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Author Topic: Mixing social and competetive dancers and dancing...  (Read 4164 times)
Rugby
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« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2010, 11:02:12 PM »

I've seen and heard this type of comment so many times. Nowadays my response is 'Why would I want to down-grade my dancing to compete?' Grin
Said only partly in cheek. One can aspire to become a good COMPETITIVE dancer. One can also aspire to become a good SOCIAL dancer. I aspire to the latter and not the former. The skillset priorities are different and cannot really be easily compared.
The phrase Apples and Oranges is used to make the point that two things are quite different, even though they have a great deal in common.
Still, I would rather freestyle dance well and be able to do so with followers of a very wide ability range than dance slightly better the same routine with only one partner. The measurement points are different.

If you are a good competitive dancer you have to be able to lead and follow.  Just knowing routines will do you in if that is all you can do if the floor is crowded or too small for your routines for example.  The difference is that in competitive dancing technique is more important than moves.  Or, as I say, I would rather dance 10 steps well than 100 poorly.  Of course knowing a routine is a huge advantage as you can take your movements more to the extreme and finish them off better and with more energy since you know where you are going.  When you don't know where you are going next you move more cautiously, especially the woman since she has to quickly figure out where the guy is going and get there at the same time.  You can't chance extending a line just to have your partner abort mission and go into a different line or move.

I really think that it is good to be able to delve into both worlds to be a more complete dancer.  I think more competitive people would like to do more social dancing but they sheer amount of blood, sweat, tears, time and effort to compete, not even mentioning the huge monetary outlay can make this difficult.  My DP and I still like to social dance though we wish we had the time to be able to cut loose more.  Here in London at the once a month club dance we just goof around and use it as a not worrying about anything but just socializing and working on just a couple of things dance.  I would not ever want to give up being able to go to a social dance or even dancing around.

If you don't do both you have no idea what the other goes through.  In social dancing you have to worry that you are going to have someone to dance with and if you are single the worry that someone will ask you to dance and if they do that you will think that you danced well enough to be asked again.  As a man it is not easy to have to walk across that big floor over to a lady to just be turned down and have to walk that walk back again.  It is like everyone is looking at you and know that you were turned down.  As a lady you worry that nobody will ask you or, if you don't mind getting up and asking, that you too may face the turn-down.  Once out on the floor as the guy you have to worry that you are leading well enough, dancing well enough and are interesting enough that that lady will dance with you again.  For the lady once you are out there on the floor you worry that you will be interesting enough, can follow well enough and are light enough that you will be asked again.  On the other hand you may ask or be asked by someone where you are doing a 5 minute survival dance but don't want to be rude.  Of course you also have to face the rude dancers, or ones that are a legend in their own mind and try to teach you on the foor or tell you you are doing the moves wrong. 

The difference is that in social dancing you are not going to be marked down for being cautious or not taking the correct heel or toe lead or not rotating around your spine, having the frame drop, head not finish the line, eyes or head being down, being off time to the music, being off phrase, parting from your partner, stopping, going into an illegal move, fingers open, shoulders up, swinging through properly, using the standing leg, and so forth and that is just for the bronze level.  The stakes start to go way up from there.  In social dancing you can be a legend in your own mind and feel like you are far above where you actually are and you certainly don't have to put your pride, ego and talent to the test.  Many a dancers have thought they were all that to only go into a competition and not get a single recall from any judge in any dance.  This is pretty darn hard on the ego and it has stopped the competitive aspirations of many a person.  In competitive dancing you have to put your money where your mouth is because you have a whole room of people and 5 to 9 judges just ready to let you know how good or bad you really are.  Every move is being scrutinized and the tension and frustration between partners can be tremendous.  Then you also have to find a partner and one that is the right physcial and mental fit which can be a challenge in itself.

