Close this search box.
Close this search box.
UH Andrea

From Ballet to Ballroom

By Andrea Siochi
Contributing Author
Photos Courtesy of Andrea Siochi
Young Ballerina finds love of dance at the University of Hawaii

My mom likes to say I came out of the womb with a tutu and a pair of pointe shoes. Ever since I can remember I’ve always wanted to dance. I started ballet lessons as early as I could, and this began my dance journey.

Andrea ballet1I loved ballet and it engulfed my life, I loved the technicality, the artistry, and the competitiveness. I danced at different smaller studios when I was young until the time came when I wanted to get more serious, and I began dancing at a Ballet Conservatory that taught Vaganova style (Russian style) ballet. While the environment was tough, I loved dancing at this new level. Eventually, I was dancing approximately twenty-five hours a week.

Dance was everything to me, and at around the age of thirteen or fourteen, I was considering a career in ballet. It made sense: I basically lived at the studio, I wasn’t seriously interested in any particular subject in school, dance had enveloped my whole life, and I was happy with it that way.

Unfortunately, ballet can be cutthroat and the wear and tear of dancing at this intensity began to show. In ballet, a particular body type is required for success, and I was just not born to look like that. As I got older, I noticed that I looked less and less like the other girls in my classes; this began to distress me. Slowly but surely, I began to develop a very unhealthy relationship with food and my diet. I became obsessed with what I was eating to make sure that I could look as closely as possible to how the other girls and professionals looked. This obsession and worry quickly ate away at my mental and physical well-being, so much that when I was 14, I had to completely quit ballet mid-season.

In my mind, at the time, that was it. I had hung up the pointe shoes and would never dance again. I had made the impossible decision that my health had to come first, and I could not keep dancing if it were to be this detrimental to me. I told myself I had to be done with dance forever. I clearly had no way of keeping dance in my life while also taking adequate care of myself mentally. This was a necessary step for me, but it was also an incredible loss. The way I felt when dancing was irreplaceable.

From the time when I was fourteen to my freshman year of college, I did not step foot into a dance studio. As the years passed, I had concluded that I was done with dance, and I had come to terms with it. I had more time to focus on school and be with my family and friends, but there always seemed to be something missing in my life.

Andrea and her partner, Alexander Picken, dancing for the University of Hawaii at the 2024 USA Dance Nationals Championships.

It was mid-October of 2023 when one of my friends started attending the Ballroom Club at the University of Hawai’i, where we go to school, and she was insistent that I join her at least once. I remember her telling me that it was so much fun, and she was sure I would love it. I was reluctant to go at first. I had dance experience, but I had never taken a single ballroom class, so going to a club sounded terrifying. Eventually, she wore me down and convinced me to go just once. Immediately I was hooked. I hadn’t been able to dance for the past couple of years and I didn’t even realize how much I had been missing it from my life.  With ballroom, something just clicked, and I knew I had to come back for more.

Andrea and her partner, Christopher Ramirez, demonstrate their Waltz Promenade.

Quickly after I joined, I started going to the team practices on Sunday.  Then I started practicing with my partner more during the week. Eventually, I was able to start performing with the ballroom team.  I attended my first competition and even decided to go to this year’s USA Dance Nationals.

I began to dance more and more to get ready for Nationals. I would be going with about six months of Ballroom experience under my belt, so I wanted to make sure I was as prepared as possible. Slowly but surely ballroom began to fill my life the way ballet had before, but this time it was different.

Andrea and Christopher photo bombed by their University of Hawaii Ballroom Team coach, Ravi Narayan.

My coaches, Ravi Narayan and Synthia Sumukti are a key reason why I can dance again. They have created an environment that allows for both the competitiveness and excellence that I craved while also supporting everyone on the team as an individual. I feel that ballroom has given me a way to dance while also prioritizing myself and my health. I see myself continuing with ballroom for as long as I possibly can.

Looking back, it is evident to me how deeply ingrained dance is in who I am as a person. I am incredibly grateful to my coaches as well as all my teammates for giving me the ability to have dance in my life again.

“Looking back, it is evident to me how deeply ingrained dance is in who I am as a person.”

Would you like to read another interesting Ballet to Ballroom story.  Catch the American Dancer’s “Professional in the Spotlight” story of Sandra FortunaSandra Fortuna – Ballet to Ballroom.

2024 National Champions!

Competitions 2024-25

Most Popular

Social Media

Recent Posts