How I Came to Ballroom Dance

How I Came to Ballroom Dance

How I came to Ballroom Dance – by Michael Dybel student of Lake Shore Dance Academy.

Life throws curves sometimes, but also presents opportunities if only we keep our minds open to change. Two years ago I was challenged by several simultaneous life crises including feeling isolated and alone, being overweight and out of shape, and dealing with a family member’s chronic disease. I knew I had to take better care of myself and make changes in my life.  A bright and hopeful light that year was to be my daughter’s upcoming wedding in October.  As the father of the bride, I would have an important role at her wedding and reception, and I did not want to disappoint her.

One day in March of that year I was driving past a ballroom dance studio. I had driven past this studio hundreds of times but never thought to check it out. My daughter’s wedding was on my mind, and I was well aware that I really was not a very good social dancer, so this time I decided to go inside and learn what ballroom dancing was all about. 

I found the studio atmosphere to be both welcoming and friendly. In fact, I had my very first lesson that day and decided to sign up for an introductory package of lessons. I enjoyed those initial lessons of ballroom dance basics, but more importantly, I discovered a new social outlet that was very different from the business world in which I had spent fort-five years of my career. I encountered a very diverse, accepting dance community with people of all ages (children through seniors), orientations, and interests. Yes, there were lessons, but there were also studio parties where you could ballroom dance with instructors and other students and where amazing dance performances were showcased.  There were also visits to competitions to watch more advanced students and dance professionals perform.

But one thing stands out from all the rest of these early dance experiences. I had the good fortune to meet Anna Strojek and have her as one of my first ballroom dance instructors. Anna was just amazing from the get-go!!  She was very knowledgeable about all ballroom dance forms and had a unique ability to teach her students with persistence, patience, creativity, and a great sense of humor! She made learning to dance so much fun!! She was the first instructor to instill in me the confidence that I could perform before an audience!

I have continued to take ballroom dance lessons with Anna through Lake Shore Dance Academy to the present day. The experience has been truly transformational in my case. Anna’s approach to ballroom dance instruction is a holistic one, and she tries to take the individual life situations of her students into account. I have gained both skill and confidence dancing the hustle, rumba, foxtrot, waltz, cha cha, east coast swing, and tango both in the practice studio and socially. Anna and I have performed beautiful waltz, foxtrot, tango, and rumba/cha cha routines at Chicagoland Showcases.

She always makes me look so good! Of course, a great memory for me was dancing with my daughter and wheelchair-bound wife to routines choreographed by Anna at my daughter’s wedding. There weren’t many dry eyes at that night’s reception!

But ballroom dancing has had other benefits for me as well. I have made many new friends who share the joy of dancing.  I have enjoyed many holiday parties and social dancing events throughout the year.  Through diet, exercise, dancing, and with Anna’s encouragement, I have brought my weight under control and have seen a marked improvement in my overall health. I have also had to exercise my brain and memory learning new ballroom dance steps and routines. I think my mental faculties have been sharpened through dancing, but maybe Anna would not agree on this point!!

Most important to me is that I have an amazing friend and dance partner in Anna Strojek of the Lake Shore Dance Academy who has guided and supported me in my transformational journey to ballroom dancing.  If you are considering taking ballroom dance lessons, I highly recommend Anna Strojek and the Lake Shore Dance Academy. My ballroom dance journey has been life changing, and I hope that yours will be equally rewarding!!