Ballroom Dance > What does it take?

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by wyllo, Feb 22, 2006.

  1. wyllo

    wyllo New Member

    I often get asked by team members what it takes to get to a higher level of dance and I don't really know the answer ('cause I'm not there myself!). Often if seems like the temptation is to put a time frame on it, i.e., it takes one year to get through bronze. But obviously, that doesn't take into account a lot of factors.

    So, what does it take to be a bronze/silver/gold/open level dancer? How high can a dancer advance without private lessons or without a regular practice partner? What kind of commitment is required at each level? What skill sets should a dancer exihibit at each level? Is there a way for a dancer to self-evaluate what level they have achieved (beyond competition or an instructor's evaluation)?
  2. caityrosey

    caityrosey New Member

    Good question. I'll wait for other wiser people to weigh in on this one.
  3. HCMikeC

    HCMikeC New Member

    I'm not wise...but it's a really great topic.

    I cannot speak for other teams around the country, but I definitely needed private lessons/additional instruction outside of the framework of team practices. Unfortunately, my team only had coaching one night a week (lack of funds from school), and to advance past bronze or maybe silver, that was not going to cut it.

    I do not believe anyone can place a time frame on advancement. People have different rates at which they learn, comprehend, and employ the knowledge they are given.

    There are a lot of questions posed in the first post. I'm curious of how others will respond.
  4. caityrosey

    caityrosey New Member

    I think it will be very easy to say that there is no clear-cut definition of what it takes to be bronze,silver, gold, open, etc... and it is true, there really isn't one good way to define the skill sets necessary at each level or what it takes in general.

    But lets take a crack at it anyway 'cause noncommittal definitions aren't really helpful to answer this question...accepting right away that any definitions offered here are generalizations of the dance population at large but not true of every dancer.

    As an example to get us started, here is how ski rental companies determine what kind of skis you need:

    Skier I : Someone who has never skiied before or has only skiied a few times.

    Skier II: Someone who is comfortable skiing all green and blue runs.

    Skier III: Someone who can ski anywhere on the mountain in any conditions.
  5. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Four things.

    The financial resources to drive the training.
    The physical ability to achieve.
    The technical expertise to learn from.
    and the most important...
    The mental focus to endure and succeed.

  6. smoozer

    smoozer Member

    Don't forget quality of instruction.
  7. JohnLL

    JohnLL New Member

    Okay, my post is not really intended to address this question in its entirety as it is such a broad question. Here are my comments on this issue however. Obviously, as you move up through bronze/silver/gold/open and so on there is an additional commitment that is required of the dancer.
    My observations tend to relate mostly to newcomer/bronze/silver/gold dancers and I find that the biggest steps for people to take are:
    1.) Realizing that it takes more than just showing up at team lessons or practices once or twice a week. This is where most newcomers and bronze dancers drop out I think. That additional commitment is something they are not willing or can't make because of other activities or involvements
    2.) Realizing that it takes one on one time with an instructor or coach as opposed to just group and general practice sessions. I find that a lot of dancers in the early levels simply are not willing or do not realize how important it is to work with a coach on an individual basis. You can't get everything you need from a group class with 40 or more other kids in it!
    I guess what it comes down to is how much you love dance and how committed you are to it.
  8. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    For how many dances are we talking about? My school teaches 8 dances and we tell the students that it will take them from 1,5-2 years to finish Bronze. Which is a good estimate, though we do tell them that they can shorten or stretch that time period.
    In order to advance... dedication, persistence, good instruction, definately social/practice parties (a LOT LOT LOT), doing a combination of privates and groups (assuming that groups focus on technique elements, not teaching syllabus steps). Additionally, it's always a good idea to do some personal practice. Oh, and at some point (the sooner the better) I suggest dance shoes. I have seen beginners struggle in really, really hard to dance in shoes (such as pointy boots for the ladies) and it doesn't enable them to work on the finer points of foot technique.

    Twilight Elena
  9. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    also matters how much natural aptitude one has and also how much attention one puts into doing what one does. I can walk through a lesson and not remember much. But, if I pay close attention I can pick a lot, much of what isn't even taught by watching the teaches.
  10. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    perfect answer
  11. JoepiE

    JoepiE New Member

    Pijn is fijn en bloed moet

    Julie Fryer (Louis van Amstel's old partner) always says (in Dutch):
    "Pijn is fijn en bloed moet"

    It rimes in Dutch, but in English it means:
    "Pain is nice and blood is a must"

    She means to say that you got to do whatever it takes to achieve your goal. It's a long and mostly unpleasant road, but it's worth it! You don't need talent, great teachers, money. You only need the gutts to get your sorry behind to whereever you want.
  12. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    If you truly have the desire, everything else will take care of itself.
  13. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

  14. wyllo

    wyllo New Member

    But how do I explain to a new/bronze dancer what it means to be a silver/gold/open dancer? Saying it takes dedication, hard work and passion is great and can be very motivating, but it also is very vague. Is there any way to say a silver dancer has x, y, z skills but a gold dancer adds a, b, and c? I'm really curious if there is a way to qualitatively express differences between the levels.
  15. fascination

    fascination Site Moderator Staff Member

    i think that would be hard to quantify...i mean there are so many people dancing at those levels who shouldnt be....but in my view...its all about degrees of precision and nuance...and all of that comes through, as previously mentioned, more than sweat...blood....
  16. skwiggy

    skwiggy Well-Known Member

    I don't think that's possible, since the levels are a relative comparison. A high-level "gold" dancer at one competition might be a mid-level "silver" dancer at another, depending on who shows up.

    Perhaps instead of trying to quantify what actually brings someone to the next level, you could explain qualities that develop as one progresses to higher levels. Such as balance, control, musicality, movement (for smooth/standard), speed (for rhythm/latin), expression, etc. Maybe you can collect videos of some dancers at the different levels, and point out some of the differences between them. It would be great actually if you could find someone who has videos of themselves competing at the different levels over time, and show them the progression that one person or one couple has made. Or alternatively, show them a video of a bronze couple doing some basic bronze steps, and then an open couple doing the same combination?
  17. HCMikeC

    HCMikeC New Member

    It's not a black and white answer really, as hard as we try to formulate one. I think, for me, partnership is HUGE. Tehnique is crucial, yes, but the couple needs to "show me something more." Facial expressions, gesture, subtle connections beyond the dance frame, eye contact...all of these strike me in a solid couple.

    So, to sum it up IMO, I would say a silver/gold level dancer needs to have more of an "it" factor. Most silver/gold couples have at least decent technique. There has to be something beyond the steps, components, and patterns. A couple needs to believe in what they're dancing rather than just going through the cuban motions (I know...that was pretty bad:))

    Again..this is just what I look at when I watch advance couples.
  18. Katarzyna

    Katarzyna Well-Known Member

    not in standard...
    where most novice and prechamp couples except for the top couples don't have decent technique.. IMO
  19. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    True, Katarzyna. I was watching a collegiate comp video of Advanced couples and I could see most couples lacked basic foot technique.

    Twilight Elena
  20. Katarzyna

    Katarzyna Well-Known Member

    I really don't know much about latin technique, but I would guess it's similar situation..
    (it would be so much fun to dance latin, hope we can put something together by MIT )

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