As a first year student at the University of Virginia (U.Va.), Upper School mathematics teacher Michael Remchuk attended the Fall Activities Fair in search of a fun new hobby. What he found was an opportunity for life-long learning in the form of ballroom dancing.
"I am quite introverted, so I was also searching for something with structure where I could make new friends," remembered Remchuk.
"A crew of gregarious students staffed the ballroom dancing booth, and it turned out to be the perfect place to start my college career. I started attending their weekly lessons and pretty much haven't stopped since."
For Remchuk, the partnership model of competitive ballroom dancing is the perfect balance between individual and team sports. He and his partner Allie both started dancing with no prior experience, and grew together over a period of five years and more than 1,000 hours of practice and lessons. Throughout that time they began to dance competitively, first as newcomers then advancing through bronze, silver, gold and finally pre-championship levels.
"After dancing for a few years my partner and I decided to try competing at the pre-championship level," said Remchuk.
"We definitely were not ready to do well at that level, but were hopeful that we would not embarrass ourselves as we tried to share a floor with the next level of fantastic dancers. Our first dance, Waltz, started well, until I fell flat on my face after we stumbled through a particularly difficult series of moves. Tango and Foxtrot went off without a hitch, but our last dance, Quickstep, was brutal. At the pre-championship level, dancers are permitted to do running patterns. I distinctly remember finishing a figure and looking behind me to see three couples sprinting right at me. I nearly had to pull my partner off the floor to avoid a collision. We did not place in the competition, but we left the floor laughing, and our dancing at the pre-championship level only got better from there."
Though he no longer competes, Remchuk enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with others and has a core group for whom he offers lessons. He has also generously donated a ballroom dancing lesson package to the 2019 Maroon & White Party. For more information, visit www.stab.org/mwp.