For 2017, I decided to start monthly interviews/guest posts. I want to share other ballroom dancers’ stories. Some have been inspired by ballroom to start other passion projects. Others found ballroom to be their saving grace. We all have one thing in common: a passion for ballroom dancing. If you have a story you want to share, please let me know!
To start the year off, I’d like you all to meet Cindy Muller, ballroom student and owner of My Ballroom Boutique! Cindy and I met virtually through this blog and Facebook, and we share similar financial struggles in making our competitive dreams come true.
To start off our interview, I asked Cindy to share some of her ballroom journey so far.
1) How long have you been ballroom dancing and how did you get started?
I have been ballroom dancing for just about three years now. It all started when a friend of mine started taking lessons herself and she would share all the fun things she was learning. It really raised my interest to say the least. Right around this time, I was out running errands and drove past an Arthur Murray studio that was very close to where I work. I thought to myself “how come I never knew this was here?” Turns out they had only been open for six months in this new location. When I got back home, I immediately looked them up online and filled out the form to have my very first ballroom lesson. I was hooked and never looked back!!
2) People usually end up being social dancers, performance dancers or competitive dancers. Which path have you taken? What was it that drew you in that direction?
I participate in all three of these areas of ballroom dancing. However, my passion and focus is in competitive dancing. My lessons are mostly structured with ballroom competitions as our main focus (unless we’re preparing for a performance).
When I first started dancing, the owner of the studio wanted to know what my goals were as we moved forward with my lessons. She asked if competing would be something I’d be interested in. I replied with a resounding “NO!!!!” I thought she was crazy for even asking me the question. Well, famous last words. I was never a competitive person growing up and would never have dreamed of doing this in ballroom. We have an event here called a Mini Comp where all the local studios get together for a day of competitive dancing. This is where I was bitten by the bug. I absolutely loved being on the competition floor. It was exhilarating! But it wasn’t just the dancing that lured me into this world of competitive dancing. I loved everything about it: the hair, the makeup, the jewelry and especially the dresses!! This is what started it all.
3) I blog a lot about the challenges and struggles I encounter on my ballroom journey. What is a major challenge that you’ve been able to overcome?
I have a couple of challenges that I struggle with on a somewhat regular basis. One is the cost of everything. This is huge for me since it always seems to halt me in my decisions to go to competitions. This is the number one thing that gets to me and truly affects me emotionally. I see other students able to do a lot more than I can and it kills me inside. It’s something that I have to constantly work on in order to not lose it completely. It’s a constant battle in my head that I just can’t seem to grasp. Why can’t I do what I love and am so passionate about? It doesn’t make sense.
Another challenge that comes up is when I reach a plateau and my lessons seem to be getting me nowhere. The forward momentum that I was so used to when I first started dancing has slowed down dramatically. I can be quite hard on myself and it can put a damper on the once happy lessons I used to enjoy so much.
4) Is there anything you’ve learned through ballroom that was unexpected?
Through ballroom I have learned to overcome my fears on and off the ballroom floor. My very first solo routine with my instructor was absolutely terrifying for me. It was that fight or flight feeling and moment. I’m a highly sensitive person and I feel things a lot more deeply than most people. I’ve been this way my whole life. Once I did my performance, there was this sense of a huge accomplishment that I fought for and succeeded in. I could do this! And I am doing it!!
I love Cindy’s story of triumph over her fear and can totally relate to the frustration of not being able to compete due to financial restrictions.
In addition to learning ballroom dancing, Cindy started a ballroom-related business, a jewelry company called My Ballroom Boutique.
5) When did you start the business and why?
I started my business about a year and a half ago. I was in need of some ballroom jewelry and started searching for some earrings on some popular ballroom websites. I looked at some of the pieces that were for sale and thought to myself, I could totally make these for myself and save a ton of money in the process. I bought the supplies that I needed and created my very first pair of Swarovski crystal earrings. Once I made them, I was looking around my apartment to see what else I could stone!! It’s rather addicting, I must say. A friend of mine suggested I open an Etsy shop! I immediately thought that this could be a great way for me to make some extra cash to help pay for my dancing. From that point on, I taught myself how to create necklaces, bracelets and hair accessories that didn’t have metal components to snag your ballroom dress. It was trial and error but I was able to figure it all out. There are still mistakes being made, but that’s how I’m learning.
6) Did you have an interest in jewelry making before ballroom?
I never had any interest in making jewelry before I started to dance. In fact, every hobby that I ever tried to pick up in my life, never stuck. I guess it just wasn’t my passion. 🙂
7) What is the ultimate goal for My Ballroom Boutique, or what do you hope to accomplish?
My ultimate goal for My Ballroom Boutique is to really cater to the ballroom world and to get my name and product out there. I want to reach out and communicate with dancers and help to create beautiful pieces of jewelry for them to wear on the competition floor. Whether it’s a custom-made piece or something from the shop, I want people to know that this jewelry is made with love and attention is paid to every detail. No two pieces are ever exact since it’s all hand made and never from a machine or template.
One last question:
8) What is something you wish you had known when you first started ballroom?
I never knew that the ballroom world was such a great community of people. This is something I wish I had known when starting to dance. Perhaps I would have started sooner. 😉 The people that I have met and have become friends with is monumental to me (online and in the studio). We share some really strong bonds and have been through some pretty amazing experiences together. I really don’t know where my life would be right now if I hadn’t discovered ballroom dance. I hate to even think about that!! My life is so fulfilled and rich with so many amazing experiences. I feel like I am really living now!! This was the missing piece to my life.
I want to express my gratitude to Cindy for being my first interviewee and sharing her story! If you’re looking for some beautiful ballroom jewelry, please check out her Etsty shop: My Ballroom Boutique. She has some great pieces in her shop and can also make custom pieces.