ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – It’s not a sport normally discussed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, but their ballroom dancing team holds the top title in the country. WWJ’s Kathryn Larson has more on the eight-time national champions and what competition they’re taking on right now.
Floating across the floor through the darts and the dips — this is the U-M Ballroom Team. And this serious team has serious instructors: internationally known Steve and Susan McFerran have spent nearly 15 years coaching the college team to top-tier performance.
But their Students don’t all start out as stars, like Matthew Schwartz, who had zero dance experience when he first tried out.
“I have some awkward videos of proof that it was not easy for me at the start. I still watch myself in those videos and I’m like ‘ewww,'” said Schwartz.
But those “ewwws” have become “awwws.” Schwartz said several team members start as study focused introverts, but with long hours, the muscle memory skills set in and fancy footed Casanovas are created.
“I realized I could put in so much more and get so much better and then it just skyrocketed from there. At my peak, I’ve probably been practicing up to 20 hours a week,” said Schwartz.
Schwartz’s story is similar to many on team. In fact, half of the students are engineers. The coaches say the techniques learned at this level are something the students never forget and carry with them forever.
Next up for the team is a trip to the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival Ball in Columbus, Ohio in hopes of clinching another title.
You can catch up with the U-M ballroom dancing team anytime by visiting their website at www.uofmballroom.com.