholarships, right? otherwise the judges just the am?
  14. swan

    swan Member

    He's 'presentable' in the other style. So I wouldn't say he's completely out of place. But, he had no paso in his repertoir...

    And I think you're right, lower division is judging the AM. My friend was in the lower division.
  15. swan

    swan Member

    After giving more thoughts on Lynn's question...

    Here's my take. If you want to compete both styles with your pro & eventually want to advance to the higher divion, you should think twice if your pro is much weaker in 1 style than the other.

    I personally do not think it's wise to do that. Some teachers are truly 10 dance,as a lot of them start when they are little & all do 10 dance until mid teens & they concentrate on 1.

    So the pros you'll be working with are average age from mid 20's to above. Now if you've deserted the style for about 10 years & only doing pro/am, I really do not think it's good money spent on the student's part to invest in such lessons & comps.

    In my friend's example, she had a choice to do latin with another pro as the other pro is a top notch one. But she did not know better when she started (little knowledge of pro/am & who's who & what's what in the dance world).

    When she started lessons w/ the other latin pro, her "10 dance" teacher had a fit! No matter how diplomatically she tried to present the case, it was bad. This had affected their standard pro/am relationship as well. Now, she's just in a mode of should I stay or should I go. Big dilemma.

    Another lady, now have risen high up in pro/am rank had the same dilemma. She made the excellent choice to switch her pro out for both the latin and standard. Now she's doing very well in both (with 2 great pros who are specialized in the respective style, vs. her former teacher who's a nice guy, but really is a jack of all trades, master of none & certainly didn't get her ANYWHERE in the comps, and that's not the worst. She did not get ANYWHERE with her dancing until she switched!)

    So if you have not already started competing 10 dance with your pro, DO your homework & really consider long term impact. Again, back to Chris Stratten's original post on page 1 - assess your own goals & pick the pro to align with that!
  16. swan

    swan Member

    One more thought...This is the distinct difference between Am/Am & Pro/Am (not good or bad, just the difference - which hopefully will help people make good choices of picking pros if Pro/Am is your goal):

    Am/Am partnerships typically you grow as a couple. So you may take a partner who may be little higer or lower or equal to your level. And you may even pick a Smooth dancer as your standard partner, because that person has 'potential'. That's all fine. It's time you are investing & most of the time, it pays off at the end. I've seen a local couple here, absolutely fantastic Smooth couple now. The guy was rhythm and the gal was standard. Well, they paired up & within 1 year went into the Championship level of Smooth & looking like they might rise to the very top (already they're in the finals at Nationals). So...There's my point of Am/Am partnership of picking the 'right' Am partner - bring the best out of each other...and not necessarily picking the best dancer in that level.

    Pro/Am is different & the 'game' is definitely different. People who can afford to do Pro/Am, well as I said - can afford & have financial resource.

    So with that in mind, why not pick the best teacher you can find - when I say 'best', it does not mean the highest rank, the most expensive. I meant truly someone who KNOWS what they are doing in that style, because you are PAYING to learn and paying to compete. So you'll try to find the teacher with the teaching style that suits you, your built compatibility should be there (it's easier in this case, as you're 'paying' for the partnership, you might as well shop for the best built/look to suit you), and pick a pro who can really hold his/her own weight out there in the comps, ie, who's got credentials in competitions. It doesn't matter if the person has retired or never compete as a professional (I've already listed example of excellent pro/am "pro" who never competed as a professional, but was a top amateur in US, in fact, there are a few of those floating around throughout the US!) The Pro MUST have a lot of competition experience so that he/she could help prepare you for competitions, in addition to just teach you how to dance.

    You don't want to end up with a pro who's probably social dancing teacher calibre & expect to do well in Pro/Am comps. We're talking about loads of money here in the Pro/Am business & one should (even if you have loads of $) invest wisely...
  17. lynn

    lynn New Member

    here's a really naive if not dumb question: how do you tell which dance(s) your pro is good in? I have a teacher whom i can clearly tell her expertise is in standard and not latin. Yet, i have another teacher who seem to fit the 10 dances category. I tried asking him directly (not sure if it's the right approach) and beating around the bushes in trying to find out which dance(s) are his forte but have gotten no satisfactory answer. But come to think of it, how likely is an instructor telling a student of his/her weakness??
  18. swan

    swan Member

    Ask them what styles they have competed in (see my last post - I've given a lot of thought of picking pros now :)) either as amateur or pros and how they did in it. Ask about specific comps. They will have to have a lot of nerves to 'lie'... Most comp results are listed on line these days. But of course, if the pro has retired from competition (pro/pro or am/am) for a long time, it's harder to find their results.

    And when in doubt - DF is your best bet ;) We've got a lot of experienced competitors here as well as professionals who post & read here - they'll be more than happy to help you, I am sure. You may want to "PM" instead of naming the professional on the forum & ask about their credentials...
  19. lynn

    lynn New Member

    swan (& everyone else), thanks for your immensely helpful tips! I'm no where ready competing material but it's great gathering information like these before i fall head over heels into the unknown territory - albeit am/am or pro/am!
  20. swan

    swan Member

    BTW - there are (I am sure...just can't think of any on top of my head) pros who are probably very good in competing Pro/Am, and started there as opposed to doing Pro/Pro, Am/Am before Pro/Am...

    So those would be good to choose as well. It's easy to see who's doing well in Pro/Am field these days - all the results are on-line. And there're new pros popping up every day :) Some top amateurs turning pro could be great potential for competing pro/am.

    They may not be as experienced teachers (most of them already started teaching as amateurs anyway), but they normally got more enthusiasm & loads of energy for the students :)

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