Bayley Brooks, 14, and Nicholas Kane, 16, are having a ball.
The two teenagers have been ballroom dance partners since June and are not only having fun; their talent is moving them at a pace that takes most ballroom couples two to three years to reach.
After less than a year of dancing together, Brooks, of Hauser Lake, and Kane, of Newman Lake, will participate in the 2012 USA Dance Nationals in Baltimore at the end of the month.
Brooks began dancing seriously at the age of 9, taking classes at the Coeur d’Alene School of Ballet. Kane was a hockey and basketball player until the pain from Osgood-Schlatter disease affected his knees, keeping him off of the rink and basketball court. He took some dance lessons and found that dancing came naturally.
The two paired up at an open practice where Kane took lessons and waltzed into a partnership that was meant to be.
The dancers have gained confidence and formed a friendship through their practices and competitions.
“I was really shy; with ballroom dancing, I kind of found who I was,” Brooks said. Kane’s dad, Dennis Kane, has seen a change in Kane, too. “It’s brought him out of his shell, that’s for sure,” he said. The two are friends at their school, Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy, but their bond is stronger from their time on the dance floor.
“I’m really grateful for having Bayley as a partner. She has the same love and commitment,” Kane said.
Brooks feels the same way. “I’m thankful for Nick. I don’t even know if I would be doing this, because it’s rare to find someone with this kind of passion and commitment,” she said.
Brooks and Kane practice at least twice a week at the Eagles Club in Coeur d’Alene and travel to Seattle once a month to work with their coach, Alexandria Hawkins. If there’s a competition they can drive to, they do it.
“Although it’s going really fast, it feels like we’re keeping up with it; it pushes us to try harder,” Kane said. “I really like stepping up to the plate and accepting the challenge,” Brooks said.
Brooks’ mom, Jami Brooks, said they do whatever they need to make the practices and competitions happen. “It’s worth it. They just shine; it’s their passion,” she said. The dancers are grateful for what their parents have given up for them. “They don’t take anything for granted; they definitely appreciate it. They’re an anomaly,” Dennis Kane said.
Although the teenagers’ lives tend to revolve around dance and school, they don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything.
“I might not get to go to prom, but I get to wear the dress – all the time,” Brooks said.
“I’d rather be dancing anyway,” Kane said.
Kane said that he sees a future in professional ballroom dancing. “I would like to go as far as I could go,” he said.
Brooks said she wants to dance, but she also sees college in her future. “I really want to pursue college. I’m thinking about medical school, being a dentist, maybe an accountant. And, still I want to dance. I haven’t figured out how I’m going to do it yet,” she said.
For now, the dancers are looking forward to their upcoming competition at the end of March.
Both want to win.
“It would be really spectacular to win the title of national champion,” she said.