Student Challenges Prevalent in the Pro-am Structure

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

  1. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    Which brings up another great subject for this thread....because pro-am is so expensive, many of us only do a few comps a year. And because a lot of pro-am lessons are centered on building our technique (and again, if you have limited resources, you have limited number of lessons), we don't dance as much as we'd like to get "practice" in with our pro i.e. "in rounds", and we are simply not as well prepared as we would like going out on the comp floor (and preparation is a huge key to confidence). How do you deal with this?

    So how do you other pro-am students prepare for having to be "spot on" almost right away on the comp floor with such little practice on the actual dancing with a partner?

    Many people will practice solo quite a bit to do as much as possible to have everything in body memory...but that has it's own pitfalls (trust me, I know - LOL!).

    What do you do physically and mentally to prepare? What has worked well for you?
  2. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    not sure there is a way to eliminate most of that...
  3. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    I'm too prepared most of the time. LOVE being on the floor, can't wait to get out there, and way too 'up' and read to go. I begin to understand via dancing why I was such a bad fit for my old (young, get-up-and-go, hot) horse--I am ready to GO NOW when I know I'm going in the ring. I was going to say, I'm not thinking about "partner or teacher", I'm thinking WAIT AND LISTEN.

    NP I think gets it better, no offense to them, than my Boston pros. He knows I'm going perform like a performing fiend, better at a comp than a showcase. I'll know the routines, to the point that's a problem (goes back to LISTEN--he'll not focus too much on my memorizing routines and instead keep me not thinking and just following.) So it's less about preparing to be 'on' than getting me to dial it down, cut off the adrenaline, and listen.
  4. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    The exact same thing happens with am-am couples who aren't just futzing around


    hear hear very true in mine/my wifes case
  5. scullystwin42

    scullystwin42 Active Member

    Hmm, I think asking to do rounds, and ask to go full out, in the weeks before a comp, can help for preparation. At least it helps me. I was thinking more about seeing my teacher as my partner when needed - I think doing this showcase, that requires a lot of emoting and storytelling has definitely helped.
  6. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    well...the beauty of pro/am is that it isn't a marriage

    welllll it is for some couples agrellos berrys
  7. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    the point of course, was that it doesn't have to be....that no one has to stay in their pro/am relationship
  8. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    It depends on the competition...but I've been trying very, very hard to get to the former lately rather than the latter. I wish that was all I was thinking about before the music starts, but usually I'm so busy trying to banish all of the other thoughts (or reminding myself what I'm doing next) that I don't get to that point. When I do, I'm not usually thinking "partner" or "teacher" (though maybe I should be deliberately thinking that more...interesting thought...), I am usually just thinking of him as a person, and how to best engage.

    As for the practicing...I don't usually feel unprepared these days. We dance a lot of rounds leading up to a comp, and I know my routines enough not to stress over it. The fact we practice basic technique and basic actions actually makes it less of a concern, not more - if we only ever focused on dancing the routines/rounds, that would be the only thing I worry about in competition rather than thinking about actually dancing well and executing moves well. We partner enough in lessons that I know I can trust him to do his job, so I don't worry about it so much.
  9. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    It is still a work in progress! Before a comp I will warm up myself, then spend some quiet time to try to get calm and centered and then pro will usually do bits of each dance with me to warm up as well. I have alot of adrenalin as well, but more of the nervous energy kind which is not a good one to have, so I try to channel that energy in a more productive way. I am not always successful and particularly if something is unfamiliar to me, I can be off the first round until I acclimate.
  10. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    I don't know what levels you dance, but being used to a warm-up first round may become a problem in gold. If you have your single dances in the morning and the scholarship in the evening, after a long break, adrenalin accumulates again, and it's like doing the first round again with the same probability of being off. It's even worse at OSB, where open standard multi-dance is on Sunday and single dances are on Saturday. I feel like the fact that I got used to looking at single dances as a warm-up for the multi-dance is working against me now.
  11. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    Good point! I don't try to look at the first round as a warm up, I just notice that usually my first round out I am more nervous, have more adrenalin, and I am not "in the flow" yet. What would you suggest to make that first round good from the start? I warm up both alone and with pro before comp starts, but I still have alot of nervous energy that first round.
  12. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    That's exactly the thing. Even if I warm up by myself, I am still not "in the flow" on that first round. In the past, when I was doing bronze and silver, if the first round was "off", I would just say to myself "oh, I'm just warming up, the next one will be better" instead of getting upset about it being off, and it was usually true - the subsequent rounds would get progressively better. Also, just to note, that in my age group I rarely had any semifinals in my single dances, so the first round being off didn't affect the chance of me making finals in single dances. Now that I dance gold, my single dances are often in a different session and the break before the scholarship turns the scholarship into the first round with all the nervous energy that comes with it. And I haven't figured out how to deal with it.
  13. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    The same thing is true for bronze and silver. Especially bronze--if the scholarships are at the end of the day session or in the evening session, you can have eight or ten hours between your single and multi-dances. My biggest issue with it is making my body (especially my feet!) not think I'm done for the day after the single heats. That's a long, long break.
  14. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    That's your experience. Most competitions I've been to have switched to having closed scholarships together with their single dances.
  15. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I think it depends on the competition. I dance closed syllabus and sometimes the single dances are followed by a break, with all scholarships being part of the evening : bronze, silver and gold. Other comps the single dances are followed by scholarships but often not until many heats have danced... enough that I often have time to change and even eat something before the scholarship round.

