General Dance Discussion > How long did it take you all to become a pro?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by SPratt74, May 4, 2006.

  1. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    How long did it take you all to become a pro? I'm asking this, because I would like to go that route, but it is expensive (which I stated in another thread). I know of some people that have taken a few years up to no time at all. And also did you really have to put in the extra time to become a pro dancer? Even finding the time to do it on my end is kind of tough right now. Anyways, I don't know if there was a thread like this before hand, because I couldn't find one. So, sorry about that. But I'm still curious though! Thanks in advance!

    Oh and I don't mean pro as in like world champion that type of thing. I just mean in your level of dance whether it would pro am etc. or not. Thanks! ;)
  2. sunderi

    sunderi New Member

    I'm sure this suggestion will be critiqued, but . . .

    If what you want is to become a professional, one route is to go with a chain studio. (That's what I have done.) They will train you (for free) and they provide a lot of opportunities for continuing training throughout your employment.

    Personally, this was my path to becoming a pro: I was a competitive pro/am student (in the AM world) for 5 years. I went through the training to become a teacher, and I've been a teacher for just over a year.
  3. Whirling Dervish

    Whirling Dervish New Member

    That's also how I went--chain studio. This particular one needed two people quickly, and put us through four to six hours a day of intensive training--we were put out on the floor in 8 weeks. It was a lot of stress to pack it in so fast and go out there without having passed Bronze Teacher yet.

    But we did pass the test soon after, Silver not long after that, and I worked constantly for two years at that chain. We received daily training, had problem-solving sessions, and a wealth of assistance from some big guns in the company. I have no regrets.
  4. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    Oh that's interesting. Like did you have to pay for that type of thing, and did they make you sign a contract etc.? How did you get started in other words? How interesting!!! ;)
  5. PasoDancer

    PasoDancer New Member

    Please expound, you guys- I'm lurking this one, too! :-D Consider all the Machiavellians out here! LOL
  6. Whirling Dervish

    Whirling Dervish New Member

    Here's the whole story. I was getting married in a year, and didn't know a thing about dancing. Neither did my fiance. So we saw an ad in the paper: free training every night for a month, then they would choose teachers from the pack. This involved a lot of time commitment for possibly no job, and they were up front about it. So we decided to do it, never thinking we'd be chosen. We just wanted to learn how to dance at our wedding, for free since we were poor college students.

    After the month was over, we were picked not only as teachers but as performing partners. There was no employment contract at this chain at the time, although there were other studios that had them. So the Monday after we were chosen and briefed on student contracts and business matters, we started teaching. I loved it and loved the studio, even with the teacher dramas that happen sometimes.

    Some of why we were chosen depended on our ability to get people up and dancing at the studio parties. Both of us are very sociable and it was easy for us. Some of the other student teachers were just not confident enough, but I wanted to use my new skills in practice as much as possible. SO he and I were dancing every dance with other people's students. Lol!

    So that's how it happened. If you want to know some details, please PM me and I'll give you the down and dirty. :)
  7. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    Thanks! What a great way to learn dancing!!! The director is always telling us to dance with everyone and will put on the guilt trip if he knows we know how to dance and are sitting around lol etc., but that's because he's big into people dancing with everyone so no one feels left out. Some of the instructors only dance with whom they feel comfortable with, so I can see what he's trying to get at. They are nice and loyal though and are there practically every day (at least when I am there). So, he's got great people. But yeah I think that confidence and everything else has to deal with a lot of it. Good point!

    If you don't mind, without getting to specific could you tell me if you get paid by commission? I mean is it worth becoming an instructor? I've always wondered this even when I wasn't Ballroom Dancing. They say that's where the money is, but I'm curious to find out like if you all have to pay some out of your paychecks back to the people that own the building etc. You don't have to tell me if you don't want to, but I have been curious about that kind of thing and if it's worth becoming an instructor or not.

    Thanks for all of your honest answers!;)
  8. saludas

    saludas New Member

    No comment - a FOUR week wonder.

    Any misgivings about being called a teacher after 4 weeks?
  9. PasoDancer

    PasoDancer New Member

    Ouch- yes, the references have been made about schools like that, but, but c'mon, to an individual's FACE (in essence- I mean, it's the internet, but still)? Not friendly. Some people can dance better in four weeks than others can in four years, you know. One could also argue that that equals over twenty lessons, at least- that's more than some people get in six months. That's what adds to one of those whispered-about "ballroom dancer" stereotypes... the "inch of snow on their noses".

