Dancing, the story of a lifetime.
“I started dancing when I was 3, I started as a ballet dancer. My parents had this idea that [I] should learn how to speak a foreign language, play an instrument and learn how to dance,” said Katie Fiallo, second-year law student at Northeastern University.
Now Katie is 23 years old and has never stopped dancing. Even though she didn’t pursue ballet and decided to switch to jazz and hip hop.
When she started as an undergraduate student at Northeastern, she didn’t have a very high opinion of ballroom dancing. “My parents signed me and one of my ex-boyfriends to do ballroom lessons with them and his parents, and I was thinking that this was so stupid and so lame. I was so bored,” she said laughing.
Pushed by her roommate at the time, Katie decided to give ballroom dancing a second chance. Her first experience with the Northeastern Ballroom club was a cha-cha lesson. She loved the dance but moreover felt like she could be part of a community.
Katie has been dancing ballroom for five years and has had seven different partners. She is currently competing in the standard dances with Fahmil Shah, PhD student at Boston University. Even if it can be challenging for them to find time to practice, their collaboration has been successful and they have placed in many competitions.
Katie takes lessons with a few different coaches depending on what she wants to focus on. “But I always go back to George,” she said. She appreciates George Cometa’s respectful and friendly way of teaching. George believed in Katie’s dancing and invited her to participate in the Manhattan Amateur Classic (MAC) National Qualifying Event.
Katie and George put a lot work into getting the four standard dances ready for the competition. The placed 8th in the master of syllabus category. “It was one of the most leisurely competitions. I learned a lot from watching other couples,” Katie said.
But dancing is not only competing for Katie. She enjoys social dancing and dedicates several nights a week to west coast swing, salsa and occasional other dances. She finds exciting to get out of the competition mindset and enjoys meeting new people from all ages and backgrounds. She also admits that social dancing helps her improve her ballroom skills and vice versa.
“Social dancing is not usually scripted. So it helps being more responsive to my partner. And ballroom dancing gives me a good foundation,” she said.
Katie enjoys the perks of learning ballroom in a friendly and supportive environment, while being part of a diverse social network.
“I love the people, the community is so nice. I remember thinking that it was so cool that I got to hang out with engineers, and journalism, and communication students, and people interested in graphic design, people from all different backgrounds. We had this common interest and we had shared experiences even though we didn’t have the same background,” Katie said.