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

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

  1. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

    I asked mine flat out. But i'm blunt that way. He was good enough to admit that he wasn't terribly experienced in competing Int'l - but he did say that he loved it.

    He said he competed in American because he thought there was less competition at the pro level - i assume from the international couples that seem to dominate Int'l.

    I chose him over someone a little more experienced mainly because he said he loved it... i wanted someone with more enthusiasm. Also, he has a great personality - goofy, like me. the other options were... less compatible.

    as for the credentials on the floor, i guess i didn't about that. he definitely doesn't have a name, but i can't afford to compete at all the high level comps as an Am/Am, much less as pro/am. So i'm in it to compete at the regional level. ok, well, local level. :p
  2. swan

    swan Member

    That's fine as well - see, you know your goal & what you want & you pick the 'best' pro to align to that. Good for you!

    Yes, if getting to that very high level Pro/Am or Am/Am is not your goal, and if it's just competing for fun, getting to wear nice costumes & show off your dancing, hey go for it!

    Didn't I say it before ? There's a place for everyone in dancesport ;)
  3. saludas

    saludas New Member

    This question has been asked twice here, so I think this is a VERY important question for proam people.

    It also begs the question, 'how do you know if your teacher is any good at all'... meaning, how do you hire a teacher - is it based soley on how you look with him or her (as one poster pointed out, she got rid of one teacher because he was so overweight they couldn't see her) or is it based upon how 'winning' they are, or (and this seems to me to be the most important) how well they teach?

    If you cannot tell if a teacher dances well in a technique (or can't see it) then you owe it to yourself to analyize why you are taking lessons from that coach to begin with. Just because they 'look good to you' or 'I have so much fun' or 'I learn so much (clue: as a beginner, everyone learns so much because there is so much to learn)' are these real reasons to spend all that money? And, is the act of dancing with the pro the reason you're doing it, or for the learning of dance (someone on this thread noted that that was a big reason - just to be able to dance with a higher level dancer).

    Finally, I think if you sincerely believe that you are in this for the learning, then you should ask their other clients. And not Mary from the Tuesday group class or Johnny who takes a private on Friday; from other pros they teach, or other higher level students. True, many proam teachers specialize in newbies thru bronze, but even they have reps and you can see the results in other dancers.

    If you can't tell what dance they are expert at, you simply ask. Ask for their credentials. And no, a 6 week course at a studio is not teaching credientials. I wouldn't accept less than an ISTD acredidation thru gold, for proam.

    ANYONE can teach from the syllabus book (and I certainly would not take lessons from anyone who didn't have their ISTD certification) but not all can TEACH. Oh, you haven't seen their license? then you certainly can't tell as to what level they have license for - some only get thru to silver, for instance.
  4. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Well-Known Member

    Darn tootin'!

    Now if someone could just explain all the differences between the levels, and the ndca vs. usa dance vs usdc, that would help. :shock: I think i've tried to read up all the forums on this, and i just get more confused.

    But that's a topic for another thread.
  5. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    Some good points.

    As a beginner, you don't really have a frame of reference.

    I picked my first studio because I liked the way their dancers looked. It was a huge improvement over the social dance teachers I had who didn't give one ounce of technique instruction. I started out slowly, and mostly to learn to follow, not with competing in mind.

    Anyway, there are a lot of variables that go into picking an instructor, most of which have been spelled out here already. I would say that word-of-mouth and going to comps and "shopping" are 2 effective ways.
  6. lynn

    lynn New Member

    You raise a good point, but it also got me thinking - what kind of credential is it necessary to teach a newbie, is it necesasry for a newcomer to select the top notch teacher - but that's a totally different topic altogether so i will not go there.

    For me personally, i have a different goal than the proammers here so i guess i'll just leave it at that.
  7. swan

    swan Member

    I'm not so sure about this one...There are many top pros who are excellent teachers & truly magnificent dancers who did NOT pass ISTD (not because they did not pass, they simply did not take the tests :))

    Of course, it's good to have certification. But just like when I hire project manager to do projects for me, I do NOT look for their PMI certification (to me, that's bunch of crap). And anyone can study a book & get Microsoft certification, and can they really fix my servers?

    Obviously, ISTD has the 'hands on' or the real dance exams...But still people can still pass them w/o dancing 'beautifully' which is REQUIRED for competition.

    Bottom line...I look for experience, reference & trust my own screening skills...
  8. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    There are also competitively succesful pros who would not pass an ISTD exam, without both theoretic study (obvious) and changing some details (not so obvious)... plus things that aren't on the ISTD exam but should be.

