Making it Work

By Esther Foo and Ziqing Lin

This is a joint piece by Ziqing and Esther, who have been dancing together since 2011 with a little break for Esther’s grad school commitments. Ziqing started ballroom dancing in his senior year of fall 2006, so he has been dancing for eleven years since undergrad. Esther, on the other hand, started social dancing in 2008 when she was in high school, danced throughout her undergraduate career and is currently dancing while in graduate school.

From Esther: It is difficult to pinpoint a specific instance where I knew I fell in love with ballroom dancing and decided that this is the thing I want to dedicate my time to. I believe it was a combination of the music and the aesthetics of dance that first caught my eye and led me to try ballroom, but ultimately, I think it was the intrigue of collaborating with someone else to create something with nothing more than a touch (and some music) that makes ballroom dancing truly remarkable. Dancing has drastically changed my life; I wouldn’t be able to tell you where will I be or what will I be doing if weren’t dancing. Not dancing after I graduate was never really a consideration for me. Of course, it also helps that I can socialize, exercise, rewind, listen to music, sing, make friends, gain confidence, and be creative, all in one practice session. I think it is pretty neat! I’ve heard a lot of people say that there is not enough time in the day to dance, but for me, the best part about dancing is that is saves time while letting you stay mentally and physically healthy!

Ziqing: My very first coach once told me that ballroom dancing is an activity that will draw you in and keep you there for a very long time; no matter how long of a break someone takes, they would eventually return to dancing. It is ironic that I’ll have to admit that I almost quit dancing. Having been dancing alone for a whole year since I first moved to the US*, I was getting frustrated by the lack of partnership and progress. The very day that I steeled my heart and decided to quit, I met Esther, decided to form a partnership, and the rest is history. I think dancing is a great form of release where I have a time set aside to forget all the problems/pressure from studies, work, and daily life. When I step onto a dance floor, all that matters are my partner, the music, and what we can jointly create.

  • Fun fact: I would not be here in this country if I hadn’t started dancing! I started a conversation with my then graduate advisor because he learnt that I was dancing, thought it was cool, and invited me to join his lab. You’ll never know where will dancing take you!

Ziqing and Esther: One aspect about dancing that really appealed to the both of us is the critical cognitive processes involved in dance, and it is also what really motivates us to be better dancers. While dancing encourages creativity and allows for expression through movement, it is simultaneously a process that requires a lot of active thinking and logical reasoning. If you catch us on our down time, more often than not we will be watching dance videos, analyzing movements, discussing what we learned, and thinking about how we can improve our dancing. But on top of that, we definitely enjoy sharing our joy of dance through practicing and competing.

We are currently managing a long-distance partnership because we trust and believe in each other’s vision of dance and know that our goals in dance are aligned. For those who are graduating and might be considering continuing with their current partners but are in different cities, know that it is a challenging process, but with the right partner, it will all be worth it. Despite the fact we only see each other every other weekend, this process has allowed us to develop our own understanding of dance and subsequently ourselves. Hopefully, we will continue dancing for many more years to come! So if you are having doubts about continuing after graduation because of logistical concerns, please, please don’t give up; talk to as many people as you can to hear what they have been through and how you might be able to work something out. We know people that have gone on to finding a partner at a local studio, dancing pro-am, picking up a new dance style, or even turning professional. If there’s a will, there’s a way; so if you’ve enjoyed your dance experience so far, keep dancing!

Last bit of advice: don’t forget to always cherish your partner who shares the same love and dream with you, or that many things are possible with a little sprinkle (maybe more than a little) of hard work!

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