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Author Topic: AM or PRO-AM? A personal choice....  (Read 891 times)
elisedance
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« on: October 17, 2012, 06:10:30 AM »

OK, so this is a case of sour grapes.  At least thats how it started.

A bit of background.  I started as everyone does, just learning steps at a studio and then I found a partner (this is yonks ago), indeed I got through 3 partners before quitting dacing for about 6 years (big life changes, big move).  At that point I had to virtually start again and found a terrific pro who trained me for 3 years or so.  AM was no longer an option and there were no leads anyway so I changed pros (the first was too short for me to compete with) to a wonderful young guy teaching his way through college (Chris) and worked up to win a scholarship at a big comp.  I switched pros when I got the chance to compete with a natioal champion (and very tall Smiley Smiley; Anton) in early 2009 which was quite successful - and then I finally achieved my objective or attracting a lead to get back into AM comp. 

This brings us to last November when said AM quit after ~3 years.  There are no other AMs tall enough in my province and I felt a bit beat up anyway and seriously considered quitting ballroom altogether - but the legs wouldn't let me.  After exhausting the 'AM search option' I took lessons here and there and then decided to close that door and find a pro to work with.  And I refound Chris!  Thus, now I back dancing with a pro but we have both grown a lot since I moved on in 99.

What does this mean?  Well, its back to paying for floor time Sad and, of course, I have to share my dance partner.  Also, there is a stigma amongst other dancers about pro-am.  This was illustrated acutely when I went to our provincial open amateur competition just this past saturday.  An older pro who I know quite well commiserated about my loss of my AM partner and asked what I was planning.  When I told him of the pro-am option he was very sorry for me and told me that "Its just far less satisfying'.  When I challenged him on that he was very suprised since that is the generally accepted truism.

The point is that yes, the lack of individual committment that you get in AM IS less satisfying.  However, that is ballanced by the dancing itself - which is FAR better with a pro, plus, of course, the fact that you have 100% training time.  This conversation got me thinking both about my specific case - having to dance pro-am - and the general one about the current status of pro-am dancing, what people think of it and what it is (I will write more on that later).  What I realized was that to do pro-am effectively you really have to comit to it - which is not so difficult for the AM half but is an interesting challenge to the pro.

I've changed.  Dance used to be about dancing second and about competing and winning first.  Its not anymore - and thats not sour grapes either.  I've realized that there really is a dancer in me that needs certain things.  One of those is to go all out, to dance as if noone is watching, as the phrase goes.  An integral part of that is to dance with a partner who truly enjoys dancing with me.  Ballroom is nothing if it is not a mutual satisfaction (least IMO its not).  For that goal the premiere requirement is a skilled partner, ideally at least somewhat better than me (being selfish here) to stretch me to my limits.  That is goal #1 - but competing is essential too - its what causes you to work to your limits and lets face it, there is an enormous satisfaction to being enjoyed by an audience. 

So those are my goals - dance to my limit and compete at my best.  If circumstances permit (read cash!) the best way to achieve these is actually through pro-am - but only with a committed and truly appreciative partner.  So that is the new me.  Would I flip if another AM came calling?  At the moment I think not - but its going to take some time for this to resolve - will the pro-am pairing evolve into a true partnership?  If so then I think I'll become pretty AM proof unless that dancer can equal my pro's skills - but that is a hazzard for almost all partnerships n'est pas?
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ttd
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2012, 04:15:03 PM »

You know, I never understood the view that an am-am partnership is more satisfying. Maybe because I've never been in an evenly matched competitive am-am partnership. Unevenly matched one can be exceedingly frustrating (especially when it's the lady who's more advanced), and before someone comes back with examples of pro couples where the lady was much more accomplished when they paired up, try pairing up a gold-level follower with a bronze-level lead and see how that works. Not very well. I have to do it every time I come to a social, and I am painfully aware of how bad it looks and feels and how little I can do with beginning lead's limitations imposed on me. And also, I think even within a competitive pro-am partnership, yes, the pro isn't dancing with you for free, but at the same time, nobody's forcing him to put you on his schedule. If he's good, he can fill his schedule with students he likes and who like him.
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elisedance
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2012, 09:03:22 PM »

