Ornamented with glitter and newly dyed hair, Pierce College Running Start student Laura Cook inhaled deeply and was glided into a world she is familiar with. This is the world of ballroom dance, and during the 2013 National Ballroom dance completions, she danced with fire in her heart.
Cook’s foundation in ballroom dance started when she was 9 years old, and she started ballet and tap dancing. It was through these styles that she discovered her love for dancing and expanded into ballroom dancing when she was 12. Cook had first been introduced to ballroom dancing by a friend but it was by way of her sister’s experience in ballroom dance that she began.
“As I saw her grow and develop into a beautiful dancer, I decided that I wanted to follow in her footsteps,” Cook said. “When I went to an end of the year performance they put on, I made an internal commitment to try and succeed in this sport of ballroom dancing.”
It’s this commitment to the sport that Cook calls one of her best decisions. She found a second home at the Pacific Ballroom Dance Company, a company that built upon a foundation of values and morals. The companies intends to instill values like fitness, leadership, inclusiveness, teamwork and dedication in its athletes, all of which Cook unambiguously expels.
“It has helped me as a person,” Cook said, “because I feel I am very comfortable around everyone at dance and it has helped me become a very sociable, upbeat person.”
For Cook the dedication put into dancing produces its awards through the emotions she feels when she performs. It is the intent of the company to work towards national rankings in ballroom dance. This goal demands the blood, sweat and tears of those competing, and after the anticipation of performing at nationals, such demands are appreciated through the zeal felt. Through the adrenalin rush Cook experiences an overflow of emotions.
“I love the feeling of showing your emotions not by your words, but by your body and your facial expressions,” Cook said. “I love looking over my shoulder and looking at all my teammates dancing their hearts out. I take pride in what I accomplish and I love the feelings of pushing yourself to a goal and then accomplishing that goal as an individual and as a team member, (at this time), you can’t help but just smile and love it.”
Cook was one of a team from Pacific Ballroom Dance Company that competed in the national ballroom dance competition this year. Dance teams from all over the country gathered in Utah to compete. For Cook, competing in nationals was everything she had dreamed of, and it lived up to such expectations. Nationals was in Utah this year because of the size of the dance fools, it being the only dance fool large enough to host the competition. For Cook, looking onto the dance floor for the first time, she saw nothing short of breathtaking.
“When you work toward a goal and then all of a sudden your there and competing, it’s a really amazing experience.” Cook said. “I loved that I could finish dancing and think to myself that I did my best and I deserved the high ranking because as an individual, I felt I did an amazing job. I loved the feeling that I left it all on the floor without any regrets.”
For Cook the most touching moment of the competition was competing in the finals. She recalled dancing with her brother and partner and looking out into the audience where her grandparents where.
“They were smiling and crying at the same time. They were so proud of us. I won’t ever forget that amazing experience,” Cook said.
With the conclusion of nationals all of Cook’s hard work paid off. Out of the hundreds of teams that competed in the high school division, she and her partner received fourth place in Latin samba and rumba as well as in the standard waltz and quickstep.
For Cook dancing is a passion but education is a priority. It takes a strict balance in her life to be active in both dancing and school work. For Cook time management and organization is essential.
“Without those two things, I don’t know how I could cope with everything I have on my plate,” Cook said.
Dancing has given many unusual opportunities such as dancing under a fleet of Boeing planes. In celebration of the company building 38 planes in 30 days, Cook and her team from the Pacific Ballroom Dance Company were invited to perform at the corporate celebration.
“It was a huge achievement and I was privileged to be asked to be in this dance.” Cook said. “We danced on a stage with at least 4,000 Boeing employees watching us. It was definitely an amazing experience because we danced under an airplane that they had just built. I love experiences like that because I will never have an experience like that again so I enjoy dance while it lasts.”
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