Ballroom Dance > what is pro-am dancing ?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by jerseydancer, Jul 12, 2010.


would you do pro/am dancing if you could have am partner who would be willing to comp

Poll closed Jul 22, 2010.
  1. Yes. Pro/Am dancing helps me to improve my dancing skills

    15 vote(s)
  2. No. I do dance pro/am because I have no other options

    8 vote(s)
  3. Not sure

    2 vote(s)
  1. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    I am am/am dancer, and we were considering trying pro/am dancing. My understanding about pro/am was that it is an opportunity to try dancing on a higher level, and a good chance to improve personal dancing skills.

    In my research, I am starting to discover lets' say some surprising information about pro/am dancing, and the whole business of pro/am dancing starting to feel like just a very expensive "Walmart" like dance factory:

    1. Most likely I will have the same routine as all the students that my pro is dancing with

    2. I would have to pay a set amount of fee, no matter, if I dance 5 or 15 events (there is seems to be a minimum amount, so even if the competition does not offer 15 dances in my category, i still would have top pay my pro for a set amount of dances)

    3. In addition i would have to pay the studio for every dance that I am dancing with the pro

    4. I may not be able to dance in all the comps that I would want to, because my pro may have multiple students at the same level

    5. I will not be able to practice with my pro as much as I practice with my am partner, because my pro may have many conflicts in his schedule, and that would be also extremely expensive

    So, what are pro/am dancing benefits? Do we really have any benefits doing that instead or in addition to am/am dancing? Are we going to just spend tremendous amount of money for a chance to show up in few comps with the pro, and may be we better spend the same amount of money on more lessons as a couple? Does the pro/am dancing just for follow/leads that cannot find (specifically it is probably hard to find dancing men in this country) or do not want to deal with am dance partner?
  2. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    I also thought that one of benefits of pro/am competing would be no drama, but it does not look like that based on many posts in this forum
  3. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Oh, this is gonna be a train wreck REALLY fast.

    Personally, I'd only stop doing pro-am if I were good enough to turn pro (and as I'm far too old to be competitive that would be only if I decided to teach.) I am never going to deal with someone else's learning curve.

    To the numbered points:

    1. Probably to some degree. If your pro is from a studio where he has a lot of students, it's a lot easier on him if he's got five bronze Rhythm ladies ata competition to only remember ONE routine (and know it well enough that he can adapt it on the fly, recall it with minimal prompting, etc.) Sometimes, pros tweak routines for students (even down to bronze--I do one figure differently in cha cha, for example, as we tried something for a showcase, he liked it, he left it in). It depends on how they do business.

    2. That's entirely up to the studio and their billing process. My Boston studio, we pay X amount per dance plus a small processing fee. That's it. Indiana studio, as has been explained so far, I pay a single day fee (and if I"m only dancing Friday, that's the only day I pay for even if it's Ohio and a week long), cover my own entry fees, and pay them a small fee per dance. There are some places where you cover entry fees, your pro's hotel and transportation or meals or something, or there's a big package that covers the whole weekend--it really depends on their business model and what works for them.

    3. See above. Also, if you decide to do that, I'd be careful about saying things like "using my pro for [this dance.]" He's not a rental car or a taxi dancer, at least not the ones worth taking from.

    4. Also true. I've rarely had a problem with single heats (okay, my Rhythm pro at least didn't have a lot of ladies in A Bronze--sometimes being the youngest and the lowest level pays off.) Most pro/am comps have a LOT of them at a wide variety of levels (newcomer, pre-bronze, int bronze, full bronze, etc) because a lot of pros have multiple students and it behooves a competition to accommodate as many as possible. When it comes to combined-age events so far, my experience has been if there's a conflict my pros have done first-come first-served. I think it's only been an issue maybe once and in that case, the other student asked first. So I did a few more single heats.

    5. That's true. Remember, it's not practice, usually. It's a lesson. Even the students with championship titles are still students.

    Pro/am is not about YOU dancing on a higher level necessarily, unless you're one of the unbalanced am/am partnerships we have threads about where someone is 'bringing up' a partner. It's more about first, making a LOT easier to dance and compete, especially if you're a follow, because suitable partners don't just grow on trees. Second, it's a chance to compete with someone who is a LOT better than you. Let's face it, I'm not going to find an am partner who could finish in the top twenty at Blackpool, never mind finals. And it's about taking lots of lessons (unless you ARE just hiring a taxi dancer, but you really can't get away with that and win these days.)

    And it also does mean you get to ditch the lame costume rules for sylabus USADance has. Seriously, if I have to take the tiny rhinestone buckle off to do pre-bronze and a scarf is against the rules, forget it.
  4. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    Thank you danceronice. My apologies for improper use of word "using". I meant no disrespect.
  5. kckc

    kckc Active Member

    (In my experience)

    1. Yes, all the dancers at the same level have the same dance, with minor variations thrown in depending on personal strengths or weaknesses.
    2. I think it varies among pros. My pro charges a fee per dance and then splits his other fees among all of his dancers (he usually has 10-15 at a comp).
    3. Don't know what that means. I don't belong to a chain, is that where that may happen?
    4. Yes, this may happen, however, my pro will arrange the dancers up or down within a level if necessary to try to accomodate everyone. Though if someone is dancing 30 heats, that may eat up a lot of room to maneuver everyone else.
    5. Yep, expensive as h*%%. I've made a lot of sacrifices to do it and I only do one, maybe 2 comps/year, plus a few showcase events. Some pros do go social dancing once in a while, where you might be able to squeeze in a few dances.

