When the worst happens

Spoiler Alert: Everything turned out more or less ok.

I have been living a deja vu nightmare for the past 2 weeks.

In 2014, just before a major dance competition I found a lump in my breast that led to a biopsy after the competition which led to my cancer diagnosis.

2 weeks ago, just before my last competition, I found a lump just on the inside of my right breast. I went to get it checked out and was told it was unusual, but that it was sore and moveable was a positive sign. I was referred for an ultrasound to make sure.

The ultrasound was the morning after we returned from the competition. I expected it would be a quick ultrasound and that the lump was probably just scar tissue or a cyst and I would be sent on my way. Instead, the ultrasound resulted in a biopsy because the lump was a lymph node that ‘didn’t look quite right’, was ‘larger than expected’ and ‘moderately suspicious’. All words I did NOT want to hear–especially with a history of having cancer that doesn’t show up on ultrasounds, and other imaging platforms.

That began one of the longest weeks of my life, trying to keep moving through things and put one step in front of the other. There were a lot of ups and downs. As much as you try not to let your mind go to dark places, at some point it has to.

I have been keeping busy, trying not to get too tired (which would lead to me losing all control of my emotions) and alternating between optimism and being realistic about what a recurrence could mean.

Finally, this afternoon I got the call from my doctor that the biopsy was completely clear and shows no sign of malignancy. All that was present were benign lymphoid cells–exactly what is expected in a lymph node. It is likely enlarged and inflamed due to some residual and on-going reaction to healing from my last surgery.

I will still be referred back to the breast surgeon who did my original breast surgeries and lymph node biopsies to see if she feels further exploration is necessary, but for the most part, everything can continue back to normal.

I am ok.

I am going to be ok.

I feel like I was just handed my life back, again. The amount of stress and tension that is leaving my body right now is palpable. I want to celebrate and haven’t the slightest idea how.

It’s a much better problem to have.

Onward I go with recovering and rebuilding my life!

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Planning for the future

The other thing that happened last week was sitting down with Boss and going over the plan for moving forward until the next competition which should hopefully be in February.

Prior to the competition, we had had a preliminary conversation about where we want to go next, so there were no real surprises.

Boss sent me an outline of the plan before the lesson, which gave us a starting point to work from for our discussion. We were completely on the same page which makes things easy.

During my lesson we discussed the plan, as well as my plans for strength training which I hope to return to next week and how one can support the other an vice versa. We then took some time to look at the videos from the competition and discuss points from there.

The plan (on paper) is relatively simple. Boss has (already) developed some short closed silver sequences which will be competition routines, but more so mini-sequences with aspects of technique I need to focus on. Essentially, they are comp routines and exercises in one.

Adding to this, and where the competition training focus will mostly be will be some open routines–standard developed by Boss and Latin done with another professional couple.

We are also going to work on developing the waltz solo routine we have been trying to put together since the end of summer. The intent is to perform that solo at a local competition in January, and again at the competition in February. My restriction on that is only that the sequence needs to be choreographed before the end of November as I don’t want to be rushing to put it together. We will see how that goes.

I will start back to my lessons tonight, which I expect will begin with going over the new silver sequences to see how they go. There are some interesting combinations already and I am eager to try them out.

I have 1 month until my next surgery, which is the completion of my reconstruction and should only sideline me for 2 weeks, if not less. For myself, I would like to have the silver sequences down, the solo choreographed, and at least some of the open routines ‘mapped out’. But that is what I would like to do.

The plan, is completely Boss’s and up to him to execute 🙂

OH! I had some success in fixing the tear in my standard dress. Hopefully that will last!

Post Comp Coaching

As mentioned in a previous post, following returning home from the competition, I had three coaching lessons with a standard coach.

This was my first time working with this coach although I have previously worked with his wife and partner. He is a former Blackpool semi-finalist, and actually trained with Boss when they were both youth back in Russia. That made for an interesting dynamic.