I would say that unless you do both you cannot possibly begin to understand the challenges each faces nor understand the reason why they do what they do.  It's like skating.  Some people are happy skating around on the pond and enjoying nature and the company of other skaters whereas others want to be able to do the spins, leaps and skate the compulsory figures precisely.  For others it is competiton skating at the rink on weekdays and out on the pond on the weekend to fulfill both needs.  To each their own and as long as it brings you happiness then that is all that matters.   
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Everyone tries to rush up through the syllabus levles and think once they are at the top they have arrived.  What they don't realize is that by doing this it is like skimming through a book, you may get the gist but you will never understand the story.
Rugby
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« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2010, 11:03:27 PM »

Taking a breath and stepping off my soap box.
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Everyone tries to rush up through the syllabus levles and think once they are at the top they have arrived.  What they don't realize is that by doing this it is like skimming through a book, you may get the gist but you will never understand the story.
QPO
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« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2010, 01:52:30 AM »

We have come fromthe Social dancing scene and moved onto the comp floor, we now go less and less soical dancers as they see us as a nusiance. Some like to watch us dance ad enjoy we are trying our best. but it is a numbers game. when it is very busy we cant dance so we dont go to those providers that have floor shufflers and they have a right to be there and dance that way. So my choice is not to go and get frustrated. When I dont complete anymore I will go back to it as I wont have to step it out like we do now. Tongue
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Graham
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« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2010, 09:27:33 AM »

If I may start my response with your later comments to put myself into a proper context. It seems that we agree on just about all points.

‘I would say that unless you do both you cannot possibly begin to understand the challenges each faces nor understand the reason why they do what they do. ‘
Agreed. This is why I make my comment when a competitor tries to lord it over a ‘mere social dancer’. The focus of each style and the challenges of each style are different. I have not yet met a top competitor who is also great at social dance, likewise I have never met a top social dancer who is great at competition. I object strongly to one stylist being disparaging to the other stylist.

To each their own and as long as it brings you happiness then that is all that matters.

 Further discussion.
'If you are a good competitive dancer you have to be able to lead and follow.'
Agreed, but the main thing is that the judges perceive you to have good lead and follow, and that can be faked to a certain extent. By definition if it looks right it is right, the judtges can't feel what is going on. As such, the lead and follow to be a top flight competitor is less important than to a top flight social dancer (compare similar levels, comparing a 'bronze level' social dancers with championship competitors is not useful).

'The difference is that in competitive dancing technique is more important than moves.'
Agreed, exactly the same as in social dance. The four main aspects would be lead and follow, technique, moves and presentation. We've covered three of them now. Technique (rolling the foot, CBM etc.) is important to the good social dancer  as it helps with the personal control and thus with controlling the couple. The main difference is in the lead and follow and in the presentation I believe, more so in the latter. The main focus of a successful competitor is to impress the judges, and so they have to look right (which is distinct to being right). If one partner is not quite in the right position, it may not be able to be seen, but it can feel very wrong.

‘Of course knowing a routine is a huge advantage as you can take your movements more to the extreme and finish them off better and with more energy since you know where you are going. ‘
And as such lead and follow are less important as you already know where you are going.

‘When you don't know where you are going next you move more cautiously, especially the woman since she has to quickly figure out where the guy is going and get there at the same time. ‘
Hence she has to focus more on lead and follow. Your last two points support my belief that lead and follow have different priorities between social and comp styles. And that when you have to use lead and follow as a priority (freestyle, as stated in my original post), it negatively affects your dancing as a competitor.

‘I really think that it is good to be able to delve into both worlds to be a more complete dancer. ‘
Totally agree. The usual social dancer doesn’t have the same focus on dance as a ‘driven’ competitor. The USUAL social dancer is not necessarily good at any aspect at dance, competent enough given their own personal circumstances. The USUAL competitor (and there’s an awful lot at the beginner/pre-bronze/bronze level) also has a great deal to learn about dance, again, competent enough under their own circumstances.

‘I think more competitive people would like to do more social dancing ‘
Hopefully. As you indicate, time constraints are a huge limitation. Of course, social dancers have similar constraints. I social dance often, Fri/Sat/Sun (sometimes twice), plus a lesson a week, plus a little teaching - totals around 15-20 hours a week. I don’t have much time for further practice.

