Ballroom Dance > To specialize or not to specialize?

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

  1. mad123

    mad123 Member

    In addition to the variables others have mentioned like time and money as well as one's personal goals I think another consideration is the availability/quality of instructors for the style(s) you are interested in. I might really want to specialize in International Standard but if there isn't a solid teacher within a feasible distance for me to work with I might prefer to focus on another style while still gaining experience in other areas. This might play more of a role for those who are actively competing but may be worth considering none the less.
  2. 5678dance

    5678dance Active Member


    I'm curious to know when to specialize. Is there a certain level that you can't really go beyond, unless you specialize? ( 9- and 10-dancers do not seem plentiful, at least to me...) Does the size of the competition in a style in your region play a factor?

    Even if you do specialize, do you still compete the other styles just for fun? Is it worth it to do that, or is it just frustrating?
  3. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    I focus on smooth and standard. But every once in a while I would compete in rhythm or latin just for the fun of it.
  4. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    Probably. If you look at leg development on the top professionals, Latin dancers tend to have more muscular thighs, and Standard dancers more muscular calves. The ratio of maximum thigh diameter to maximum calf diameter is 2:1 or more for most top Latin dancers, but only about 1.4:1 for top Standard dancers.

    That suggests that there comes a point where progression in Latin is limited by having overly muscular calves, and progression in Standard is limited by having overly muscular thighs.

    The point is pretty high, though. Bill and Bobbie Irvine were world professional champions in both Standard and Latin one year.
  5. debmc

    debmc Well-Known Member

    I struggle with this question a lot too. For now, I am focusing on two styles...if I progress to my satisfaction then I could see adding a third.
  6. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    whats my name??? nuff said
    5678dance likes this.
  7. Janson

    Janson Active Member

    Generally I think doing both Standard and Latin is a common thing (or Smooth and Rhythm, if you have it). A lot of the young Amateurs who have progressed from Youth/Juv will be good in both. I would say it's only really the top half of the Amateur field who want to excel in one style, rather than continue with both is where it comes into play - of course many others may specialise earlier, especially if they're not so keen on one. There are some 10-dancers in both Am and Pro categories who are still highly competitive in each style individually, although of course it's the (rarer) 10-dance competitions where they fit in best.
  8. middy

    middy Well-Known Member

    I would say people should try to get to at least silver level in all four styles before deciding to specialize more - at least then you've learned a fair number of figures and have gotten a sense of what you're better or worse at, and have given each of them a fair shot.

    I think if there's some style that you don't enjoy as much, are naturally devoting less time to it, and importantly aren't particularly motivated to get much better, then that's a good reason to stop doing it. Once devoting practice time to one style feels like it's taking away from the styles you care about more, then maybe it's a good time to re-evaluate.

    That being said, I don't like it when people seem to just dismiss some style completely. Like "Oh, I don't do XX," but obviously that is a personal choice. I still go to most of my team's lessons and try to improve technique on the styles I don't currently compete in, cause why not.
  9. middy

    middy Well-Known Member

    Isn't this confounded by the fact that standard and Latin dancers use their legs differently and it's actually the act of practicing/dancing might be changing their relative leg sizes? Reverse causation, essentially.
    danceronice and Dancing Irishman like this.
  10. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    lol....does this explain why my entire legs are large ?....because an excuse would be great
    SwayWithMe, Mr 4 styles and middy like this.
  11. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    Agree. Recently two people at different times have rolled their eyes and said, "Oh, I don't do that." when I've brought up std/Latin in conversation. They seem to think they're extremely difficult dances compared to American. <shrug>
  12. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    Did you perform a study or something?
  13. Loki

    Loki Well-Known Member

    I have a tape measure... ;-)
  14. middy

    middy Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I think there are many more diplomatic ways to say the same thing. "I don't know X" or "I prefer to compete in Y" or simply "I prefer X."
  15. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    That's kinda how I treat everything that's not ballroom (that is one of 19 competitive dances). I don't do club dances, Argentine tango, country etc. I simply don't.
    danceronice likes this.
  16. 5678dance

    5678dance Active Member

    This is incredibly interesting....... but how in the WORLD do you know this??? Lol. if you have a paper, please share!!
  17. Lioness

    Lioness Well-Known Member

    The only reason I'd specialise is if I found a partner who was otherwise perfect, but only wanted to dance one style. Until then, I'll stick with my three (standard, Latin, new vogue).
    It may be different at a higher level. Right now, we're only dancing 1-2 dances per event. We only have to learn a couple of dances per style.
    If I absolutely had to drop something, it'd be latin, then new vogue. Standard is my love...I love latin but I'm bad at it AND I don't really have a Latin vogue is awesome, I love it, but realistically it's the easiest to relearn, and isn't a worldwide style...
  18. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    I think that's very likely the cause. However, I also think that the muscles one uses in one's practice and dancing are probably also the muscles one needs.

    It's just from observation. The latin ladies' legs are pretty easy to see. I think I first noticed the difference when watching an edition of Championship Ballroom Dancing where they had a camera close to the floor, so there was a good view of the standard ladies' legs when they spun. Some styles of ball gowns swing out pretty far and provide a good view of the legs even from a normal viewing position, so I've gotten a lot of chances to confirm it since, and it's pretty consistent. If you look for it the next time you see a strong professional championship, you'll probably see it too.
  19. Mengu

    Mengu Well-Known Member

    I think this is going to largely depend on the individual/couple, their goals, what they find to be fun, what they are being exposed to, what coaches they have available, etc.

    I started out 19(ish) dance, and competed bronze in just about everything except Paso and Bolero. My partner and I decided we enjoyed Standard the most, both watching, and dancing it, and we only have so many hours a week we are willing and able to dedicate to dancing. Focusing on Standard is what made sense for us. Doesn't mean I don't enjoy dancing the occasional international rumba, or throwing some smooth into a standard showcase dance, but I feel focusing on a single style helps me both mentally and physically.
  20. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    I don't have trouble with the wording, though I do with the eye roll. And it depends on the context. If they feel the need to say they don't do it when nobody asked, then, yeah, they're being critical of the styles they don't do. But if it's relevant, then it's a reasonable thing to say. For example, when people ask me and DH if we're coming to the rhythm workshops from the big-name coach the local(ish) studio is bringing in -- no, we don't do rhythm. (Though I might be more likely to say "we're not working on rhythm." Since I'm happy to dance it socially if asked.) Sometimes people get offended on behalf of their favorite style when others have chosen to specialize in something else; that's just silly.
    Gorme and Warren J. Dew like this.

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