The other thing that was different about these lessons is that two of them were without Boss. I had actually requested that for something different and it was an interesting experiment. It meant that I did have to try and keep track of what we covered in earlier lessons for summarizing later for Boss.

It was a lot of fun, especially right after a competition. The interesting thing I was able to do, since he had never seen me dance or danced with me was show him videos ‘hot off the presses’ from the competition the weekend before. That turned out to be a valuable tool as it gave him some immediate ideas where to focus.

The main thing from the first lesson was working on the moving of my feet and preparing the leg. Because I wasn’t anticipating and preparing to move my leg, I had a tendency to get a little behind the beat. We did some exercises to get into the habit of moving my leg ahead of the beat and not having it ‘rest’ without passing the other leg.

It took some trial, but once it clicked, it made a lot of sense. It showed me that I do have a habit of not extending my leg right away as I travel. We also talked about how to work with knee pain and the idea of releasing the knee vs lowering and bending.

Other topics we focused on were position, including keeping myself ‘spiraling’ up from my hips clockwise around my partner, and moving in CBMP. We also talked about the difference in movement between the swing dances and tango, which was a very interesting topic.

Essentially, it took many of the topics I had been working on and extended it further. We also talked about the difficulties I have in sensing the position of my shoulders and back and especially in noticing when I have moved them out of position. His solution for this was to work on developing references for me. As we worked through exercises, he would randomly stop and ask me to check my position. As annoying as it was to frequently stop, the practice was actually very helpful.

In the lesson with Boss, we reviewed quickly what we had done previously, and then focused more on tango. In particular, we looked at promenade position and thinking of moving my knees forward with Boss. The biggest challenge for me there is to step with my right foot without allowing it to turn out away from my partner (which is my challenge for almost everything standard).

The plan is to take advantage of this coach coming semi-regularly to this region to begin some consistent work with him. We already discussed possibilities for his return, and he has promised to send a bit of an ‘action plan’ for me to work on until his return–something I expect to include work on moving the legs and tango.

It was different from how I have worked with coaches before, mainly because this coach had a bit of an unique style. He was very hands on and recognized my aptitude for more tactile learning. When showing different ways he wanted me to move, he would often have me place my hands on his muscles (like his knees, thighs, and upper back) and move with him to feel how he was using them. It was incredibly useful for me and helped me catch on to the concepts quickly.

I am looking forward to implementing the lessons learned in future dancing!

Review of Rocky Mountain Dancesport Grand Prix

I had an amazing time at this competition held in Calgary, AB, Canada over 3 days!

I am going to start with the caveat that my review is based on my experience as a pro/am student dancing in international style only.

Information on the website can be found here and they also have a facebook page you can follow. This year was the 7th year hosted by Jean-Marc Généreux and France Mousseau, Martin and Diana Lefebvre, and Kelly Lannan & Eric Caty.

In addition to ballroom and latin competitions, the event also has Country & Western Events, Salsa, Bachata and Argentine Tango events. An entire day is devoted to youth events on Sunday.

The competition also features a celebrity workshop series, after-parties and several top-notch showcase performances, this year included the Salsa World Champions from Italy, members of semi-pro salsa formation teams and performances from Ballet Alberta.

It also included the Canadian Open Professional Championships in a 4 styles and a professional show dance competition–two of the biggest “wows” from the weekend.

So lets get down to the ‘nitty gritty’.

The registration and entry fees for this competition are comparable to others across Canada with early bird prices of $25 for single dances and $40-$100 for multi-dances (increasing by number of dances in the event). There were scholarship events for each style for $100 each plus 10 single dances.

Tickets are reasonably priced and several different package options were available, both with and without hotel accommodations, some with the workshops included. Competitors were required to purchase a minimum full day and evening pass to compete ($130 for full weekend).

There were lots of options for events including closed and open single dances as well as closed and open multi-dance events. The multi-dance events included 3 age categories (A, B, and C) and the scholarships were under 35 and 35+. There were 6 couples in both the ballroom and latin open scholarships and these were danced in the evening.

