Dancing Forward: A Competitive Dancer's Memos

“Whatever it Takes”

Kacey and Jean Michel Training for Emerald Ball and Blackpool 2019

Kacey and Jean Michel Training for Emerald Ball and Blackpool 2019


In 2014, my friend Cheryl and I both wanted to pursue high level competitive dancing. So, at that time, we flew back and forth to Atlanta every other month for lessons, which was as much as we could afford. We trained together same sex, wanting to get as much practice in as we could to make up for the 30-60 days we were without a coach. We did a showcase together, same sex, thinking it would help us understand the roles of the lead and follow better, and we competed traditional rhythm with our coaches when we could. Every week Cheryl would bring forklift straps over to my house (then an old Victorian house converted into two separate apartments, one upstairs and mine downstairs). We’d squat, one of us on either end of the couch, lift and then haul what seemed like a 300 pound sleeper sofa into the kitchen so we had a tidy 10 ish by 8 ish foot rectangle to practice our rhythm dances.


Cheryl & Jean Michel Preparing for Blackpool 2019

Cheryl & Jean Michel Preparing for Blackpool 2019

Five years later Cheryl and I are both moms, happily housed at Ballroom & Beyond, with a dedicated team of coaches and more enthusiasm and passion for dance than ever. Now with a slightly larger living room—no more hauling couches—we practice our routines in preparation for the Blackpool Dance Festival, May, 2019. Each of us is busier than before, with the increased responsibilities of work and family life. Even so, we know what we want, recognize what’s in our means, make the most of it, and keep clawing our way toward our goals . . .which brings me to the title of this post. I title this post after the platinum hit by Imagine Dragons, “Whatever it Takes.” I picked this song, because the lyrics resonate with the raw drive that compels dancers like me and Cheryl to dig in, push off and thrust forward toward our dreams. It’s the spirit that allows us to be broken down, ripped up, and rebuiltto do what it takes.


Jaki and Jean Michel, Blackpool Finalists 2018

Jaki and Jean Michel, Blackpool Finalists 2018

Fortunately for us, we have the greatest team of coaches possible providing us the map on how to get there. So now here is my shout out to Jaki and Jean Michel. Jaki is the best coach either one of us have ever had at listening to our goals and turning them into actionable items. Be it a move to practice, a mental challenge to overcome, or even an avenue to pursue for financing our competitions, she produces the next step tailor made for each unique need. Jean Michel is literally the rhythm that pumps the adrenaline through our veins, challenging us, keeping us on time, making us feel lively, engaging, and beautiful. . . making us truly feel the dance.

So, I end this reflection with a question for myself and for every dancer reading: this season, what are you going to do to break the chains?

-Kacey Warren, Manager and Student at Ballroom & Beyond