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. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    Yes, there is a very real risk. When a teacher substitutes into the partnership, the point remains to. assist something being developed in the partnership.

    But when competing with the teacher becomes a goal, you are likely to each embark on private projects with your teachers that your partner won't (and quite often shouldn't) be in a position to support when you dance together. Some of that will simply be to take advantage of the pro's capability, but some will also be that pro-am can (not always, but easily) become a bit over-the-top with certain aspects of dancing ending up out of natural proportion to others.
  2. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    when i dance alone everything is perfect, the problems start when the partner is on the way:)
  3. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    I think there's going to be a bit of bias. People tend to post more about the dramatic stuff as they seek advice/help, whether in pro/am or am/am. It's a bit more rare for people to have time to sit down and share about the positive experiences - like: Best stories of pros at comps. :)
  4. latingal

    latingal Well-Known Member

    Alot of your questions have been answered in other posts, thought I might add one other idea. Pro-am is also good if your am/am partnership is unequal and (if you are the more highly skilled) you wish to push your learning and competing to a higher level. Some of us are not spring chickens and we wish to push ourselves as far as we can with the time we have.
  5. Lioness

    Lioness Well-Known Member

  6. laylamah

    laylamah New Member

    This isn't always true for me. Sometimes I pay my coach to do precisely that - coach instead of teach. If he's already shown me how to do something, but I'm not quite executing it correctly, I'll ask him to watch me dance it alone several times, and pick on it from a distance. He'll tell me what to change, and I'll try it again. At least until it's at the point where I'm doing it well enough to not be learning a bad habit by practicing it alone the way I'm doing it. There's nothing worse than learning and having to unlearn bad habits!
  7. laylamah

    laylamah New Member

    Can you give examples?
  8. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    The classic ones are over shaping and over reaching of the moving leg.

    Both are attempts to make the dancing appear more than the actual skills can support. With a very physically strong and grounded partner they can be sort of tolerable, and maybe even useful in a field where most others are doing the same. But they are extremely disabling when dancing with a partner of comparable skill. The overshaping puts the direction of the lady's balance too far back, pulling her partner forward off of the secure stance he needs to lead. And the over reaching of the leg tends to mean the feet often land in places that the body weight will not be able to pass over. Comparable issues of lack of guiding concern for the practicality of one's habits for another can be seen in a number of the male students as well, such as incomplete and unsuitable leads and action sizes.

    The primary reason these are somewhat identified with pro/am is not that they can't start to develop in am/am, but that am/am partnerships can rarely survive them. Or at least rarely survive them with enough remaining capacity to substantially advance the overt effect of the dancing, so they don't become habits reinforced by an apparent success.
  9. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member

    That's still a lesson and he's still teaching, and you're still paying. The point is more you can't just go dance with the pro whenever without paying for it (which people used to am/am might resent, but it is, after all, his JOB, not his hobby.)

    OT about practicing Standard alone--to me it's the worst of the four in that respect because it's inherently a contact sport. If you're at all super-sensitive to how something feels, practicing it alone and then practicing with a partner can really mess with your head. I could see the limitations on practicing together in pro/am being an issue if that were the case, but for someone doing pro/am and am/am it might not be as big a deal.
  10. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    I find it a bit ironic that the guys would always say how level is not a priority for them when choosing a partner, when it is easier for a leader to get a follower up to speed than the other way around.
  11. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    From where I sit, in all the amateur partnerships I have been following, the lady is a better dancer than the man. If a lady wants to compete, she can either dance pro-am, or she has to (a) find a partner, (b) probably be limited in her results by her partner.

    There is no standard for how pros charge their students for pro-ams. And the comps have created a boatload of pro-am categories specifically to allow a single pro to dance with many students at similar levels. For a local comp, my instructor has no minimum, and charges the same as the entry fee per dance. (That means $35/dance at the one coming up.) Their fellow pros in the same studio have different fee structures.

    Pro-am is where the money is for a pro. Apparently some pros will dance 400 dances in a weekend comp. At a modest $35 per dance, that's $14k for a weekend. Plus all the private lessons getting ready for a comp. And I am not begrudging them that. If you're in it for the money, ballroom dance is probably not the right career choice.
  12. Piggles

    Piggles Member

    Hi JerseyDancer,

    I hope my previous thread about closed/open routines didn't disillusion you about pro/am competition. I've turned down partners because I did not feel we were a good fit for each other (goals, age, ability, etc). If the right partner came along, I'd start doing am/am, but I wouldn't stop doing pro/am until I was confident the am/am relationship would work. The advantage of pro/am is that it allows me to dance at my highest ability without needing to compensate for a partner's flaws (ie, it's *all* about me). :)

    With respect to comp fees, each studio/business is different. Currently I only pay for my pro's expenses when I compete, and these are shared with his other students. He has made the decision not to take on new competitive students who are in the same age/level as his existing comp students to avoid comp conflicts. Similarly, he and his wife offer a very high level of personal support and time to their students at no expense beyond the cost of the lessons.

