Growing up, I was a competitive DanceSport Athlete, and this was certainly NOT BY CHOICE.
While most boys were getting sweaty and muddy playing football in the field, I was kept busy “sashaying” in tights and leather shoes at the studio. Moreover, I was in an all-boys school, and that didn’t help the situation much either. Having traditional Asian parents, I knew I could never get out of this.
At the age of nine, I believed my parents must have hated me to put me through this every weekend.
In April 1989, I took part in my first international DanceSport competition. Back then, it was rare to find kids dancing locally, so my first was against adults.
Donning my bright pink satin costume with high shoulder paddings, I swear I was looking for a hole to hide and could not wait for the event to end.
Despite failing to clinch a place in the top three, I was given an award of appreciation for being the youngest competitor. At that point, I couldn’t understand what it meant to receive recognition. I was young, reluctant and pining to be like the other boys.
As I progressed with more lessons and more competitions, I found myself finding a deeper appreciation for Latin Music and Movement. After trying out Hip-Hop and Jazz, there was a different zenith of beauty felt within dance partnerships, unlike the other genres. Having two people come together to dance was an enjoyment I could not find elsewhere. From the glamorous world I had become part of, to the fulfilment pumping in me when success is achieved together.
My first stint teaching came from a surprising turn of events while I was working in a hotel kitchen as an apprentice chef during my schooling days. From there, I was given more opportunities to teach. Such opportunities continued to arise even after I had moved to a French fine-dining restaurant. If not for such a turn of events, I would have continued to pursue culinary arts.
Through these opportunities, my world opened to people from all walks of life. To transform non-dancers into social dancers, social dancers to competitive dancers and competitive dancers to champions. Such a process gave me a new sense of accomplishment that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Fast forward to the present, I’m now a Professional Instructor, sharing my passion and experiences to the young and aspiring dancers and bringing joy and laughter to those in their golden years.
Looking back, the way that I explore dance choreography today was just as how I would as a chef, concocting new dishes. It was my passion that led to so many opportunities which made my profession today.
So, what has dance taught me?
The “Never Give Up” attitude. You may not get it right the first time, with practice, you will reach your goal.
I have not failed. I just found 10,000 ways that won’t work – Thomas Edison
DanceSport is a team activity between 2 people. You must overcome all differences, share the same goals and work together to produce Art. There is no “I” in team.
“Respect is a 2-way traffic, If you want it, you’ve got to give it.” – R.G. Risch
While kids were playing computer games at home, I was at the studio repeating the same step or action again and again. If you want something bad enough, you’ve got to work hard for it. The light will be waiting for you at the end of the tunnel.
“Fear not the man who practice 10,000 kicks one time but fear the man who practice 1 kick 10,000 times – Bruce Lee
Being a dancer takes a lot of dedication. Sacrifices are inevitable, priorities are a MUST. But what you reap from that is always worth it.
“Practice like you’ve never won, Perform like you’ve never lost” – Bernard F.Asuncion
Dance induces my creativity and showed me how important it is to love the things you do else you end up being miserable.
“Dance with your Heart and the Body will follow” – Mia Michaels
For anyone who wonders if Ballroom Dancing will be an easy path to take - I hope my experience shows you that while it's no walk in the park, it has certainly contributed to my personal success and shaped me to be who I am today.
Lastly, I would like to thank my parents for their foresight and support for bringing me to the world of Ballroom Dancing also known as DanceSport.