Student Challenges Prevalent in the Pro-am Structure

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by latingal, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Yes - it's been one of my biggest weaknesses and in my case, my pro addressed the issue with me. I had been trying unsuccessfully on my own for a while to find a method to get past this one, but in the end it came down to talking about the mental approach and gaining a better understanding of expectations within the partnership. And perhaps that was the key for me, that the partnership in it's maturation has become more of a two way entity. And I will say I'm very fortunate, that's not something that every pro will do.
  2. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    It has always surprised me how many pro-am students do not know how to practice on their own. Being rather analytical in nature, I found that discovering how to practice came very naturally. But you're right, I've talked to many a pro-am student who has no idea what to practice and why, about how to build a focused practice plan that will speed their improvement.
  3. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, this becomes a problem at times with some students, myself included. In my case it contributes to the "dance paralysis" syndrome on the comp floor.

    I have been guilty of thinking I need to be perfect on the comp floor - and my face and movements reflected it....tense, strained and trying too hard.
  4. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Active Member

    I note what I want to practice after a lesson, and when I get bored with that and need a change, I ask for specific items to work on. It's funny, when I mention that I need to practice such and such at home, lots of students at the studio say, "Oh, I should really practice at home, too!" But they don't, for whatever reasons. Definitely a challenge - and if your pro is not the type to proffer suggestions, you have to be confident enough to ask.
  5. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Active Member

    Hmm...maybe I need to talk it over more with my pros then, work on the mental thing. And read a few of those books mentioned on that huge quantal shift thread. My library has a couple of them, FIELD TRIP.

    Great thread, by the way.
  6. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    LOL! Hope it works for you! I know I do a lot of work on the mental side of things...ya' gotta' have some method to overcome the shortcomings of not being able to work as many hours together as a "full time" partnership if you want to somewhat meet the expectations of one.

    Thanks! ;)
  7. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    Makes total sense! I usually could care less what the audience thinks, and generally don't worry much about what the judges think - but there is a HUGE amount of pressure (entirely my own, mind you) to not disappoint my pro, or embarass him on the floor.
  8. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    This is a great topic all on its own, actually...

    And yes, it's a real issue. I'm a big proponent of "train the way you fight", so for me it's a huge challenge and I'm on the student side, not the teacher side. I am well aware that my pro is my pro, not my partner. But I've also had an increasingly large number of conversations both with my pro and with other teachers and coaches in the past year talking about how we both need him to be less of a teacher and more of a partner (even in lessons) as I increase in skill.

    So, yeah, it's a constant quest and balance, especially when I, at least, don't have the years of experience he does in switching back and forth between the two roles.
  9. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    It always makes me smile when I have people (usually non-dancers) ask me how I can practice on my own, or if that really works. Sure, there are some things that require a partner - it's hard to work on connection on your own, for example - but the vast majority of what I dance can absolutely be practiced on my own, whether it's basic actions or full routines. I wonder if I would have become as "self-sufficient" if I wasn't dancing pro/am - and more importantly, wasn't four hours away from my pro?

    Which begs an interesting question, does the nature of pro/am lend itself to creating dancers with a better appreciation of their own role/part in a partnership and/or performance? There is a variation on this question that I have often wondered as well - does pro/am dancing basically create dancers who dance well on their own, but don't have a real understanding of partnership?
  10. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Does it have 10+ gross of rhinestones and a built-in bodysuit? Then it's hardly a dance outfit. Even my formal evening gowns have more light-reflecting elements than are permitted under strict rules. (Heck, the one my mother made for the Cunard Black and White Ball night sort of has floats--a sheer overskirt with glitter elements in the organza. She had to make one because I went to about five stores and couldn't find a single dress in the right colors-black, white, or black and white-cut, and style that I liked and didn't feel cheap and wouldn't have to be altered anyway. $150 store-bought dresses just don't feel well-made to me any more.) Even the cheapie dress from Cache I used for my first couple comps had a brooch made from Swarovski.

    I find the pressure of dancing with a non-pro unbearable. The pro is not likely to do anything so off it affects what I'm doing, so I only have to worry about me. But I also feel no pressure 1. doing a competition without having seen my pros or danced a routine with them for six months, results: no appreciable difference in performance (in fact that earned a "If you're going to dance like without lessons, don't take them"), 2. dancing a comp on a week's notice and half a lesson with a pro half the age of mine with whom I've never danced who unlike NP hadn't had a year to get used to my quirks and style differences, let alone that I'd never done Rhythm with this studio and was still working out some timing differences. They know what they're doing. All *I* have to do is not screw up, or at least not so badly everyone can see it. That I can deal with. Sure, I'd like to please him, but of my three regular teachers so far I've never felt like they were ticking off a list, though I've given them cause to know I was--"We know what we're working on next week!" is a lot more likely to come out of my mouth than his.