The facility was well set up with separate changerooms (with a volunteer monitoring the doors for security), easily accessible bathrooms, and practice room, a separate room for the workshops (which also doubled as a second after-party room), lots of vendors, and water stations in the ballroom.

The floor was neither sticky nor slippery with a great texture and while it was regulation, it got a little tight for 6-7 couples doing ballroom. For latin the floor space worked out better. For filling the space in the ballroom, it was very balanced overall.

There was space to warm-up in the hall and space to stand behind the tables as you got ready for your heats and the room was not too crowded (although I believe they were sold out!). The temperature in the room was good if you were dancing, although sometimes got a little warm towards the end of the night. Overall the temperature control was good.

The lighting was also good. The floor was bright for competitions, and they were able to adjust the lighting for the showcase performances as needed, adding an extra element.

The music was good and consistent, although for myself I found I didn’t recognize a lot of the melodies, so sometimes it was a little harder to connect with (but that is me personally). The music played about 1:10 for daytime events, and my biggest complaint is that the paso music was cut before the second highlight for pro/am.

The prizes consisted of a combination of “Rocky Mountain Dollars” for single and multi-dance events valid for next year’s entries, medals for multi-dance and scholarship events, and all competitors in the scholarship received a gift bag containing a leather clutch with jewelry, make-up and make-up remover inside–a really nice touch! All pro-am competitors also received a beautiful framed picture hand-drawned by one of the organizers.

There were top student awards in each style and overall, although there are no explanations for how these awards were won, and top studio and top teacher awards (which are explained on the website).

Students competing in the evening scholarship were introduced between dances, which is always an appreciated touch.

One point I would like to mention that was ‘above and beyond’. When I first received my heat lists, all of my multi-dances were grouped together in a row, meaning I was facing having to dance 16 dances without a break. When we pointed that out to the organizer, the heats were rearranged where possible to give some breaks, such as putting the bronze multi-dance between the gold ones. That was much appreciated.

One small minus for this comp–all competitors were required to wear wrist bands as ‘proof of ticket’, including professionals. Because I have long sleeves on both my dresses, I was able to ‘hide’ my wrist band, but others without sleeves were not. It was a little distracting on the floor.

The atmosphere of this competition was amazing all the way through. There was excitement in the room, friendly conversation, lots of cheering and it was well scheduled.

I highly recommend it for any pro/am competitor looking for a well-valued competition in the fall.

Many thanks to the 6 organizers for all their hard work!

Competing strong

Sorry for the delay in writing!

I have been busy beyond competing (more on that later) and this is the first opportunity I have had to write about the comp.  I did post some pics on facebook if you follow me there (www.facebook.com/bcballroomdancer).

Overall, this was my strongest competition since before I got sick. Hands down. That’s not to say it was my best dancing, but I felt prepared, my endurance (for the most part was there), I didn’t feel like I was dying after only a couple dances. I felt like I belonged on the floor and that I was competitive, not just dancing as something to do.

I won my closed gold multidance in Ballroom although it was a rule 10 and 11 win (meaning they had to split the tie twice more or less), and I am very proud of that–my first ‘win’ in closed gold! I was also 5th in both open scholarships of 6 couples and even stole a few points from those that placed above me in ballroom.

Ballroom was definitely the stronger of the two styles for me at this competition. Considering the amount of work I have been putting into it, it should have been, and it has paid off. I felt quite strong and confident in the ballroom heats, even though endurance was a challenge. I was surprised to see I received a 1 place mark in VW from one judge in a 5-dance championship that finished with the VW.

There were a lot of positives for me in standard. It took a round to settle down a little and adjust to things like my dress. At the start I was almost too relaxed in trying to keep myself calm and from trying too hard, but hit a good balance for the other rounds. Boss was really happy with how it all went, and I really have no complaints about standard. Yes, there are always little things, and lots to improve, but I was more consistent and solid in standard than I have been in any previous competition. That was a big win for me!

