In the thread on fees I raised the question of whether we as the Am part of the Pro/Am partnership should create our own organization. There are already ones that consider the interests of professionals and of amateurs - but none specifically for our branch of the sport. I think this is sorely needed but would love to hear from others on whether it is a good idea and, if so, on how it should be done.
Issues that I would like discussed and standards set include:
1. Recommended fee structures and appropritate fee items (the original reason for this - plese take a look at the 'Current Pro-Am competition fees' thread. 2. Recommendations for organization of competitions. Including, catagories, age groups and which number of levels danced.* 3. Standards for dance steps and dance levels. While the teaching levels for AM/AM are generally accepted, we have our own catagories that are currently without rules - for example Bronze-Open (whatever that really means!). Perhaps this is a good thing (for example, we do open steps in this catagory, how else would one have such fun at my level?).
I am sure you can think of others. The dance level one above (marked with an *) is one of my pet peeves: in one competition you can only do two consecutive levels (Bronze, intermediate Silver) while in the next you can do the same as the Am/Am compes (Bronze, Silver). Personally, I favor the latter to keep the P/A and A/A in sync.
I would be very interested in everyone's thoughts on this. If we agree that there is need we should first, get together a group that would like to be involved in leading this. Next we would need a means of registration with the immediate goal of create a secure mailing list so that some of our issues can be discussed openly.
Just to state at the outset: the objective here is to promote this unique sport and create a entity with a positive spirit that can speak for and represent the AM members and can encourage its growth.
I don't know whats got into me - I had no intention of getting so deep into this. But, from what I have seen both here and elsewhere there really is a need for an AM/pro organization.
Here I go, replying to myself! One sure way to get a good thread going...
I suppose I should have delved further into the previous posts here before posting on something that must have been thought about before. Sure enough, it was raised by Laura in a thread started in March 2001 - one that runs for 11 pages!! I'm afraid I have not read the whole thing yet (I skipped to the last page, dated May 2003, hey, thats how I read novels too) to find that there was no real consensus - just the conclusion that rules for ProAm remains under the NDCA and that USABDA is not involved.
So be it - but that really has no bearing on what I am suggesting here. And that is a group for the Am part. It may not have clout at the legal level - but if it is well supported it would still have a voice and would provide a forum for the AMs in the ProAm relationship. Who knows where it would go from there.
Hi Elise, This is a really complex issue, so that's probably why there may not yet be any takers!
OK, we'll give it a shot (but don't shoot us if you don't agree! )
In principal, we think that there does need to be a "Pro/Am" AM organization. We specifically state an "AM" organization, because we assume that for Pros who offer or do Pro-Am, it is another service that they offer, so in business terms, they will offer services to those clientele that want them. It is not necessary for the Pro to develop a separate organization ... with the exception that within their own Professional Association/Organization, if there may be issues that they want addressed.
The AM on the other hand, if they decide to organize themselves, the first thing that they have to determine is ... which body would they lobby? Would it be the "Professional" association (e.g., CDTA or NDCA, or WDDSC) ... or would it be the "Amateur" association (CADA, USABDA, IDSF).
Well, Pro-Am is typically under the mandate of the Professional body ... not sure (as things keep changing politically in various organizations), but think the Amateur associations had indicated they were not interested in Pro-Am.
So thinking through, it would make sense to form a group that lobbies the "Professional" bodies.
OK, so now let's say that enough people are interested in creating this body ... what would be the most efficient strategy for founders of this organization ... like yourself, Elise! (Aside: We always have deep respect for people like yourself who are more "visionaries" and have the passion/guts to take a stand, so bravo to you for even "considering" this!)
Well, it seems that the most efficient thing to do is to organize
(1) the "Ams" in the traditional contract studios. We're assuming that ProAm competitions and teaching system within the contract studios are more systematized (i.e., for "Profit" potential, as they run their franchise as a business model, which usually means maximizing profits ... and in our opinion there's NOTHING wrong with this especially in a free market system/economy.)
(2) the "Ams" in private studios. We don't have actual statistics (it would be interesting to find this out), but we assume that they would be a smaller group, proportionately speaking.
OK, so now that we've kind of identified potential members (again, just thinking out loud, so please don't shoot us if you disagree!) ... the next step is to find a vision/mission statement. You've started thinking through this already ... so the key question will be ... do the other participants whom you want to organize into a powerful lobby/interest group ... share your vision?
Well, the vision has to be simple enough for people to understand the big picture, and rally behind ... even before getting down to the nitty gritty details!
This, we haven't though through yet ... but hey, it would be fun.
Should we brainstorm a bit about the Vision of this Pro-Am organization? What do we want to see this new body become/actualize do?
Think this is critical first step ... it may have arose out of perceived injustices/issues in pricing, judging, expense reimbursement ... things that affect the pocket book. But, is there a bigger VISION of what you and founders of this Pro-Am organization want to see happen?
Boy, it must have been quite a while since I checked out this section of the board! This is a subject that is quite near and dear to my heart.
