I'm just going to throw this down in the first line: being a professional ballroom dancer means you teach ballroom dancing.
OF COURSE, there are exceptions, but generally speaking, if you decide to "go pro", you make your living by teaching. Deal with it. If you don't want to teach for a living, I suggest you do not go pro.
Let's start with the myths of being a professional, just to get those out of the way...
The Myths of Being a Professional Ballroom Dancer
- It's glamorous. Nay. It sucks. At least at the beginning. When you start as a pro, you're at the bottom of the totem pole, you don't have any students, and therefore you don't make any money. YET, you're still expected to dress professionally, pretend you can pay all your bills, and are totally at ease with people paying you about $100/lesson (an amount you currently can only dream about in your checking account). [It does get way better, but that's for the next post.]
- You're a great dancer. Maybe. I've seen people turn pro that were total newbies, terrible amateurs, decent pro-ams, international amateur finalists, and everything in between. Just because you now write "professional ballroom dancer" in the occupation field on your tax forms doesn't mean you're a pleasure to watch or dance with.
- It's cheaper than pro-am or am-am dancing. False. FAAAAALLLLLLSSSSSEEEE. The stakes are raised, young Padawan, and all your cash flow still goes into your dancing. Only now, you have to take so much more coaching, and have 4 different really nice costumes, and you have to compete way more often.
- You get to dance ALL THE TIME. I'll give you this one. But it's not as neat as you think it is. You have to bone up on all those styles that you didn't know before [if you already had some experience]. You have to get well-rounded, so you can market yourself to as many people as possible, so you can MAKE A LIVING.
You were a great Rhythm dancer? Great. Most people walking in the door of a studio couldn't care less about Mambo. Or even East Coast Swing. You gotta cram some Salsa and Waltz knowledge in your brain for those dozens of social and wedding dancers that are bound to ask you about lessons before that one hard-core, ultra-competitive, old-school-PBS-watching girl wants to do 100 entries in the next competition does.
So, yeah, you're dancing a lot, but you're doing a ton of reviewing/learning the foundation steps to each and every dance and I HOPE TO GOD YOU ARE LEARNING HOW TO TEACH.
- Your dancing will get better. Eventually, yes. But since you need to dance with everyone and their mother (who are not always striving for perfection like you are) and learn a ton of things in a short amount of time, often your dance growth will feel stagnant, if not on a downward spiral, the first few months of your professional career.
- It's easier to find a partner as a pro. False. Never. It's still a crapshoot and it's still worse than dating.
Next up? The Pros of Going Pro.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Get it? "Pros"? "Pro"?