Latin was a much different story, and I am less impressed with my performance there. I had some very high points, and I had some lower ones. In one of my 4-dance gold multi-dances, I didn’t win the event, but I did sweep the rumba. Looking at the videos though, my styling still leaves much to be desired, and I just didn’t seem to be ‘finishing’ all my lines as I danced. My energy level was not where it needed to be for latin and I was having a hard time keeping focused.

So I own the less than stellar latin performance. It was good, but not my best. Among other things, I was having trouble feeling settled in my shoes, and I think the fatigue from standard the day before also played a role and upset my hormones a little bit (I was a hot flash queen that day).

That said, when it came to the 5-dance scholarship, I just went out and had some fun and worried less about trying to be perfect.

One of the biggest ‘wins’ I experienced overall was random strangers making an effort to tell me how much they enjoyed my dancing–seeking me out specifically in the crowd of competitors I was just on the floor with. For me, that is better than a thousand trophies and it happened after events in both standard and latin.

The biggest challenge I faced over the weekend was blisters. My shoes started out feeling wonderful, but then in the last afternoon event in standard I suddenly felt some pain. The result was 2 blisters on each foot, one on the heel, the other in the arch (which seemed a strange place). I put some blister pads on them for the scholarship and covered those with tap, but they didn’t stay in place. By the time I got to the latin scholarship, I had 11 blisters, all of which had popped, some of which were bleeding. I knew that breaking in new shoes would cause some problems (even old shoes can) and had taken some measures and preparations, but my feet seemed to just ‘give up’ in trying to keep skin. Even duct tape didn’t help. I am doing a lot of feet soaking these days.

My shoes are pretty much broken in now, but I won’t be able to tell until all the blisters heel if adjustments need to be made and where. Despite the blisters, they were more comfortable at the end of the comp. I also had issues with my feet swelling and that didn’t help either.

My latin shoes were the strangest to deal with. I had worked with them before I left and they felt fine. But at the comp the heel of my foot kept sliding out and I had a hard time getting the strap tight enough to hold it in place.  I am going to have to revisit them. I am wondering if they are too short in the end even though they are the same size as my last ones–but with a lower heel.

Hopefully in about 2 weeks I can do a good assessment with fresh feet.

The final ‘snag’ in the competition happened at the end of the standard rounds (and thankfully the end!). My dress is stretch velvet and when I am sweaty can be difficult to get the sleeves off.  I friend was helping me and when she pulled the arm I heard a ripping sound! Unfortunately, the dress tore just under the right arm, in the fabric just adjacent to the seam. Because the tear is in the fabric, I don’t know if it can be repairable without being too visible. It may be the end for that dress….an expensive tear!

In all, I am very proud of myself and how I danced this weekend–even latin. I wanted to be able to get through all my dances strongly, which I did, do well in standard (because of the focus we have been giving it), and enjoy dancing in latin. I achieved that. I know Boss is especially happy with the standard and we haven’t had a chance to discuss latin although we know there were challenges there.

The biggest achievement from the competition was being able to feel myself staying strong, and it has given us lots of feedback for the future 🙂

We should be sitting down to discuss the plan for the future over the next couple days, but mainly I am taking it easy right now. The exception, of course was that I had 3 coaching lessons with a standard coach yesterday that were a lot of fun and able to build on the competition. I will write about that shortly.

I will also write a review of the competition for those who might be interested in competing there some day. I would definitely recommend it and I think we are already making plans to return!

Achievement unlocked: Compete strong during recovery!

Almost There

I can’t believe we fly for the competition tomorrow night.

For some reason it seems a little surreal. I feel really good heading into this competition. No, nothing will be ‘perfect’ (nothing ever is), but I know that I am as prepared as I am going to be and that I am stronger going into this competition than I have been since 2014.

That said, tomorrow night also still feels a million hours away.

I have been giving some thought as to what my own personal goals are for this competition. Basically, it is to do my best, complete every dance, and have fun. I deserve this and it is going to be great.

