Tyler Roberts: Social Dance

At the beginning of this semester I was extremely apprehensive when we were told that we needed to participate in a Community Involvement Project.  I was terrified of the notion that I would have to carry on a conversation in Japanese without the assistance of a professor or textbook to tell me what to say and when.  On top of that, I was at a loss for how I was going to fit another appointment into my already hectic schedule.

The first day of ballroom dancing had me extremely anxious and I was not sure what I would say after I introduced myself to the group.  However, my fears quickly dissipated as everyone began to introduce themselves to me.  No one seemed to care that I was a foreigner; they all wanted to know where I was from and what I liked to do besides ballroom dancing.  The best part was that even when I struggled with a sentence everyone did their best to help me express what I was trying to say and kept the conversation going.  That first afternoon of practice showed me that I could hold a conversation in Japanese and gave me a lot more confidence in my speaking abilities.

Since that first encounter, I have gone to lunch with most of the ballroom members at least once and gotten to know a lot of them really well.  I know that my Japanese is not perfect and I will probably practice for the rest of my life without getting it perfect but I have had a great time getting to know some fellow college students on the other side of the world and I hope to keep in touch with them when I return to the U.S.  What I thought was going to be my least favorite part of this semester turned out to be the part that I enjoyed the most.  I could not wait to leave politics class on Wednesday nights and go dancing. I also loved getting up early on Saturday mornings (which is blasphemy for college students) just so I could make it to practice on time and get to go out to lunch with everyone afterwards to discuss everything from our favorite professors to Pokémon.

2 thoughts on “Tyler Roberts: Social Dance

  1. Sounds so great! Did you find any major differences between ballroom dance in Japan and in the US?

    • It is definitely a lot of fun and I wish I could spend more time dancing with them. Sadly their dance party is two weeks after I leave so I wont have a chance to see them perform the dances they’ve been working on all semester but I think I’ve seen enough of their practices to know that it will be pretty cool. The main difference between the US and Japan is the basic steps. The US has a different set of basic steps for most of the dances than Japan does because the US dances US style and Japan dances International style (I’m beginning to see a pattern here…metric system debate?). The steps are not so different that it’s impossible to learn both but it is really hard to get the beat count right because the steps might be the same in both countries but differ in how they count the beat for a particular step. So paying attention to those details has been the hardest part of the experience. But like I said before, everyone was willing to help me learn and every time I changed partners I got a little bit better until I had most of the basics of each dance down before the end of each lesson.