UA Competitive Ballroom Dancers Tell Story

Victoria Esposito’s debut as a competitive ballroom dancer happened in San Diego California in 2017. She joined Wildcat Dancesport, UA’s Competitive Ballroom Dance Club ten days prior to competition. Some of her competitors had ice in their veins,but Esposito attempted to converse with those willing. She finished her performances in the Newcomer Smooth Ballroom dance category.  Despite her inability to place she figured out what her favorite experience was.

“I love the exhilaration of standing in line,” Esposito said.

She got another opportunity to dance after a female in the Silver Latin ballroom dance competition fell ill. Competition levels range from Newcomer to Gold. After earning a trip to the semifinal round, Esposito aspired to reach Gold status. Esposito says she felt prepared to dance. She studies theater and psychology and noted the similarities between theater and ballroom dancing.

“Each dance has a character. Viennese Waltz is elegant and dramatic. For the Tango, it is forbidden lover,” Esposito said.

Esposito takes additional dance lessons with Zhenya Dokuchaeza, an instructor at Dream Dance, in Tucson Arizona.

“ She always tells her students that she can teach someone steps, but she cannot teach performance,” Esposito said.

Esposito’s competitive ballroom experience inspired her to create a theater production. Her company, Once Upon a Ballroom will perform Cinderella in April 2018. Esposito thinks Cinderella can educate the audience.

“Some people think ballroom dance cannot be narrative and that it is always a two-person event,” Esposito said. Esposito is confident that ballroom dancing will merge well in Cinderella.

“Fairytales draw a large crowd {because} they are universal. All forms of dance can tell a story,” Esposito said.

James Lacey is a senior who double majors in computer engineering and neuroscience.

He had not had any dance experience before summer 2017. He describes himself as “introverted” and “socially awkward.”

Lacey says ballroom dancing helps him communicate and increases his confidence. He thinks it will help him engage with dance communities in cities around The United States.

Mary Labus is a UA sophomore who studies biochemistry and linguistics. Her Mother enrolled her in ballet lessons at 6 years old. Labus participated in The NutCracker play three times during childhood. The experience increased her enthusiasm for dancing.

She stopped ballroom dancing at 14 years old after her instructor advised her of her skill levels compared to others the same age. Labus participated in her high school’s marching band while taking a break from dancing. Her ballet experience helped her understand the timing of beat counts.

She joined Wildcat Dancesport her during the second semester of freshman year. It made her feel better about attending UA which was not her first choice. Labus encourages men to join Wildcat Dancesport.

“There are not as many girls in the Newcomers division. It can be harder for the guys to find dance partners,” Labus said.

Wildcat Dancesport rehearses three times a week. New members get a two-week free trial. Those who continue can either pay 45 dollars for a single semester membership or 80 dollars for a 1-year membership. All skill levels are welcome. Once Upon a Ballroom will perform Cinderella April 13-15 in the Ina E. Gittings Gym on the campus of UA. Tickets will be available on the WildcatDancesport Facebook page.

Photo By Isiah McClean/ Unsplash