    Judges can't make an issue of something if there's no one in the event doing it better, or if the only people doing it better have other serious problems.

    What the exam does tend to indicate though is some degree of understanding and ability to explain how things work and to demonstrate it in a teaching context - in the teaching role, that's more important than what they can actually do on a competition floor. But for pro-am, you need both teaching ability and performance ability.
  9. saludas

    saludas New Member

    I think anyone trying to learn syllabus needs a teacher who knows what the syllabus is.

    My comment was meant to say 'syllabus' - that's why I said thru gold.

    Dancing beatuifully does not mean you can teach it. Truth be told, the reason many top dancers are... top dancers, is that they can simply 'do it' and not think of the mechanics. They are the worst teachers of syllabus, because instead of explaining the actions, they just demonstrate the action, and think you'll just absorb it, like they did.

    For us mortals, we need someone who can verbalize and explain. the ISTD exam is based on that, and on actual teching theory:

    The only people who can judge btw are either ISTD certified or have become finalists nationally.
  10. lynn

    lynn New Member

    i guess it really comes down to judgement - if you can't tell whether or an instructor is good - having that certification helps.
  11. swan

    swan Member

    That I would agree. That's why I emphasize to find a teacher who can teach (not only can teach, but to suit YOUR learning style) and have credentials - actual competiton (or in Chris' words - performance ability).

    Can't have one w/o the other if the student desires to climb up high in the pro/am rank.

    In terms of syllabus work, one can know the syllabus work very well w/o that certification. But again, it's not that certification is no use. It helps, but that would not be my personal deciding factor of choosing a pro, if I were to start in syllabus right now.

    Speaking of which - just something for chuckle...So in another thread, I think Chris Stratten responded to some waltz questions about doing the 3/8 for natural turn. I want to take this example by illustrating dancing syllabus. So one of the really top pro who is by the way a well known teacher (people would agree he's a great coach) and a beautiful dancer & he's top pro/am Pro. My friend told me that she took a coaching lesson w/ him a while back, and he was trying to demonstrate this 3/8 natural turn & he was so proud dancing beautifully thinking that he's achieved 3/8 of a turn. Well, she's very analytical & so was her partner, this pro actually turned less than 3/8 - if you were take out a compass & measure!

    My point is - does that certification matter? If this pro failed (I do not know if this pro ever took the exam) because of that, will I still pick him to be my Pro? ABSOLUTELY!

    Dancing requires techniques, but dancing IMHO does not require the precision that a 'test' can ever measure.

    I love one pro who told me this - if you try to reproduce the great feeling you had yesterday, forget it! Every day, in fact, every step or move you make will be a new experience. Sure you can perfect your natural turn, to the way the ISTD or whatever technique book tells you. But the truth is, you will never (ok,I'm ready to be challenged on this one :)) be able to produce the same natural turn twice!

    Of course, in the absence of better way of certifying folks or measuring folks, there're these exams. And they are useful - but NOT absolute.
  12. Another Elizabeth

    Another Elizabeth Active Member

    On that note - does anyone know where to find pro-am results for Seattle area pros? The results from the Seattle Star Ball are online, but only the numbers - no names. All email contact addresses on that page are broken. Are there other comps I could look at?
  13. ACtenDance

    ACtenDance Active Member

    Not sure if that's true... where have you heard that? and does it reflect different competitions (USA Dance, NDCA, etc)
  14. Waltzer

    Waltzer New Member

    When you are a beginner, it is very difficult to evaluate a pro and you just do the best you can. However, it is not a life-long commitment and later if your assessment or your goals change, it is OK to switch.

    Unfortunately, if you leave, some professionals see it as an issue of personal loyalty and a blow to their prestige, and it may spoil the personal relationship forever. But, I guess, one has to learn to live with that.
  15. standardgirl

    standardgirl New Member

    To add to this, I know one pro who did very well on the ISTD exams, but his competitive results are fairly bad. They still fight to make a final in RS.
  16. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Absolutely, passing an ISTD test does not make you a great dancer or teacher. It simply means that you were good at quoting the book out loud to someone and you could dance the patterns reasonably well. But finding a teacher that has taken exams, especially from an organization like the ISTD, is a reasonable measure of their commitment to their own training and desire to better themselves, the community, and the industry as a whole. And at least you know they want to understand things even if you find later that they are unable as a dancer to actually place well in competitions, or pass that info along as a teacher.

    There is no guarantee on getting a good teacher.
    and this is very good advice.

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