Fluttering across the laminated wood floors are quick, elegant dance steps that tap with confidence to the music’s beat.
These structured steps are ones that can only be derived from rehearsal.
Some of these steps belong to experienced members who serve as mentors to beginners who are learning to perfect each step with poise.
Together this unique group of dancers forms the Keene State Ballroom Dancing Club.
During practices held every Wednesday night from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. members practice the various ballroom techniques.
Styles such as the tango, the waltz, the salsa, the cha-cha, and even the mambo are practiced weekly.
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However, this club is not just centered on perfecting each step; it’s about establishing a connection with a group of people who share the same passion for dancing.
“I love the connection between dance partners, where everything isn’t choreographed,” junior Michelle Davy, president of the Ballroom Dancing Club, said.
Developing a sense of trust with your partner creates this connection.
Dancers must trust their partners to guide their every move in a way that eliminates the fear of getting feet stepped on.
“You need to know the moves, but you need to learn how to anticipate what your partner is thinking,” Davy said.
Learning to outline the intentions and thoughts of your partner will allow dancers to not only become more comfortable with their movements, but it will allow them to concentrate on the grace of their motions.
Davy, who has been a member of the Ballroom Dancing Club for three years, was inspired to join the club after seeing experienced performers salsa dance on Appian Way.
“It’s a different art form, it’s a different dance from what I’m used to. But I like how you need to rely on people more,” Davy said.
Relying on your partner to lead you in each step makes this art form a collaborative process that would be lacking without the mutual trust between partners.
The rapid, rhythmic motions of cha-cha are ones that captivate the majority of these dance partners.
“There’s a certain spontaneity that makes it exciting,” Davy said. “Cha-Cha gives you a chance to be spontaneous; it lets you really show off.”
Like Davy, junior Jillian Tomaselli feels the desire to emit a sense of energy when hearing the rhythmic beats of the cha-cha music.
Tomaselli, who has been dancing since her junior year in high school, is the vice president of the Ballroom Dancing Club.
For Tomaselli, the ballroom dancing technique came naturally. “I can’t do any other type of dance and this was structured and it was a lot of fun,” Tomaselli said.
Dancers such as Tomaselli prove that ballroom dancing is anything but impossible.
The range of experience among the members shows that talent and enjoyment are derived from dedication and giving an unknown art form a chance.
“Once you learn the basic moves for one dance, they translate into others,” Tomaselli said.
Along with learning basic dance moves, dancers develop characteristics that directly translate into how they choose to represent themselves.
Translating from the dance floor to reality are traits of assurance and elegance that originate from perfecting each dance step, and developing a physical connection with a partner.
“You feel confident, you feel slightly more graceful,” Tomaselli said.
For Dennis O’Brien, “There’s no intimidation factor anymore. You can go up to anyone and ask them to dance,” he said.
O’Brien, who is a resident of Keene, N.H., has been dancing for eight years and has been a part of the Ballroom Dancing Club for five years.
For O’Brien ballroom dancing is an opportunity to feel sophisticated.
This aspect of sophistication has allowed O’Brien to excel in styles such as salsa, tango, and mambo.
“Dancing defines me. It builds a respect for people of all ages. You learn to accept everyone,” O’Brien said.
“You can meet every kind of person and you can actually use this dance style,” O’Brien said.
The contact between partner and partner, the fluidity in the sequence of movements, and the poise that is exuded through every step, can all be showcased at places such as weddings, fund raisers and even clubs.
“You can go to a club and you can do three or four of the dances at the club and people will start to watch,” O’Brien said.
However, for O’Brien, ballroom dancing is more than just seizing control of the audience’s attention.
Ballroom dancing is about handling each movement with charm and conviction; it is about presenting a harmonious collaboration.
The ability to read and interpret a person’s body language and eye contact and then transform these signals into a dance that captures the audience’s thoughts and emotions is what defines a talented performer.
“When you finish dancing with someone and they’re smiling in the end, that’s when you know you did a good job,” O’Brien said.
Samantha Norton can be contacted at email@example.com