Hello there! This is Stefanie writing in italics. I am excited to share with you a guest blog post from my dear friend, Ivonne, who just competed in her very first ballroom competition! She did an amazing job, and I am so excited to share her story. There is something so special about doing something for the first time and it is wonderful to experience it vicariously “for the first time” alongside her.
And without further ado….Ivonne! (She’s the one not using italics ha ha)
The competition was a little over aweek ago, and I still don’t feel ready to let it go. I’m still savoring every last bit of my experience from that weekend. I was warned that I might crash from the high of the competition, and that it would be totally normal, but I didn’t expect this little wave of sadness now that it is really over. With that sadness has come the realization, though, that I totally want to do it again! And often!
The experience of going to a DanceSport ballroom competition could not have been any more amazing. I couldn’t have wished for it to be better! I wouldn’t have known what to wish for! This was simply perfect: going in there without expectations, not knowing at all what it would be like, free from knowing what it “should” be like, how I “should” stack up against anyone, who is who in the industry and what students they are bringing, how the judges do their thing…I was surprisingly calm about the competition itself. I was not scared about competing. I was not concerned with anyone else’s performance. What I could not shut up about was how excited I was to be there. I am pretty sure everyone thought I was acting like a giddy 16-year-old gushing about a crush.
I can’t even put the events of the day into some kind of order to talk about the day in a way that makes sense to anyone. I barely remember being out on the competition floor and what I did, other than the fact that I enjoyed every second of it, and those minute or minute-and-a-half heats were way too short! Between heats in which we were competing, my partner and I spent the entire time dancing on the practice floor on the other side of the room. Even when others were dancing in dances in which we were not competing, like tango and Vienese waltz, we were back there doing those, too. Just having a good ol’ time! I know that I was a bundle of energy and I had to keep moving to “spend” it. But it was not nervous energy. It was pure happy energy, and I think that it showed all around us.
So how did I do in the competition? Oh yeah, because it was a competition, not just an opportunity to dance all day! Right! Well, I got a lot of first places – mostly first places, actually. And yes, that’s pretty darn cool, but honestly,the placing didn’t even matter to me. I could have gotten all last places and still it wouldn’t have changed a thing for me about this experience.
I was just so happy to be able to dance my heart out, give it the best I could, in the environment in which this is meant to be done, in my”costumes,” with my makeup, and my fancy up-do, surrounded by so many other people who also do this because they get so much joy and happiness from it. It was a great community of people – everyone I met was so positive, and happy, and supportive of one another. Oh my god… I was just in love with life that whole weekend.
I will say this about the placings and the awards. No one told me what we “get” when we place. I thought there were medals or trophies or something like that. But we got stickers. Stickers! Which we were supposed to stick on a certificate. Like a third-grade achievement chart! That made me laugh because it just seemed so anti-climactic for “winning” anything! But hey, I’ll take it. It was just one more fun thing about the day, to look back on and smile. I am not sure if this is the norm for most competitions.
Incidentally, that pink feather in the photo is a souviner from my dress – the one Stef wrote about in this post, It fell off on it’s own but I decided to keep it as a reminder of the day.
One other thing that I really appreciated was that we were able to meet the organizers of the event, the judges, and so many of the other dancers competing. Everyone was very approachable and friendly. I loved that part about the weekend. It was helpful to get the kind of feedback I got in conversations with any of these folks, and the amount of encouragement to keep dancing! When people would learn that I’d only been doing this since November 1st, I always got the same reaction, “WHAT?! That’s it?! I wouldn’t believe that! You are so good! Please don’t stop! You’re a natural! WOW!”
Seriously – to hear strangers tell me that, who have no reason to be nice to me, felt really good. I have been hearing it at the studio, but there was always this little lining of doubt… I always think they’re just being nice.
It was so surreal. All of it. One girl in particular which I had the biggest girl-crush on from the first time I saw her dance… I approached her after the evening show and told her how she’d given me something to work toward and what a beautiful dancer she is. Her response? “Really?! Thank you! Oh my god,we have been talking about you and your partner all day! You guys are so cute, and you dance so well together! We love you guys! Please keep dancing!” To which I could only respond, bewildered and giddy: “Really? Oh my god, I’m going to cry. Stop right now.”Hahahahahaha!
Like I said. I am still relishing the happiness I felt that weekend. So much so that it took me two days to remove my false eyelashes because that was the last bit of “magic” that was left from the event.
There will never be a first time at this again, and I am so grateful to have had this experience! There will definitely be a second, third, fourth… oh yeah, I’m hooked.
Okay, Stef here again. I love the detail about the eyelashes! Ivonne rocked the competition and had an amazing experience. I’m so grateful she chose to share it here. You can see more of Ivonne dancing using the links to YouTube below.
Open Bronze Cha-Cha – 1st place: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Piw2xZQXfJw
Int. Bronze Salsa – 1st place: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81wH6GyckSU
Pre-Bronze Rumba – 1st Place: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GS85WAEWYY
Pre-Bronze Waltz – 1st Place: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UOVOXm4zUc
Newcomer Foxtrot – 2nd Place: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-AjfE3GUBQ
Ivonne – you are a beautiful dancer and your joy for dancing shines through every step! Thank you so much for sharing. I loved all your videos. My personal fav was the foxtrot – but I’m a smooth/standard gal myself! 🙂 Hold onto the high forever! On a “bad” day – reach back for that feeling.
Thank you, Ellen! I just watched YOUR competition videos! So proud of you! You are a beautiful dancer as well! And the adversities you’ve overcome or are still working through in order to get to where you’ve gotten – truly inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing!