Name: Aaron Wang
Type of Project: Creative Endeavors
My STEP Project was to track my own improvement and changes upon leaning ballroom dancing. Utilizing the resources provided I took professional ballroom lessons and competed at the collegiate level competitions. Along the way I also began to integrate ballroom into a large aspect of my life.
The transformation that my STEP project took me though was building a confidence in me that I did not have before. Thought out my childhood I constantly lack self-confidence and ended up mostly become a very lonely person. After coming to college I decided I wanted to change myself and to do something I always wanted to do which was dance. I chose to join DanceSport at OSU and start ballroom in order to become a classier individual. However in ballroom traditionally the male has to lead and to be confident in making moves.
In leading ballroom I learned to be comfortable with my own skin and being in close contact with other people. STEP funding helped in finding private lessons to learn the proper technique which led to making it easier to form connection with my dance partners. The friends that I made within the community forced situations to help me overcome the obstacles of connection. Though practicing, competing, and eventually teaching ballroom my confidence in my dance skill has then rubbed off into being more confident in my everyday actions.
Ballroom like most skills and sports require constant practice to improve in, when I first started I came in with absolutely no background experience in dance. As a beginner dancer I fell into the same bad habits of looking at my feet and being passive as the lead. I constantly second guessed myself and felt more comfortable just getting dragged around much like how I faced decisions in life. I always felt awkward being in close contact with members of the opposite sex. In dances like the waltz I always left space for Jesus and all twelve disciples. Sometimes I felt like I wasn’t going to ever improve and eventually that I would just be made fun of. But in wanting to keep my promise to myself, I continued to attend lessons. After months of lessons, I became friends with many of the dancers that continued with me. Through helpful mentoring I broke my bad habits and through immense teasing manage to overcome my awkwardness with connection.
A common mentality in DanceSport is that competing is the best practice. The organization is a combination of a competition team and a social club, yet all members are encouraged to compete as soon as they feel comfortable. I was never a competitive person and did not decide to go to my first competition until a year after I started. Some of my STEP funding contributed to paying for competition fees and dance shoes to continue to improve my abilities and confidence. Although I compete now on a regular basis, I still never developed a spirit for competing rather than trying to win I participate to improve my dance skills and build up my relationship to the dance community.
As I began to become more and more involved with ballroom dancing the walls that block each level become greater and greater. In order to further myself I decided to take ballroom lessons over a summer and in turn began to learn how to be able to teach others. Upon return to school, I became in charge of DanceSport’s outreach program to teach classes in resident halls and to other organizations. While the rest of my teammates and friends became more competitive dancers I chose to go it my own way and became I more of a social dancer, the focus being on different styles and general atmosphere. While I still am very much part of the competitive scene and have grown a lot thanks to it, I find myself excelling at the social implications of ballroom dancing. Breaking into the social dance community requires a certain amount of courage to improve oneself mentorship. So after my competitive dance lessons and practice I built up enough background to continuously try to improve myself at salsa dances and other social activities. Now as a senior I am one of the best social dancers in the club and help out newcomers as they learn ballroom for the first time.
This change is significant in my life and one of the greatest and most important reasons I enjoy being a student at The Ohio State University. The experience really helped improve my self-confidence which is important particularly as I finish up my liberal arts major in International Studies I have utilized my new found courage to push excellence in the soft skills I have gain such as public speaking and critical thinking greatly increases my opportunities in the future. While ballroom dancing might have been the center of international politics in the medieval and renaissance periods the characteristic of charm and confidence I believe still play a major influence in diplomacy. In other professional goals ballroom dancing is something that really sets me apart from other and is drastically unique. While I might have similar research or internship experience like my peer being a person who has pursued creative endeavors give me just another edge in furthering myself. While I may not be planning to become a professional dancer or ballroom teacher I will most definitely be making use of my skills in my future plans in personal and professional goals.
Thank you so much for the opportunity and the resources to pursue this transforming adventure.