Waves of team members rush into the expansive dance studio, their eager chatter quickly filling the room. People run left and right while donning their heels so they can get going. Some members are already practicing as others catch up with each other.
STOMP STOMP CLAP. The team knows this signal and they respond to their coach in unison, STOMP STOMP CLAP. Ballroom practice has officially begun.
The vivacious enthusiasm is infectious within the SMU ballroom team. Everyone puts a concerted effort to perform their best, whatever that may be.
This effort paid off at their last competition in Houston the weekend of Feb. 10, where the team swept the floor and placed in nearly every event. Yet captain Kayla Goldberg stresses that competing is never the goal of the team.
“I just encourage everyone to think of it more as personal growth and personal improvement,” Goldberg said. “Really whatever color ribbon you get isn’t indicative of how good of a dancer you are or how much effort you put into it.”
When they’re not in the studio, team members like to practice their ballroom skills on weekends. Many members go salsa or swing dancing together in venues around Dallas, Goldberg said.
“Not only are you learning how to dance but you’re also making friends,” Goldberg said. “Most of my closest friends from SMU are on the ballroom team mostly because we all go dancing on the weekends and just have such a great time whenever we’re together.”
Dallas isn’t the only place where ballroom fanatics go to blow off some steam. The dance follows them everywhere, even across the pond.
“Once you learn how to ballroom dance, even if it’s just the basics, you can do it anywhere in the world with anyone who knows how to ballroom dance,” Goldberg said.
She experienced this international aspect of ballroom dance firsthand junior year when she studied abroad, where she danced with Barcelona and Paris natives.
“There’s some regional differences but for the most part, once you know how to do it you can do it with anyone else who knows how to do it,” Goldberg said.
The team will be putting their honed skills to the test in April at their biggest competition of the year at the University of Texas. The rest of the spring semester is dedicated to making sure the first years learn all 10 dances and that the older dancers perfect their moves.
Aside from preparing for competitions, the SMU ballroom team holds its own events to spread the swing spirit. Last fall, the team held a swing dancing night where attendees were taught swing basics, then jived all night.
Ballroom also pairs up with other organizations to put on themed events. College Hispanic American Students (CHAS) teamed up with Ballroom for Latin Night on Friday, March 3 for a night filled with food and dancing.
It goes to show that no matter what they’re doing, SMU ballroom always has a blast.
“It sounds cheesy, but we’re really a big family,” Goldberg said.