A Review of Desert Classic 2019 From the Sidelines

I’m having the worst time deciding how I want to start this blog post, so I’m writing this sentence just so there is something written. Maybe it will start flowing from here.

Or we can skip to the end – I had a simply wonderful time at Desert Classic this past week! It was the perfect mix of work and pleasure and left me feeling relaxed and fulfilled. I had a couple moments watching the competition when I felt that bittersweet wish to be the one on the dance floor, not in the audience, but actually those moments were far fewer than I expected. I was too busy enjoying myself, cheering others on, and connecting with dance friends, both new and old.

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Dance/Life/Work Balance Doesn’t Exist

The question of how to balance different aspects of life, such as building a business while working a full-time day job or training and competing as a dancer on the side of a non-dance career, has come up in multiple circles this past week. So I thought I’d throw in my two cents.

Multiple articles, written by myself and guests, have been published on this blog about finding a balance between these things. Now that I’m older and wiser, I think we were all wrong.

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“Ballroom Was My Defibrillator” – A Conversation with Elizabeth Thomson

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.”

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Ask the Girl Episode 10: Love And Ballroom

After reading my articles on the pro-am relationship, one of my readers asked if I would write about how the relationship between a student and their ballroom instructor might affect relationships outside of the ballroom. He noted that a lot of the students at his studio came to ballroom after a romantic relationship had ended. Ballroom has helped heal a lot of emotional wounds for them.

It makes sense; a ballroom studio and a good teacher provide a safe arena in which someone can start to trust and connect with another person again.

So what happens when you start looking for a new romantic partner? How does your connection with a dance partner affect your connection with potential life partners? How do your expectations change? How does your approach change?

I took extra time to think about this topic because there are so many different layers to explore. The more I pondered, the more there was to ponder. I reached out to other ballroom dancers to get their insight. And still I am having trouble coming up with a clear outline or angle. So I said screw it, just start writing and see where it goes!

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Countdown to CalOpen – 19 Days: Reflections

Our story begins with a podcast that has nothing to do with ballroom dancing. But since it is the thing that put me on the path to writing this post, I am starting there. Lewis Howes was interviewing Lisa Nichols. You may have heard of them if you’ve gotten into personal development, life coaching or entrepreneurship. They’re both very successful and worth checking out if you’re interested in those things.

Anyway, I was listening to the podcast at work, and at one point, Ms. Nichols was talking about the different types of relationships you will experience in your lifetime. One of them was a purposeful relationship. Someone comes into your life for a specific purpose (whether you’re aware of it or not), and once the purpose is fulfilled, the relationship will become stagnant or break down completely.

There are plenty of directions you could go with this idea, but my mind was transported to my very first competition: the 2014 San Francisco Open.

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The Pro-Am Relationship

The relationship between a ballroom dance teacher and a student (when you are the student) has to be one of the most unique you’ll ever encounter.  On the surface, the arrangement is a professional one.  As the student, you pay the teacher to teach you ballroom dancing and dance with you at competitions.  The teacher teaches you because they are paid to teach you.  It’s a business.  But there are aspects of this arrangement that mirror a very personal and intimate relationship.  They are impossible to ignore and difficult to escape, which is why, I assume, so many professional dance partners are also life partners.  And why you hear so many stories/rumors about students and teachers entering romantic relationships or going through bad “break-ups.”  For a new student, it can be very confusing and often leads to that student getting hurt emotionally. But why?  You know coming into it that you are receiving a service that you are paying for, nothing more.  What is it about this sport/art that turns a business arrangement into an emotional rollercoaster?

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