Testimonial from BDTC Graduate Karin Jensen
John Adams is supposed to have said, “My father was a soldier, so I could be a politician, so my son could be poet.” In my case, I always thought, “My mother was a waitress, so I could be a professional, so my daughters can be anything they want to be.” I spent the first 20 years of my career working in hazardous materials management, industrial hygiene, and disaster preparedness. I’m proud of the work that I did and of the education that it took to do it. But I can’t say that I was ever passionate about it.
Somewhere in mid-life, I began to think that maybe it wasn’t too late to follow my dreams. Dance has been a serious hobby since I was a girl. It is my exercise, my art, my sacred space to get centered, my mental health therapy, and facilitates most of my social life. Through dance, I’ve met all my best friends, including my husband.
I started very small – by being an assistant in my daughter’s pre-ballet class! But then I began to teach classes myself, and it was at the ballet studio where I teach that I first saw an ad for Ballroom Dance Teacher’s College. A light bulb went off. I had always loved ballroom dancing with my husband and friends – could I teach it? Why hadn’t I thought of this before? I was really excited by the idea.
I liked that BDTC trained me to teach the DVIDA syllabi in 17 different ballroom dances. This has been a solid curriculum with extremely useful written and video reference materials that allows me to offer students a good foundation in American style ballroom dances. I learned to lead! After so many years of being a follower, I was leery of whether I could ever skillfully execute the opposite role, let alone enjoy it. But I learned to do both.
I learned to break down and describe in words what I had previously only been able to physically execute. And in so doing, I became a better dancer myself as I began to have a deeper understanding of the particular mechanics of certain movements. I met kindred spirits among my classmates, many of whom became my friends and some of whom have become valuable professional colleagues.
Perhaps most importantly, my teacher Julie took a personal interest in my success and was a key advocate in helping me get my first job with a local studio. I remember saying to Julie at one of my first lessons, “I’m really serious about this. I want to make this work.” The funny thing is that although I was serious, and knew from previous education and employment that I could study hard and practice enough to learn the curriculum, the idea of being a ballroom dance instructor still seemed so fanciful – a pipe dream that I wasn’t sure could really come true.
Now I teach a weekly group class in Argentine Tango at Just Dance Ballroom in Oakland, and I have regular private lesson students to whom I teach American style ballroom dances. I do wedding dance lessons and frequently do substitute teaching for ballroom classes at two senior centers. My partner and I enjoy performing at events. Best of all, I truly enjoy my work and the people I meet every day.
In future, I’d like to add one more group class, for it is often from teaching group classes that I get new private lesson students. Farther down the road, I would love to teach ballroom dancing on cruise ships. In the meantime, I love that teaching dance gives me great flexibility to work around my daughters’ school schedules. I am deeply grateful to BDTC for facilitating these opportunities! The program has made a real and positive impact in my life.