‘If you don't do both you have no idea what the other goes through. ‘
Agreed. I have done both in my early years (only 16 comps, so I am limited) and found competition wasn’t my cup of tea, just wasn’t a good fit, felt wrong for me. (I used to practice Aikido, but felt very uncomfortable in competition also, so it's just me, not the scene, too many egos, too much conflict. )But I still watch a lot of comps and top dancers and have danced socially with quite a few gold and up competitors and professionals.

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ttd
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« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2010, 11:23:12 AM »

We have come fromthe Social dancing scene and moved onto the comp floor, we now go less and less soical dancers as they see us as a nusiance. Some like to watch us dance ad enjoy we are trying our best. but it is a numbers game. when it is very busy we cant dance so we dont go to those providers that have floor shufflers and they have a right to be there and dance that way. So my choice is not to go and get frustrated. When I dont complete anymore I will go back to it as I wont have to step it out like we do now. Tongue

I started out as a social dancer, too. I don't think it's possible to go back to it and blend in with the social crowd again once you reach a certain level of quality in your dancing. Because once you know how it is supposed to be done, it is boring and/or frustrating to do it any other way.
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Graham
Intermediate Bronze

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« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2010, 11:50:58 AM »

No reason to blend in. I've had quite a few demos offered me because people saw me dancing out socially and hired me. So I must stand out (never having seen myself).
If your floorcraft is good enough, you rarely have to compromise your frame (same as in comp unless you are an arrogant bugger). I've never had to need to compromise my posture, foot action, hip action etc. Rarely do I have to drastically change my stride, perhaps direction, but's that's usually it. At 6'2", with 34" inside leg, my stride is pretty long, certainly comparable with Anton Lebedev (current pro champ Canada, one of my instructors). Not quite as long, but close.
Graham
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ttd
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« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2010, 12:25:27 PM »

No reason to blend in. I've had quite a few demos offered me because people saw me dancing out socially and hired me. So I must stand out (never having seen myself).
If your floorcraft is good enough, you rarely have to compromise your frame (same as in comp unless you are an arrogant bugger). I've never had to need to compromise my posture, foot action, hip action etc. Rarely do I have to drastically change my stride, perhaps direction, but's that's usually it. At 6'2", with 34" inside leg, my stride is pretty long, certainly comparable with Anton Lebedev (current pro champ Canada, one of my instructors). Not quite as long, but close.
Graham
I think this is different for a leader. As a follower, I have to adjust more or less depending on who I am dancing with.
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ttd
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« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2010, 12:40:54 PM »

Also, here is another side point to this. At times even having a lesson at the same time as a social couple causes friction. Because it makes them look bad by comparison, apparently. I had this experience a few years ago. I took some lessons at that time from a teacher who owned a small studio together with his wife <for those who know me personally, it's not the one I'm working with now>. So he was working with me and she was teaching a social couple. They were doing a foxtrot, and so we started with foxtrot, too, so that we could use same music (logical, right?). Anyways, ours looked massively different from what they were doing. So they made a few comments regarding that fact. Then they asked their teacher to work on something else that we were not going to work on, and stated the reason - when I was doing same dance as they were, it made them look bad next to me. Interesting that I was just starting doing silver in competition at that point, and my dancing has improved considerably since then. I wonder how they'd feel about it sharing the floor with me now.
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Dancerette
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« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2010, 01:20:47 PM »

I would rather dance 10 steps well than 100 poorly

This point probably highlights one of the main differences between how competing couples and social dancers think. Social dancers would be bored out of their minds after a few months of working only on 10 steps. They're not being judged on heel-toe-toe-toe-heel, so no reason to focus on technique if it's not a personal goal.
 
I really think that it is good to be able to delve into both worlds to be a more complete dancer.  

Absolutely agree; (see reason above), but I don't think social dancers must consistently compete; trying it once or twice might be more than enough to illustrate that the competition scene is not for them, either financially, time commitment wise, or state of mind.