    WD- do comments like that hurt your feelings? At this stage of my life, it would me, but I don't know about any other time- I'd probably say no, but it's still tacky. This is one of the only things holding me back from saying "I'd like to teach someday" to people in public. Someone nipping at my tailfeathers for it on the internet is one thing, but what if someone said that to my face? I'd fall through a crack in the floor. Part of being a teacher, I realize, is confidence, but nobody wants to feel questioned like a snake-oil salesman at every turn. No, saludas didn't quite do THAT, but the... tone... just slapped me in the face for some reason.

    Without these "wonders", you'd have even FEWER dancers on the floor. Again, just because you learned/did/won something "the right way" doesn't mean everyone else has (or needs) that opportunity. Whether it works or not, it all adds to people making our "life's passion" of dancing grow to even bigger and better proportions, keeping it alive.

    Don't forget what it's like to be "lowly" so quickly. If someone asked you "how long have you been dancing?", you replied "X years", and they countered "Hmmf- can't tell it by YOUR dancing...." you can't say you'd feel happy about that?

    That's what happens at this one studio we visit- everyone there is considerably older (by thirty to forty years) than we are, and have been dancing the same bronze syllabus steps for the past five years. They don't like that our teachers showed us some silver and gold syllabus steps just for fun, to see if we could all do them without injuring one another, so they rip on not just our dancing, but our studio's dancing. They always have to say SOMETHING like "you know, after dancing for a year, you should really do it this way instead," or "I just don't know what they teach over there..."

    Well, our studio teaches us to have fun, dance well, and not rip other people's stuff like that. We're actually taught floorcraft and traffic control, and our leads are taught not to shove and drag the lady around, and not to make irritated faces and comments, or leave ladies standing on the floor if they don't know a different lead into something.

    Sorry. Went off on a tangent. I have to be honest and say that the "four week wonder" comment really stung me by proxy. How long will it be before someone says something similar to that about me or someone else? It's very wise that few people put their own names and pictures on internet forums.

    True, we're supposed to be "above" letting that get us down, but some of us haven't quite built up our reserves yet. Granted, four weeks doesn't sound like a very long time to be dancing, but some people learn differently, teach differently, and dance differently. If anything, it was a foot through the door in the right direction, and you can only learn more from there. What WD may or many not have "lacked" in teaching experience was made up for, obviously, in zeal for dancing- and that's quite valuable if you have a lot of people sitting and an empty floor.
  10. cl5814

    cl5814 New Member


    Did your instructor teaching/learning sessions cease to exist after the 4 weeks ? I am sure you had more training........ care to share some more highlights with us regarding your training..
  11. Laura

    Laura New Member

    When asking how long it takes to become a pro, it all depends on what your goals are. There aren't any tests or levels or anything, you're a pro if you say you are a pro. "Professional" isn't a proficiency level -- in the US it basically is just a designator describing under what set of rules you compete. The top "amateurs" in the US are as good or better than most "pros" in the US. You can be an "amateur" for as long as you want, so long as you don't get caught breaking the rules for "amateurs" regarding competing and teaching. The top "amateurs" are allowed to teach and coach, by the way, so really there's nothing that separates them from the "pros" except for what competitive events they enter.

    Anyone can be a pro by starting to teach -- even if they've never taken a teacher training class.

    Anyone can be a pro by dancing as a pro in a Pro or a Pro/Am competition.

    If you want to be a pro that competes and teaches competitive dancers, and want to go out there for your first pro comp and look like you belong, then that's a lot more time and effort. How long it takes depends on lots of factors, like how much time and effort you can put into it, the quality of training you can receive, how often you get high-level coaching, and your own natural ability and potential.

    I've been dancing and competing for about 8 1/2 years and I am not a pro. I don't even want to be a pro.
  12. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    I agree with everything that you have said. I hope this kind of comment doesn't stop anyone from teaching though. I have taught little kids all the way up to college adults. Teaching is a very rewarding career even though it doesn't pay much. And yes people learn differently. I learn by watching and I can pick things up pretty quickly that way. This is why my instructor always says watch my feet, because he knows that I will pick it up right away after watching him first instead of just going right in there. However, some people can pick up things much better than I can. My brother is a natural talent at everything, and he too could pick things up in a day even whereas it would take someone else like me a month to pick up.

