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What BBX's Meaningful Mission Means to Me

by Rikki Ziegelman, Media Manager

November 13th, 2023

When I was younger, I always knew I wanted to perform. From putting on full  productions in my living room to constantly interrupting classes so all of the attention could be  on me, I knew that being the center of attention was going to be my thing. So when I heard that  when I got to 5th grade I would be taking ballroom dance lessons, it felt like a dream come true.  Finally, my chance to be on stage and perform. Even though I had little to no dance experience,  this felt like the perfect time to start learning. However, things did not go as perfectly as I  anticipated.  

As we were taught all of the basics of ballroom dance, I felt like I was really good at it. I  felt really confident in the way my body was moving, and honestly it’s the first time I remember  being proud of myself. Unfortunately, this feeling did not last long. After we had learned all of the  dances, our instructors told us they would be picking 10 out of the 100+ of us to join an  exclusive ‘ballroom dance team’ that would travel all around and compete within the tristate  area. Of course this was something I wanted to do more than anything, but so did every other  person in the class. So all of a sudden, something that began as a fun activity for 9 year olds  became a competition that pinned every person in the grade against each other. Tensions were  high the day of the audition. You could hear a pin drop, nobody was talking to each other.  Friends became enemies, teachers became judges, and I became wary of my abilities as a  dancer.  

The results of the audition were unfortunate for most, including myself. This was the first  time I ever heard a ‘no’ in an audition room. I knew that being a performer wasn't going to be  easy, but I didn’t think I would face rejection as early as 9 years old. I don’t think any child  should face rejection that early, as it was traumatizing for me even nearly 13 years later. Not  only was it hard to hear the words ‘no,’ but it was even harder watching my classmates that got  a ‘yes’ enjoy touring and dancing and having an experience that I wanted more than anything.  Suddenly I felt inferior, and no longer confident in the way I moved and danced. Still to this day I  blame my poor relationship with dance and movement on this one rejection- as the next time I  actually danced was when I was forced to during college. This incident is the reason I began to  label myself as a non-dancer. Even after 4 years of dancing every day in college, I still don’t feel  like a dancer. I can only imagine what my life would’ve looked like if the outcome were the  opposite. 

When I first heard about BALLROOM BASIX™, I was quick to assume it was the same  type of program that came to my elementary school years ago. However, I was completely  blindsided after reading their mission and watching a few videos. BALLROOM BASIX™ is  everything I loved about my program without the competition. Instead, BALLROOM BASIX™  invites everyone to have an end of the year BASH, where the students demonstrate what  they’ve learned throughout the year in front of a supportive and loving crowd. Not only does  BALLROOM BASIX™ teach students ballroom dancing, but they also make sure to teach  students respect and manners, instructing them on how to ask someone to dance and how to  properly touch one another with consent. This is not only important in a dance setting, but  certainly a skill that each child will keep with them forever- especially in this social and political  climate. It’s so important to teach students about consent and permission, and this is  BALLROOM BASIX™’s specialty.  

In conclusion, I wish my experience with learning ballroom dance went differently- but I  feel filled with pride to say I am an employee of a company that actively works to give students  the experience I wish I had. I’m so proud to know that each student walks away with knowledge  of dance, as well as the skills to be a respectful human being. This is what dance is all about.  This is the experience I wish I had.

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