Help! At a crossroad between latin and standard?

I'm 16 and my parents (and myself) want me to really move up in my dancing and start competing possibly. Right now my dance teacher isn't really serious about his job and he has 2 other jobs he works and he only teaches just for the fun of it. I understand that I need to switch instructors if I want to compete seriously. My only other option as latin instructors go is one other guy who is a great dancer but he really tries to get you to spend as much $$$ as possible and he only likes you if you spend a lot of it. Also he is very aggressive when he dances with you. He squeezes your hand and jerks you around which is not my style especially if I spend a lot of money on a showcase I don't want to be scared or fall during the performance. So if I cross those two out my last option is to go with a standard instructor. He's ranked nationally and internationally VERY high. He is absolutely fantastic. My only concern is I really like latin and I'm scared I'll be bad at standard or not like it once I start. I tried a workshop with him and I was pretty bad compared to everybody else (and of course EVERYBODY else did have experience with standard) But i'm going to college soon and I know it would probably be better for me to do standard in college since lets be honest more guys dance standard than latin. I'm scared though I'm going to hate standard and/or suck. Sorry this is so long but i really dont have anybody else to ask for advice about this.

What should I do?


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your first two options sound dreadful....I think that standard sometimes takes time to really love ...and since you are headed to college it certainly doesn't hurt for you to get some standard below your belt before is also highly unlikely that a standard guy wouldn't also be proficient in latin, particularly a top standard guy...and never ever measure yourself against others...give him a isn't a lifetime committment


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It can't hurt to take a lesson with him. And even if you still don't like Standard (there's no guarantee you ever will love it) it's not a bad skill set to be a ten dancer.
fascination: I'm sure he can dance latin, but he won't teach it. I dont know about other studios but at my studio each instructor either teachers latin or standard... there aren't any who teach both unfortunately. I need to stop comparing myself... I'm going to keep going to the workshops every month and see if I improve any at all

danceronice: yeah I guess I would be considered a ten dancer if I started standard now, but I haven't been dancing latin even a year yet haha. I wish I could do both then I wouldn't be worried at all, but there's no way I can take both.... wayyy too expensive.

I'm concerned about the latin instructors, but I love the dance. And I'm concerned about the standard dance, but I love the instructor. :p Blehhhh
you think? I'm just worried I'll get there and I'll need to know standard and then I'll be knocking myself over the head because I don't want to waste time in college learning basic steps... I would like to find a partner learn some routines practice and compete a few times a year (I'm looking at dance schools, but colleges with ballroom teams by the way)

Larinda McRaven

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I teach at MIT, and do guest coaching at places like Harvard, Yale, and UConn. There is a pretty good split between the latin and standard guys.

If I were you I would spend this last amount of time, before college, learning your standard. Then you can walk onto any team and have a good chance at getting a partner in either style.
That's good! I really don't know a lot of details about ballroom teams so thank you for telling me that. I do need more time learning latin because I haven't been dancing latin very long at all. But I'm somewhat interested in standard I'm just hesitant. The ideal situation would be to learn both at the same time, but that's not going to happen. I'm a sophomore in high school so I'm wondering if I should keep with latin a little bit longer and then *possibly* switch to standard. I just don't want to waste any time.


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it is difficult to say without seeing the instructors in question, but please don't name them....that being said, imv, the best way to "not waste time" is to not take lessons from instructors who aren't very good....
yeah I'm not going to name them because I do like them all as people. My choices are to either dance latin ... or to dance standard *scary* with a great teacher. *sigh* kind of a hard decision for me... But I do agree that I shouldn't take lessons with a teacher who isn't good


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A good instructor knows how to handle newbies and will help you build a good latin or standard foundation before throwing crazy hard steps at you. Someone who muscles you through steps is not going to help, IMO.


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we wouldn't have you name them here regardless....for privacy reasons

the other issue is that what constitutes aggressive is likely difficult for someone as new as yourself to fully grubbing is fairly easy to detect regardless :) but isn't really a deal breaker imo, because no one can MAKE you spend more that you want
I just know when he dances with his students in the studio they look fine but when he dances with them on stage they all have trouble balancing... even his partner who is fabulous sometimes loses her balance. I danced with him once for a showcase for a group thing and it scared the living daylights out of me. I thought I was going to fall and at one point I almost did. my hands were red no joke afterwards because he was squeezing me so tight. But regardless he's still good at dancing. And I agree the money thing isn't too big of a deal for me because I pretty much stand my ground on that kinda thing. Oh and I did ballet for 11 years and jazz for 6 years so I'm not like completely clueless about dancing in general :)
I'm at the best studio in my city and the surrounding areas... the other studios are a step down... Do yall think I should just try the standard workshops a few more times and see if I like it somewhat then decide if I want to stop latin?


