How Ballroom Dance Is Different From What Everyone Expected

How I Have Benefited From Ballroom Dance


Magdalena Reutzel, Staff Writer

I am not lying when I say that most kids today wouldn’t think of ballroom dancing as an interesting extracurricular activity. Whether it is because of the rules surrounding it, the effort put in, or simply because it wouldn’t fit your ‘image,’ most kids will stay far away from dancing. That being said, from my two years dancing Latin ballroom, I have found that this isn’t the case. Ballroom dancing, simply put, is a more elegant form of pair dancing. Ballroom dance can also be split into two groups, traditional ballroom, such as tango or waltz, and Latin, which includes ChaCha, Samba, Rumba, Paso Doble, and Jive. I personally take Latin ballroom and know routines to the Latin dances stated above. Ballroom has helped me in more ways than I can count, but I felt the need to write about some of the ways it has.

I have seen a large positive aspect in my health since I have started ballroom. I have mild scoliosis, and my spine is curved. I started ballroom in November of 2018, when my spine curvature was at 10%. Just last year, I had my back looked at again, and my curvature went from that 10% to 6%. And I owe it all to ballroom dancing. When dancing ballroom, it is crucial to have great posture. That translated itself into my regular lifestyle, allowing my spine to be straight for most of the day, and I am confident that helped straighten out my spine.

Ballroom has significantly helped me grow as a person. I can be quite shy when meeting new people, not really knowing what to say. I happened to be like that when I first came to my dance studio, Steppinout Ballroom Dance, but when you need to dance with partners, there isn’t really any room for awkwardness. Quite quickly I learned how the dynamic of our school worked, and I started to talk to more of the dancers within the classes. Now, I talk to almost every dancer in my classes, and actively participate in conversations. I was accepted into their family pretty early on.

Speaking of family, I have never been a part an extracurricular activity that has been as accepting and friendly as my dance school. Within the first few days of joining, I had met everyone in my class, and was working on dancing with a partner. Soon enough, I started getting out of my own mind, talking to other people that had started around the same time I did. After getting more comfortable with the people in my classes, I was able to trade stories with them, and get their advice. I think I might have more friends at my dance studio than I do at real school. They have become my second family.  Just recently, we had these two girls that had come into our class because they were interested in doing ballroom. I helped show them how exactly to do a few steps when we were working on arm and hip motion, and we exchanged pleasantries. I love meeting new people within these classes, and I hope that I can become close to them. I know what it is like to be the new kid, and I hoped that I could offer them advice if they needed it, just like how the other dancers did to me.

Technique is a huge part of dancing, and it is something that I transfer over into other aspects of my life. For starters, I have now learned how to do anything in heels. Dancing? We have to wear special ballroom shoes that have heels on them. Running in a game of tag with my guy friends? Not a problem, in fact, I believe I can do anything better in heels than I could without any shoes on at all. My posture is something I will absolutely stress when people ask me what it is that I have taken with me from dance. I used to slouch a lot, sometimes still do, but if my mom catches me slouching, the only thing she says is ‘dance posture.’ That immediately makes me sit up straighter and roll my shoulder back and down. It helps me to not get so scrunched up, and tight. I also don’t feel as awkward when it comes to being in close proximity to humans of the opposite gender. As I stated before, I had to dance with a partner quite early on in my dancing lifestyle. The boys that I danced with are probably some of the people I feel the closest to in my dance classes. The awkward fumbles and shy remarks went away as quickly as they came when I danced with these boys, and now I don’t mind doing partner work.

I do understand that not everyone goes to ballroom dance, and that not every dance studio will be exactly like mine. If given the chance however, I do recommend going for the experience of being a part of this type of dancing, whether it be traditional or Latin. Being in a situation like mine, you learn life skills that transfer over to your schoolwork.

Memorization would be what I say is the biggest point for kids who what parts of their life to intermix. You don’t just learn the dances there, but footwork, the tempo to the song, similarities between dances, and technique. Footwork means keeping your foot turned out, stepping your toe first then going ball flat, knowing exactly how many steps to take within a certain count, and how big of steps to take. You must do this all with a smile on your face on the comp floor with your partner. The tempo of a song greatly decides what type of dance you are doing. Something like Meghan Trainer’s Dear Future Husband has an upbeat tempo of a Jive; meanwhile songs like Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud would be the tempo of a Rumba. A lot of the dances happen to share the same moves. ChaCha and Rumba even have the same basic look to their dances, besides the fact that you don’t do a ChaCha action in Rumba.  When working on technique you need to make sure that you are doing the best you possibly can, and that you understand that there is always room for improvement.

Understanding different cultures is perhaps my favorite part about dancing. When you are dancing these dances, it can almost feel as if you are allowing yourself the ability to live another life, even if only for a moment. You can allow yourself to immerse yourself in another culture and become completely consumed when inside it. For this reason, I really love Samba. Samba has such a unique look to it, that once you get good at recognizing the beats to songs, and the dance itself, you will easily be able to point it out in the sea of everything else. I love researching the cultures of the dances that I am learning in order to fully understand how these dances are characterized.

Musical appreciation is something that I feel is mandatory when dancing these sorts of dances. When dancing ballroom dances, especially Latin, listening to the tempo of the song, and the beat in which is in the background serves as a tool to differentiate the types of dances. Samba, for example, has a bounce in the background that translates into how you dance it. Rumba can be counted by 2, 3, 4…1. By holding the 4 and always stepping on 2, as well as the speed of the dance makes Rumba distinct.

Having been dancing for two years now, I have realized how much effort is put into productions. Dance recitals and competitions are just a few of the amazing opportunities that arise from dancing, and a lot of work and meticulous detail is put into the performances to make sure they are perfect. I would spend extra hours at the studio for rehearsals, and I have some friends who dance for hours on end, every day of the week. It is a never-ending process that boosts your drive for working and enables you to add extra effort into anything you do.

Ballroom dancing, especially Latin ballroom, is an interesting and different way of expressing yourself.  It is enlightening to be a part of a community that embraces these different types of dances. It is more than just dancing, it is an art form. I couldn’t be prouder to be a Latin dancer.


Steppin’ Out Ballroom Dance

(909) 713-6726

8768 Archibald Avenue,

Rancho Cucamonga, CA, 91730


Arthur Murray Dance Centers

(951) 684-7767

3684 Sunnyside Drive,

Riverside, CA, 92506


Fox Dance Studio

(909) 335-5959

330 Alabama Street, Suite H

Redlands CA, 92373