Latin Dance Queen
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The dim light of the television glowed gently across junior Lindsay Stapleton’s face as she and her grandmother gazed at the dancers gliding across the screen. While they watched the contestants of ‘Dancing With the Stars’ drift across the dance floor, a suggestion was made by Stapleton’s grandmother. What if Stapleton herself were to emulate the angelic moves seen on screen?
“My grandma is an avid fan of ‘Dancing With the Stars’, and she was the one who suggested I try Latin and ballroom dancing,” Stapleton said. “It looked so fun on TV, so I decided to give it a go.”
Even though Stapleton was a sophomore when she came to the realization that Latin and ballroom dancing was something she wished to appraise, she was not a stranger to the art of dancing itself. Stapleton began her fascination with dancing at a young age , fixating her efforts on ballet until she reached her early years of high school.
“I’ve been dancing since I was four years old—I did mostly ballet until freshman year, when I started taking ballroom classes instead,” Stapleton said. “I started competing sophomore year and have now been competing for a year and a half.”
Her background in ballet became a good foundation for this once unfamiliar form of dance. Many of the aspects she learned in her experience with ballet shaped her ability to understand various elements of the art that she would not have experienced otherwise.
“Ballet definitely helped a lot,” Stapleton’s coach Rangel Spirov said. “All the fundamentals were there from ballet when she came to us. It teaches you how to read and understand music. It also helps you coordinate yourself.”
While ballet assisted her with many of the technical attributes that corresponded with ballroom dancing, one of the main fundamentals that she brought along with her was her work ethic and discipline. From there, the improvement came from grueling hours in private lessons and practice.
“I know she did ballet for a long time when she was younger, so when she started, she already had the poise, determination and persevering mindset that ballroom requires,” Stapleton’s friend Mila Tsvetanova said. “Of course, the more you do something the better you get, so I think having to take private lessons to master the skills necessary for competitions has undoubtedly helped her improve.”
Although dancing is one of Stapleton’s most prized passions, the discipline and drive that she has for ballroom dancing is not dropped at the studio door. Her eagerness to succeed flows over to her school work and many other interests.
“Lindsay is extremely hardworking and is always on top of things,” Tsvetanova said. “She is a person with a lot of hobbies, and I have never understood how she has the physical and mental strength to do all of her schoolwork while also participating in so many extracurricular activities. Her work ethic is truly mind blowing.”
Despite her hectic schedule, Lindsay manages to stay poised and passionate toward the sport. She rigorously practices throughout the week in order to maintain perfection in all of her performances.
“My practice times vary,” Stapleton said. “I take lessons on weeknights as well as weekends. My private lessons are 45 minutes long, and I usually practice before or after the lesson for 45 minutes, as well as practicing daily at home. I instantly knew I loved Latin and ballroom, but every competition I perform in renews my passion and makes me love dancing even more.”
But along with passion comes determination to keep going when things get hard. Just like any other sport or art form, persevering through tough performances or practice sessions makes or breaks a dancer.
“I know many people would quit and crack under this circumstances but not her,” Spirov said. “She wants to have it all and somehow she manages. Of course her good looks and skills accumulated from other dance styles help, but she is the one staying and practicing few extra minutes after class when everybody is rushing to go home. That is what separates the good from the great.”