An Introduction – April 18, 2013

What this blog is all about

My name is Jenny, and together with my husband, Christopher, we run Dance2Impress – a ballroom dancing business! This blog is about all things DANCE. I’m no expert, and don’t claim to be, so please take everything you read here as my personal opinions, views and thoughts. I hope my blog sparks lively discussion and gives you a new perspective!

A little about me…becoming a Professional

Unlike many people in this field, I started dancing a little later in life – in my mid teens. Although I’ve spent much of my life, whether physically or emotionally invested in this sport (and yes, this is a sport!!) I came into the game a lot later than most professional dancers. I explored all forms of dance as a kid – some ballet, jazz and the like. However, I was always drawn to Ballroom/Latin and wandered into a dance studio in my teens, after taking some salsa classes. I instantly fell in love and after a few months, landed my first partner. He was older, with limited experience and perfectly nice. However, he lacked drive and I especially wanted to compete. Inevitably we broke up. My second partner was a different story. We competed in the Amateur International Ballroom and Latin categories and did quite well for our level. We were young and naïve. Our views were limited to that of our coaches and our perspectives were pretty narrow. However, we persevered and fumbled through syllabus levels as best we could. After a few years our partnership ended and I was devastated. As a busy and broke University student, I lacked the resources to really go after my dream. I also needed to graduate and start working pretty quickly due to some personal circumstances and so dancing faded into the background.

All in all, I exited the dance world as gracefully as possible. Which frankly, didn’t feel graceful at all. It felt a little part of myself get ripped away (cue dramatic heart-wrenching music). Once you’ve had a taste of ballroom dancing, it’s hard to stop. It’s challenging, exciting, beautiful and so much more. The truth is, I couldn’t stay away completely and so I kept tabs on what was happening as an external spectator. I watched videos, read articles and kept thinking about the “what if”. However, my competitive dance shoes were put away and replaced by work, life and the occasional salsa outing.

Years later, I met my husband – Christopher, and he brought me back into the dance world. Christopher started dancing at 13 and turned pro at 19 in order to afford dance lessons and University. He started teaching, helped manage a studio and competed for over a decade in Canada and internationally. We started dating in 2007 and I convinced him to do a show with me later that year for a large family function. It was quite the challenge admitting that I was not only extremely rusty, but also had limited information. After a few shows, we started talking about competing. One of Christopher’s fortes is Pro-Am, a category when a Professional Instructor teaches, practices and competes with an Amateur student. This is a great way to quickly advance and reap the benefits of dancing with someone who has a lot more experience (I’ll post a separate blog entry on Pro-Am I promise). Naturally, we considered trying Pro-Am, given that I hadn’t turned Pro during my competitive career and was not quite there yet. However, there were many PROS and CONS that we discussed ad nauseam. There was also a question of what style we were going to dance. Given my oftentimes 10 hour work days + 2-3 commute, Christopher’s busy teaching schedule plus our forays into post-secondary education, we decided that we needed to be selective. International Latin and Standard was what we both learned in our early careers. However, he was becoming quite proficient in American Rhythm and Smooth, and the style held much appeal. We tried all four styles at different times to work out what made the most sense. We tried to practice but competing felt like a distant reality, a very distant one. I also wanted it more than Christopher, who had competed for so many years that he didn’t have this burning desire to jump back into the rat race. For me, the thought of competing was a much more exciting reality – perhaps I could mend that little hole that burst open when I had to quit many years back. However, I had to resign myself to the occasional show, corporate event, and training session.

In 2010, 10 days before the Canadian Championships, Christopher and I decided to compete in the Professional Rhythm division. I don’t think we slept at all for those 10 days. The experience was a mixed bag of physical pain, doubt, excitement and caffeine. After the experience, our competitive dancing was once again put on hold due to countless injuries, work, life and a ton of other obstacles that shall remain nameless.

In 2012 we finally decided that it was now or never. I had just quit my job, applied and got into an MBA program, and we began to train in Rhythm. We enlisted the help of some top coaches and started focusing on setting small goals – putting together routines, planning practice time, getting back into competitive shape etc. We’ve had a few setbacks and our schedules are still pretty crazy. However, I’ve never felt more excited to dance as I do now. Dancing with your spouse is not for the faint of heart (more on this later) but we’re partners, both on and off the dance floor. Having coaches we admire and trust has also been a great help. Monumental help actually!! We realize that we can’t do it alone. We need someone else’s perspective, knowledge and experience. We’ve now started competing slowly and will strive to take on more categories, perhaps Smooth. The idea of becoming 9-dancers sets those pesky butterflies, with the extra large wings, sprouting around my tummy. But it’s still soooo exciting!!
Our students, some of whom have been with Dance2Impress for quite some time now, are a great motivator. They work so hard to perfect their craft and it makes us want to strive for more!

So now it’s time for sweat, blood and tears – sorry to sound so cliché. No day is the same and no practice is easy. We’re still trying to get into the groove of things and work to reconcile our lives off the floor, our different experiences, and all of the other commitments we have with the dream of competing professionally.

I hope you stay with us on this exciting journey!!!

– Jenny


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