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I would be shocked if the Standard instructor can't work on both Standard and Latin with you. Talk to him, see if he's amenable to both. I'd recommend focusing on Standard for a while to get some proficiency, and just have him go over your Latin maybe last 10 minutes of every other lesson, so you don't forget it, and it remains fresh. That dose can be adjusted as you progress along. Until you get a degree of submersion in both styles, it's too early to pick one over the other.

Many collegiate dancers do both styles. When I started dancing I was in love with Latin, thought I'd never do anything else, but because our dance team worked on both styles, I worked on both styles. Later I added some rhythm and smooth to my repertoire. After 2-3 years or so of doing 4 styles, my partner and I decided to drop everything except Standard because we enjoyed it the most, and only had time to focus on one style, didn't feel we could get to the proficiency level we wanted to if we spread our time on multiple styles. Fast forward another 8 years, we still do Standard almost exclusively, though we dabble in a bit of smooth for showcases. (I still secretly like warming up to a rumba, cha-cha, or samba, it's like a guilty pleasure.)


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You never have to stop latin forever. And if anything doing standard will still help you Latin even if you take a hiatus. Now I'm not saying you'll be just as good as you would be in standard if that's the path you chose, but you wouldn't be as far behind as you would think. Many of the same principles, especially at the lower levels, cross both paths.

I'm coming from a perspective where I loved Latin more as a newbie than I did standard, but the club I am in is very standard heavy, and I got way more training in Standard than I ever have had in Latin. I have been partnerless on and off for about a year and a half in Latin, yet I've still improved. The training I've received helped my Latin get even better.

I have come to appreciate both styles and love them equal. Well my love is split three ways, Latin, Ballroom, and West Coast, but that's besides the point.

I guess what I'm trying to get at is I would go for the better instructor and at least give it a lesson or two. :D You never know what may happen!
No idea if you though about the following aspect:
Regardless of the standard/latin question: Every coach will teach you what he or she knows/ does/ promotes. So you will learn whatever idea of movement your coach has. Additionally, as a follower, you have the chance to learn by adapting to a leader's way of moving, leading... (especially if you are going to dance with your instructor a lot).

So the question for you:
Would you like to dance like that "aggressive" coach? Do you want to know what he knows? Do you think you would benefit from his lessons, his style? What counts more in your view - the upside or the downside?

What is the "money making" coach like? Is he an excellent teacher and worth the money he expects you to spend? Is this negative feeling that he wants you to spend a lot of money stronger than the positive prospect of him sharing his knowledge with you?

To be honest, from what I've read both latin coaches don't strike my fancy - the standard guy sounds like the best option right now: IME it is very difficult to get hold of an excellent coach who has both the knowledge and the teaching skills to help you progress quickly - and with your experience in ballet and jazz you already have your mechanics right. Don't underestimate the amount of time it might take you to get things right later once you've learned things incorrectly. A guy who might or might not really understand his body and applies too much force might cause damage to both your dancing and your body.

You will be going to college soon and you have plenty of time ahead of you to do whatever style you wish. With some standard experience you will then be able to make an informed decision to pursue standard, latin or both.

Just to make one thing sure: I do not mean to be disrespectful, I'm sure all coaches in question have their expertise and experience that make them professionals in the first place. Sometimes it's just not enough to make a good coach or a coach who is right for YOU.

I've had my share of teachers who weren't right for me. Luckily, I recieved access to the right people as well as lectures of great international dancers. This helped me to try to challenge some ideas.
(some of those teachers of mine have great knowledge but no teaching concept, some of them have it in their bodies but leave out important information; one even was a very successful professional dancer and produces successful couples - who will end up with herniated spines for sure because he doesn't teach them any inner body movement and has an insane idea of the lady's shaping... he's the "star standard competitive coach" in our club/studio... and I can honestly say that I've learned more from the guy that teaches social group classes in the next room (very accomplished competitive dancer but not as "good on paper")...).

I learned in the past few years just how valuable a really competent coach can be. I'm still learning insane things just by attending his basic/syllabus standard group lessons. This should have happened to me years back... *sigh*

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