I entered into the beautiful world of dance when I was a little girl, by diving into ballet. I was a driven, little ballerina until I left my favorite private school (I attended a few) just before entering into fourth grade. I then danced a little longer at another private school, but when I started middle school and my pre-teen years, I was more concerned with applying makeup, crushing on boys, and dodging bullies than pursuing dance. I loved buying ballet slippers and sparkly tutus, but I never thought at age twenty one I’d fall for another realm of dance…ballroom dancing. I’ll never forget what my ballet instructor said to me before one of our recitals; I was in the first grade, and she looked over at me while I applied a layer of lip gloss (I was such a diva) and said, “Although I think you’re going to pursue other things, you’ll always be a dancer.” I looked at her with a doe eyed expression and smiled, not at all understanding what my wonderful teacher meant at the time. She was right. I pursued writing, photography, graphic design, fashion, retail, horseback riding, working with animals, etc., but my heart never left the dance floor.
I walked into Arthur Murray Marlton on February 14th, 2017 for their Valentines Day party. I accompanied my mom, but I was in no mood to mingle. I was going through a heartache unlike any other and I had recently left a fashion-retail job I loved for what I thought would be a great opportunity, but I was wrong. It was a time of immense change in my life and walking into that studio felt overwhelming. My mom had started dancing there a few months before I did, and she loved it; she told one of the dance instructors to introduce himself to me, because we’d be a good match. I was in a bratty, “I hate the world” kind of mood, but I faked a smile and shook his hand. He was bubbly and a lot of fun, but I was so upset I couldn’t even dance.
I sat there on the sidelines, cuddled in a taupe colored sweater, sulking and thinking. I looked into the other, distant ballroom and watched as two instructors danced the American Tango together and I fell head over heels, just like that. I thought to myself, “I’m going to become a ballroom dancer and learn the American Tango.” Not only was the American Tango one of the first dances I learned at Arthur Murray, but it also flowed like no other. It came so natural to me that my instructor turned to me and said, “That is your dance.” I quickly fell for Argentine Tango, as well. The movement and passion within the Tango is mesmerizing and sensual. Dance is a language, and usually I dance simply to escape from the madness around me.
I learned Rumba, Salsa, Waltz, Foxtrot, and Hustle, of course within a year, graduating to a Bronze II level. I’ve learned a little Swing (and West Coast Swing) as I continue to grow through Bronze II with my other concentrations. I’ve received high scorings in all of my dances, especially Argentine Tango & Rumba by incredible judges at showcases. I’ve learned so much and have fallen hard for ballroom dancing, thanks to Arthur Murray and Franddy (the best partner in crime a gal could ever ask for). I am a ballroom dancer not because of the desire to compete, but because I have to dance. Ballroom dancing isn’t about being perfect…it’s about passion and heart. If you need to be there, dancing and growing, then it’s a part of who you are. I will compete when time and money align, but my goals revolve around teaching & one day owning a dance studio. I know it may be years and years before that dream becomes a reality, but that’s okay.
Whenever I tell people I ballroom dance they always look at me with amazement and usually reply with, “That’s awesome! Just like Dancing with the Stars?” I smile and say, “When you’re not being filmed for a well-known television show it’s very different, but yes I wear a lot of sparkle and I dance the same dances.” I don’t do what I do for the flicker of camera bulbs or to earn loads of money (lol, not even close). You don’t dance to earn an income; you dance to do what you love. Ballroom dancing is an addictive, alluring, and expensive world filled with beautiful people, and some pretty intense individuals. I’ve watched women mess up just slightly and leave the floor crying. I’ve seen many stop showing up because the money and, or the nerves were too much. I’ve been asked after doing thirteen dances at a showcase, “How do you go out there and not feel nervous?” I always laugh and say, “I embrace the butterflies!” I still get nervous and I make mistakes, but when one of the judges tells me how beautiful I am to watch, the butterflies fade away. The amount of time I’ve put into dance shocks some people, and I know that being a part of the ballroom dancing world does make personal relationships challenging. I’ve been at the studio late at night numerous times, or there may be an event/showcase that takes up a block of time (the weekend). I’ve often joked that I would sell an organ to keep dancing, but in many ways I’m being honest. It takes a lot of soul and drive to continue with ballroom dancing and to digest the critiques, because everyone has off days. It’s a beautiful sport and one hell of a workout, despite the sexy outfits and high heels.
I owe everything I’ve accomplished and the girl I’ve become to Franddy, my first and forever favorite dance partner (and instructor). I met Franddy at a fragile point in my life, but he reminded me of how strong I am, no matter what I’m dealing with. He showed me that I’m a storm and a force to be reckoned with, and he was right. Dance is art, but when you dance with someone else you create more than just art…you create a feeling and a bond. We are both embarking on journeys that may take us away from each other and the dance floor at the moment, but dance forever connected us. I’m thankful for the laughs and for being able to dance through the tears with the absolute best partner. Thank you for always believing in me, for dipping me down low, and for continuing to teach me (even if our moments are few and far between now). Franddy, you took my life and shook it up, in the best possible way. Thank you for creating a sparkly, driven monster (so much love, xo).
I also want to thank all of the other instructors at Arthur Murray, and some who are no longer there (we miss you!). To Brandon and Nick, who are two incredibly talented dancers, who went on to pursue other things, you both taught me so much. Brandon, thank you for showing me that dance is about having fun and being yourself, and that nothing else matters if you’re remaining true to yourself. Nick, thank you for always putting up with me (haha) and for being just as sarcastic as I am. Also, thank you for the brief and truly amazing country two step lessons. Jarrod, I am excited to be working with you currently and I appreciate everything you teach me during our sessions. Thank you for helping me fall further in love with Waltz.
Arthur Murray Marlton is more than just a dance studio for me; it’s my second home. I walk in and I feel as though I can breathe again. The Arthur Murray family is very real and I am so thankful for those I’ve met through ballroom dancing. No matter where life takes me, that studio will always be one of the biggest parts of me.