I dance ballroom.
I started about two years ago (I was 21) and I got serious about it pretty early on.
When I was 22, I had enough money to take ballet classes (where my older brother goes, and also where he teaches advanced contemporary) to help me become an overall better dancer.
I couldn’t sign up for the adult classes because they were scheduled at the same time as evening ballroom, so I registered for an “age 7 and up” class. I thought, “Seven AND UP! So surely there will be mixed ages!”
I was wrong. I was oh so wrong.
I showed up in my baby blue leotard and pink tights, towering over all the 7-year-olds, feeling awkward as hell.
Towards the end of class, my brother peaked his head into the studio.
I heard him say to someone, “Yeah, that’s my little sis. Isn’t she so cute?”
Oh. Yes. I bet those little girls’ parents thought I was adorable.
Anyway, to make things worse, I’m kind of scared of little kids. They make me uncomfortable. The fact that I was able to suck that up and show up to every class proves how serious and determined I was. They never really addressed me, although they looked at me sometimes, probably wondering why the hell some “old lady” is in class with them.
Their tiny bodies were far more flexible than mine. Their little feet made perfect points that my feet will never achieve. But I couldn’t let that discourage me. I had to endure awkward stares from the teenagers, too. Awkward, awkward, awkward.
Unfortunately for me, I could only afford ballet for one semester. I miss it so much. And it really did help me. Let me explain how.
In the collegiate ballroom world, competition ranks are like so: Newcomer, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Novice, Pre-Champ, and finally, Champ. Everyone is allowed to compete in Newcomer for exactly one year. After that, you have to move up to what many of us call “Bronze Purgatory.” Many dancers make it to Bronze and never get out. It’s the most saturated of all the ranks. You could be the best dancer on the floor, but it won’t mean anything if the judges can’t see you in that massive sea of competitors. You have to really stand out.
The more ballet I learned and applied, and the more ballroom lessons I attended (group as well as private lessons), the more I was able to connect all the things I learned. With hard work, I made it from Newcomer to Silver in two years, which is uncommon.
Sadly, due to financial reasons, among other things, this dancing queen is on hiatus – a very agonizing hiatus – and I’m itching to dance again. But, when I made it to Silver finals, I thought I would have a heart attack. I wanted to pour all my money into lessons (and, I basically did) so that I could move up to Gold. It was within my grasp.
And it wouldn’t have been possible without those awkward ballet lessons. If anything ever taught me to get the hell out of my comfort zone, it was prancing around a dance studio with 7-year-old girls.
Right now, my writing game is on hyper drive. I’m writing, editing, and submitting as much as I can, since all I have is time. But soon… soon…
I will wear my dancing shoes again…