Ballroom Dance > Top Teacher Awards

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by pygmalion, May 9, 2004.

  1. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    At a dance competition I attended recently, I was appalled to see that the person who won the top teacher award in the pro-am competition was actually the top salesman. He had one student who was the "top student," and who apparently bought a boatload of entries. The problem? Neither of them could dance. I'm not exaggerating. It was hideous to watch.

    Okay. So a couple questions. Are all dance comps structured that way? Why? And if you could pick a "top teacher," what would your criteria be? Should there be top teacher awards for technical or competitive merit? Could that work?
  2. delamusica

    delamusica Active Member

    At most of the competitions that I've been to, the teachers recieve one "point" for every entry, and then extra points for the placement of their students (for example, 3 for a 1st place, 2 for a 2nd, and 1 for a 3rd). That seems to strike a prettry decent compromise between selling entries and producing quality students.
  3. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    Yes, it's true that teachers receive points for placements besides number of entries.

    Pygmalion, I witnessed such a situation at the last competition I went to. I just wondered how the teacher, and especially the poor student, had the stamina to survive the competition.
  4. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Yup. Ugly, isn't it? What made me notice was that their dancing was SO bad that I specifically looked up the couple. I couldn't tell by watching, who was the teacher and who was the student. They were both THAT BAD. Oh my goodness. And still, he won top teacher; she won top student. :?
  5. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    That probably happens a lot more than you think.

    It's also occured to me that it's possible for a student to "buy" a top a student award, if the student maximizes out the number of possible entries.
  6. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    Yes. Top Teacher/Student doesn't represent the "Best Teacher/Student", but to instead acknowledge an amatuer/pro that worked their butt off, regardless of proficiency. The award isn't "top quality dancer award" It is an award to commend the teacher (or student), that particulat weekend, that work the hardest and most.
  7. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    Those teachers and students are surely dancing machines.
  8. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    True. Dancing a couple hundred entries in one day must be a killer, even if the dancing is bad.
  9. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    I'd be looking for the epsom salt bath for my poor feet. Not to mention the peppermint foot lotion. :)
  10. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I think this is a tricky situation. I think teachers deserve to be well paid for all the work they do, and the top teacher award helps to do that. That's fine and fair.

    And dance competitions are money-making institutions. That's also fair. This is a capitalistic society/world. If competitions didn't make money, there would be a whole lot fewer competitions out there for lowly and not-so-lowly dance competitors' benefit. So, if competition organizers want to pay teachers purses as incentive for bringing in the most money? That's fine by me. 8)

    The reason I asked the question was not to start a (okay another LOL) long diatribe against the inequities of the existing dance studio/instruction system as it exists. I wanted to find out whether there are incentives out there for good pro-am teachers and student dancers -- not necessarily the ones bringing in the big bucks -- the ones bringing quality dancing to the table. Is there a way to reward THOSE people, too? Could that work? If so, how?

    I'm not talking the big name comps here. At those, the level of dancing, from all I hear, is consistently quite high.
  11. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    I agree that dance competitions are money-making institutions, but I'm not sure how fair that is. As far as I can see it, the teacher stands to make money from the student in a number of ways from a competition:

    1) the number of lessons taken before a competition
    2) charge per dance for a competition
    3) charge per day for a competion
    4) top teacher prize money and/or bonus money for number of entries
  12. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    Competitions have scholarship events for students, but the amounts seem small in comparision to the entry fees and everything else associated with a competition. I haven't entered any of these events.
  13. dancin dude

    dancin dude New Member

    While it is true the top teacher award goes to an instructor with a large number of entries, it is usually more placement oriented than one would think. Most events give 1 point for each entry. From there you get 2 points for every call back from a preliminary round. Then; 8 points for every first place award, 7 for second, 6 for third, 5 for fourth, 4 for fifth, 3 for sixth, 2 for seventh and 1 point for eigth. Multi dance events are awarded 15 points and down for 2-3 dance events and 30 points down for 4-5 dance events. Entries that are uncontested are only awarded 1/2 points. I have been in many competitions where an instructor with fewer entries was placed higher than another due to placements and quality of dancing. However, as is the case in the comp refferenced it can happen that a teacher who is less proficcient wins, although, this is usually only at smaller competitions.
    Also, most events have a limit as top the number of entries a student is eligible for. The most you can do is 2 age categories and 2 levels. At some this is interpreted as Intermediate and Full bronze, some interpret it as Bronze and Silver. It really depends on the event.
    The bottom line however is that a competition is in theory a money making event. Therefore the financial awards are generally presented to, as in any business, the individuals making the largest contributions to the event.
    I agree that there could be another type of award given. A great way is similar to the "Top Gun" Awards given in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin State Championships. The entries are averaged and the highest average wins. Therefore it doesn't matter if you dance 50 entries ar 350. Once you have a minimum number of entries danced to make it fair, an average is an average no matter what.
  14. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    The event I saw this happen was a moderately sized competition.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Sounds like you're not buying my "capitalism works" argument, Purr. :wink: That's okay. It's just my opinion. I'm a moderator, not a sage. 8) And the only comp experience I've had was with a very honest teacher who charged a fair markup and was very straightforward with us in terms of how the pro-am process works.

