(Dance) Partners: for better or worse

#41
Oh, i guess I could actually talk about my current partner too, rather than just complaining about not being able to find another amateur. :)

Currently dancing pro/am, so of course my partner is my teacher. ... But we look good on the floor height wise, and personalities mesh well, so that even in my first comp, jsut a few months in, had a better connection than i would have expected, and just gets better all the time. Obviously, not the connection I might have with an amateur partner, as I purposely keep msyelf somewhat distant from pro, since she is my teacher (and because I already hang out with all other pros in region for FA, don't need to add another studio I can't dance at). But overall, very happy with my partner... Of course, horrible match talent wise, as she's way better than me, but that's to be expected.
pro/am is such an interesting bird - especially if you stay with the same teacher for long time. It does not matter how much you start off as teacher/student eventually, even if your abilities never match, it becomes a real partnership. You learn each others strengths and weaknesses, tricks and blotches - and its two way. If you look at the top level of pro/am comps often its hard to figure out who is who, pro and 'student'. Sometimes the am may actually excell the pro in aspects such as competition nerves -thats not something that favors the cool and may not be easy to learn.

Eventually I began to object to the term 'student' since it seemed derogatory to the amount of hours we had worked together and the level we were reaching. While I am not so dumb as to think I could ever match my pro's abilities it still seemed rather like teacher and 10 yr old. I asked him to refer to me as his pro/am partner - a term I found pleasant and accurate. He's such a sweety he actually did.
 

Laura

New Member
#42
If you look at the top level of pro/am comps often its hard to figure out who is who, pro and 'student'.
I respectfully disagree with you on this one! Yes, sometimes it is difficult, but in Standard at least it's usually pretty obvious. I was watching the Open Pro/Am Standard at Embassy Ball and it was very clear who the teachers were because they were all the biggest names in Pro Standard in the US. Their students were very Very VERY good, but it was not difficult to tell which was the teacher and which was the student.

Eventually I began to object to the term 'student' since it seemed derogatory to the amount of hours we had worked together and the level we were reaching.
I do not find it derogatory at all. In fact, I would consider it disrespectful to my teacher's actual professional partner if I were to go around calling myself my teacher's partner, and even if I qualified it with "Pro/Am partner" it still seems like a presumption to me. I look at it like martial arts training, where people are forever students of some master, their sensei, and it's a life-long learning process. After all, everyone is a student of someone -- even teachers. I do not at all mind being the student of an excellent teacher. In fact, it's kind of an honor in itself.

Interestingly enough, my current teacher's ex-Professional partner sometimes referred to me as the "Pro/Am partner," but it was not anything I ever said. I'm guess I'm just really sensitive to sounding like I'm "presuming" any thing. Other people aren't as sensitive as I, I'm sure.

I asked him to refer to me as his pro/am partner - a term I found pleasant and accurate. He's such a sweety he actually did.
He is very sweet! There are teachers out there who would not respond so positively to this!

I guess for me that "partner" means "equal peer," which is simply not ever going to be the case so long as I am dancing with the person who is teaching me. My "hang up" I suppose!
 
#43
I don't think it's a hang-up, Laura. I totally agree with you! I don't think there is anything wrong and certainly not derogatory about being a student and I think it is a little presumptuous, as a hobby dancer (however serious), to require a label that implies equal standing with someone who has devoted their lives and careers to dance.
 
#44
I don't think it's a hang-up, Laura. I totally agree with you! I don't think there is anything wrong and certainly not derogatory about being a student and I think it is a little presumptuous, as a hobby dancer (however serious), to require a label that implies equal standing with someone who has devoted their lives and careers to dance.
WG and Laura.

I think you read things into my letter that were not there. I certainly did not say nor imply that I intended 'pro/am partner' as ever pretending to be equal to pro partner. The name It makes it obvious that the am is an am and the pro is a pro. Besides, there are plenty of Ams that truly have devoted their lives to dance (clearly not the case for me) and sometimes the am comps out do the pros.
 
#45
I respectfully disagree with you on this one! Yes, sometimes it is difficult, but in Standard at least it's usually pretty obvious. I was watching the Open Pro/Am Standard at Embassy Ball and it was very clear who the teachers were because they were all the biggest names in Pro Standard in the US. Their students were very Very VERY good, but it was not difficult to tell which was the teacher and which was the student.
I did say 'top levels' and I think you out topped me! You are right, of course, a super-star will always outshine a top hobbyist. But not all pros are top names and they also compete - and sometimes (it was a sometimes) they are not so easy to distinguish.

Interestingly enough, my current teacher's ex-Professional partner sometimes referred to me as the "Pro/Am partner," but it was not anything I ever said.
You must be very good indeed for his pro-partner to make that comment. Maybe you should ask her what her thinking was? Perhaps she felt like I do that to call you a student at your level did not sufficiently recognize your talent and the extent of your training. For me the unfortunately aspect of the term 'student' is that you can never actually get anywhere. Amateur couples in pre-champ or open are still learning and may be at exactly the same level as the pro-am competitor - but they are no longer called students (the term novice is, to me at least, not so bad as it does at least imply that you learned something).

