Yvonne Hao (11) has been ballroom dancing for 8 years. As a young girl, she was instantly intrigued by ballroom dancing when she saw that girls got to wear high heels, and eventually fell in love with the dance-sport.
Besides her classes on Saturdays that are 4 hours long, Yvonne also trains on Sundays for two and a half hours. She generally goes to the studio around three times a week. On top of that, she usually practices at home, once or twice a week. Yvonne starts her training with stretching, which is especially important because ballroom dancers dance in 5-7 cm heels. After stretching, Yvonne does “energy practice”, a routine where all of the dancers go through every single dance that they know consecutively without a break in order to train their stamina.
In ballroom dancing, posture and presentation is extremely crucial. “You focus on specific parts of your body that other sports don’t focus on,” says Yvonne. During a competition, the dancers never know when and where the judges will be looking – they could be examining their posture, their footwork, or even their facial expressions.
Yvonne’s teachers, Alex and Melody Hou, keep her anchored and provide her with inspiration among her hectic training schedule. According to Yvonne, her teachers are the only Taiwanese ballroom dancers that placed in the top 6 of the Blackpool Competition, a worldwide ballroom dancing competition. Her teachers became national winners at the age of 25. Their strict yet parent-like personalities is what keeps Yvonne going.
In a ballroom dancing competition, there are two categories: modern dance and Latin dance. Modern ballroom dancing, which includes waltz and tango, “is more smooth and elegant” while Latin ballroom dancing is “more wild” and incorporates more jumping. Both modern and Latin ballroom dancing include 5 different types of dances. Yvonne does all 10 types in both Modern and Latin. No wonder “energy practice” is a crucial part of her training.
While Yvonne loves to “[be] able to dress up nicely and exercise at the same time,” ballroom dancing is much more than just aesthetics. In this sport, especially on stage, “you rely on your own practice.” Although Yvonne and the other dancers on her team can rely on each other for support, ultimately, “on stage, you and your friends are all rivals in a friendly and competitive way.” During competitions, half of the competitors are eliminated in one round. “[Ballroom dancing] is a type of dance that requires passion but at the same time, you have to know how to restrict yourself,”says Yvonne. Ballroom dancing is “crazy, but elegant”.