I have some legitimate concerns about endurance. All of my multi-dance events are scheduled in a row with no breaks between. That means I will do almost 20 dances in a row each day, pretty daunting considering I start struggling to get through 5 dances!

In the end, it is just a deep breath, visualizing my routines and keeping calm. I don’t need to over-do it, I need to stay relaxed and calm.

Easier said than done, right?

At least my heats are not at 7 am, they don’t start until 11 and noon each day which I definitely appreciate.

My new shoes should arrive today and I am going to pop home from work at lunch to see if they are they. I don’t have much time to break them in, but since they were ordered long-distance, I just hope they fit! 2 pairs are almost identical to shoes I already own, so it should be good. I have never worn standard shoes from this brand, but do have practice shoes from them. I will take both the new and old shoes with me, so I can adjust if needed.

One more lesson tonight to clean a couple of transitions, and then it is packing, one more day of work, and all focused on the competition.

The competition will include a pro showdance competition with 6 couples registered and more than anything I can’t wait to see that!

Almost there!

Released

I will not be doing any more preventative cancer treatments.

The decision was made today with my oncologist. Initially, he wanted me to consider trying one of the other 2 hormone therapies I have not yet tried, but after we talked more he changed to waiting 6 months to try one of them. With more talk, we finally agreed that the side effects I experience from the hormone therapies were not worth the 10% reduction in risk they would give me.

So no restarting the hormone therapy. No HT side effects, no side effect preventing medications (with their own side effects), no more medications.

My only follow-up from now on are regular 6-month check-ups for the next 3 years until I am outside the 5-year high risk window. My overall risk of recurrence during this time is approximately 15-20%. The risk for a woman my age with no history is 5% (but with breasts and ovaries). My risk will never be that low again, even with treatments.

I feel like I was just officially handed my life back.

For some, any increased risk may seem to high, but for me the side effects took so much of my energy I couldn’t live my life. I am actually more afraid of the effect of the side effects than finding out I have cancer again.

That said, it wasn’t an easy decision. There was a lot to consider, pros, cons, advantages, disadvantages. It was a lot of discussion with my oncologist, but in the end this is the best decision for me.

I can’t live my life in fear of cancer coming back, and I can’t live my life experiencing the side effects I was having.

This may have been an easier decision for me than my oncologist expected. When it comes down to it, the thought of recurrence is not one I dwell on. I have done a lot to reduce my cancer risk, but they are the basic things expected–chemo, radiation, surgery. If I didn’t have side effects from the HT I would still be doing it.

When it comes to cancer, I chose from the beginning not to live in fear.

I don’t have any regrets from my life. I have been very lucky, had lots of ups and down, but I don’t feel like there is anything unfinished. It’s not that I am ready for my life to be over–far from it–but if fate determines that cancer is to be a part of my future I don’t feel I have or could have control over that. I had no (known) risk factors before I was diagnosed, but I still found a lump and began this journey.

I can only live my life as best as I can right now and take the future as it comes. I was not able to do that while undergoing the hormone therapy and that is reason enough to not do more HT.

I don’t know what the future holds, but in the meantime I am ready to continue rebuilding my life. I am ready to embrace the whatever challenges the future holds as I am now and I feel like I have been given final permission to put cancer behind me and move forward.

I feel released from the hold cancer has had on my life.

It’s been almost 3 years coming.

Refinding my strength

I had an interesting revelation 2 weeks ago.

I was practicing and I noticed something was feeling different. Or rather, I was noticing something I hadn’t realized had been missing.

I could feel strength in my body.

For the first time in almost 3 years I could feel the strength moving through my body from my feet to my head and back down into the floor. It was like my muscles just suddenly woke up and realized they have a job to do.

It’s a hard feeling to describe and since I am a very tactile person it is probably more obvious to me than those who are less so, but in many ways this is where I draw my power from. I use this feeling through my body to push down into the floor and move my entire body.

For me, that is what ‘feeling grounded’ means.