    Now if one of my coaches shows up on a judging panel, THEN there's a certain amount of extra stress. "Oh, great, Ray's judging, he knows what to watch for," "Crap, I just did exactly what Pat told me NOT to do yesterday, right in front of her..." They've got a much more severe way of addressing errors than my pro (by placing/recalling), who's going to have stuff to work on at my next lesson no matter what I do. Biggest judging panel nightmare would be the day I draw a panel that Chris is on--he's danced with me enough he even knows the difference between my "I'm competing" smile and my "Oh crap, I just totally screwed that up" smile.

    And I hate indifferent audiences. I applaud everyone when I'm watching rounds. At least pretend to pay attention when the music finishes. Really, my pro is probably the LAST person I'm worrying about at a comp....
  11. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Active Member

    So nice to hear other people have the same internal pressures...:) One of my pros is all about trying to get me to think of him as his partner when we compete...He says it, but I've been dismissing it (internally), since I didn't want to cloud up the whole student/teacher dynamic, but it sounds like I've been hasty in doing that. MIND CHANGE, GO!
  12. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    10+ gross of rhinestones? No. Built-in bodysuit? Quite likely yes. Again, blah is a matter of opinion, and I can see where one would come to that conclusion. Certainly they're blah-er. But I've seen plenty of syllabus outfits that would look more than a little bit out of place out and about, and are still dressing up. 'Sall I'm saying.
  13. JudeMorrigan

    JudeMorrigan Well-Known Member

    In a sense, it's almost comforting for me to hear follows expressing some of the same mental issues I feel like I have. Speaking as a lower level student lead, I'm acutely aware of how I'm dragging my pro down to my level when I dance with her, even if I'd earn myself a stern talkin' to if she ever heard me describing it like that. I do know that she'd very much like to get me someplace like USDC or Ohio where there might be some sort of chance for me to have other gents to compete against.
  14. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    As an am leader in a pro/am relationship my take may be different. Also i dance am/am with my wife. We make certain to work with our pros and teachers, apart from partnering them in competition preparation so that they can see what we need to work on. Once we are on the floor though my pro is my partner. We are there for each other, into each other, and try to draw the audience and judges into our experience. We dont nitpick during a style, say latin day, we talk about it after at dinner. Once the comp is over she goes back to teacher mode, review the video, and work on improvement. This approach maximizes the enjoyment of the competitive environment otherwise why do it if it isnt fun
  15. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    I do know that she'd very much like to get me someplace like USDC or Ohio where there might be some sort of chance for me to have other gents to compete against.


    we are rare birds my friend
  16. nikkitta

    nikkitta Well-Known Member

    Saying you don't want to compete unless you can wear overly blinged-out costumes is nuts. I dare say that having a comp where everyone had to wear a grey t-shirt and sweatpants would be extremely enlightening, and would obviously knock off several hours' worth of prep time :p. Sure, I ooh and ahhh over the pretty dresses like most other ladies, but that's not why I want to dance and compete.

    As for only having to worry about yourself when dancing Pro-Am, well let's just say that Pros are human too and I have had several experiences of my Pro screwing up, so I never assume and maintain my awareness at all times. If you do have an amateur partner who you train with regularly, you develop (in theory) a fine-tuned sense of connection that greatly IMO reduces the sense of panic if something changes or goes wrong. I'm not saying this can't occur in a Pro-Am partnership, but in general they are dancing with many other Ams also and most likely you don't spend nearly as much time practicing together as you would with an Am partner.

    Regarding praise/criticism, for me it hasn't been a huge issue. If I dance something badly, I can usually tell without any bad words or yuck faces from my Pro. Plus I'm big on asking specific "Why" questions and describing what I am feeling when a step doesn't go well. If I get little to no feedback, I know it's about the same - no better, but no worse. If I get another "layer" of technique or enhancement to a step, I know I've gotten the first basic layer down. But I feel like all of that is more of a "Is this the right instructor for me" issue versus "What are the unique dynamics of the Pro-Am partnership", which I believe was already covered in another thread ("what makes a good teacher" or some such).
  17. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    If you do have an amateur partner who you train with regularly, you develop (in theory) a fine-tuned sense of connection that greatly IMO reduces the sense of panic if something changes or goes wrong.

    absolutley true!!
  18. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I can completely relate to this! I love it when I finish a heat with my pro and I know that he is thinking.. nicely done! I remember the last comp I was at I was struggling with a particular pattern and I kept on screwing it up until the scholarship round. At the point, I really wasn't concerned with doing it correctly for the judges or to place well, I just wanted to show my pro... yes, I can do this!
  19. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Whether Am-Am or Pro-Am: if you are competing, there is no room for "I done good" only for "I must do better". The only positive feedback I want from my pro is when she stops focusing on a particular element of my dancing, because it's improved enough that something else is the biggest problem.

    Otherwise, it's just social dancing in fancy costumes.
  20. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    This!

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