“Ariel did something I have never witnessed in my entire pro-am ballroom career. She danced two major competitions on opposite coasts in 24 hours and won both of them! Ariel won two world titles in California, jumped on a red-eye flight, and (in the same hair and makeup) won her third National Youth Title in Florida the following morning. It was an impressive feat of endurance and mental fortitude, and I couldn’t have been more proud of her.
Since we had only danced together for six sessions before competing, our choreography was still far from being fully developed for such a new partnership. On the competitive floor, right before the Foxtrot music started, Ariel asked me to remind her of the timing to our intro. I laughed and told her, then watched as she launched nuclear bombs of intensity and confidence at the judges and audience.”
Photography by Melanie Eve Barocas