Dancing with Two Left Feet

A photo of Emi's feet in her Keds.
A fun fact about Keds is that they’re great for swing dancing!

I have a reputation in my household for being a bit of a klutz. For as long as I can remember, dancing has been my nemesis. Despite years of musical theatre, I never picked up on ways to move that don’t make the people around me cringe (this doesn’t stop me, though!). Choreography was always the part of shows I dreaded. Body movements never seemed to stick in my head the same way that numbers and facts do. This semester I decided that I want to work on my dancing skills! Having never taken a dance class before, I wanted to try something new and challenge myself to get better at something I’ve never excelled in.

The first step on my dance journey was signing up for a class. I looked online to see what kind of dance classes and clubs exist at U of T. One great place to look for clubs is the ULife website. I found a wide selection of classes for different styles of dance offered both by Hart House and the U of T Dance Club (UTDC). Class offerings included salsa, bachata, hip-hop, contemporary, swing, ballroom, and more! Because I have zero background in dance, I had only vague ideas of what each of these dances entailed. Luckily, the UTDC website is complete with an extensive collection of recorded performances of students from previous years. This helped me get a rough idea of what to expect from different styles of dance, and made me feel very welcome. I was relieved that the club didn’t expect any prerequisite knowledge on what something like “bachata” actually is. Thus, I was confident that it would be a beginner friendly space that could accommodate someone whose moves have been labelled “dad dancing.”

After seeing the extensive selection, deciding which class to sign up for was one of the hardest parts. I ended up choosing the West Coast Swing (WCS) class offered by UTDC. While the typical image of swing dancing is upbeat jazz, WCS uses contemporary pop music! The first day of class was luckily unintimidating, in a room with beginners like myself. I noticed some of the people around me had prior dance experience, but all were new to WCS. So far, I’ve loved being part of the class, and am thankful to have an instructor who doesn’t mind my constant questions. Where does that foot go, again?

One month into the dance class, I’m very content to have taken up a new hobby. I am glad that UTDC offers dance classes that are affordable to students. It has been fun to try something different and outside of my comfort zone. While things are getting more difficult as the class progresses, I’m confident that with some more practice, the movements will get more comfortable. All-in-all, I’ve come a long way since crying in third grade in a failed attempt to remember the choreography for “Cats.”

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