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For the Love of Dance

New Jersey Summer Sizzler

By Kayla Van Zeeland

With being a dancer my whole life, it seemed like an easy decision to join the U of M ballroom team when I started college. It was an exciting first year learning what each dance is and getting acquainted with the ballroom world. This summer I decided to push myself and take my dancing to the next level by attending a national qualifier event in Hackensack, New Jersey. Never having attended an event like this before, I had no idea what to expect. My partner and I had not been able to practice the entire month prior due to neither of us being in Minneapolis, but we agreed that we really wanted to go for the experience and to expose ourselves to more of the ballroom world. We wanted to focus on what we could learn from the experience instead of winning. With this mindset we hit the floor. At first, we were both nervous, but as we continued dancing with each other something else became apparent. Yes, we dance to win. Yes, we dance to get better. Yes, we dance to compete. BUT we also dance because we love it. The feeling that overcomes you when you dance is like no other. Knowing that you have to depend on not only yourself, but your partner to be successful makes the reward so much greater because you know you accomplished it together. I know I had a huge smile on my face the whole day because nothing compares to the feeling of dancing.

Although dancing was my favorite part of the day, I can’t leave out the spectator portion. Watching my teammates, the open divisions, and the senior divisions made me arrive at the realization that I want to continue this for as long as humanly possible. I want to someday reach the open levels and yes, when the time comes, compete in the senior divisions. It was so amazing to be in a ballroom filled with people of all skills and ages who are here for love of dance. I was so proud of how my partner and I performed, but after watching the rest of the competition, I am so excited to see where we will be in a few years as we keep working hard.
At the end of the day, my experience in New Jersey caused me to fall in love with dance all over again. I learned so much from the experience and look forward to hitting the practice rooms so I can keep improving. Yes, we all hope to win when we enter a competition, but the real reason we do this day in and day out is for the love of dance.