Ballroom Dancers in Full-Swing

Notre Dame Gala 2011

Ballroom Dancing

I sit here typing out this post, hoping it will calm my nerves as I prepare for the coming performances. The Notre Dame Gala is just like any other competition for most of our club (read “class”). We prepare for it much like any good student would prepare for final exams. We spend hours in the studio drilling, practicing, praying we’ll get just one ounce better. Spending hundreds of dollars out of our own pockets to bring in a professional to whip us into shape. This is the life of a ballroom dancer.

Ballroom Dancers in Full-Swing

David McDonald and Ivana Gaddam dancing East Coast Swing at the South Bend Century Center

We don’t get class credit for doing what we do. We don’t even get a mention in the school paper. The only thing we do get is the satisfaction of dancing fantastically and spending a good time with close friends.


It’s now after the competition and I feel… interesting about how things went. Many of the Ball State competitors were ecstatic to hear our previously mentioned professional instructor, Godiva Gaultier, would be in the audience. I feel we were not fairly judged on our ability for a myriad of reasons: being a smaller club, having less money, our presence as a newer club, etc. Godiva was a calming presence who gave us insight on what a judge is thinking, looking for, and provided constructive criticism after each couple exited the dance floor. We’ve become closer as a group and consider Godiva to be not only a fantastic coach, but a close friend. In a nutshell, Notre Dame’s competition was a learning experience for all.

On another note, my parents were very gracious by providing food for all 17 of us (spectators included) on Friday night. During our late dinner of pizza from Pizza Hut, David McDonald surprised us all with personalized cards indicating his thanks for all that we’ve done, his praise for how much we’ve progressed as dancers (and as individuals), and a few other points that only raised morale. A few cried, others laughed, and I, for one, have never felt more unified than that moment.

The males stayed at my house while the females stayed at Laci’s. I can only speak for my experience the night before, but we had a lot of fun swapping stories while ironing shirts, pants, etc. We also played a massive game of Apples to Apples before sending the ladies off to Laci’s house for the night. All-in-all it was a fantastic weekend filled with much camaraderie and teamwork.

We’ve accumulated a large enough group of individuals I feel it’s the right time to transition to a sports club. We are currently classified as a special interest club, but our stated purpose is to compete in collegiate events, which sounds like a sports club, and sports clubs have access to many more of the university’s resources than special interest clubs. It’s a no-brainer at this point. My only concerns are if the other members of the exec board agree, and how we’d implement this change if Ball State doesn’t allow the switching of categories for student organizations.

I foresee a good outcome for our ballroom club in either event. These are growing pains necessary for a successful organization and I can see the next generation of officers already taking charge of that growth.