When we look at the difference between a professional and an amateur often the difference is stated as the ability to earn money. This basically means that a professional anything will have the right or ability to charge money for the lessons he or she give whereas an amateur cannot.
This is a very wishy washy explanation of what it truly means to be a professional as it only focuses on one very small and almost looked over element of being a professional. The explanation gives us all one point of view which neglects to encompass most of the truly important elements of what and who a person needs to be and act like to be regarded as a professional.
If we bring the focus of this article onto the dance world and the people in it who are at this point in time earning a living by charging money for their skills or services then its easier for me to explain what I mean by all this jargon that seams to be confusing the issue.
You see if an amateur dancer is preparing for a competition then as they grow and develop through the dance world, they rely mostly on help from their parents and possibly friends. They then continue to grow and develop until they get to a point where they are actually making the preparations themselves, or not.
A professional is someone who simply does this automatically. They have spare shoe laces, spare shoes, two or three costumes and a bag full of hair products and skin care. Even the way they represent themselves is very different to the amateur. They train differently, they stand differently and they act differently. They perceive themselves into reality as a much more serious personality and demand respect wherever they go. This is part of the reason that professionals can charge so much money for a seemingly easy job.
When a professional couple is asked to perform a floorshow for an organisation, a party, function or event they quote accordingly. The prices in todays day and age can range anywhere form as little as $120 per dance, right up to a reasonable price of $250 per dance. Now some organisers will read this and be completely outraged but he price because in their mind they want a couple to perform for at least 15 to 20 minutes which is quite a good time to be out there on the floor. 20 minutes means that a couple will possibly have to perform all 5 ballroom or latin dances or sometimes do a 10 dance performance. If you look at the price involves this usually takes the organisers budget over the $1000 mark. Most people I have spoken to ay the same thing to me when I quote them the prices. “Hang on Paul, thats too pricey. I mean all your doing is dancing right?”, “Wrong!” I answer.
I then endeavour to explain why the prices seem so high when in fact they are not at all when you look at what has to happen to get a great couple out onto a dance floor to perform at an event.
Lets begin by considering the couple themselves firstly. This guy and girl have probably started their dance careers as kids and have progressed through the ranks of dance and have achieved many victories as well as defeats in many aspects of their dance. Through all those times their parents would have paid a small fortune for group lessons in dance first and then probably moved onto private lessons as the kids would have shown interest and wanted to continue. An average group class for kids costs anywhere from $7 right up to $10. For adults they range form $15 to $20 per person per class. Calculate that out at a very conservative 1 class per week and you see that over a span of 10 years the parents or couple would have paid a small fortune not to mention the blood sweat and tears of learning to dance. If we then look at the cost of a private lesson I will again create a very conservative figure of $75 per hour for a private lesson. Sometimes the couple will split the cost and then sometimes only one of them will have the lesson by themselves and be out of pocket $75. Once again if we look at an average of 1 lesson per week you can calculate another small fortune over a ten year span.
The reason i am using the ten year span is because this is a long enough time for someone to actually understand dancing and become well versed and practiced at it so much so that they are good enough to perform in from of a live audience.
If we move on from the actual performance of the dancers and look at aspects such as costume both competitive and practice wear then we are dealing with a whole different kettle of fish. The different dressmakers that exist and have existed in this industry charge quite high prices for their creations and that is because they tailor the costumes to the individual. I can tell you from personal experience that i have paid as little as $400 for an ‘off the rack’ dance shirt, pants not included and I have paid in excess of $2500 for a fully tailored costume from a very well known dressmaker. The girls pay much more. Their costumes can cost up to $4000 or more depending on the stitching, workmanship and amount of crystals used to decorate their costumes. These costumes may be worn once and then sold or they could be used for a whole year.
While we are still on the subject of costumes we move onto the subject of dance shoes which, for a professional couple who teach dance for example, will be replaced every 4 to 6 months. An average paid of dance shoes will cost anywhere from $150 to $270 or slightly more sometimes depending on the brand and availability.
So we have so far racked up quite a bill as far as getting a couple to perform at an event. Lets have a quick recap.
Conservative figures below:
Group Classes……$7 per class, per week over ten years…………………………..$3640.00
Private lessons…….$75 per hour, per week shared by the couple over ten years…..$39,000.00
Dance shoes………$150 per person, replaced every 6 moths over ten years………$6000.00
Dance Costumes….$600, per person replaced every 6 moths over ten years……….$24000.00
So we have come to a very conservative figure over a ten year span of $72,640.00 which does not include travel (Road or air) and accommodation, food and dietary supplies, make up and hair products. Im not even going to go into the cost of entry into a competition or even entry into the stadium itself.
So as you begin to work out the figures and take an average of the total amount and divide it by how much effort and cost is involved at getting a talented couple to perfect for your special event you quickly begin to realise that you’re actually getting a bargain.
Now we will always have people out there who say things like, “But so and so only charges $30 per dance” This is a phenomenon that the dance industry has had to deal with for years. Dancers undercutting each other simply to get the gig. The genera public has been oblivious to the amount of effort needed to create a good dance couple and has taken advantage of dancers talents with the excuse of “But its just dancing”. Try telling a lawyer, a doctor, plumber or shop assistance that their work and lively hood is simply this or simply that. It doesn’t make sense does it. Then why should dance be seen as “Simply Dancing” It isn’t. Dancing is a lot more than just going out there and shaking your bom bom to music. There are many people in the world both today and in the past that have been brave enough to continue a tradition of excellence and shrug away all of the negative remarks that have come their way over the years. These people have given their all for the industry so that it will survive and thrive as it is doing in todays day and age.
Today dancing is cool. It has seen a resurgence and is seen as a great pastime to get kids into and have adults practicing. Today a lot of people are getting into dance because they see not only the health benefits but also what dancing does to ones social life. Today dance is valued almost as much as it once was valued when the world was at war and all you had to save your weekend was the sisal dance at your local town hall where if you were lucky, you would get a dance and meet that someone special.