As a communications coach, I remind my clients that growth occurs when we push ourselves out of our comfort zone. When we stretch ourselves to do something that is not easy, scary, or both. On July 29, 2022, I did exactly that when I entered my first ballroom dance competition. Mind you, when I started taking lessons, I had no intention of competing. It took a lot of prodding from my dance instructor before I said yes.
My passion for ballroom dancing comes from the ABC hit show, “Dancing with the Stars.” I love the elegance, the choreography, and the bodies’ beautiful movement. I also love the personal transformation contestants go through as a result of pushing themselves out of their comfort zone.
Before I was a certified professional coach, I was an award winning news anchor. I covered many world events, and interviewed many prominent leaders and celebrities, including Tony Dovolani, one of my favorite professional dancers on DWTS. Not only did I interview him, but he also taught me a 30 second tango. Dancing with a champion like Tony was unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I vowed that day that someday I would take lessons. That day came last summer.
I started private lessons with Andriy Vitenko from Ukraine. From day one, we hit it off, but I quickly learned how challenging learning ballroom is. I’m a musician, but I still struggled with the beat and remembering the steps. When coaching clients, I encourage them to practice their remarks out loud because of the muscle memory that occurs from the brain to the mouth. However, the message from my brain down to my feet was taking a lot longer. Granted, it does have to travel all 5’7” of me, as opposed to the four inches from my brain to my mouth.
Every time Andriyl mentioned entering a competition, I always said “no, I was not interested,” and yet, after weeks of gentle pressure, he convinced me. I assumed I was a beginner, but Andriyl suggested I was ready for the Pre-Silver and Silver categories doing four different choreographed routines for each dance style; cha cha, rumba, swing and mambo. I rented a beautiful costume, did my own stage makeup—thankfully I knew how to do that—and one of the instructors from my studio did my hair in the appropriate style for my Latin dances.
I was excited and nervous all at the same time. I barely remember anything from round one—the Pre-Silver category— but it was a good warm-up for the Silver category. I had so much fun! More than I even expected. Why? Besides the fact that I love to perform and am also a competitive person, I was truly proud of myself for having learned something new. For pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
Later that day, I found out I placed first in five of my eight dances, and second place in three others. That was simply icing on the cake. I plan to continue with my new hobby. Up next, Bolero!