Amateurs who dance in this division have been homeless for so long....The Amateur organization doesn't wanna know from us, and the Professional organization just wants to oversee pro-ams to make sure they capture EVERY SINGLE REVENUE STREAM POSSIBLE, now and in the future, in perpetuity...Amen. There used to be a LOT of condecension towards Pro-Am that spilled onto this board on more than one occasion in the past.
Many used to feel that pro-ammers were not real dancers, not real competitors, just a revenue stream, and last but not least (a good old favorite): old lady dancers, lonely and desperate for their moment of glory, that pros drag around the comp floor.
So much has changed. We have JUST started to get a little more respect. Well-known pros have started participating, and generally the dancing has reflected that.
NDCA and USABDA look after their constituents...that's why they exist. Now it's time for pro-ams to take more control over their competitive futures. An Organization that....
Establishes and Promotes Pro-Am as a viable respectable division of the sport. One can compete pro-am just for they heck of it, or if you plan to get an amateur partner, and want a platform to hone your technical and performance skills.
Discusses and Evaluates fee structures/Oversight (this is a very difficult one for me to get into...I happen to feel that if one happens to be dancing with a Professional World Class competitor, one should expect to pay more than the average local competitor) - The more interesting exploration would be into the fee structures at some of the chain/contract studios, and the VAST sums they charge for the honor of competing with one of their professionals. That really gets out of control!
Competitor Oversight: What happens to competitors who sandbag (purposely dance at levels WAY below their ability) in order to try and guarantee themselves a 'first?' I'm not talking about 1 level (or half level) below (some competitors use this to warm up) - The open or gold level dancer that dances Advanced Bronze or Silver just compromises the integrity of everyone competing in this division.
Anyway, these are my initial thoughts. I know others have BETTER ideas and philosophies re: Pro-Am and how its run that I'd LOVE to hear.
Hi Sambakid (and DanceScape, whoever that is behind the green curtain!!),
There is two of us so its official! The first thing we need is a name. Folling around with the options I came up with American professional/Amateur Ballroom Dancing Association. I use the lower case pro and upper case Am to make it obvious that this is a group to represent the amateur half. This reduces nicely to 'ApABDA' which is distinct from, and yet has some similarities to USABDA but has the advantage of being inclusive of all nations this side of both puddles (hey, else I can't join ).
I just stopped writing this and decided to try to draft something out for discussion. Since Ithink this is important I will put it in a separate post. See you in a second.......
Here is a first draft for an AM/pro organization. Please note I wrote this without any more input than that has already been posted on this thread by Sambakid and mysterious 'Dancecape' caped super-hero. Thus, it is a SUGGESTION for further discussion - but I would love to hear from everyone!! [See also note at bottom...]. ***************
American professional/Amateur Ballroom Dancing Association. (ApABDA)
Mission statement. "ApABDA represents and promote Amateur ballroom dancers competing with Professional partners in dancesport or performing in event presentations."
Definitions: pro/AM: An amateur ballroom dancer who partners a paid professional with the purpose of competing in dancesport or for an event presentation. Professional: A trained ballroom dancer who provides instruction and/or dancesport competition or performance partnership for a fee.
Inclusion: ApABDA membership: any Amateur dancer may join but the Association but its representation and interests are restricted to their dancesport partnership with a professional ballroom dancer.
Areas of Interest: 1. Promoting Pro/Am ballroom dancing as a serious but entertaining, competitive dancesport event with exemplary standards of organization, participation and quality. 2. Any issues pertaining to dancesport between an amateur and their professional partner. 3. Recommendations on fee structures (see Exclusions below). 4. Recommendations on competition structure and standards. For example: age and level categories; number of levels danced; level promotion 5. Establishing standards for dance steps and dance levels. In most cases these will defer to standards set by professional dance associations. ApABDA will, however, make recommendations for competition levels that are unique for this dance form (e.g. Bronze or Silver Open).
Exlusions: 1. ApABDA is a resource for the Amateur and may provide advise and recommendations on their professional relationship with their instructor but will not be directly involved in any professional, legal or personal interactions within that relationship.
2. Beyond providing advice on fee structure and appropriate fees, ApABDA does not and will not interfere in any aspect of the financial relationship between an Amateur and their professional instructor. These relationships are covered by contract law which is outside the scope of the Association (see also Exclusions 1 above).
3. ApABDA is pleased to provide an opinion to the dance Instructor and invites but does not represent the professional partner in the dance relationship. *********************
We have had 44 views on this thread but as yet only three participants. We need to hear from the drop ins - both if you think this is a good idea and also if you think it is a bad one. Also, we would LOVE to hear form any pros that are passing by - how do you react to this? Is it a good thing or do you see this as a potential problem? Also, if this does go forward would you like to help in its organization?
One more thing: if this does take off we will almost immediately need a confidential discussion area. Thus, (if you read this far!!) will Dancescape provide us with a registered members-only forum? It seems only appropriate that we should create that on this web site.
Yes, no problem at all about creating a separate "Registered Members" only forum area.
