Why do you dance (competitive ballroom)? Why you compete?

I cannot define to myself what are the reasons of spending so much $$$ and time on dance lessons, other than addiction and the obsessive (unrealistic) idea to reach the level of professionals (okay, open amateur finalists)... well, at least getting to the point where I am ok with watching my own dancing. It all seems to result in less and less confidence, and more and more crying, despite continuous improving (I believe). I am very tempted to do pro/am competitions again, but I need to figure out WHY. So, I am wondering - what is the main thing and motivation for others? Especially, for the partnerless, lonely, middle-age women like me, he-he. :D


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The best thing to do is to set a budget before you jump back into it. Draw a line on what you're willing to spend and be firm with it. I find that it usually helps me justify the cost a bit more (I was going to spend it anyway).

Setting goals for yourself also helps... Such as being in the final of an open level competition in a year helps a lot to.


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@Lai Lai why is it an unrealistic idea to reach the level of pros or open amateur finalists? If you've got the talent, desire, drive, time, money, and are willing to put in the work, it could happen. I dance pro-am (reluctantly) and have that as a clearly stated goal... though admittedly I had to style-specialize and give up pretty much every other hobby to make it a possibility. It also took me about 2 years after I started seriously thinking about it to be able to say that aloud.

That said, if that's you're only goal and it's several years to a decade + away... well, you're setting yourself up for a long tough slog. IMHO, you need to break that goal into more manageable chunks, where you can see the progression to your big goal, like:
1) Dance all 5/4/9/10 dances at the same competition.
2) Dance all 5/4/9/10 dances at the same competition a moderate-high level (strong silver/early gold with decent technique).
3) Dance all 5/4/9/10 dances at the same competition, incorporating some open choreo, without being dead at the end of a round. Start dancing open scholarship.
4) Dance all 5/4/9/10 dances at the same competition, with open choreo. Show flashes of performing.
5) Perform all 5/4/9/10 dances at the same competition, dancing all open routines.
6) Consistently perform all 5/4/9/10 dances at the same competition. Consistently podium in open scholarship. Win the odd comp.
Interim goals help mitigate or reduce the frequency/severity the crying.

In answer to your questions:

I started competing because it seemed like a fun thing to try, gave me something to work toward, and gave me a reason to dress like a princess.

I kept competing because it gave me a focus and my improvement started to compound. I wanted to see how good I could get if I really tried.

I keep competing because it feels like where I belong, and after how hard I've worked, I deserve to be out there. I can watch my own dancing - and sometimes even like what I see - but I sometimes have trouble watching open amateur, because that's where I want to be so badly it hurts. Pro-am is my 'better than nothing' option, but I definitely have days where I question if it is enough, especially given the not-insignificant (budgeted for) financial outlay.
I have finally, seriously, committed to doing two competitions this winter. As others have stated, I am using these to help provide more structure and focus to my training programming than I otherwise would have. I am also hoping that by placing myself in a more stressful situation, I can more easily see what I am successfully ingraining in muscle memory, and what I am not. I also would like to use the video from the comps to help my Pro figure out where we should focus next.

As these are both local comps, I am not sure how much competition there will be (although I believe one is at least medium size), and I'm not sure how helpful the actual competition results will be in helping me understand how well (or poorly) I'm dancing. But at least for now the competition aspect is secondary to my other goals.
@Lai Lai why is it an unrealistic idea to reach the level of pros or open amateur finalists? If you've got the talent, desire, drive, time, money, and are willing to put in the work, it could happen.
Mostly because of age. Not enough time, and money as well. I have a day job thanks to which I can afford dance lessons. Not sure if I got the talent.
I don't see how one can set goals in a sport which does not have any measurable criteria. Nothing stops me to dance all 5 dances at open level competition right away, as no prerequisite rules exist. In a sports where judging is subjective and can depend on many things other than my performance at the moment (so I've heard). If at least the score system was used, instead of just a placement...

I think my biggest issue with competitions is the cost/benefit ratio. Spending $1000 for 10 minutes of dancing feels so unreasonable.

Just another mountain to climb.. ya gotta do something healthy.
Another mountain to climb is good. Except, sometimes it feels mentally unhealthy. :)
Hi @Lai Lai, you could do a Medals Exam, for the syllabus levels, to get an objective metric of your progress. We have Medals or "Stars" exams several times a year. The feedback sheets have useful comments written and numeric on several dimensions of each dance, by 4 or 5 judges. It's an awesome resource. The "judges" are not real judges; they are open level intercollegiate competitors. But they write accurate and relevant critique on my and my partners' syllabus level mistakes. It's no cake walk. Most do not pass their Stars the first time. It's not like at a commercial studio where they will not even put you up for your Star until they're certain you'll pass. Although I'm sure that kind of Medal Exam is also useful; that is not offered locally.

I agree a scoring system like gymnastics or diving would mean more to me than just placement when the competitive field is small or uncontested. I've seen sometimes in bronze you can dance for "proficiency" at least, and get a sort of a score. Aren't they doing that now in WDSF?
The reason I dance is to fulfill a lifelong dream. I did ballet as a child, little bit of ballroom, old time, highland dance etc. Watched dance on TV for years and then I raised 5 kids (by myself). My daughter took up dance as an adult, burlesque and latin. I would always go and watch her, then I asked myself if I loved it so much, why am I watching? May was my first competition, just did ballroom, and October is my next, dancing ballroom, latin and showcase. Just about to stařt making all the costumes and basically having the time of my life!


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I enjoy competing as well. It helps me set goals for my dancing and it's fun! It also helps to see the changes in me from the inside, as competing requires a level of vulnerability that I was not comfortable with. It also requires a level of understanding how to process results.. both the good and the not so good. I've also developed an entire network of friends purely from dancesport. The cost is the only downside but I try to make adjustments in my budget where I can and work more OT to cover some expenses. It's a commitment for sure and only should be done if you love it. My particular age group is never uncontested but if you are in the younger age group I would suggest going to the bigger comps where you will have more competitors.
I do pro/am, I am middle-age, but I am not lonely. Lonely has nothing to do with it.

I ask myself the same question (i.e., why do I compete pro am?) very often and the answers usually are:
- I'm crazy,
- If I don't, I will regret later,
- It's hard,
- I am not bad at it,
- I am stubborn,
- I can,
- I love to learn,
- It makes my non-dancing same-age friends jealous,
- It keeps me younger,
- It is one of the very few things in life that I still look forward to (beats vacations!)

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