Is Pro Am becoming a sport of only the wealthy?

3wishes

Well-Known Member
Well, I do know that every time, (which is not often) the lesson fee goes up, my pro has had an increase in lease, bills, etc etc much like our taxes, and there is every attempt to offset the increases by discounts, or sometimes free entries to comps, etc. None of us, where I dance, own a private jet, a real estate company, a radio station nor are any of us a You Tube sensation with millions of followers (just saying for imagination purposes) although, we are given access to many different opportunities to learn and improve, as my own life moves forward and changes I can applaude those who achieve their dance goals and have the monetary means, while I chose dance goals within my own pro/am means as I have also pared down the $$$, I am completely on board and mirror Fascination's comments.
 
I would say it's getting close to being "wealthy person's sport" in some ways........ Why? I agree with several of the posts above. :) I think frequent participation will weight results. Professionals will (of course) prefer to dance with those most able to afford a good salary and expenses, all other things being equal.
Being this is my first post here/background, I competed for a couple of years recently with a good professional, mostly west coast events, but also an east coast and a few Vegas events. I understand some have been competing for much longer...... :)
 
I can only speak for myself, but the people I compete against are very, very well off. Lawyers, doctors, dancers who have wealthy parents/spouses, dancers whose parents own/operate dance studios, wealthy grandparents, etc. It is very daunting to find yourself the only one who is struggling just to find the extra money for gas to get you there. Nevertheless, I have beaten the best, so it goes to show that even the poorest dancer out there can overcome what seems to be insurmountable odds.

As to your question, "will this sport eventually be just for the wealthy?" I think, for the majority of dancers, it is a sport for the wealthy already. All you have to do is look at the price of dresses, lessons, tickets, fees for coaches and realize that an average comp can set you back 3 to 5 thousand dollars, to know the answer.

"Is there anything we can do to make if affordable for all?" I think the answer is no. How do you convince a pro to lower his/her fees, when there are so many willing to pay what he/she wants? How do you convince the dress designers to lower their prices, when someone will come up and, without batting an eye, buy three dresses at once? How do you convince the photographer/videography to slash their prices? The answer is, that you can't. It's free enterprise and the dancer is basically at the whim of ballroom pricing.

I have had a very difficult time paying for my ballroom dancing. I work and every single penny goes into my dancing, which I hope will someday be my career. I have sacrificed a lot for it. Am I bitter that I have struggled so hard, while watching wealthy dancers get carte blanche? Of course. I'll be honest..it stings. But this is my life, my situation, and I have faith in God and myself to get me where I want to go. I like to think that I am in a refiner's fire right now. I hope that my hardships will shape me into a better person; one who, if blessed with a dancing career, will be able to remember what it was like to struggle and be able to help the less financially blessed dancer.

^^This was very reassuring, for someone coming from a similar background. Thank you for sharing your confidence!
 
Supposing we are talking about any pro in the final for Standard or Latin at the US Championships, Embassy, etc... every student their paid at least the equivalent of a middle class family income for one year for their own dancing that year. The lesson rate for the pros in the final is $100+ per 45 minute lesson.

Now assuming that your goal is just to compete, and it is not important to gain a national title, it can be done much cheaper. You could take 1 lesson per week, and buy clothing made overseas, and do it all for less than $4000 in one year.

Additionally, with USA Dance competitions potentially making a comeback, there could be some even better deals to be had. I would look forward to some pressure on prices wherever that may be found.

The example I made above is a stretch. Ndca competitions don't really cater to people who don't have a good deal of money to spend. As far as I'm concerned, I would love to see divisions where it cost $50 to compete and you have a lot of people who mainly take group lessons. There are other places in the world where it is much cheaper to compete.

But in today's environment Unwritten requirements include expensive Hotels where simple entry to ballroom often tops $100, each person wearing at least $2,000 worth of clothes, just dancing for 1 minute sets you back $40, etc
 

RiseNFall

Well-Known Member
Now assuming that your goal is just to compete, and it is not important to gain a national title, it can be done much cheaper. You could take 1 lesson per week, and buy clothing made overseas, and do it all for less than $4000 in one year.
Your math is off. ;) I am that category--not trying to win a national title, spend less than $40,000 per year, but do take more than one lesson a week even at $100+ per lesson. I compete less than I would if my budget were larger, but I decided the lessons were more to the point for me than competing more.
 
