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
; 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
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?