There is a lack of information about what one can do as a Pro-Am competitor. Mostly, because there are so many things you can do as a student athlete and there is not time to discuss all the options in a handful of lessons.
Plus, when we (your teachers) start to talk about things other than how to stand up straight, you all get The Look in your eyes where we can hear you mentally counting the seconds of lesson we’re “wasting” as we try to tell you about policy changes, performance opportunities, “The Way Things Are”, and schedule coordinations…
But I digress.
Be The Champ!
The Number One thing that is fun to know is that you can be a National Champion at any level: Bronze, Silver, Open. Granted, you’re going to be an ass-kicker at any level if you win a title; you’re not going to just waltz in to USDC (United States DanceSport Championships) after a handful of lessons and win the Bronze Smooth National Championship, but being a Bronze-y does not exclude you from Big Title Fun.
Keeping in mind your level and “Dancing Down”, fairly different track is earning a Top Student award. Most people will tell you – anyone can just buy that award. While Top Student awards (along with Top Studio and more or less Top Teacher awards) are based mainly on how many entries you have, have you ever tried dancing 200 heats? With many of them being semi-finals? How about 300? 400? IT’S INSANE! Think ultra-marathoners. Think blisters, chafing, muscle fatigue, tiny bits of sleep, malnutrition, and dehydration, and UGH. It takes a dedicated (and yes, rather affluent) dancer to make that a goal.
You can compete every weekend. You might need your pro to be single, but if the competition bug has bit you hard and you have the time and funds to do it, you could hit a different ballroom competition Every. Single. Weekend of the year.
You can supplement your Pro-Am training by delving into the amateur world. Often Pro-Am dancers who can find an amateur partner do quite well in Am-Am competitions, mostly because of math. Yeah, math! If the majority of your dance training has been focused on how to improve you, and you dance against people whose lessons are split 50/50 between partners, it probably bodes well for you. [Oh my gosh, Ams, get your undies out of a bunch. It can go the other way too, with the amateurs doing well in a Pro-Am partnership mostly because “OH SH*T, THAT PRO IS SO EASY TO DANCE WITH.”]
And even if you never hit the competition floor, dancing with another student demands that you know your business and that you’re not relying on your super-awesome pro to fix your [teeny, tiny, minuscule] mistakes.
Be the “Touring Bee”
You can hit a tour. There are several circuits on the Pro-Am scene these days. From the long-standing Dancers Cup Tour, the up-and-coming Global Dancesport Series, and smaller, location-based ones like the California Gold Rush DanceSport Series and the Paradise Dancesport Tour, you can aim for Top Student award dedicated to series participants. Or maybe you just enjoy the perks of a certain group and want to support their innovations. Either way, it’s a nice way to show some pro-am love.
You can win a special ticket to the Ohio Star Ball. If you win a “Best of the Best” event at certain competitions, you get a “free”entry to the Ohio Star Ball to perform a show dance number against other winners from other competitions that dance at your level. The “free” part is relative, because you still pay your expenses and all that. But Prestige! Honor! OSB!
And yet, you don’t have to be “All That!” to enjoy it
You can dance dance dance with your teacher for all your lessons, and never learn a lick of technique ever. I super-de-duper don’t recommend this route (at least as a conscious choice), but there are some people out there who just want to groove with someone who knows how to groove. But don’t choose this one, mkay?
You can never touch a competition floor. You can learn how to be the best dancer in the world and never have the urge to do a move in a dance competition. You can have fabulous routines that you never perform for anyone but little ol’ you and your instructor. And that’s okay.
Do you have enough options now? ¡Go for it, mis estudiantes!