Without Facebook, National Ballroom Dance champions Charles Lloyd and Hanna Weiss may never have met.
Their moms connected on the social media platform last fall, and the two teens soon became partners on the dance floor – despite their distance. Lloyd, 15, lives in Los Altos and Weiss, 18, lives in Southern California.
They practice nearly every week, flying to each other on a rotating basis, and both are enrolled in online school. They train four to five hours a day when together, and a few hours a day when on their own.
Lloyd has danced competitively for 10 years with an array of partners and, like Weiss, won national championships prior to joining forces. However, this is the first time either of them has qualified for the Ballroom Dance World Championships. They are slated to compete in the event in January in Atlanta.
“We were not nervous for the national competition, but just so excited to perform and showcase what we genuinely love to do,” Weiss said of the competition she and Lloyd won in April. “We are even more excited for the world competition.”
Prior to winning their age group (16-18) at the national event in Orem, Utah, the pair claimed the California state championship last December.
There are several categories in competitive ballroom dance, including smooth – which Lloyd and Weiss compete in – Latin and standard. Within these categories are the waltz, tango, foxtrot and other popular forms of dance.
“We chose to do smooth because there is a lot more freedom, and there is a large focus on the partner aspect during the competition,” Lloyd said. “I think Hanna and I work really well together.”
According to Weiss, dancing with the right partner is paramount.
“The main aspect of ballroom dancing is your partner, because you have to really connect with them,” she said. “We were really lucky to find each other.”
Addicted to dance
During the competition, all of the couples dance at the same time in front of the judges.
They also have to wear extravagant costumes: Females bedazzle themselves and wear formal dresses and males wear a “smooth suit,” a custom-made tuxedo to dance in.
“We have to constantly be at our best and look fabulous all the time,” Weiss said. “A lot of the judging is based on their opinions of you, because every couple has a different style. After looking at your posture, timing and performance, they start looking for artistic interpretation like your movements and structure.”
The competitive nature of the sport seems to inspire them to work even harder.
“After you dance for so long, you develop a love for it that drives you further and further. As you do it more, you truly want to continue dancing,” Lloyd said. “It is an addictive thing.”
And these dancers have advice for anyone interested in trying ballroom dancing.
“Dedication and hard work always pays off,” Weiss said. “The moments when you win, it is so amazing. When you get through the difficult moments, it is really rewarding. If you work hard, you really get the benefits.”
Lloyd added, “If you lose, you have a reason to try again. Never stay down and always get back up. Once you’re up, celebrate it.”