While I was at Embassy Ball, I was interviewed by FloDance, a division of FloSports. It’s like an online sports channel, focused on dance and specifically ballroom. The site has really great content with a mix of articles and videos, including two articles I wrote for them (check them out here and here)! I’m excited about this site and hope it brings more awareness to this art/sport, as well as brings to light issues that are overlooked, like the one that inspired this post.
The interview wasn’t random; someone had contacted me about the possibility. But we hadn’t planned on doing the interview at Embassy. It was just happy circumstances as the interviewer ran into me and Teacher’s partner while she was doing my makeup. Since we were both there for the day, we arranged to meet after my single dances were done.
I believe my interview will be published later this month, but clips of it were included in another video titled “The True Cost of Being a Dancer.” You can watch it here:
As the only pro-am dancer in the video, I feel very grateful and honored to be the voice of those who financially support the pro dancers while pursuing their own passion. I hope I represented the group well! I found the juxtaposition of my comments and the pros’ interesting though, or rather the expression of said comments. It intrigued me enough that I felt compelled to blog about it.
“It’s expensive, straight up”
That’s the first interview comment you hear in the video, and it’s me. Keeping it real over here!
Three professional couples were also interviewed about the money aspect and they were all just that: professional. Even in the way they spoke to the interviewer, they were calm, collected and even-toned. This was a serious and practical topic for them, maybe one that they didn’t really like to discuss. Me on the other hand – my tone changed with nearly every statement, my face was animated (why can’t I get it to do that while I’m dancing?). I laughed at the ridiculous expense (if only to keep from crying).
Maybe it was because I had no experience being interviewed and they did. No one told me to not get too excited or animated on camera, but maybe it’s a thing you know from experience? I think the difference in attitude and how we acted on camera (me vs. the pros) came from our different perspectives though. Ballroom dancing is their career. As they say in the video, the costs of coachings and competitions are investments. They are justifiable investments that can lead to opportunities for career advancement. They’re also investments with little financial return. Pro dancers must teach in order to support their professional dance career. It’s not a funny topic or something to get emotional about. It’s business.
Ballroom dancing is my passion. I am working to make it a source of income one day, but for now, I rely on a different job to pay the bills. Maybe it’s easier for me to laugh at the expense because if I can’t afford it, I miss out on some dancing. If the pro can’t afford it, their career might be over. But I’m certainly not laughing when I have to tell Teacher I need an extra week or two to pay for the next batch of lessons or I’m missing yet another competition because I couldn’t put the money together in time. I’m not laughing when my passion for dancing goes unfulfilled because the financial cost of admission to the ballroom world is too high.
We all chose this passion though. Well, to be fair, it really chose us. But we decided to answer its call. The pros decided to take the big risk of asking their passion to also be their livelihood. We all decided the cost was worth it. It’s worth making whatever sacrifices we need to make in order to get out on that floor and dance.
Personally, I hope I hold onto my jaded sense of humor about the whole money issue. We’re all in similar boats, so why be so serious? Yes, I go through periods when the stress overwhelms me and I lose the ability to laugh about it. I struggle with the feeling that I don’t belong because of my financial status. To help me through those times, I focus on my passion and my personal journy.
I also hope I don’t lose the sense of novelty at wearing rhinestones on a Thursday morning. It’s those little things and those brief, beautiful moments of performance with your dance partner that make up the magic of ballroom.
The financial cost of ballroom is an important topic and shouldn’t be avoided. I’m glad FloDance decided to talk about it openly and from multiple sides. It’s something every ballroom dancer has to deal with, whether you’re a top pro or a newcomer student. But we shouldn’t let it extinguish our passion like a wet towel thrown over a fire.
If you’re struggling with the finances of ballroom, don’t forget about Dance Diaries: Ballroom Budgeting. In it, I share how I fit ballroom in my budget and the numerous tips and tricks I use to manage or reduce the costs. When you download the book, you also get access to the actual spreadsheet tool I still use to make sure I have enough money to fund my dancing. So check it out and then go dancing!