It took me a while to figure out what I was feeling, but it also took a bit of time to realize I have to use it properly and exercise some control.  Some speed came back with it that I didn’t expect, and I have spent the last 2 weeks fighting a tendency to get ahead of the music–especially in cha cha and quickstep–something I don’t think was possible even a month ago. Paying attention to that, I think my movement have also gotten a bit sharper.

I don’t know why this sensation came back all of a sudden, it could be a number of things–the ‘magic’ 2 years post radiation milestone, 2 years post major surgery, adjusting to the hormonal changes from my last surgery, general recovery. Likely it’s a combination of things, but I am not going to dwell on it.

It’s a good time to have it though as I am competing on Friday (this FRIDAY!) and Saturday. I had a good run-through of standard at the rounds practice yesterday and it was easy to see where the work on my endurance is starting to pay off.  I was not tiring and ‘dying’ so soon yesterday and when I was, there were times I was able to recover and finish strong.

We did a latin run-through on Friday which was a little bit disastrous a I kept blanking on routines, and styling, but our second time through was smoother. We will do another latin run-through tonight I hope will be better.

After tonight, I have one more lesson before the competition, so right now it is mainly things that can be fixed short-term, cleaning, and run throughs.  I am excited to get out on the floor again but I can’t say I have much as far as expectations.  I just want to go and enjoy myself and see how it goes. If I can keep myself ‘calm’ and from ‘trying too hard’ there is potential for some good dancing.

As I continue on this journey, it does amaze me as I recover things I didn’t know I had lost. This feeling of strength is one of them and I can’t wait to keep building on it after this competition to prepare for the next one.

The light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter.

Latin reset

Sometimes you don’t know you are missing something until you discover it.

It’s been a busy week for me. I was traveling for work, and after returning Friday I went to visit with a friend for the long weekend.

One of the things I did while I was traveling for work was to take advantage of being somewhere new and to take coaching lessons.  I managed to fit 3 lessons into the short time I was there, but the exciting thing was that the couple I was working with are one of my favourite latin couples–and people I have wanted to work with for a long time.

I did one lesson with the lead and 2 with the follow and all 3 were absolutely amazing!

I have only once worked with a coach other than Boss on latin, and that was for one lesson while the others were focused on smooth. I have never worked in latin with another male dancer. In three lessons I was able to put together more than 3 pages of notes and felt like a sponge soaking up information.

Before I left, I had discussed with Boss some topics to focus on during my lessons and we sent 3 videos of cha cha, samba and paso for them to review ahead of time.  We decided to focus on connection and styling–both of which turned out to be exactly what I needed.

I feel like it has been quite a while since I have worked on more than just sequence of steps in latin as most of my lessons with Boss recently have been focused on standard and taking advantage of the progress I am making there.

In all honesty, I have felt a little bit like I was ‘spinning my wheels’ in latin and lacking some specific points to focus on. One week I would challenge myself with one thing, but then I would switch to something else and mainly I just kept working through my routines to get the choreography down.

The lessons with the coaches help to give me a new focus for latin and several new points to focus on which I really needed. Styling has been a big issue for a long time, but I felt I was lacking some specifics to focus on. Now I have a lot of specifics and I can’t wait to spend some time working through the things we talked about.

Eye contact, especially with my partner, was one of the really big things brought up in the lessons. I have always had problems with this, as when I work alone I tend to retreat into myself and look down when I think. It’s not that I haven’t been told to keep my eyes up before, part of it is just not being ready to commit to it. I can’t say for sure that I am really ready to commit to it, but it has become enough of a problem that it is officially annoying me.

I worked on arm movement with both of them, but with the lady we were able to work through the beginning of my cha cha and samba to ‘clean’ my arm movements and strengthen what I am doing so it is less ‘flappy’ and busy. We worked through a couple different options and came up with some solid movements for me to work through on my own.

I was also given exercises, both for connection and styling, but are diverse enough to include other aspects of technique (like weight transfer).