    Does anybody have a different experience or view, good or bad? (Not just Purr. No pressure here. :wink: 8) )
  16. DanceAm

    DanceAm New Member

    It is still a balance of many entries and placements.

    I like how Larinda pointed out it was an award for who worked the hardest at the competion. Yes, in the case mentioned above, the single teacher worked very hard that weekend. But rather than shoot for quality, he went for volume. Comps also can have a minimum number of entries to qualify for the Top Teacher, that ensures enough money is being generated by heat fees to pay for the prize money. I have noticed that some comps require students dancing in Scholarship events to also compete in some of the Single dance heats. So you don't have a ringer just dancing scholarship events and taking home all the money. I am sure they have other reasons to justify this, but it would seem very hard to come home with more money than was paid out by the student.

    These incentives give teachers a chance to get recognized for hard work other than competing in the Pro Events. But I tend to think of Pro/Am comps as an opportunity for Pros to get expenses of competing paid for by the students. Prize money is not enough to pay Professional Competitors and neither are commercial sponsorships. It never seems to draw enough spectators like sporting events do to just have professional events without all the ProAm events, at least in the US. But at least this event gives the student a chance to participate in the comp and share in the thrill. But is it shameless for a teacher/competing pro to price a package to one student so he/she can take his/her partner to compete? Then if the studio is involved, the student has to pay for the Studio's cut as well. That one student seems to take on the costs of loss time at the studio, traval for 3 people, lodging and meals? I saw a comp priced for over 9000 bucks, 2 states away and it didn't include heat fees. The heat fees were 90 bucks each. (This was after the studio markup) Most single dance heat fees range from 15 to 35 dollars each as the cost to the studio.

    If I take Ben Ermis for example, he danced in Atlanta last weekend with Ruthie Perkins. He didn't dance in any of the professionals heats with Shalene as he did many comps before. This tells me that he takes his student's Pro/Am competing very seriously, not just his own professional career. I don't know why Shalene wasn't there, but it still shows that Ben is willing to go just for his student's sake. I also remember a comp where Ben danced so many dances that he was just too tired to dance the pro event. Maybe there is more to the story, but it still shows that the pro/am portion is still just as important as the professional. Then there was another pro I saw who danced her student through every possible bronze dance and age level, even dances that he was obviously not prepard for, then danced her pro heat. It seemed that student was only there to offset the expenses.

    I guess being part of an amateur couple and part of an independant studio, my cost for competing has nothing to do with my teacher or my studio. We started out with USABDA events where we filled out our own registrations and paid the costs directly to the studio organizer. We now do the same for NDCA comps. Our teacher doesn't go along and our studio doesn't get paid based on their package. We fill out our own registrations, either choose a package from the comp organizer or make our own travel arrangements. The one thing we don't do is share our pricing with Pro/am students in the studio. We do that as a courtesy to the instructors and if they want to reveal their costs to the student, it is their perogitive.

    Our current instructor is actually from a franchise and she never saw the registration forms from a Pro/Am comp. The studio provided her with package prices and she sold those. She was amazed at the pricing being so low. Once she saw the cost and she remembered how much she got paid, she realized how the studio made a killing off the comps. Some organizers will not send the info directly to us, so we have it sent to the Studio and pick it up there. I guess to them it would be like revealing wholesale costs. Times are changing and with the Internet, it is available to anyone to download registration forms.
  17. Purr

    Purr Well-Known Member

    DanceAm, you've made a lot of good points. :)
  18. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    I believe that the abuses you cite do happen. There are also some very good and honest pro/am dancers out there, who have no intention of fleecing their innocent students. There are both, I think, and that's why it's important for amateur dancers to ask questions and be aware of what's going on.

    Information is available to people with good networks. Unfortunately, many comps keep the wholesale price of pro/am heats concealed from students; only pros have access to that info, in many cases. But many comps do publish wholesale cost of heats on their web sites, and even if that's not available, there is nothing to stop me from befriending a dance pro and asking them. It behooves students to find out if the information they need is available.

    Also, teachers deserve to be paid, for their time and their work. There has to be a happy middle ground somewhere, in between cheating teachers out of fair compensation and cheating students out of reasonable prices.
  19. Laura

    Laura New Member

    The only thing that allows the abuse to continue is lack of information. If a teacher or studio keeps their students in the dark, or if a student is never curious enough to use resources like friends and the Internet to get answers, then there's not much anyone can do about it. I've always been treated fairly, both in my days at a major franchised studio and also with my independent teacher -- but then I've always asked questions and have always refused to spend more money than I could actually afford.
  20. mamboqueen

    mamboqueen Well-Known Member

    I have plenty of friends and families that would love to come watch me, but at $20-25 to get in, to see me dance my 8-15 dances, hardly makes it worth it. The price is way too high for spectators.

    As for the Atlanta comp, one student from my studio flew with a teacher to compete. That's gotta be quite pricey for the student, no? Do you have a link for the results?

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