You know, I never understood the view that an am-am partnership is more satisfying. Maybe because I've never been in an evenly matched competitive am-am partnership. Unevenly matched one can be exceedingly frustrating (especially when it's the lady who's more advanced), and before someone comes back with examples of pro couples where the lady was much more accomplished when they paired up, try pairing up a gold-level follower with a bronze-level lead and see how that works. Not very well. I have to do it every time I come to a social, and I am painfully aware of how bad it looks and feels and how little I can do with beginning lead's limitations imposed on me. And also, I think even within a competitive pro-am partnership, yes, the pro isn't dancing with you for free, but at the same time, nobody's forcing him to put you on his schedule. If he's good, he can fill his schedule with students he likes and who like him.

I'm going to work on this theme for a bit - I think I raised it years ago but something needs to change to recognize the true pro-am partnerships, as apart from the pro-am teaching relationships.  It requires a change in the culture....
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
Rugby
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« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2012, 03:29:35 AM »

I think the ideal would be to do both.  Both my DP and I did Pro/Am and when we got together as Am/Am partners we both still did Pro/Am as well for another year at least.  If I had the money I would do both at the same time for sure.  There are some things you can just learn faster in a Pro/Am relationship and there are some things you can only learn in a Am/Am relationship.
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elisedance
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« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2012, 04:51:31 AM »

  There are some things you can just learn faster in a Pro/Am relationship and there are some things you can only learn in a Am/Am relationship.
Thats a bit of a blanket statement R.  I know the former is true but what can you only learn in an am/am except about arguing Grin
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pruthe
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« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2012, 01:57:27 PM »

I think the ideal would be to do both.  . . .

I also agree would be good to do both. For a while, I was doing both. For example. during Am/Am practice I could tell more easily if I was really leading or not. Not so easy to tell during Pro/Am practice.  During Am/Am practice, I learned to be very careful on my "constructive comments" with partner. That's because if any dance problems encountered, I (eventually) realized many were with me as a lead, which helped me with both my Pro/Am and Am/Am dancing. If any unresolved questions on what to do during Am/Am practice, I would save and ask pro.

I understand difficulty in finding good Am/Am or Pro/Am partnership, so wishing good luck to those looking for either or both. :-)

pruthe
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"It's not what you do, but how you do it."

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elisedance
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« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2012, 03:58:35 PM »

I think here there really is a difference between leads and follows - I surely understand what you say about leading, it takes an outstanding dancer-actor follow to resist 'helping' or backleading - or just using her skills to dance to make the lead simple.  But I don't think this is true for the follow.  sure a pro lead can give you exagerated signals but, in particular if they compete professionally, they can also lead with the subtlest signals - but also correctly.  For me that is the high point of dancing - responding to the 'intent' of the man, where he is signalling subconsciously and you are responding likewise.  I know when this happens because I have no idea what steps we actually danced...

Last lesson my pro said that he was no longer using routines, just dancing what he felt like.  It was actually a complaint but he could not have made me any happier Cheesy
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If you must leave the house, go build a home...

The limit of your love is also the limit of your art...
pruthe
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« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2012, 12:13:00 PM »

Great that you've made this major advance in following skill. I remember when dancing with my pro, because she was so sensitive to body movements, felt like she was almost not there. She did not back lead when dancing with me. Am partner was not as sensitive, so usually I had to provide more lead signal, but that was good in a way to make me more aware of what I had to do. Later, Am partner became more sensitive and I could back off on lead signal.

Continued "Happy Dancing" with your pro!

pruthe
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"It's not what you do, but how you do it."

"The Truth in Ballroom Dance is found in the Basic steps."

A.S.
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