    I think in reference to this particular thread, I think that is a distinct difference between student and teacher. The teachers are used to competition and are relatively relaxed, us students are much more likely to be feeling that nervous energy!
  16. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    I think that is a very valid point, and very on point for this thread. Intending no criticism to the pros here, there is a definite difference in both level of nerves and in warming up between students and pros. I'm all for being able to warm up on my own, and I'm good with that. However, I have also noticed that warming up is, in general MUCH more important to me than to my pro, since he also has to worry about all of his other students and keeping some energy left for the actual competition...I have noticed, though, that when it comes to competing pro, he's all in for the warm up himself, WITH his partner. So I wonder, sometimes, if we get something of a raw deal as students when it comes to warming up (saying that with the caveat that I am fully on board with not overdoing it in the warmup - I'm talking about a couple of minutes of actually dancing together, nothing more.)

    I doubt am/am or pro/pro (please correct me if I am wrong here) goes into a competition without at least a few minutes of partially running through a routine together, or some other kind of joint warm-up. Whereas I am fully expected to warm up on my own, and while I do occasionally get a few minutes of warm-up time with my teacher, it doesn't always happen and sometimes the first time I see him that day is on the dance floor as the music is coming up for our first dance. Not always, mind you - again, no offense intended to pros here, and I fully understand why it often works out that way. It's just something that seems like it may be a peculiarly pro/am experience.
  17. latingal

    latingal Moderator Staff Member

    This is true in my experience.

    For me it depends how many students my pro has competing with him at the comp. If it is a great many, I will be expecting to warm myself up and use the single dances as my warm up with him on the floor. If there are only one or two students competing, I can expect to get some time in connection in a corner of the ballroom marking through some parts of our routines before going out on the floor.

    And yes, I would surmise that the possibility of having just a solo warm up before going out on the floor is probably only prevalent in pro-am.
  18. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    And none of the ones I've been to, in the Northeast or Midwest (and one each in the South and in California), so maybe it depends on where you are. (Ohio is different, obviously.) The only exception would be the International events seem, at most MW comps, to be on one day, as there aren't enough people (especially in Standard) to rate a full day of competing, so there's only a three- or four-hour wait if you're in Bronze I and doing the Bronze scholarship.

    My pros usually run me through routines before we compete. NP sometimes has more time to devote to it if we're doing a style where he doesn't have another student. I don't pressure them about it--at this point, there are no problems that can be fixed in any meaningful way, so once through as a re-fresher is enough. As far as stretching and that sort of warming up, I don't need help there and I figure my pro knows what he's doing.
  19. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I think another unique challenge in the pro am structure is that the pros have multiple students that they are competing with. It is very common to see a pro stay on the floor while his students rotate in for different heats. The pros have amazing stamina, that is for sure, but when I was first starting I would worry about that until I realized that although a round might be challenging for me, it is a walk in the park for them. I do wonder in the open gold rounds, if it proves to be challenging for pros to have several students dancing in those heats... for example a pro dancing open gold scholarships rounds with ladies A, ladies B and ladies C in a row... does that end up being more tiring?
  20. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    Two pieces to this.
    One, remember that a pro is literally a professional athlete.
    Two, watch them dance with their students, and with their professional partner when they compete. Their level of effort is simply not the same, either with each student, or with their students compared to their partner.

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