    Why do I do it? I love the challenge of a top-level dancer, and he is a sweetie, not to mention the perfect size for me, and the lack of available partners certainly does factor in.
  6. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    Oh, I forgot another thing inspired by the threads about partners lately: I will happily take correction from my pros. I won't take it from someone of my own skill level and I'll resent hearing it. Pro-am, there's no fuzziness, he's the boss, I'm the student, I'm paying for his expert opinion.

    And to the poll question--I'd only take an am partnership where my partner was better than me. That makes no sense for an am so I might as well do pro-am and get what I want out of it.
  7. 3wishes

    3wishes Well-Known Member

    I am am/am dancer, and we were considering trying pro/am dancing. You've mentioned "we were considering" as in your current am partner is considering pro/am as well? Much like the posters above - I take private lessons from my "pro" who is correct technique driven so his student is not executing the dance with wrong information. I agree with several in that - I would not take lessons from another amateur (although I've danced am/am) who was at my level or below - I would resent it and I have resented it in the past. I pay my pro for his/her knowledge and teaching. Now, as for competition - there is drama anywhere you want to find it. Some pros - charge a simply flat fee, others who are known as "independents" and not associated with a studio do not charge a studio fee, others do not charge a "mark up" on a package that the organizer sells the studio or you, still other pros will charge per dance, per recall in scholarship and other odds and ends.. There's a difference if your wanting to dance as a pro/am for coaching/lessons/individual attention or attention as a couple - vs competing pro/am. I'm sure - your going to receive a wide variety of response to your post.
  8. GGinrhinestones

    GGinrhinestones Well-Known Member

    I have been dancing pro/am since I started dancing. I'm far enough along now, and have been to enough comps, to know I wouldn't have it any other way. Sure, it has its pitfalls (money being the biggest), but there is NO WAY I would be where I am now if I had done it any other way.

    1. Yes, I dance the same routines with my pro as all of his other students, with some minor variations depending on skill level and/or physical limitations.

    2. This is probably highly dependent on the instructor and the studio. I pay my pro (an independent instructor) for each dance, and his other fees get split among all of the students at the comp.

    3. The studio does not get a cut. This is probably specific to the studio - I would guess it is specific to chain studios. In my particular situation, I would really question paying a fee to the studio.

    4. What comps, levels, or dances you dance in is, as my pro tells me, his job to manage based on his student load, the number of students attending, the specifics of the comp, the skill levels of his students, etc. Yes, it is possible. It's not likely to be that much of an issue.

    5. As others have stated, "practicing" with your pro isn't practice. It is lessons. Practice is on your own - but you don't need a partner to practice.

    I would encourage you to look up a recent thread on pro/am dancing - someone (can't remember who off the top of my head) made a very good statement that pro/am has really become it's own thing. It is not am/am dancing. Neither is it competition dancing for people who can't find partners. I know plenty of people who compete in both, because the benefits, and the competition, are different in each. Yes, it is incredibly expensive, but worth every penny.
  9. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    this is not a problem for us, we are in senior category, so the costume rules do not apply
  10. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    this is the benefit for sure:)
  11. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    yes. my dance partner would like to try it as well. we take personal lessons with our coaches, as well as lessons as a couple. would actually competing with them add more benefits to improve our current level. my partner and I dance at the same level. none needs to catch the other...
  12. ChaChaMama

    ChaChaMama Well-Known Member

    I do both, and really, really like doing both.
    -Doing pro-am, I get to dance with an OSB semi-finalist, someone whose dance career I have followed since he was an amateur. I think he has the talent and charisma to go very far, and it is a thrill to be able to learn from and dance with him.
    Speaking just for myself, I would not dance pro-am with just anybody. The right opportunity came along and I decided to try it.

    -Doing am, I get to dance with my spouse, and I get to participate in USA Dance comps. It is more affordable, the comps tend to run on time (ahem!), the ballroom tends to be more energized. Additionally, $1000-2000 goes REALLY far at USA Dance comps, like front row, VIP seats; sometimes you can even sponsor a youth scholarship without breaking the budget.

    To the questions above:

    1. My routines are not 100% identical to my pro's other students at a similar level, but they are similar. There is some customization. Also, if we are debuting a routine we have only barely started working on, we are not above taking out a bit that is still rocky, with the thought of restoring it later. It's not that we give up on me ever learning how to do X, but we recognize that I am not doing X at a competent level yet.

    2. The grammar of this sentence confuses me a bit, but I think the question is "Do you have to pay the same amount no matter how many dances you actually dance?" If that is the question, the answer is NO, not with MOST PROS. A minority do a flat rate. Most will use one of the following pricing policies:

    -A per dance fee.

