This is part of the Dancer Spotlight series to show how someone got into dance and how dancing fits into his/her day.
Stephanie is the owner of Ballroom Connection and has been dancing all her life.
She did European Folk Dancing as a young child, Chinese Classical Dancing in high school, and then some ballroom dancing in college. When she first moved to the Bay Area for her MA in Advertising, she was very bored in the suburbs.
Then one day, Stephanie was hanging out with some newly-made friends when they played some Waltz music. One person asked Stephanie to dance and discovered that Stephanie knows some ballroom dancing! So he then introduced Stephanie to the “original” Starlite Ballroom.1 She was so happy and danced the night away. She also made many friends and learned about Bay Area’s vibrant dancing scene.
She soon started partnering with an instructor teaching social dance classes. At that time, there was only one dance shoe store in the Bay Area and it didn’t have good customer service. Encouraged by students and friends, Stephanie quit her comfortable real estate job and opened Ballroom Connection to serve the dance community.
After social dancing and teaching for 8 years, Stephanie felt she was no longer improving and wanted to quit. Instead, she started taking private lessons and trained in the International Standard style. This led to Pro-Am dance competitions and, later, Amateur competitions.2
On Sunday, July 31st, Stephanie and her partner, Doug, competed at the International Grand Ball. Although they get eight min on the dance floor for the competition, the day involves considerable preparations. In the morning, Stephanie had hair and makeup appointments to make sure she was looking her best. Then she arrived early to warm up with Doug. Despite competiting for 15 years, she still feels nervous leading up to the competition.
During the competition, Stephanie calmly surrenders herself to the dancing because there’s nothing to do at this point except to dance the best she knows.
Afterwards, she feels relieved as she hungrily eats her lunch. Afterall, Stephanie and Doug won first place for Amateur Championships -Senior.
Asked for one word to describe dancing, Stephanie chose: Passion. She can’t explain why other than she loves it and it brings her joy.
1 The “original” Starlite Ballroom was the largest ballroom dance club in the US at 17,400 sq.ft. It closed many years ago for development into housing and businesses. Many of the staff and dancers switched to the recently closed Cheryl Burke Studio and now the “new” Starlite Ballroom.
2 Pro-Am stands for Professional-Amateur. “Pro-Am competition is a category in DanceSport where amateur students partner with a professional dancer, similar to what you see on ‘Dancing Withe The Stars.'” Source: The Ballroom Dance Company