Shows like Ballroom with the B-Listers make ballroom dancing look glamorous and fun, and it is, but that’s only part of it. Nine-tenths of ballroom dancing is hard work and more hard work. It’s injuries, and working through the pain, fittings and applying make-up, travel, psyching students up for competitions, complaining about biased judges, and the exhilaration of dancing, dancing, dancing.

Most mornings, I get up way too early, have some coffee, and do stretches because staying limber is key to avoiding injuries. (I worry about injuries, you know. A lot of my friends “retire” from dancing by thirty because of knee, ankle, back or neck pain. I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t dance, and I’m coming up on thirty way too fast.) Frequently, one of my students will arrive for a private lesson before he has to go to work—amateur dancers have “real” jobs, you know—so I’ll have a session or two in the ballroom before nine. If I don’t have a student, Vitaly and I might train together for a couple of hours. We try to rehearse about ten hours a week. I might get a break after that, and I’ll grab a snack—a boiled egg or yogurt, something with protein in it but not too many calories—and catch up with paperwork in my office. Bor-ing. It’s the thing I like least about owning a studio, so I’m glad that Tav’s here now and has taken over a lot of the bookkeeping and taxes and stuff.

After that, I might teach my Ballroom Aerobics class or a salsa class around noon—there are lots of yuppies in Old Town Alexandria who like to work out over their lunch breaks—and then run errands or take a ballet or yoga class. Sometimes I meet my sister Danielle at the gym. I weight train for definition, not bulk. Those Latin costumes leave little to the imagination and the judges like six-pack abs. Late afternoons and evenings are more private students and classes.

Sounds rigorous, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. I fall into bed exhausted most days, and don’t even get me started on competition weekends when I might be dancing two or three hundred heats with students and competing with Vitaly in the professional heats or showcases. I don’t mean to make it sound like drudgery, though, because I love dancing. I love the feel of the chiffons as they swirl around my ankles during a waltz, or the click of beads on a Latin costume’s fringe as I samba. I love seeing my dancing pals at competitions and catching up with them. Most of all, though, I love the way the music flows through me and comes out as dance, as promenades and spins and hip rolls. The times when I lose myself in the music, when my partner and I move in total sync, when I forget that I’m Stacy and totally inhabit the dance . . . those are the times that make the early mornings and the aching knees and the never eating desserts worth it. I hope each of you feels that same passion for your career or hobby.

You can read more about Stacy in DEAD MAN WALTZING, the second book in the “Ballroom Dance” mystery series.

** Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy DEAD MAN WALTZING to give away. Contest open to residents of the US only. Contest ends June 14. Leave a valid-email address with your comment. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher. **

Meet the author
Ella Barrick lives and writes in Colorado with her husband and daughters. She recently finished the third Ballroom Dance mystery, THE HOMICIDE HUSTLE, and is hoping the series will sell well enough that the Dancing with the Stars producers will invite her to compete, even though she is no longer in her twenties, doesn’t look like a model, and has never been on a reality TV show. She and her husband recently took their first ballroom dance lessons and, although they can now waltz without doing significant damage to Ella’s ankles and feet, no one has yet compared them to Fred and Ginger.

Books are available at retail and online booksellers.

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