“Ohmigod, as a spectator, just to see what some people can do, it’s amazing,” says Uda Shallop, one of our dedicated dance students who has competed already many times and is eager to do more.
Uda earned the distinction of top bronze student at our Washington DC competition, where we earned runner-up for top studio and our instructors Yuliya and Tamerlan took second place in professional rhythm.
Uda has competed twice so far and is working on going to the Fred Astaire Dance Studio world competition next.
“You’re your own worst critic,” says Uda, “but I do enjoy it and especially when you do good and you get a medal, it makes you feel really great. Wearing those beautiful gowns, that doesn’t hurt, either.”
Uda’s first one was an emerald green dress and she says, “I still love it today.”
“Most of your dresses you have special made. You just feel so much better wearing these gorgeous dresses than when you wear training stuff. You walk different, you present yourself different, and believe me it’s not all that easy, I get real nervous, but somehow I feel more comfortable.”
At competitions, Uda says, “we’re busy from morning to night, hair done, makeup done, in the dance ballroom a minimum of half hour or 45 minutes prior to your first dance, everything has to be done early, sometimes 3 or 4 a.m. in the morning.”
Competitors don different dresses and shoes for smooth or for rhythm. “Smooth is always the long gowns and closed-toes, and rhythm is shorter dresses, some are very sexy, and open-toed shoes,” Uda says.
“Posture, frame, it’s a little bit intimidating, because they look at you, there’s no smile, I mean they can’t, but my god you’re scared. We try to have meals together with the group from the studio. During the day, we sit at the same table, everybody’s assigned a table, you root for each other, you bring each other up, and say, ‘Hey you look fantastic.’ We’re all in the same boat. I’m a newcomer but you see some 5, 10, 15, 20 years, and watch them dance and say oh my, maybe I’m as good as they are, but oh really I’m not, but that’s what I would like to be, that’s how I would like to dance.”
“You can only dance to your own ability,” Uda says. “They teach you real good at the studio. The competition is the reward that pays you for all you did. I feel really good about it.”
Earning the distinction as top bronze student is always a thrill. “I’m in shock every time I get it,” says Uda, who’s earned it twice now. “It’s a big deal. It really is a big deal. I just hope I do good again. I enjoy it. It makes me happy and thanks God I can do it.”