As follow-up to their joint interview in April, I had asked Elizabeth Thomson and Nicholas Barkley if they would be willing to do individual interviews and share more of how ballroom has impacted their lives. Liz shared her struggles with PTSD and how ballroom brought her back to life in May. Now, we get to hear from Nick!
This month, I invited another dancer to write her own story. We met through Instagram of all places. Her Instagram account (@girlinthe_vans) is mainly videos of her dancing at a gym. No fancy costumes or glamorous settings. Just her, the music, and dance. The story behind these videos is full of pain and loss. But always, there was dance, ready to act as a lifeline when she reached for it.
When I first spoke with Nicholas Barkley and Elizabeth Thomson about doing an interview for the blog, I also proposed a second set of individual interviews. Their stories of how ballroom became the key to coping with their PTSD were incredible and deserved their own spaces, separate from their shared story of becoming an amateur couple.
Liz was kind enough to make time for me during one of her visits down to Orange County. We met at my studio after one of my dance lessons and talked for over an hour. While we sat stretched out on the floor of the teachers’ break room, Liz shared her journey, from enlisting in the Army to getting diagnosed with PTSD to finding relief in ballroom. Although she still struggles, ballroom has been Liz’s defibrillator. It brought her back to life and saved her from becoming “just another PTSD statistic.”
In my continued effort to bring you stories from other ballroom dancers besides me, I’m happy to introduce you to an American Smooth amateur couple, Elizabeth Thomson and Nicholas Barkley. They have backgrounds that you would not expect to find in ballroom and share an important message. This month, we get to learn how they got started in ballroom and formed their new partnership.