Your math is off. ;) I am that category--not trying to win a national title, spend less than $40,000 per year, but do take more than one lesson a week even at $100+ per lesson. I compete less than I would if my budget were larger, but I decided the lessons were more to the point for me than competing more.
Too high or too low? :)
 
It's sad, really. I competed a few years ago as am/am - about $40 per competition to enter, about $100 per week for a few private lessons , lots of practice in-between lessons.... oh those golden days...
....
My pro just asked me about my dance goals and suggested to compete pro/am with him. I did a quick math as well - at least $25,000 per year (most likely more) including weekly lessons that he insists I need to do more often. One can get a decent education in some reputable profession for that kind of money. So I question whether it's worth doing. I am not after a national title, I am just trying to keep up with what I love to do, and even though I can maybe afford this kind of money, I am not wealthy by any standards and the money I do have came from long hours of hard work.

So for me, the question is whether I should continue to dance. The more I think about it, the more it sounds like I will have to find another hobby, because I can't justify that much money to be spent on a hobby and other forms of ballroom like social dancing or group classes are not for me. I suppose I can continue doing one lesson per week without any goals, just to keep myself alive, sort of. Or how about finding an amateur partner? (yeah, right...)
 
Considering the amount I spend to compete in pro/am, I often find myself wondering how much more I could do if amateur partners were not unicorns where I live. I find pro/am very limiting because of the cost and also find it extremely frustrating to know that my entry fees are really just subsidizing amateur couples so they can compete for less. There are certainly other things and ways I would like to be supporting dance, but for now, pro/am is the only option.
 
I am from Canada, and it is a bit different here. Am/am is the main focus of comps and I have been present at meetings of the local dancesport organization where they have laughed about how they only have pro/am at their comps so that they make enough money in registrations for the comp to run and cover their expenses. When you consider that pro/am students pay an average of $40/dance and am/ams pay per event (and sometimes with a max of entry costs--at least here Am/ams pay a max of $50 for an entire comp and multiple events entered), one of us is paying almost 10 times more to dance. I realize the situation is different in the US, at least for NDCA, but there is still a huge disparity between the costs for pro/am and am/am.
 
Agreed, Am/am is bigger. It also really depends where you are. In Western Canada, it is almost all am/am, with pro/am slowing growing. My understanding is that t is similar in Ontario and Quebec, but more divided by politics there, although I am not familiar with the current situation.
 

JudeMorrigan

Well-Known Member
@Spookisgirl Your entry fees are subsidizing amateur couples? Where'd you get that from? Most NDCA competitions consider am/am an after thought.
At least for am/am's competing in open categories, I would argue that it's true in the States as well. Sure, it's only the championship level dancers (and frequently only the adult champ dancers) who get prestigious spots on the schedule. But the big, fancy, luxurious NDCA-style comps with massive vendor halls wouldn't exist in their current form without the money that the pro-am students poor into the system. Now, whether or not that luxury means anything to you is an entirely reasonable question. Personally, I'd be all for more bare-bones style competitions that aren't necessarily held in fancy hotel ballrooms. So I consider it perfectly reasonable for someone to not necessarily *want* that subsidization. But as is for now - yeah. I'd say pro-am dancers subsidize the heck out of the am-am and pro-pro couples.
 
I also agree about being willing to forgo the 'perks' of fancy hotels and even huge 'top student' awards for something more bare bones and more affordable, but it seems that is a minority feeling. The system is what it is. I seriously doubt there will be any change any time soon.
 
I am also curious how you see student/teacher events at USADance comps being likely to reduce pro/am fees? My experience (and it is very limited!) is that student/teacher entry fees are already basically the same as pro/am entry fees. The market already tolerates such big fees, so why would any organizer reduce them? (that said, pro/am fees in my region are an average of $5-$10 cheaper than elsewhere--and I have seen lower fees for events in Quebec as well).
 

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