Voices From the Crowd: Kaiya Magnuson – Discovering The Magic of Ballroom Dancing

Kaiya Magnuson

Contributing Writer


I danced a waltz for the first time last spring, holding a six-foot dowel between me and my dance partner so that we could maintain social distancing. It was a goofy introduction to the sport of ballroom dance, but my experience dancing in-person this year has been unforgettably vibrant.

Ballroom practices are typically my favorite moments of the week. They are a chance to de-stress, connect with friends and try something new. Thanks to my teammates’ incessant chatter and encouragement, I always have a smile on my face, even when I am exhausted after a long workout. Evening social-dance practices are especially energizing since dancers of all levels bring cheerful attitudes and a willingness to learn new dances. We share lighthearted conversations while we dance. Just last week, I chatted with a new acquaintance about the snowfall while simultaneously practicing the tango. Moments of connection like these exemplify how partner sports embrace collaboration and build strong friendships.

When I attended my first ballroom competition last fall, I felt uplifted by my teammates’ support. I was challenged to quickly learn new routines and strengthen my technique in the frantic weeks leading up to the competition. In doing so, I realized how sharing my difficulties and successes with my dance partner helped me build confidence. Every time my dance partner and I nailed a tricky sequence, we shared enthusiastic, hand-stinging high-fives. We carried this sense of camaraderie to the competition, cheering each other on during every dance. Despite not advancing in any of my events, I was proud to have danced my best and I am grateful for my teammates’ encouragement. I look forward to attending future competitions and finding inspiration from the incredible dancers I meet there.

Through ballroom dance, I am constantly learning about coordination and communication. Every week is a chance to practice a new dance, each with its own intricate steps and characteristic postures. Yet ballroom also challenges me to develop my communication skills. Each dance partner has their own unique style, and I am constantly learning how to interpret nonverbal cues so that I can dance harmoniously with others. Ballroom dance is truly both an athletic and social learning opportunity.  

In just one short semester, I danced face-to-face with a partner for the first time, traveled to my first ballroom competition, performed in the Culture Show and formed countless friendships in a fun-loving and supportive community. I look forward to growing as a dancer and as a member of the Wooster community this semester!