Conversely, it would do a competion dancer good to just get out and have fun, and it can be done without compromising technique too badly, can't it? I think of a horse in training; they go a little crazy if not allowed to just get out and run once in awhile. 

As a social dancer who takes lessons to improve technique not to compete but for personal development, I can say that some of the most horrendous dancing I have ever seen was produced by couples who compete and fancy themselves just a little bit above the social crowd. I know it's because our expectations become higher as soon as a couple announces that they compete, but still  Roll Eyes
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Rugby
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« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2010, 01:38:42 PM »

Instead of them being bothered about your dancing being better they should have seen it as an inspiration as to what they can achieve by staying with their lessons.  Odd but when we worked beside the Canadian Champions in both latin and standard my partner and I learned from what they were doing and we didn't think twice of worrying that they were better or how we looked in comparrison.  I guess it all depends on your ego and how serious you are in wanting to get better.  The couple with you could not take it because it is easier to be a legend in your own mind rather than know the truth.  I call it the Emperor's Clothes Syndrome and the disease is rampant out there and it appears there is no cure.  The problem is that these people, and those I have met like them, never improve because they either A) They think they already know it all; B) Getting better is too much like work; C) Can't take criticism well; D) Are happy how they are and there is nothing wrong with that. 
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Everyone tries to rush up through the syllabus levles and think once they are at the top they have arrived.  What they don't realize is that by doing this it is like skimming through a book, you may get the gist but you will never understand the story.
Graham
Intermediate Bronze

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« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2010, 02:24:44 PM »

As a slight aside, one guy joined my group. He'd been taught Am Foxtrot, then he saw me and my better half dance Int Foxtrot. He decided he wanted to change styles. He's now with an instructor I recommended. Unfortunately the class conflicts with the social night and we don't see him. Shame, even as a beginner he had good attitude and good energy (he tried to do stuff, which is more than many do).

I have had people come to me and say that I intimidate people on the floor. Usually for my speed of movement and for how close I get. However, I've had a great deal more come up and compliment me. It's a balance, I have no intention of backing off my dance effort as long as I don't ACTUALLY impact them.

Mind I cheesed off a couple of competitors at the Blue Silver comp. Main one was during a general dance. Music was cha-cha-cha to which I was dancing, towards the centre of the floor. Lots of other competitors (the costumes give the game away) were practicing their standard and decided to dance into my space. For some reason they seemed to think that I should back down and give them space and got a little upset when I stood my ground (ending up with my hand on their back, I was doing a New Yorker variation at the time, which I held to protect myself). It seems that their floorcraft wasn't up where they thought it was.

Graham
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Some guy
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« Reply #26 on: March 26, 2010, 02:38:20 PM »

Great discussion from everyone.  Rugby, you obviously have a talent for arguing for both sides equally convincingly!

I am having a seriously hard time seeing differences between social dancing and competitive dancing.  If the argument stays subjective right down to name of studio, and names of social and competitive dancers, then I can understand there being differences that can be discussed.  If this discussion is around lead/follow, technique, presentation and steps, then that's just ballroom dancing isn't it?  Why add "social" or "competitive"?  It's like asking the question, "who's the better musician?  The one who was trained to only sight read and only do examinations or the one who can play by ear?".  The end goal for any musician (I would hope) is to be able to do both.

I think what each dancer can do is limited by two things: their abilities, and their partner's abilities.  I think the end goal for a competitor and a social dancer should be the same if we're only talking lead/follow, technique, presentation, and steps.  The priority of each of the aspects varies for the two groups of dancers for mere survival reasons.  My two cents.

To by a little subjective, there used to be a GREAT social dance couple that started competing.  This guy used to teach me how to do things during the social dances and his wife made any man look good on the social floor.  He also taught many competitors lead/follow skills.  I remember my first standard competition that I went up against him.  I thought I would be massacred on the floor.  However, I beat him by quite a few places.  Continued to consistently beat him competition after competition since then and while I thought he was certainly the better "dancer", he was never a threat at a competition.  I'm not saying I was better by any stretch of the imagination as I could ONLY dance with my partner, but priorities didn't require me to learn lead/follow skills if I was only going to compete against him in our local competitions.  Of course, I changed my focus  quite drastically since then and he has too.  I'll be going up against him again, but this time he's a "serious competitor".  He has changed partners too (doesn't dance with the wife anymore).  So it'll be interesting to see what happens.

