While most of our athletes compete in shorts or spandex on fields or courts, Ylliah Jin (21’) stands out with her particular athletic uniform: hers involves whirling around a parquet floor in flamboyant dresses. Jin has practiced ballroom dancing for half a decade, after her mother suggested she take up dancing. Jin said, “I did ballet, I did jazz, I did tap. But, I didn’t like any of them, so I settled for ballroom.”
Out of the four different styles of ballroom dancing Jin partakes in two, Latin and Standard. While Jin excels at both styles, she prefers Latin dancing, which “requires short skirt and higher heels.”
When asked what sets ballroom dancing apart, Jin replied, “Ballroom dancing is about collaboration and working with your partner, it’s very strong partnership which I don’t find in other dances, since you do them solo.”
Right now, Jin’s partner is her coach at the Jacksonville Dance Center, “simply because there aren’t that many boys here who dance ballroom.” However, Jin said partners are usually chosen based off of shared skill level and compatibility.
In videos of her recent competition, Jin’s skill level is clear. Whether the music is slow or fast, Jin and her partner navigate around other couples and perform intricate steps.
Through ballroom dancing, Jin “ learned about perseverance, first of all, because I’ve done it for so long and sometimes of course I’ve wanted to quit because I didn’t have any written motivation.”
Jin also values the skill and concentration involved in collaboration with her partner. “You have to have it. It’s like two bodies, but you have to work at the same time and at the same rate.”
In October, Ylliah participated in the Chicago Harvest Moon Ball Dancesport Championship, in which, “she won both the Bronze Latin Championship and Ballroom Championship, as well as both of Youth Open Scholarship,” according to an email written by Jin’s mother.
Jin plans to donate all $400 of her first prize scholarship from Chicago Harvest Moon Festival to Operation Smile Foundation. In an email, Mrs.Xueyu wrote, “This is her first donation in her life so it is extraordinarily meaningful.”
Not only does Jin compete in (and win) national competitions, she also teaches ballroom dancing out of her house, for free.
Upon meeting parents who could not afford ballroom dance lessons, Ylliah decided to allow kids the opportunity to try out the sport without actually committing the money.
Jin said, “I heard many parents say ‘Oh, I want my child to learn ballroom dancing but it’s way too expensive.’”
With the help of her parents, Jin turned a room in her house into a mirrored studio. She said, “I decided well, let’s have the kids have a little taste to see if they like it.”
While Jin loves ballroom dancing, she acknowledges that, “Most people think that ballroom dancing is just the princess dance. Most people are not attracted to this style of dance, but I think it teaches you much more than maybe other dances could.”