Well, much to my surprise, my name was chosen and I went forward to the dance floor to be paired up with my dance pro, J.J. Six couples were formed, with one amateur and one professional dancer in each pairing. We all waited nervously for our instructions from the judges. J.J. assured me that it was going to be a really exciting, spontaneous experience and it surely was.
This first night of the competition, the judges had all six of the couples on the dance floor at the same time. All we were instructed to do was to dance freestyle to whatever music we heard playing from the deejay's booth. We also found out that three out of the six couples would be eliminated after the group competition and the three remaining couples would have to dance again in the finals.
J.J. and I danced spontaneously to short bits of songs from Grease, Thriller, and Dirty Dancing. Even though we had just met minutes earlier, we hammed it up and had a blast! At one point during the song Thriller, we "zombie danced" right over to the judges' table and they really loved it! We got great feedback from the judges and were so excited that we made it to the final round of the competition, which would happen several days later.
Each of the final three couples had to randomly select their dance style. J.J. and I selected the samba. Uh oh! I know absolutely nothing about samba but I guess I'd be learning on the fly!
J.J. was a super patient and very encouraging dance instructor. He understood that I had no formal dance experience, so he took me from where I was, and worked out a great routine for us. We only had time for two brief rehearsals before the final competition. Whew! The nerves really began to set in for me.
One major question I had was about what I was going to wear for the night of the final. My pared down travel capsule did not exactly include costumes. So, I improvised with what I had in my carry-on bag. I wore my colorful swimsuit top and a black skirt. It worked out perfectly because J.J. had a professional dance costume to match my homemade ensemble.