Ballroom Dance > To specialize or not to specialize?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by tangoking, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. tangoking

    tangoking Member

    For a few years I've been giving about equal time to standard/smooth and latin/rhythm. At this point I like standard/smooth better, and I'm trying to decide if I should specialize.

    Any suggestions? Obviously there's pros and cons. If I specialize, I will make faster progress in standard and smooth; however, my latin/rhythm progress will slow considerably.
  2. TAK

    TAK Member

    Well yeah...pretty much!

    I think one thing to consider is whether you're someone who prefers variety or focus. I'm a ten-dancer, but I really prefer to work in a more focused way and it kind of drives me nuts about doing so many dances sometimes. I keep doing both Standard and Latin because I honestly do love and see the value in both of them, they complement each other for me, and my slight preference for one is offset by my partner's slight preference for the other. But it sounds like that is not as much of a consideration for you, so if you're someone who generally prefers focused work, I would take that into account.

    Also, I don't know at what level you compete -- or how much competitive results matter to you -- but you may also want to consider whether everyone around you is specializing or not. Over the past year or so my partner and I have transitioned from always competing against other ten-dancers to a level where almost everyone specializes,'s different to still be a ten-dancer in that environment. There are both upsides and downsides, but it's different.
  3. Iolane

    Iolane New Member

    I started off doing both rhythm and smooth and I now specialize in rhythm. Honestly, as I gain more experience and move up in difficulty level, I know there is no way I could manage to do both smooth and rhythm as well as I'd like. I am very much a perfectionist and I simply don't have the resources or time to focus (i.e. take the necessary lessons) to get really good at both, so I am focusing on the one that I have more fun with and seem to pick up easier. Sometimes I am sad to see how bad I am in smooth in comparison to rhythm, but overall it's a worthwhile tradeoff... for me.

    I sort of liken it to track and field - decathaletes/heptathaletes are amazing athletes, they are talented enough to participate in short distance, long distances and field events. But, except for the rare decathalete/heptathalete (like Jackie Joyner Kersee who was a long jump champ), most will never be as good as an individual event as someone who specializes in it. Some people enjoy the variety, others would be driven insane by it - what type of person are you?

    Perhaps you can give yourself a set time (a month or two) to just focus on smooth/standard and see how it goes. Then you'd be able to see if you pick up things faster (and how much faster you do) and if you miss rhythm/latin.
  4. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    this is such a personal decision, IMO, no right or wrong...just time to carefully reflect upon why you are doing what you are doing, your goals, etc....
    SwayWithMe likes this.
  5. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    I prefer to specialize. Partially because then you can work on technique more than learning patterns for 4 styles.
    smidra86 likes this.
  6. BasicsFirst

    BasicsFirst New Member

    I agree, it's better to specialize. Not that we are doing so, we are NOT. And we are paying the price for NOT doing so... but if you can't give one of them up (in our case I mean one out of two), then you can't give one up. That's not wrong either!
  7. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Moderator

    I think choosing standard over smooth can be a good way to specialize. How about dropping smooth and keeping standard/latin/rhythm? You could still enter smooth events and tweak your standard choreography a little.
  8. You can still keep up the other styles and work on them on the side! You will just become more of an expert on the one you will specialize in.
    suburbaknght likes this.
  9. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    so many all depends on how much time one has, how much one focuses on the crossovers in technique, etc....what one is hoping to accomplish
  10. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    ftfy. ;)
  11. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    LOL, that's a big one, Joe, that you added in there.

    I've pretty much dropped International for now, even before I moved and am having to work out how I'm going to do lessons out here--I'm not going to ever be great at Latin even if I like it, and I'd rather stab my hand with a salad fork than compete Standard again, which is always a good sign you shouldn't be doing something. So American it is. If I had unlimited time and funds I would probably do Latin anyway, but that's life.
  12. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    true...although, as I have said before, if one doesn't put in the time, the money can't really cover for that...actually, I think the biggest factor is the goal...for me, I am always re-assessing that...initially I wanted to be proficient in all styles, it has been a good path for me and I have appreciated the crossover in application of good technique...I also think that having done four styles for the past 4 years has helped me to crystalize what it is that I love the most and where my strengths and weaknesses are....I think that rhythm is my least favorite style, followed by standard although I strongly feel that I need the standard to be good at smooth and I very much am now enjoying latin, except for paso which I think has very little redeeming qualities about it...I would love to see latin and rhythm merged to consist of cha, ru, samba, ecs or jive (am flexible on that) and bolero...then I would simply practice standard and aim to eventually compete in open smooth and silver whatever you would call that merged group. I have so much respect for how difficult standard doesn't play to my strengths but I know I need it....shrug...again, I think the right decision varies for folks and certainly if funds are limited one may well have to pick their favorite style and go with it...if the budget tightens here it will be smooth and latin in that order
  13. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    love that image
  14. jjs914

    jjs914 Active Member

    I'm a nine dancer and I would echo a lot of what TAK says here. DP and I have discussed dropping one style to focus on the other style, but we enjoy the variety of doing both and the way they complement each other.

    But, if you're a competitive person, I can say from experience: it's difficult to be a nine or ten dancer, especially in the amatuer world, where there's not a lot of opportunity to compete against other nine or ten dancers. We are almost always competing against people who have specialized. It can be very frustrating and we try to take that into consider when we think about how fast we progress (so as not to beat up on ourselves too much).
  15. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i agree that it's very much a personal decision with numerous considerations.

    for my part, i started standard, added latin, and have no intention to drop either. together, they've stolen my heart as far as serious training, competition, and artistry. even if there are no funds available for lessons, i persevere on my own with both in mind and look forward to hitting up formal training when i can. i'm in it for the duration... and appreciate very much how training for each cross-pollinates to the other style.
    Sania likes this.
  16. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member


    Learn all the dances well-enough first and then specialize.

    I learned and became proficient in the 19 dances of Int'l and Smooth, plus Ballet, AT, and Club (assorted salsa, hustles, swings---east, west, far east, jive), some obscure Oriental folk dances, and yes, beginning polynesian.

    Yet, despite the high levels of proficiency among most of the dances (classification S or A in Modern and Latin, Open in Smooth/Rythm, and similar in AT and Club) I found that for me AT had become something nice for embracing, Club was for fun, American style was something I did in, well, America---but that Modern spoke to my soul.

    At that point, I had learned deep enough technique in the other dances to have material for improvisation and deeper expression in Modern.

    My point is, sometimes (not always) you have to sample everything, before you can choose.

  17. j_alexandra

    j_alexandra Well-Known Member

    Brilliant. I feel like I'm at the ultimate partner-dance smorgasbord, and some time soon, I'll be able to narrow my focus. At present, I am still loving the sampling.
  18. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    lol...JA, maybe those of us who aren't able to sample in other areas of our lives relish the variety even more :)
  19. sambanada

    sambanada Active Member

    my advice: Try to compete in one style, while continuing to study both. When you feel you are ready to let go, specialize. If you feel you miss it too much then you are not ready. By continuing, you will still be in shape to resume. Good luck!
  20. waltzguy

    waltzguy Active Member

    I agree with this. Learn a variety first, then listen to your heart and specialize if you wish. Which dances do you tend to dream about the most?

    I specialize and compete in Standard, but know enough about most other dances to be somewhat dangerous. I even used to compete in Latin when I had a former partner who only did Latin.

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