For my STEP project, I chose to expand my knowledge and skill in ballroom dancing (called DanceSport) through a summer of private lessons and one Pro-Am competition. This project took place during the summer of 2019 and the competition took place on June 29th. DanceSport encompasses many different types of dance, so I focused on the American Smooth style, which includes American Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, and Viennese Waltz. The lessons and Pro-Am competition were with my coach, Jeffrey Goltiao from Dance Edge ballroom dance studio.
I had started dance only a little over a year before I began my STEP project. I learned and grew quickly during that year, but my growth was limited to what I could learn from other students. During my lessons this summer, I had the opportunity to study under a professional coach. I was able to learn the techniques involved in the dances I studied more deeply than I had been able to in the past. This study of technique not only helped me to become a better dancer, but also allowed me to understand why certain things are done in dance. For example, when before I had simply memorized when to step leading with the heel or the toe in a figure (or dance step), I can now intuitively determine this type of footwork for figures I had never done before.
This experience also had some unexpected transformational value. One of my goals in dance was to compete at the Open Novice level, which is the first level where dancers are allowed to stray from the written syllabus and created new choreography. My coach was able to get me to this point in my dance. The unexpected result of this was that my confidence increased significantly. After this program and the lessons with my coach, I feel I can classify myself with the upper-level dancers that I’ve looked up to since I started dancing.
Another major component of my transformational experience was the Pro-Am competition. Pro-Am stands for Professional Amateur and is when a student (amateur) competes with their coach (professional). This being a very expensive way to compete, I had never been able compete Pro-Am until participating in the STEP program. Having competed at the collegiate level only, this opportunity opened me up to the world of amateur DanceSport. The competition excited me, causing me to now be more driven than ever to improve my dancing. In fact, it has helped to shape my view of my future to ensure that Amateur DanceSport will be a part of it.
The Pro-Am competition also helped to boost my confidence in my dancing abilities. At the competition, I danced in five different events. The first four events were four individual dances, one for each dance in the Smooth style. The fifth event was a 4-dance challenge, where I danced all four dances back to back and was judged in all of them collectively. I placed 1st in all five of these events. Off the floor, I had other dancers, both professional and amateur, tell me that they thought I had good potential. Hearing the approval of other dancers, often at higher levels than myself, helped me to feel that all my practice and lessons had paid off. My confidence in my dancing grew along with my motivation to continue to work hard.
In the end, this experience has been valuable to my life. As my confidence in my dancing grew, it helped to boost my confidence in my daily life. This has been very beneficial as I am taking on a leadership position in the OSU DanceSport club I am a member of. In addition, the skills I learned and improved during my lessons has helped me to find an upper level collegiate partner to compete with in the upcoming competition season. Finally, through this experience I have solidified my love of DanceSport, which has shaped my future goals to include it.