    Also, some studios do work differently. So, it could be that four weeks could equal one month of dancing. I know on DWTS Ashly said that she is used to dancing six to eight hours a day, and if that is the case then I could see how it could be done in one month. And I know that I learned my past routine in one day (luckily of course). I kept thinking that if I had the time and the money to spend on learning a routine like the stars on DWTS even (like in one week I mean), how that would make me look in one month!!! ;)
  13. Throwaway Overshare

    Throwaway Overshare New Member

    It would be a very different thing if the price of a lesson with a new instructor really reflected their inexperience. The studios already factor this into the extremely low pay that these teachers receive, but the students don't get the corresponding discount. There'd be a lot less to complain about if the ratio of lesson cost to teacher pay were consistent. There probably is a market for $20 or $30 dance lessons, but it's a bit unreasonable to charge $60, $90, etc for a $20 lesson.
  14. saludas

    saludas New Member

    It's just as easy to take a lesson from an expereienced teacher as it is to take it from a xxx week wonder - and is certainly better for you.

    The prblem is that the chains basically delude you into thinking that the newbie teacher is an expert or is a quality teacher. And, paying someone $10 an hour to teach when you are getting $100 for the lesson is a ripoff. Finally, the coaches who HAVE had training and have made teaching 'their life' are forced to actually lose work to and compete with Joe Newbie. Every hour that is taken from a chain studio wonder takes food out of the mouth of a real pro, who takes training, studies for adjudicator and teaching certification, and probably makes a living competitively.
  15. Throwaway Overshare

    Throwaway Overshare New Member

    It's not quite as bad as Saludas makes it sound, or at least the injured party is different. While the student's aren't getting their money's worth, the good pros aren't really being hurt by competition with studio trainees, because the trainees don't usually manage to keep the students who would be the most rewarding to teach, or lucrative to take to competitions.
  16. PasoDancer

    PasoDancer New Member

    That whole "Food from their mouths" thing sounds so much like the union/non-union arguments. Very off-turning.
  17. saludas

    saludas New Member

    I disagree about those kinds of students. Because the criteria for 'keeping' students is based on a beginner's 'feeling' for the teacher (after all, how can a beginner student learning a new discipline actually rate a teacher other than how 'nice' he is) the potential for the student doing, say, the AM 50 lessons moving towards proam is just as likely with a stone beginner teacher as they are with a trained coach.

    Also, a pro who has to teach x amount of hours a week to pay his bills needs all kinds of students, and the pool of new and continuing students is finite. If the wonder gets 40% of them, the real coach gets less income overall; it's just supply and demand.
  18. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    I do think that eventually those students DO look around and see that awesome pro's students look much much better than they do ....and if they go to a comp, they find out the hard way....I was very boss was a ballroom dancer who had previously danced at my studio and I was planning on dancing with a particular guy b/c he was nice and had about the same build as I did etc....and she just jumped right on me and said..."nope, no way...later you will see that "X" is the best, hands down will dance with him"...I took her advice at a time when reasonably good and awesome still looked alike to me and NOW....I am so very glad I did.

    Still, I think there does come a point when most students become aware that their dance goals exceed their pro if their pro was in fact plucked off the street and run through a rapid training...but many times thats just fine with them if their goals are social.
  19. SPratt74

    SPratt74 New Member

    I'm with you! :D I think it all depends on how serious you are going to take your dance level and then go from there. Your instincts will tell you the right way to go!;)
  20. saludas

    saludas New Member

    I disagree. Beginners and social students need good quality instruction as much as advanced students. And why should they accept poor instruction, just because they don't know the difference at the beginning? or are prevented from knowing?

    I certainly would not trust the 'instincts' of a beginner who has not been given enough information to make a sound decision. I am certain that, given education and knowledge, more people would choose quality. The reason they do not get it now is because they are not given the choice and the knowledge to know the difference. After all, the 'cute' instructor who tells them how good they are (did an introductory lesson EVER end with a teacher dissuading a student?) does not exemplify the dance world.

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