A figure clad in black gracefully shuffles across the floor with classical music trumpeting in the background. He dips his hands forward and moves synchronously with his dance partner as the piece comes to a finish.
On May 6 and 7, junior Victor Shen placed first at the Washington Open DanceSport Competition, a prestigious event organized by the world renowned leader in ballroom dancing, Dan Calloway. Shen and his partner, Anna Hegeler, placed first in the Waltz, Tango, and Quickstep categories at the event.
Shen has been an avid ballroom dancer since middle school. His story of how he got started in ballroom dancing is quite the unusual.
“We had a lock-in in 8th grade, and there was a dance party,” Shen said. “That was the first time I tried ballroom dancing, and I have fell in love with it ever since.”
Since the eighth grade, Shen has dedicated a major portion of his time to ballroom dancing. He practices at home on an average of 8 hours a week and up to 4 hours on Saturdays. He has this schedule set up in order to prevent any conflicts with his school workload.
Shen didn’t start out taking lessons. His beginning days of dancing were learned through self-teaching and watching others. Shen’s lessons began after he was elected president of the Ballroom Dance Club.
“I felt like it was my duty to get TJ students better prepared for the Viennese Ball,” Shen said. “That’s why I began taking lessons to enhance my progress in ballroom dancing.”
Shen has his own intrinsic motivations for continuing to dedicate his time to the art of dancing.
“Ballroom dancing is a great way of relaxing and socializing with others,” Shen said.
His hard work has paid off, as his last showcase at the Viennese Ball with his dance partner, sophomore Yana Kaplun, was very successful due to their hard work leading up to it.
When asked about what led to his successes, Shen was humble in his response.
“A lot of the credit has to go to my partner Yana Kaplun and the rest of the TJ Ballroom Dance Club,” Shen said. “We practiced for countless hours and worked very hard towards our goal.”
Shen’s next step in dancing is uncertain, as he has no pending competitions on the horizon. Nevertheless, his passion propels him forward to practice daily and continue to improve.