=I guess for me that "partner" means "equal peer," which is simply not ever going to be the case so long as I am dancing with the person who is teaching me. My "hang up" I suppose!
We all carry our own baggage of course - obviously the word 'student' to me refers to a more junior status than it does to you (for me its a work thing) while the word 'partner' seems to have a grander implication to you than it does to me. Its the general usage that is, of course, important and perhaps on the latter the general usage for 'partner' in ballroom is more formal than I think of it. I don't know. For me a dance 'partner' is someone that you work with on a one-on-one level to achieve a common goal - as appart from a student who is someone that is talking lessons in order to dance elsewhere. For me it is particularly significant that that in open pro-am you are judged not on your own but as a couple - as, in fact, a partnership.

Perhaps that explains better why I like the term pro-am partner. It encompasses much better than pro-am student a goal of dancing as a couple in competition. But its all sematics and we should each (pro included) use the terms that we feel most comfortable with.
 

Joe

Well-Known Member
#46
However, you are unlikely to be your teacher's only "pro/am partner," so referring to yourself as such is not entirely accurate. The woman [over there] could also be his "pro/am partner."
 

etp777

Active Member
#48
I'm kinda in both camps on this one. I will occasionally refer to my pro as my pro/am partner, or my teacher/partner, etc. But I'm also in laura's camp that I tend to be deathly afraid of being presumptuous (so that I err on side of too much caution and get told to shut up :) ).

I konw other people who are sensitive about this in other direction though. Friend of mine who was one of our top students at this studio has recently left here to begin teaching at another studio in area (her goal for years has been to eventually end up competing professionally, this is just the next step for her). She gets really upset when other teachers at the studio mention that she used to be a student. I don't consider that a bad thing, all pros were a student at one time, but it really bothers her. Even when i point out that Tony Dovolani (one of her favorite male pros), was a student at one time, and even in our same chain schools, it still doesn't seem to help.

Everyone has their own quirks/opinions.
 
#49
I'm kinda in both camps on this one. I will occasionally refer to my pro as my pro/am partner, or my teacher/partner, etc. But I'm also in laura's camp that I tend to be deathly afraid of being presumptuous (so that I err on side of too much caution and get told to shut up :) ).

I konw other people who are sensitive about this in other direction though. Friend of mine who was one of our top students at this studio has recently left here to begin teaching at another studio in area (her goal for years has been to eventually end up competing professionally, this is just the next step for her). She gets really upset when other teachers at the studio mention that she used to be a student. I don't consider that a bad thing, all pros were a student at one time, but it really bothers her. Even when i point out that Tony Dovolani (one of her favorite male pros), was a student at one time, and even in our same chain schools, it still doesn't seem to help.

Everyone has their own quirks/opinions.
That's interesting. Everyone was a student at one time. When I taught college courses, I was a student at the time. I had to teach as part of my internship. But I didn't mind being known as a student teacher or whatever you would have wanted to call me at the time. I had students that looked up to me, and thought if I could do it, then they could to. I was fine with that.

But no one can start from the top at any field in my opinion if that's what she's trying to have people think. I went to school with some young kids that graduated earlier in high school than everyone else, and became doctors that took over their family business. The thing is, they had to learn the basics like everyone else no matter how smart they were. So, even young smart kids that have the talent early have to learn some place. And even if you don't start as a student at a school, you have to learn from someone else, which means that you are still considered a student in my opinion anyways. I'm learning management skills from someone else that may lead me into a management role someday. I might not have learned them in school, but I still have to learn them somehow.
 

etp777

Active Member
#50
Exactly what I've tried to tell her, Spratt74. I think there are two reasons that she's especially sensitive about it though. First, her manager at new studio was her main pro for her first two years (think that's how long) here at my studio. Pro left my studio to manage new studio for other owners, and now friend has left my studio to go teach at the new studio. Secondly, I think she's sensitive about it becuase of fact that it is another FA studio, in same region, so a lot of the pros and students in region have seen her as a competing student last couple years, but she's really trying to make clear that she's not a student anymore that they saw in past, but is a teacher now, to mak esure the difference is clear. And that part I can understand too, that's part of reason she went to teach at new studio rather than teach at ours, as she felt (and she's right, I think) that it would be too hard to teach same group of students that you were a student with before. Honestly, even though i know she's a better dancer than I am, and she's helped me a ton working on steps, and particularly tweaking lead on steps in past, to make it more clera to her as a follow, first time I visited new studio and we were dancing and she decided to teach me a new step, my initial reaction without thinking was who was she to teach me. Wasn't meant as mean, and I didn't say it, just first thought when another student tried to not just help me tweak a move, but went into teacher mode and started to teach me new step. As soon as I realized what I was doing, fixed the attitude, and had lots of fun, but also realized she was very right in her decision to teach at another studio.

