One of the reasons I would like to go pro is b/c I love dancing so much,that it would be the next step (at some point) in my dance journey. Most interested in pro-pro competition. I feel it would establish me as a dancer before doing any teaching or bringing an amateur to competition. I would want that "done that been there" experience under my belt before bringing a newbie competitor into the den of lions.
As most of us know, Pro-am is very cutthroat,but those who are better funded are those who get to compete the most. Pro-am is the most expensive way to go. Even a mediochre pro can cost upwards of $2,000-$3000 per comp. Pick & choose wisely. In the big comps as I have found out, it depends on the credit your pro has built w/ the judges..so no one is naming names..we know.
A smaller comp is a little more fair,but then one (who is well-funded but mediochre) becomes a big fish in a little pond so the pro-am competitor may have a false sense of their real abilities. On the flipside, the truly talented dancer who is hard working & not so well-funded can be left out unless they are willing to put thousands on their credit cards. I pay as I go, so the dance journey may take longer, but won't owe thousands. I have seen low-level pros take a student to a comp b/c they are wanting to make money w/o consideration of a student's readiness, abililities or pocket book. This is very sad.
If & when I teach, I will not be taking someone to a comp before they are ready. It is a reflection of my work too & that kind of reputation won't serve me or anyone well. It takes the integrity out of the sport. I would want those dancing with me in pro-am tell people about me only to say "she is fair, will make you work,but won't force you to a comp as she would want you ready first". The decision would be joint,not a "sales job". Pros do this with their coaches, pro-am people should have that latitude too. The good pros won't send you before you are ready..that matters. It keeps the integrity in the sport & lets an amateur grow as a dancer, whatever their journey leads them to.
I would like to comment on this post. It may be the wrong place to do so. Elise if you want to move this post elsewhere please feel free to do so.
I would agree that going from amateur the next step would be turning professional if you are going the competitive or teaching way. I understand wanting to establish yourself before going to a competition doing pro-am. I would however also say that much can be learned from teaching. I was an assistant teacher most of the time I was an amateur. I learned so much that I couldn’t have learned till much later had I not taught. When you teach you have to explain to another person what you want them to do. You can’t really do that till you understand it yourself. My teachings lead me to ask my teachers questions that I would never have thought off by myself. I have been in the dance world for almost 30 years (wow, now I am dating myself) or let’s say 25+ years and I still don’t feel “been there… done that”. Things change and evolve with time. Many of the things that was normal back when I was an amateur is no longer the way things are done. So “been there…done that” is really not of any use.
I do have to tell you that there are pro-am couples out there that does really well in competitions and they are not well off. They have worked hard on their dancing and they have improved a lot the last couple of years. They are to the point of making finals at the USDC (2011) and last they didn’t make the top 12. Good dancing does win in the end but you do have to be very much better than the competition. It would be embarrassing for the judges if this couple had not made it to the final. Most judges will mark a couple well if it would be embarrassing not to do so.
I will also tell you that sometimes or actually often time’s students never feel ready to compete. If their teacher had not pushed them to compete they would never have competed. My sister is a coach to a pro-am couple and he had never competed in the 15 years he had danced as none of his teachers pushed him. My sister told his teacher to push him so that he could go out there and test his skills. He finally competed this year for the first time. He didn’t do so well in his first competitions as could be expected as his nerves took over. The last competition he danced this year he did however do really well. He is so grateful to his teacher for pushing him to compete and help him get out of his shell. When you start teaching I am sure you will find there are many students that need to get pushed into dancing competitions for them to grow and evolve further.
I am sorry that you have experienced and seen amateurs/pro-am students being pushed when they should not have been. There are however many pro-am teachers out there that both have integrity, class and consideration of the students ability and pocket book.
I would also say that with all my time in the business I am still not ready to compete if I were to compete today. I did compete as my teachers pushed me to do so. I was however never ready as far as I felt and I still don’t feel ready. I would however say that the reason I am not ready today is different than the reason I was not ready back when I competed.