First Snowfall and an Impactful Gift Guide

We got our first snowfall yesterday!

Maine didn’t mess around. There was no warm-up round. She went full-out right out of the gate and dropped a couple inches! It was interesting to drive into town for Zumba though. While it was a winter wonderland at home, closer to town, there was merely a light coating of snow on the ground.

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Weekend Update from Maine

Hi Dancers!

This week’s post will be short. Just an update from your friendly neighborhood ballroom dancer. 😉

I hung out with other ballroom dancers this past week! One of my long-time blog readers arranged a lunch for me, her, and her teacher. Turns out the teacher and I had some mutual connections from Southern California, so it was fun to see where our paths crossed in the past. He actually taught at a different branch of the studio where I took my very first lessons! We also chatted about my vision for the future. If I haven’t already mentioned it, I plan on turning the stables on our property into a dance space. Since my journaling exercise about the house worked out so well, expect a similar one about the dance space in the near future.

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Looking Back and then Forward

The response to last week’s blog post was huge! Clearly, I’m not the only one who struggles with reconciling my passion for ballroom with the cost. Before I jump into this week’s thoughts, I wanted to share another older post, which asks the question, “Is it worth competing if the game is rigged?”. This older post is for anyone who feels that their financial situation unfairly affects their placement at competitions because those who (can afford to) compete more get seen more. Familiarity can create an unconscious bias toward dancers who compete more often.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if a bias exists or not. What matters is you and your dancing. If you can only afford to compete once or twice a year, do you really want to taint those precious experiences with worries about whether or not judge bias is affecting your results? Wouldn’t you prefer to take advantage of those few moments you have to dress to the nines and perform your heart out?

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Embassy Memories

Embassy Ball, home of the World Championships under the NDCA and WDC, took place in Orange County, CA this past week. Seeing so many social media posts with photos and videos from the event had me waxing nostalgic over my own Embassy memories. I’ve competed at Embassy Ball three times – 2017, 2018 and 2019. Embassy Ball has been a place of highs and lows for me, each triggering a significant turning point in my dance journey.

I thought we’d take a trip down memory lane, if you’ll indulge me!

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Live Life Passionately: An Interview with Megan Cross

Dancers, please welcome Megan Cross to the blog! Megan has been learning ballroom for just under a year. She started with Fred Astaire Dance Studios of Laguna Hills, CA in the middle of the pandemic and has already conquered a team match and two showcase performances, and is preparing for the Fred Astaire World Championships! Like your host, Megan is also a writer. She recently turned her passion for vintage into a blog called The Vintage Love Letter. I was eager to sit down with her and hear about her initial impressions of ballroom dance and her experiences during the first year of her dance journey.

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Inner Strength + Outer Support: An Interview with Briana Suakjian

I’m super excited to introduce today’s guest to you all because she has had a huge direct impact on my dance journey. Please welcome to the blog, Briana Suakjian! She is the wife and pro dance partner of Kris Suakjian (a.k.a. Teacher!), and together they own and manage the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Laguna Hills, California. They took over their new studio literally weeks before the pandemic shut everything down. Despite possibly setting a record for worst timing ever (or perhaps the best, more on that later), Briana and Kris have successfully built a warm and welcoming dance home for their students. And yes, I may be just a bit biased.

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You Keep Falling Because You Don’t Believe You Can Fly

Way back in 2015, when The Girl with the Tree Tattoo blog was still in the Newcomer division, I wrote an article for another dance website about partnering. I listed trust as one of three key factors for a successful dance partnership. Trust is a funny thing. It is like a house of cards, built up slowly over time, but one wrong move can make the entire structure collapse. It’s very fragile, and at the same time, holds very strong influence over us. We are willing to give so much of ourselves to those we trust without question.

In ballroom dancing, you have to trust your partner. You have to trust in their ability to dance and lead or follow (depending on your role). On a more emotional level, you have to trust them to respect you as you allow them into your personal space. The physical contact required for ballroom dancing (another key factor) can make you feel extremely vulnerable. It takes trust to ease that feeling and make you feel comfortable enough to dance well.

Ballroom dancing also requires trust in yourself.

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Reflecting on the Year of WTF is Happening

I had the opportunity to apply some upgraded technique to my Open Waltz routine this week. Well, maybe I should say I learned that I needed to apply less. I have a tendency to do too much because I think I’m not doing enough. This week, I learned I was rotating way too much in a slip pivot, which then put me at the wrong angle for my heel pull, which then threw me off for the steps coming out of the heel pull. All that was corrected beautifully when I just stopped trying to do so much. Less was more.

Life continues to be really weird, so it was nice to have a moment when things actually made sense.

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Six Years Ago, I Thought My Competition Days Were Over

I don’t think I belong here.

That thought echoed in my head as I watched the pro-am American Rhythm session at the 2014 Holiday Dance Classic, held at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. It was my second competition as a pro-am ballroom student. I was there to dance American Smooth at the Bronze level. Smooth wasn’t until the next day, but Teacher was competing with other students in Rhythm and I wanted to show my support.

All morning, I watched ladies on the floor, dancing in rhinestones, feathers and fringe. During one of his breaks, Teacher pointed out students who seemed to be at almost every competition. I learned that some pro-am students were wealthy enough to fly themselves and their teachers around the country all year, dancing hundreds of entries at one competition after another.

And then there was me.

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