By Samara Kister.
On September 1st, scholars in Ballroom II and Ballroom III participated in the International West Coast Swing Rally at the Mesa Arts Center. The rally takes place every year at the beginning of September and was created by Oliver and Virginie Massart. Every year they choreograph a different dance and record videos of it to teach dancers who perform it all over the world.
My fellow ballroom students and I first started learning the dance in May of 2018, with workshops offered over the summer to learn the choreography. The song that was used was “Off To See the World” by Lukas Graham. When school started again we immediately continued working on the piece and practiced for another month, making sure every single detail was perfect. Working so hard every class was difficult, but we knew that the effort would pay off. As we practiced after class, watched detailed tutorial videos, and even performed our own flash mob during lunch at school, we slowly improved.
Finally, on the day of the flash mob, everyone met at the school to run through the dance. Since there was an event happening at the school, we were forced to practice in the lobby of the arts building. We ran through the dance again and again, correcting our technique and synchronizing the group timing. It was an extremely hot day and by the end of practice, we were all sweaty and exhausted.
We then loaded into our vehicles and drove to Tempe Marketplace. Once we arrived we joined another group of west coast swing dancers that would be performing the flash mob with us. Unfortunately, because we didn’t have permission to do the rally there or use their speakers, we had to find somewhere else to do it. Fortunately, we were successful in locating another performance spot at the Mesa Arts Center. Everyone gathered at the school for one last practice in the courtyard. For this final practice and the performance, several of us had the opportunity to dance with people we didn’t know. Although this was unexpected, it helped us learn how to adjust to fit a situation. Then we walked over to the Mesa Arts Center for the long-awaited flash mob.
All of our hard work and practice enabled us to perform confidently, which made it so fun! It was a really great experience, and I am glad Ms. Kenney invited us to be a part of it. Although it was challenging, it greatly improved my skills, confidence and ability to adapt to unforeseen circumstances. I enjoyed seeing how each person brought their own unique style to the dance while doing the same moves. We were also able to watch all the videos of people throughout the world doing the same dance. It felt very unifying because we got to meet and dance with other ballroom dancers in our community. It was friendship building and full of fun.