Office Job By Day, Ballroom Dancer By Night

Outside the Theatre   Office Job By Day, Ballroom Dancer By Night
 
Why this IBM employee spends up to 20 hours a week competitive ballroom dancing.
Danica Chan
Danica Chan Monica Simoes
Danica Chan
Danica Chan Monica Simoes

Who: Danica Chan
Stopped: Outside the Palace Theatre on W. 47th Street

You look like you’re dressed to go somewhere special…
DC: I’m on my way to a ballroom dancing competition.

Wow. Tell me more about that.
DC: I started doing competitive ballroom dancing five years ago, when I started college. I’ve since graduated—I’m now working full time at IBM—but I spend about five nights a week practicing ballroom.

That’s a lot of time!
DC: It’s probably 15-20 hours a week. It does take up a lot of my time, but it’s something I really love. We do a couple of competitions a year. Tonight’s competition has some of the top judges in the world and previous world champions. I’ll just be doing the small collegian event, but it’ll be a great experience.

It sounds like you get a lot out of it for a side hobby…
DC: It’s been great in so many different ways. I’ve never been able to express myself creatively like this before. I’d never done any dancing or athletics, but this is a really good way to stay physically fit. I’ve also met so many great people, who are smart and kind—ballroom just seems to attract that kind of crowd.

What was your first introduction to ballroom dancing?
DC: I went to a Stuyvesant High School in Downtown Manhattan and we had a physical education class that included ballroom dancing for seniors. That was my first taste of it and where I began dancing with my dance partner. He and I ended up going to the same college after, which had a competitive team. We joined and we’ve been partners ever since.

What makes the two of you work as dance partners?
DC: We fight like a married couple, we really do. But we always find a way to get around it; and in a lot of ways, we’re really compatible. We have the same sense of humor, and we’re both very dedicated and willing to work hard. Of course there’s still the human aspect of it, and we still misinterpret each other—even after all this time. Like any relationship, it takes work!

Do your IBM colleagues know that you do competitive ballroom dancing?
DC: Some of them do. Whenever I need an icebreaker it’s kind of my go-to. I always hope to find another ballroom dancer hiding in my midst. I’ll keep looking!

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