    Finally, it doesn't bother me that I dance the same routines as his other ladies - I'm not good enough that it makes a difference. :) Instead, he encourages his students to personalize their routines in terms of how the student interprets the step, style, music, timing, etc. So each of us do look very different on the floor.

    To conclude, pro/am is right for some while am/am is right for others. If possible, why not try both?
  13. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    Suppose I were not partnered.

    Prospective partners might suppose that my willingness to enter a partnership with them would depend most heavily on how good they are. If they were to suppose this they would be wrong.

    Maybe you're unhappy at some perceived unfairness here. At any rate, only as an aside was I pointing out this (individual) male perspective on partnering for the edification of ladies who might wonder how gents look at this. My real point was that I think I could find plenty of things to work on in my own dancing with partners of quite varied experience levels.

    Personally, I think a single litmus test based on level (however you measure that) would be incapable of measuring all the qualities that I value in a partner.
  14. NUdancer

    NUdancer New Member

    I've found practicing alone to be extremely beneficial to my dancing. When you're in an am/am partnership, usually whatever practice time you can find is spent dancing together (unless you have very mis-matched schedules).

    When you practice on your own, you start to recognize how much you rely on your partner for balance, movement, strength, etc. You can take things slowly and focus on improving those weaknesses that your partner might usually be compensating for. This is not to say practicing on your own all the time is great - it is, after all, a partner dance! But I found that my solo practices made me a much stronger dancer when I finally did get together with a partner.
  15. danceronice

    danceronice Well-Known Member


    (I wish we had the green eye-roll smilie, it's not smiling while it does it.)

    Did I say that practicing alone was bad? I said that for SOME PEOPLE (ie me) who are very senstive to how a thing feels to do it, practicing alone IN STANDARD is very difficult because it does not feel like dancing with a partner, because IN STANDARD there is always another center of gravity, which is a sensation impossible to recreate alone, while in the OTHER three divisions, there are always elements done entirely apart and they feel the same whether you practice alone or together. Now, for a visual learner or a verbal learner (iow, someone for whom watching videos, reading the books, or being talked at for ten minutes is more than the colossal waste of time it is for me in learning a physical activity) possibly it is not as disorienting to switch from alone to with a partner. For me, practicing STANDARD alone means I essentially have to relearn and redo how I do everything once I'm in contact with another person. The sensation is that different.
  16. tanya_the_dancer

    tanya_the_dancer Well-Known Member

    It's easier for the guy when he has more skill than the lady does and it is easier for the lady to improve when the guy is considerably better than she is, so she'll reduce the skill gap quicker. I have no idea how fast or slow a guy can close the skill gap if he is dancing with a considerably better lady, but who is still not as good as a teacher, so she can't compensate for his issues as efficiently as a teacher could. But my guess is that it's not as fast as for a lady in the same situation - otherwise guys doing pro-am would improve a lot faster, especially if they're dancing with really good teachers.

    So basically what I see is that you consider something unimportant, but it is easier for you as a man to overcome it, than it is for a lady dealing with the same thing. And that's what I find ironic. It would be like if something was easy or natural for me, and I said "oh it's not that important" to a person for whom it is just the opposite - it's not easy or natural for them, so they have to think about that something more and are less likely to consider it unimportant.
  17. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    i have the same feeling about practicing Standard as danceronice. i have different balance dancing alone versus dancing in a couple. also i think for a leader in Standard practicing alone may be more beneficial than for the follower, a big part of my dancing Standard as follower is feeling what my lead is planning to do next and react appropriately.
  18. DL

    DL Well-Known Member

    I'll just say that I personally disagree with any suggestion that nothing can be accomplished without a markedly more experienced partner.

    My partner and I started practicing together with virtually no previous experience, and we have learned steadily at a rate with which we're both satisfied for several years now.

    I'd like to leave it at that from my side, without getting into better/worse approaches to learning dancing, pro-am/am-am trade-offs, who has it easier/harder, etc.
  19. Warren J. Dew

    Warren J. Dew Well-Known Member

    Chris said most of what I would have said on your first set of questions, so I'll just give you my answer on this part.

    Practicing alone can be quite useful for ingraining technical actions - as they say, "practice makes permanent". If your toe releases are bad, for example, but you can do a good one if you concentrate on it, then practicing alone can be a way of making that into a habit.

    That said, it isn't a complete solution, as it's difficult to practice following, or even leading, alone.
  20. jerseydancer

    jerseydancer Active Member

    very good suggestion, thank you

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