One of the most significant topics I discussed with the lady was that of using my body in my styling. Not only moving it, but also touching it, and touching it with commitment and purpose. She even gave me some exercises to develop a habit of doing this to work it into my routines and so that it looks (and feels) more natural. We had a discussion about why strong solid touch is preferred to doing something like a ‘shadowed outline’ and she pointed out it displays a difference in confidence, emphasizes the body shape, and shows commitment to the styling. All very logical reasoning.

I could go on for hours about all the different things we covered in the lessons, but to keep this short, I want to go back to my title. After doing these lessons I feel very renewed and reset when it comes to latin. I have some very specific things to focus on and build on, I feel I have some new goals (eye contact being at the top of the list), and it has renewed my enthusiasm and invigorated me for the future.

I really hope to work with this couple again soon. Among other things, I just had a blast and had fun digging into latin in as much detail as I tend to work in standard.

It’s less than 2 weeks to my next competition, so I don’t expect to be able to incorporate everything I want to do, but I hope at least some of the work will be able to come through.

I can’t believe it is only 2 weeks until the competition though. I feel like I have so much to do before then! My nerves are settling in a little and I know that practice next weekend will certainly ‘set the stage’ for me. Because I was away, I didn’t do practice this weekend, but although I am a little nervous about that I am also glad as well.  It forced me to relax and take a step back before the final push to the competition.

The couple I worked with will also be at the competition I am going to and I can’t wait to see them dance in person. I have always watched them on video or live stream, so seeing them compete live is going to be an extra bonus to the competition I am going to.

I am really happy I was able to schedule the coaching lessons into my work trip. It was a tiring trip, but so so worth it!

An inconvenient truth

No one ever talks about specifics.

I am talking about the cost of doing competitive pro/am dance. A lot of people talk about generalizations–like it’s expensive and you have to include this, this, and this….

But expensive is a relative term. What is expensive for me might be cheap for you and vice versa.

So here are some ranges of dollars ( in Cdn$):

Private lessons: $65-$150 each. Coaching can be more.

Competitions:

Eentry fees: $25-50 for single dances. $60-80 for 3-dance events, $75-150 for 5-dance events, $200-300 for a 10-dance event. Most scholarships require a minimum of 5 additional single dances to qualify (4 for smooth).

Pro fees: $10-75 per dance, depending on the pro and how he prices (it could be per event or even day).

All these fees are based on my research and experience. Feel free to fact check, but I have tried to provide an average range.

The above fees are paid individually.

Additional fees that are usually split between students:

Pro incidentals and travel such as flights, hotel rooms, ticket fees, meals.

If you are the only student, you pay for it all, PLUS your own flights, hotel, meals and tickets.

For amateur couples, consider these fees (usually split by the couple):

Private lessons: $65-150 per hour

Comp fees: $25-75 per event (usually 2-5 dances, same fee regardless of number of dances)

Flights, hotels, meals and tickets.

I hope this illustrates the gap some.

Additional info:

Most scholarship prizes range from $200-50 depending on comp size and placing (there are a couple higher exceptions). BUT, consider most entries for these events are $100-150 each + 5 $35-50 single dances + pro fees.

I haven’t included other costs, like shoes, dresses, esthetics.

I don’t mean to be discouraging, but I want to provide some info for those considering competing in pro/am So you do so with eyes wide open.

The comps I have done have cost me between $2000-12000 each on their own without factoring in lessons, shoes, dresses and esthetics (like hair, make-up, mani, pedi, jewellery). That is just the total I pay organizers, Boss, and for my own travel and accommodations.

Coaching is another additional cost that may come up.

It takes me 3-6 months to save enough for a Comp, depending where it is. Often, it is more.

It’s not pretty, but those are some numbers. If you have questions please ask.

I am competing in 3 weeks in Canada doing more than 60 dances over 2 days and it cost me just over $3000 with another student sharing pro incidentals.

It’s still worth it to me to do what I love.