But she's still wrong to be so uptight about other pros mentioning she started as a student at another FA. :)
 

Laura

New Member
#51
Even when i point out that Tony Dovolani (one of her favorite male pros), was a student at one time, and even in our same chain schools, it still doesn't seem to help.
If he is still competing then he is still somebody's student. Dancers don't stop getting taught, even if they're tops in their country or in the world. My teacher is my teacher when he's teaching me, but when he goes to his own lessons he's the student.
 

etp777

Active Member
#52
Good point Laura. And that brings me back to correct what I said earlier, as she's still learning from her manager, as she's busy learning the more advanced syllabi, the new social bronze syllabus, and the leads on steps she doesn't know. Will point that out to her, thanks. :)
 

Laura

New Member
#53
My teacher introduces me to his Professional peers as his student. He says it with pride, so I have no issues with it. I wouldn't be competing with a teacher who didn't take pride in his students (and there are some out there who are like that).

Our lessons occasionally look and feel rather like the practice sessions I used to have with my Amateur partners, sometimes look like torture (i.e., when he makes me dance rounds by myself), and mostly look like lessons :)

Mentioning the designation "Amateur" puts me in mind of another comment I've seen...my last Amateur partner is a college instructor in a technical field (he's also a PhD student, yet another example where teachers can also be students). Anyway, his students once came across my web page where I mentioned him, and thought I was being derogatory by calling him my Amateur partner. He explained to him that no it wasn't derogatory, that we were Amateur competitors.

So, like "student," it seems that "amateur" is another word that is starting to accumulate negative connotations. Why is this? It's happening both inside and outside of dance, and thus is some kind of societal shift. I think it's possibly related to our society being so celebrity and pro-sports obsessed.
 
#54
It's interesting . . . when I competed Pro/Am, I was very sensitive about people who referred to my partner as my teacher - because he wasn't. We were amateur partners first, and when he decided to teach we wanted to continue dancing together. Thus pro/am. So for me, it was frustrating when people would assume he was my teacher despite us being very well-matched as a partnership (although I completely understand why they would - that is the norm, after all).

On the flip side, I was always too happy to point out our coach, as I was very proud to be her student.

It's just funny how people's perspectives change things . . .
 
#55
If he is still competing then he is still somebody's student. Dancers don't stop getting taught, even if they're tops in their country or in the world. My teacher is my teacher when he's teaching me, but when he goes to his own lessons he's the student.
Does your teacher agree with that term? When someone who has reached a recognized proficiency in a profession goes for additional training they are a student if it is NOT in their field. I don't think they are called students any more if they are getting additional training in their own field. For an extreme example, suppose Einstein went for some additional training in particle physics from the expert in that particular field and sat in on a class would you call him a student - a word that does not distinguish him from the undergrads in the same room? To do so would, I think, be taken as disrespect.

For me the word 'student' has a greater meaning than just 'one who is studying'. It also implies one who is at an early stage in their studies. In academia you are still a student after your first (batchelor) degree - 'a postgraduate student'. However, after a PhD you are a postdoctoral fellow or 'a trainee'. I would certainly not call a professors - or for that matter, a dance professional - a student.

Maybe its because I live so close to the term all the time that I feel there is a valid distinction and I am sensitive to the term.
 

Laura

New Member
#56
Like I said, I look at this from more of a martial arts point of view where there is a "master" and a "student," and where being the student of a good master is an honorable thing. I seek dancing enlightenment, and my "sensei" is helping me on this life-long quest. I honor him by calling him "teacher," and he honors me by trusting my ability to learn, pushing me past my own self-imposed limits, and supporting and praising my efforts and progress as appropriate.

Call it what you want.
 
#57
Like I said, I look at this from more of a martial arts point of view where there is a "master" and a "student," and where being the student of a good master is an honorable thing. I seek dancing enlightenment, and my "sensei" is helping me on this life-long quest. I honor him by calling him "teacher," and he honors me by trusting my ability to learn, pushing me past my own self-imposed limits, and supporting and praising my efforts and progress as appropriate.

Call it what you want.
thats an interesting and different perspective - reminds me of the 'grasshopper' in kung-fu-kane . So its all in 'whats a student to you?' :)
 

fascination

Site Moderator
Staff member
#59
yep..pro is into martial arts...where...as I understand it...it is a compliment hard won to be called a student of something..so I am always pleased to be called his student...it is but one of our many roles, but it is one I don't mind in the least..as he considers himself a student as well..and rightly so
 
#60
Can one hijack one's own thread?? Ah well.

Its interesting that quite a few dancers also do martial arts - I suppose its not that surprizing considering the obvious pluses with respect to fitness, control and flexibility, not to mention mental skills. But is the 'martial' part useful too or is it a hindrance to dancing? I mean, while some martial arts are internal, others are intended for one purpose: to main and kill. Maybe thats not the type that dancers go to?
 

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