• Grace Cinque-White

From the ‘Barre’ to the ‘Ballroom’

Updated: Jun 13

In some ways, I consider myself a very lucky dancer. Growing up, I was able to explore so many styles of dance - ballet, contemporary, commercial, jazz, tap… and eventually, Latin American.

How did this happen?

4 years ago, I was working on a dance show, where I was partnered with a pure ballroom dancer - a style which at the time was completely alien to me. The process of merging our styles together and learning from each other was the most exciting thing I had done in a while..It was from that day I said to myself … okay, I’m going to learn latin and ballroom.

So, how could I do this?

I did my research and quickly realised that I was in a strange position.. I was already a working professional dancer, so I didn’t want to go to social classes, but with no knowledge of steps, I couldn’t go to professional practice either. At the time, these seemed like my only two options.

How about I teach myself in the comfort of my own bedroom, with YouTube as my teacher? I watched a million videos and worked out the most common steps of each latin dance.. quite literally holding my phone in my hand, learning to step back on count two, forward on count three etc..

Once I had an idea of the basic steps, I found an amazing teacher.

I turned up to my first lesson and said.. Let me show you what I know…now can you fix it?

It was a new and daunting experience, I was going back to the beginning of something, trying to make my body move in a way that went against everything I’d been doing for the past 18 years. For the first time my career so far I felt very vulnerable.

‘A river cuts through a rock, not by power but by persistence.’ - a mantra I told myself everyday. You do enough of something and you’ll eventually get somewhere. And so, I would wait till the studio was quiet, late at night, and go over and over and over the steps I had been taught that day. I kept a notebook, something I had never done before, where I would frantically write down everything I could remember that the teacher said straight after my lesson. Sometimes adding squiggly drawings of myself ,with arrows pointing in which direction my hip, foot, knee, rib were meant to go… and all the arrows seemed to be pointing in different directions :) I fell in love with the style and when I met two wonderful Burn the Floor company dancers in London at an audition I was even more inspired.

I had watched Burn The Floor when it came to the West End in 2013 and remember thinking, wow I would LOVE to be in that show, but it seemed so unrealistic at the time. The more I discovered about the world of Ballroom dance, the more I allowed myself to believe that this, once far-fetched dream, could become my reality.

In 2019, I joined Burn The Floor. With such a huge reputation behind the company, I fell victim to the classic feeling of ‘imposter-syndrome’. This really was only the beginning of my learning experience. Working in the company came with many challenges but I have Burn the Floor to thank for my biggest personal achievements yet.

Before I joined the company I thought, well, once I tick this off my list I will have achieved what I set out to do… But when I reached the end of my contract, I realised, there are million more things I want to do and I can’t wait to keep ticking them all off! The world is so much bigger than I once thought. Do you ever really get to a point where you are satisfied? I'm not sure I ever will, but I have learnt to love the journey.

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