Ballroom blitz


When the word dancing is said, different images might come to people's minds. To some, dancing might be grinding in Pure, or poppin' and lockin'. To others who take dancing more seriously, it is an art, an expression of individuality that involves both mental and physical strength, great memory and stamina.
Over the years it seems as if the former school of thought has become increasingly more popular than the latter, and it appears to be more of a generational thing than anything else. That is why Stella Pelanaro is so adamant about recruiting people to the United States of America Ballroom Dance.
"We are the Western New York Chapter of the United States of America amateur ballroom dance," Pelanaro said. "We have a variety of age groups in our dance club, but we would like many more [younger people]."
At one point or another, most people have happened across an episode of Dancing with the Stars. For those few who might be unfamiliar, the show pairs up celebrities with professional dancers, and pits each pairing up against one another to see who has the best moves.
Most of the dances performed, like the tango and meringue, have origins in ballroom dancing. Pelanaro is hoping that shows like Dancing with the Stars and others will draw more of a crowd into learning about ballroom dance. Pelanaro says the shows help, but they are not enough.
"We are planning on doing some outreach programs, going to various places and demonstrating," Pelanaro said. "We also danced at the Erie County Fair this past summer and the summer before that."
USABD is a nationwide organization spanning the entire United States. Other chapters around the country dance in competitions, but the Western New York chapter has not developed their skills enough, or gotten enough members in order to compete.
"We don't have anyone here who is doing any competition dancing," Pelanaro said. "Many of the places throughout America are engaged in competition dancing, because they have enough dancers with skills enough to go into competition."
The group is still fairly new in Western New York, so it might take time to get a better-developed group of members. Pelanaro believes that, in time, enough people will want to join the group to be able to compete in the future.
But there is more to ballroom dance, or any type of dancing for that matter, than the competitions. Intense focus and drive is required to be a good dancer. And like any physical activity, in order to excel at it, one needs to work persistently to get better.
"Dancing is a wonderful exercise, and it is a wonderful way to enjoy yourself and to meet people," Pelanaro said. "It is very creative, and it exercises your mind also because you really have to think and remember the steps to become good at it."
The USABD is always looking for new members to take part in their dancing fun. If interested in joining, the organization meets the first Friday of the month at the First Presbyterian Church in West Seneca.

E-mail: arts@ubspectrum.com