Category Archives: athletics

More than a Pre-Med student: My Introduction to Ballroom Dancing

By Richard Petrosyan

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

As a current senior at USC, I am nearing the end of a busy collegiate career as a pre-medical student in neuroscience. As such, I am beginning to reflect on what I’ve done throughout college not only to achieve my academic and extracurricular goals, but also to enjoy the journey. Even though much of my time has been devoted to my studies and extracurricular interests aligning with my intent to follow the pre-med track, I remember one of my most valuable experiences that allowed me to take a break from my routine. Recently, I took a class in Ballroom Dancing with the USC Kaufman School of Dance, an unforgettable semester-long experience that will stay with me beyond college. You might be wondering why this was such an impactful experience for me, so let’s take a trip down memory lane and delve into why I enjoyed this class so much and why you might want to consider taking this course.

Photo by Dom Fou on Unsplash

When I came to my first ballroom class, I had absolutely no experience with dancing. Sure, I had danced at parties and at home before, but ballroom dancing? To me, this was movie material, with attractive Hollywood actors dressed like there’s no tomorrow, moving about with grace and elegance. So needless to say, the bar was high. But what made it more challenging was that boys and girls had to partner with each other. The prospect of close contact with one another made us all shy at first, as none of us knew each other and ballroom dancing was uncharted territory for us. Fortunately, we had a remarkably warm and welcoming teacher who put us at ease through his humor and many activities encouraging us to get to know each other. We’d gather in circles and would regularly switch partners so as to feel comfortable working with everyone. 

Teamwork was really important in this class. As we learned new dances, from the waltz to the tango, getting used to the moves demanded collaboration between students. The first step was to hear the teacher describe the moves, but it was easier to watch him perform them with the TA. It required a whole new level of understanding to repeat the moves on my own. Surprisingly, it felt particularly difficult to repeat my moves alone but easier to do it jointly with my partners. It was a bit like when math rules are easier to apply in calculations rather than to recite word for word. Mutual understanding between partners helped us make faster progress and, before we knew it, we were making each other spin, bend, dip, and jump at a head-spinning speed. Full choreographies were exhausting, but the endorphins and the mental satisfaction were worth it. As a group, upon attaining a certain level, we even acquired the taste of ballroom dancing so much that we’d organize to practice and have fun outside of class, which produced some memorable moments.

Photo by Preillumination SeTh on Unsplash
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Return to Practice

By Eileen Kim

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

When I was younger, I understood the concept of practice in the context of the Merriam Webster Dictionary definition: “to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient”. As a child who participated in many sports and played multiple musical instruments, practice referred to the events I worked on to improve my technical skills. At practice, I would learn how to do better through acts of repetition and intentional change. 

Eventually, I chose to centralize my practice towards my passion for dance. With my goal of becoming a professional ballet dancer, practice took on a whole new layer of meaning. I worked daily and repeatedly at a set of physical movements in ballet to improve and refine my technique. This repetition led to growth and mastery within ballet and my practice became understood as a necessary means that would result in self-improvement.

Photo by Nihal Demirci on Unsplash

As I got older, my conception of practice began to evolve. My practice became grounded in the habitual sense of coming back to something. There was still a level of mastery that I was after, but it was more so realized as a continuous and infinite pattern that I felt compelled to return to. Year after year and almost every day, I would start again at the ballet barre where I would repeat the same series of physical movements. But the sameness of this repetition never bored me, because everyday was different and I was different everyday. Every day brought its own joys and challenges, and everyday I came back with 24 more hours of lived experience. Everything surrounding me was in a constant state of change and the stability of my daily practice became like a refuge for me, one that I could always return to and find comfort in.

As I reflect on how I approach my practice in the present, I have found that in many ways, practice is similar to a routine. The habitual nature of both concepts are the same, but practice puts an intentionality to the repetition and implies a sense of growth. The contents of our daily routines can be the same as our daily practices, but approaching our daily routines as daily practices can drastically reframe how we approach our lives. For me, practice no longer only refers to the physical practice I put into my dancing body. My daily practices encompass how I approach my life, what I eat, what time I go to sleep, how I take care of my body, and how I take care of my mind.

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Swimming…the best exercise?

By Mia Price

[4 minute read]


After being involved in swimming for over a decade, I may be a bit biased, but I truly believe that swimming is the best workout that anyone could do. Swimming offers a relaxing, serene workout, but can also push you to your physical limits. Swimming has helped me stay at my peak physical fitness level and has helped me feel happy and healthy every day. Here are the top 10 reasons swimming is the ultimate fitness activity:

1. To swim you have to use the majority of the muscles in your body
Swimming engages the entire body. To pull through the water you must use your arms and shoulders. To propel yourself through the water you use all of the muscles in your legs to kick. Your core stabilizes your body in the water and gives you the strength to breathe side to side. Swimming even gives your lungs a workout. On average, swimmers hold their breath three strokes at a time. Holding your breath builds lung capacity. All in all, swimming is a total body workout!

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