What we can do to create more awareness is to move this thread temporarily in the "GENERAL DANCE DISCUSSIONS".
Also, in our next issue of DanceScape eZine, we can highlight your thread and invite discussion/feedback.
The important thing for us is that you really do have a PASSIONATE voice and this we totally respect and LOVE. Our philosophy has always been founded on people who have opinions (respectful of others, of course! )
After the Holiday season, we can continue to brainstorm here. We have a large mailing list of members already, though not all Pro-Am so maybe we could create a mailing list system dedicated to Pro-Amer's interesting in discussing Pro-Am issues (and not tied into any formal Professional or Amateur body so we can keep our independent thoughts, not influenced by current "politics" if possible).
If you could give us until January, we have a lot of things on our plate this month!
Thank you for your support and interest in this - and I think you are absolutely right with respect to getting this out in the open for more exposure and discussion. I am proposing something quite novel - but also something that could rankle in some quarters unless, again as you point out, it is handled with tact and discression. Pro/Am is not only dancing it is also a key element of a number of business relationships and a new organizational entity, however well intentioned, would inevitably have some effect (hopefully all positive!) on these relationships.
If done correctly, however, a pro/AM association should serve to draw more dancers into this area, increasing the business scope for professional instructors. The only income sources it might negatively impact are the small minority that truly deserve it - and then only by enlightening by providing better ideas. In actuallity, I think this mailing lists has already broached this issue - the discussions on payment fairness have been one of the most popular threads in the ProAm area.
As you stress, the main reason to get the new group suggestion into the open is to prompt discussion by everyone that may be interested/affected. The fact is that I have proposed a new entity based on a discussion thread of only three people (perhaps a few more depending on the number of people called Dancescape ). No one could create such an entity this alone - and it would make no sense at all to do so - besides, I have a very demanding professional job (professor and scientist). I've put effort into defining the association early very much on purpose: to provide a solid discussion start and to try to avoid some of the anticipated (and distracting) objections. Besides, lets face it, 'visionaries' (as you so excessively generously dub me) are exciting - but also a bit scary, right??
I like most of your suggestions - and will demure to the others based simply on the fact that you obviously know what you are doing . Thus, highlighting on the magazine is lovely (thanks!) and creating a closed Pro/Am discussion forum is very generous - and I agree making it independent of any organization is appropriate and consistent with the rest of your site. [However, when the Association itself is created (throwing caution to the wind) it will probably have to have a home elsewhere.]
The only one I was not sure of was whether this should be shifted to the General List before a few more P/A have had an opportunity to comment. I would hate to see the idea swamped (and possibly killed) by non-P/A concerns interests prior the creation of some sort of consensus amongst its constituents. Might it be a good idea to do both? Leave the thread on the P/A list for development amongst the immediate community and start a new one on the General Dance Discussions for just that? Either you or I could write the first entry, its fine by me.
Thanks again for the support on this - and your very positive attitude!
No problem, Elise! We'll continue to leave this topic thread here.
Also, if you wish, you can private message other Pro-Am members directly by clicking on their names, and then inviting them to a private conversation. Since it's Christmas, a lot may be busy but even if you wish to introduce yourselves to some of the other Pro-Amer's who have contributed in the past for feedback.
I've thought about this in the past and figured that, sooner or later, it would come to pass. My support of such an organization would depend on what kind of role it decided to play in the dance community. I can think of some very exciting contributions it could make and . . . I can think of some very destructive ones as well. I don't have time to expand on much now, but here are some quicky random thoughts in response to your posts:
1. I don't care for the name, but don't have time right now to come up with other suggestions until after the holidays. 2. Suggest you eliminate the word, entertaining, and incorporate the words challenging and enjoyable instead. 3. Suggest the focus remain on competitive pro/am. 4. Do you envision an organization that is educational or regulatory in nature? 5. Don't think amateurs should be setting up professional fee structures and making decisions about what constitutes appropriate fees for professionals. 6. Suggest "alignment" with the pros (NDCA) as opposed to the amateurs (USABDA). Intent should not be to foster an adversarial relationship with the pros. That would be counterproductive to what pro/am is. Amateurs do not support pro/am. 7. Would like to see a pro/am representative to NDCA. The right individual could provide highly respected input to the industry. 8. Established standards for dance figures & levels already exist through ISTD, etc. No need to reinvent the wheel. 9. Variation between competitions exists for a number of reasons. These are organizer choices based on their own unique events and demographics. Education of uninformed pro/am's might help here. 10. There are some very accomplished people in the dance world (both pro and pro/am) who have already contributed immensely to the world of pro/am. Their guidance would be invaluable. 11. If you want an idea of the scope of pro/am dancing in the US, just check out the OSB's Super Bowl leaderboard. 12. This could be a great educational resource and support system for pro/am's.
P.S. The earliest reference I've seen to pro/am is in the beginning of Phyllis Haylor's (sp?) book. I believe an early world champion couple was actually a lady pro with an amateur man. Would love to see an interview with someone who was around when this took place.