| Mad, Hot Ballroom | Photos with Tony Scheppler | Photos with Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine | Dance Competition Videos |


Mad, Hot Ballroom

This site is dedicated to everyone who has ever pursued a passion madly, wildly and relentlessly and, in so doing, brought unimaginable joy to their life. This has been my journey with ballroom dancing.

I always wanted to be a dancer since I was a very young girl of five or six. More specifically, I wanted to be a ballerina. And more likely, I really just wanted to wear a pretty, pink tutu. In my first 50 years, however, I never studied ballet or any type of dance although I’ve always loved dancing.

It wasn’t until I started working with an executive coach, Suzanne Levy, in 2002 that I actually took my first formal dance lesson. Booking a dance lesson was my first “homework assignment” after I explained to Suzanne that my purpose in life was “to have joy in my life everyday, to be mindful of that joy and to share that joy with others.” Suzanne’s immediate next question was, “what gives you joy?” I blurted out, “dancing,” without a moment’s hesitation. “So when was the last time you went dancing,” Suzanne probed. I struggled to remember. At that point Suzanne informed me that my “homework” was to book myself a dance lesson before our next coaching session in two weeks. A half-hour before my next coaching session I booked a lesson at the Pierre Dulaine Dance Studio, which a friend of mine had highly recommended.

I really enjoyed my once a week dance lesson but I became seriously “hooked” after my teacher, Tony Scheppler, convinced me to dance in the studio’s upcoming “showcase” (a dance recital for friends and family). I laughed out loud when he first suggested it and only began to think seriously about doing it when he said he would choreograph a special samba routine for me – knowing that samba was my favorite dance. For me, samba is truly the dance of joy!

With the showcase only a few months away, I got serious and started taking lessons more frequently because I was afraid of embarrassing myself. Dancing the showcase was one of the most exciting, adrenalin-pumping experiences of my life. I was terrified and excited in equal measures. My dancing in the showcase was not great but I felt great doing it. It gave me such a “rush.” I couldn’t wait to do the next showcase and was crestfallen to learn that the next one was six months away. “I can’t wait that long,” I whined to my teacher Tony. “Ok,” he said, “next month there’s a small competition called the New York Dance Festival. Let’s do that.” And, so we did. I danced well and took first, second and third places for all of my six dances. And that’s how I got into competitive ballroom dancing.

Each year I do four to five ballroom dance competitions. To prepare for competitions I practice 4-6 times a week with my two dance teachers: Tony Scheppler, my “smooth” (waltz, tango, fox trot, Viennese Waltz) teacher; and Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine, my “rhythm” (cha cha, rhumba, swing, mambo, bolero, samba) teacher. Yes, it’s unusual to have more than one teacher, but as you may have guessed I am somewhat obsessed with my dancing. And, I am blessed to have two great teachers, both nationally ranked professionals in the ballroom world, who I adore and who are invested in helping me to become a good dancer. I love them both madly. Practicing with them is as much fun, probably more fun, than dancing in competitions, which I still find nerve-wracking. I dance in competitions primarily to force myself to keep improving.

I hope these photos and videos of me performing with my teachers in some recent pro-am dance competitions bring you a tiny bit of the joy I experience in my dancing. Thank you so much for your interest in and support of my dancing.

Patrice (aka “Sambagrl”)