On the flip side of the coin, there's a competitive dancer I know that never shows up to social dances as he can't lead AT ALL.  He recently beat me at a competition because all he focuses on is presentation.  In this case, I can wipe the floor with him at a social dance, but right now, I'm working hard to be able to challenge him at the next competition.    
« Last Edit: March 26, 2010, 02:54:11 PM by Some guy » Logged
Rugby
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« Reply #27 on: March 26, 2010, 02:57:39 PM »

I like social dancing but what I don't like are the guys who want to take me for a "test drive" to see what they can do, regardless if they are competition dancers or not.  I also don't like people, competitive or not, that bully their way around the floor with no consideration for others.

Don't even go there about competitve dancers doing routines because 97% of the social guys I dance with do routines and stick with them, even if they have to run into someone to accomplish it.  I pointed this out to the floor nazi (FN) at one of the saturday night dances in Toronto.  My DP and I were not even doing a routine (no chance since there are no rules of the road either than do the dance that is being played, so you get a bunch of hunched over near stationary old men on the outter three tracks) and were told if we did we woud be asked off the floor.  For the next four dances I picked out a different guy for each dance and proceeded to tell FN every move that they were going to do.  It wasn't difficult since they would dance the same routiness all the time.  I was asked by one of the regular guys (and a major legend in his own mind) to do a swing and I made sure to position us right in front of floor nazi.  Sure enough he did his routine and we even stayed for a rumba, again doing his routine.  During the Swing he would use his butt to bang people out of his way and twice he pushed me into the track of another couple with no regard and even used his arm to push a lady out of the way so he could do his New Yorker.  I asked FN why she had not gone out and asked us off the floor, especially when he was doing routines and was being so obviously rude to boot.  I asked her if it was okay for him because he is not a competitor (of course he thinks he easily could be) and she would not answer.

I find there are two rules, one for competitors and one for social dancers.  If you social dance don't worry about floor craft, if you compete every hit, even if mutual is your fault.  If you compete and do routines, even though you are more skilled in being able to carry them off, you are being inconsiderate or showing off, if you are a social dancer routines are fine and don't worry about showing off.  Social dancing allows you to have fun and be a legend in your own mind, a competitive dancer is constantly reminded (by judges and instructors) that they are far from it.  I often can tell the level of a dancer before they even walk on the floor just by how they are talking (or boasting) about how good they are.  The greater your dancing skill the less likely you are to boast or show off since the more you realize just how much you still can't do or are bad at.
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Everyone tries to rush up through the syllabus levles and think once they are at the top they have arrived.  What they don't realize is that by doing this it is like skimming through a book, you may get the gist but you will never understand the story.
ttd
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« Reply #28 on: March 26, 2010, 03:06:45 PM »

Because if you look at the big picture, the dancers who are interested in working on technical issues in great details tend to gravitate towards competitive dancing, one way or another. It's not always the case, but most of the time it is. And the rest stick with social dancing, doing "100 patterns badly" as Rugby put it. Again, some of them might try to compete if opportunity presents itself, but they usually don't stick with it, or shift their dance priorities and move into the other group.

And obviously some of the posters here are fortunate enough that they live in an area where there is a critical mass of good dancers, not just the competitive ones, but also the ones who do not (or no longer) compete. But from where I'm at, that is an exception and not the norm.
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Rugby
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« Reply #29 on: March 26, 2010, 03:44:52 PM »

Certainly not where I am from etiher.
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Everyone tries to rush up through the syllabus levles and think once they are at the top they have arrived.  What they don't realize is that by doing this it is like skimming through a book, you may get the gist but you will never understand the story.
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