This week — Monday to be exact — was my 6-year anniversary. Yep, 6 years ago I stepped foot into the dance studio — nervous and very curious. Taking an introductory package of lessons had been my valentine gift to myself that year. I had been looking at all the places to dance in my area for several months and finally settled on one. I had no idea what I was getting myself into — it’s been quite a ride — I’m quite sure I will never be the same. 🙂 After taking lessons about six months, my teacher asked me if I wanted to compete. I laughed and said, “no way, that’s not me.” Um yeah … 😉 Can you believe Teach1 and I have stuck it out for 6 years? … it just gets better and better every year!
Unfortunately, we were dealt some lovely ice in my neck of the world this week and my lessons got canceled at the studio. I will only be able to have lessons tomorrow with my Teach. I have taken this all in stride and have used my time at home to finish my dresses and get my act together before competing at Heritage a week from Tuesday.
This weekend is our studio’s showcase. We have them twice a year. I didn’t participate in this one as I am preparing to compete at Heritage the next week, so I will have the opportunity to just sit back and enjoy the show. I know I’ll see students perform who have improved so much since I’ve known them. I’ll see them “come alive” out there on the floor. I never get tired of watching the butterflies come out of their cocoon as a result of dancing. I’ve seen dance help heal some very hurt and broken people. And I wonder how much it’s helped me …
My main job since college has been teaching on the university level. I’ve taught theatre, public speaking and communication classes. Since starting to dance I’ve been fascinated with all aspects of ballroom dancing — movement, technique, artistry, connections, hopes, fears, posturing, opinions, coaching, teaching, comps, adjudicating, costumes, hair/makeup, etc. — and I see elements of my professional life in all these. Giving illustrations of partnering with my teacher have definitely made their way into my interpersonal communication class. 🙂
When I first started this blog, I had no idea how valuable the connections we are making — our ballroom dancing community. It’s important. It’s more important than I would have thought. It’s the shared experience that makes us stronger. That gives us encouragement. That enhances clarity. That pushes us beyond what we could have imagined. We learn from each other. We share ideas. We share stories. We need each other. Most of us, I’m sure, have fellow ballroom friends in our area, but they may not be as intense as us, or might not even compete, or maybe just don’t like to talk about it … etc. Researchers have done numerous studies on the benefits of “community” — it builds us up; challenges us, making us stronger; it picks us up when we fall; it helps us find other like-minded souls to express ourselves and thus share in our highs and lows! And on some level, making these connections online might be easier than in person — at first. 🙂
I recently met a fellow dancer online, because of this blog. She is graciously allowing me to use her image as my header photo. She’s a professional photographer who is also an amateur ballroom dancer. You can see her work on her page: www.deannadikeman.com. There’s also a great Slate article just focusing on her ballroom pictures. I love the focus in her artwork on the things we have in our lives and their meaning and significance. Think about the “stuff” that makes up our ballroom world: clothes, shoes, rhinestones, make-up, tanning, costumes, etc. All these things are fascinating.
I’ve asked some fellow ballroom buds to tell me their story so I can share them with you. I’m excited to be able to create more connections for all of us — build our community. I have shared a lot about my perspective and opinions (haha), and I can’t wait for you to meet the people that I have in this unique world.
I’m so glad that Stef (Biggest Girl in the Ballroom) created the Ballroom Village — It’s good for us to dialogue. We can help each other in many ways. And maybe there are “newer” dancers out there who are searching for a community to give answers and encouragement and strength to grow — we can be that for them! So, keep writing and reading and growing and dancing!
They say that nobody sees quite the same rainbow, because each person views the raindrops and the light at a slightly different angle. And seeing and hearing about all these perspectives helps us to experience the most epic rainbow of dance possible!
Later, dancing buds!