Pro Vs. Am Attitude and Perspective

While I was at Embassy Ball, I was interviewed by FloDance, a division of FloSports. It’s like an online sports channel, focused on dance and specifically ballroom. The site has really great content with a mix of articles and videos, including two articles I wrote for them (check them out here and here)! I’m excited about this site and hope it brings more awareness to this art/sport, as well as brings to light issues that are overlooked, like the one that inspired this post.

The interview wasn’t random; someone had contacted me about the possibility. But we hadn’t planned on doing the interview at Embassy. It was just happy circumstances as the interviewer ran into me and Teacher’s partner while she was doing my makeup. Since we were both there for the day, we arranged to meet after my single dances were done.

I believe my interview will be published later this month, but clips of it were included in another video titled “The True Cost of Being a Dancer.” You can watch it here:

As the only pro-am dancer in the video, I feel very grateful and honored to be the voice of those who financially support the pro dancers while pursuing their own passion. I hope I represented the group well! I found the juxtaposition of my comments and the pros’ interesting though, or rather the expression of said comments. It intrigued me enough that I felt compelled to blog about it.

“It’s expensive, straight up”

That’s the first interview comment you hear in the video, and it’s me. Keeping it real over here!

Three professional couples were also interviewed about the money aspect and they were all just that: professional. Even in the way they spoke to the interviewer, they were calm, collected and even-toned. This was a serious and practical topic for them, maybe one that they didn’t really like to discuss. Me on the other hand – my tone changed with nearly every statement, my face was animated (why can’t I get it to do that while I’m dancing?). I laughed at the ridiculous expense (if only to keep from crying).

Maybe it was because I had no experience being interviewed and they did. No one told me to not get too excited or animated on camera, but maybe it’s a thing you know from experience? I think the difference in attitude and how we acted on camera (me vs. the pros) came from our different perspectives though. Ballroom dancing is their career. As they say in the video, the costs of coachings and competitions are investments. They are justifiable investments that can lead to opportunities for career advancement. They’re also investments with little financial return. Pro dancers must teach in order to support their professional dance career. It’s not a funny topic or something to get emotional about. It’s business.

Ballroom dancing is my passion. I am working to make it a source of income one day, but for now, I rely on a different job to pay the bills. Maybe it’s easier for me to laugh at the expense because if I can’t afford it, I miss out on some dancing. If the pro can’t afford it, their career might be over. But I’m certainly not laughing when I have to tell Teacher I need an extra week or two to pay for the next batch of lessons or I’m missing yet another competition because I couldn’t put the money together in time. I’m not laughing when my passion for dancing goes unfulfilled because the financial cost of admission to the ballroom world is too high.

We all chose this passion though. Well, to be fair, it really chose us. But we decided to answer its call. The pros decided to take the big risk of asking their passion to also be their livelihood. We all decided the cost was worth it. It’s worth making whatever sacrifices we need to make in order to get out on that floor and dance.

Personally, I hope I hold onto my jaded sense of humor about the whole money issue. We’re all in similar boats, so why be so serious? Yes, I go through periods when the stress overwhelms me and I lose the ability to laugh about it. I struggle with the feeling that I don’t belong because of my financial status. To help me through those times, I focus on my passion and my personal journy.

I also hope I don’t lose the sense of novelty at wearing rhinestones on a Thursday morning. It’s those little things and those brief, beautiful moments of performance with your dance partner that make up the magic of ballroom.

The financial cost of ballroom is an important topic and shouldn’t be avoided. I’m glad FloDance decided to talk about it openly and from multiple sides. It’s something every ballroom dancer has to deal with, whether you’re a top pro or a newcomer student. But we shouldn’t let it extinguish our passion like a wet towel thrown over a fire.

If you’re struggling with the finances of ballroom, don’t forget about Dance Diaries: Ballroom Budgeting. In it, I share how I fit ballroom in my budget and the numerous tips and tricks I use to manage or reduce the costs. When you download the book, you also get access to the actual spreadsheet tool I still use to make sure I have enough money to fund my dancing. So check it out and then go dancing!


5 thoughts on “Pro Vs. Am Attitude and Perspective

  1. BCBallroomdancer says:

    You did really well in the video, don’t cut yourself short (And advising people on interview techniques is part of my job, so know that’s genuine).

    I liked the topic they covered, but I hope they will post a longer interview. I find this one very focused on the pros and stops short of pointing out that pro/am fees subsidize am/am and pro comps. We also have frequently have a mandatory number of single dances to ‘qualify’ for events with paid prizes–and pay more of the entry fees of the required dances than the potential prize offered (Not the case in other divisions). We also tend to pay per dance vs event (And as you point out, pay twice–thd entry fee and pro fee).

    I enjoy the Flo Dance videos and look forward to their future posts!

    I don’t mean to discourage anyone, but I remember being so surprised to discover the real cost of competing. This video is a good start–it just needs to go further!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheGirlWithTheTreeTattoo says:

      There is definitely so much more involved in the costs that you just can’t get to in a short video like they cut together. Even the article I wrote for them on the cost of pro-am really only scratches the surface. I remember saying half jokingly during my interview “how do I explain the costs without scaring people away?” I also remember the woman who interviewed me wasn’t aware of all of the costs involved in pro-am. They had this cost video planned, but only from the pro’s perspective. I feel like it was serendipity that she ran into me at Embassy so we could do the interview then and she could hear the pro-am side before this video was cut together. I have a feeling they won’t include much more of what I said about the costs in my interview video, just judging from the typical length they’re producing. I talked a LOT, haha, and the money was just one part. But we’ll see!
      And thank you! It means a lot to hear you say I did well since this is what you do! I just thought the difference between how I appeared to act vs. everyone else was so obvious, I had to comment on it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • The Thespian says:

      Don’t forget that the membership fees paid by social dancers in ballroom organizations often go toward funding the competition side of the organization, rather than being put back into promoting the social dance side of the house. This is a complaint I hear mentioned all the time. Let’s not forget how much the groups organizing the competitions have to put in up front to make the event happen in the first place…
      Competitive dancing is really expensive to lots of people, more than just the Pro training the competitor and the competitor themselves. We all need to be mindful of those facts. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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