    -A per dance fee + a share of travel expenses.

    -A per dance fee + a share of travel expenses + a pro fee (which will be flat).

    -A per dance fee + a share of travel expenses + a pro fee + a package (which may or may not be marked up from what the comp is charging).

    Without going into specifics, YES, it is cheaper for me personally if I dance, say, 5 single dances and a scholarship than if I dance 15 single dances and a scholarship.

    A. A per dance fee alone is not necessarily cheaper than a per dance fee plus a share of travel expenses. It really depends what that per dance fee is!

    B. I would try to avoid (or negotiate with) places that require you to take the package. At many comps, the package is not such a stellar deal, and sometimes it locks you in to meal times that are incompatible with your dance schedule.

    3. Some places you may have to pay the studio, but this is not universal.

    4. True, you may not be able to dance all the comps you want to--or at least not ALL the events at EXACTLY the age group and level you would prefer at EVERY comp you would want to.

    This is actually NOT a huge problem. There are probably NDCA comps 48 weekends a year. Unless you are very rich, you will probably be able to afford to a seriously single-digit number of these. The comps TRY to maximize the number of students who can participate by having a boatload of levels, like pre-silver, intermediate silver, full silver, open silver. Sometimes there are even more breakdowns than that.

    Now, it is true, sometimes a student will want to be piggy and snap up ALL the levels of, say, bronze and silver for a popular age group. But ideally, you can NEGOTIATE and SHARE. Another alternative is to dance a younger age category, which is legal by most comps' rules.

    Probably the hardest element of all this is scholarships, because there are fewer categories there. But even with these NEGOTIATION and SHARING can make everyone happy. Ideally, you will befriend your teacher's other students and say "I will happily give you first dibs on events at Highly Desirable Comp 1 if I can have Highly Desirable Comp 2."

    First come, first served is another possibility, as someone pointed out upthread, and different pros no doubt have their own policies.

    5. True, I cannot practice with my teacher as much as I can practice with my spouse. I mean, I probably could if I were the next J. K. Rowling, but failing that, no. But I do indeed practice on my own.

    Hope this helps.
  13. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    answer for me = all of thee above...there is not an eager pool of am males who want to dance with a 45 year old, I pay a reasonable fee to dance with an awesome man who has no mercy...he knows what i want and he makes sure that i have every chance to get there....I am very very happy to have that...would I love to have the amatuer partner of my dreams?...sure...but reb is across the country and I'd never measure up :)
  14. reb

    reb Active Member

  15. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

  16. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    If I understand you, you are already competing with a well matched amateur partner, and you both take pro-am lessons with your coaches. In that case, pro-am competition is unlikely to help your dancing. You've already got amateur competitions for feedback, and you do your learning in lessons.
  17. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    Sort of, although it varies depending on traffic or whatever feels right that day. I have very vague idea of what my routines are (I primarily do smooth and standard).

    Depends. I pay flat fee per day and the expenses. The latter is split with his other students, so it's better for me when there is more of us to share.
    With independent, you probably don't.
    Again, depends on how many he has. In my case, he has one other lady doing my level, but she is older, so there is no conflict. The only problem could be if there were no age categories for scholarships, but in this case we'd have to figure out who does what. Since we all have known each other for several years, I'm sure we'd be able to sort it out.
    That's why we learn how and what to practice alone.

    The benefit is that I get to work on my own dancing, and improve unaffected by someone else's learning curve. When I first started dancing (with my husband, just for social side of it), I did not make a whole lot of progress until I started to take lessons on my own with competitive goals in mind.

    I recently considered asking someone (guy who does pro-am with his teacher) to practice together, but I think I'll scrap the idea because it has too many negatives and not enough positives.
  18. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Maybe I should just keep out of this thread but...

    I was about to say that in my am partnership we don't correct each other, but actually it's not true. Example: We dance mostly standard. She and I each sometimes have a bad habit of dropping a shoulder towards a hip when we should be keeping our torsos stretched. We both know that's a big no-no. If either of us notices it in either of us, we point it out. It's not teaching, nor even criticism -- it's just observation. I will be honest: at times it bugs me, and bugs me all the more when I know she's right. IMV, every one of those times is a real opportunity for personal growth. Moreover, I feel a real obligation to hold up my end of the partnership, there.

    As for skill level, I think too much is made of this on the am side. Were I not partnered, level would not be in my top three considerations for choosing a partner.

    As for lessons, I take some on my own, and we take some as a couple. I think my dancing benefits both ways.
  19. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    looks like you have summarized it well. Could actually competing too much with a pro hurt am leader or am follower? when we dance with our teachers during the lesson everything comes so easy, so if we both compete with a pro, could we loose the balance in am/am partnership?

    BTW, practicing standard alone does not sound that much fun. and how useful could that be?
  20. Josh

    Josh Active Member

    Can't speak to the fun, but to the usefulness--very useful, if it is done with a specific focus. Not that it will replace or be as helpful as dancing with someone, but it's a great opportunity to focus on self, which is where the problem usually lies, and not worry about the person dancing in front of you.

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