An Interview with Amber Blair

Meet Amber Blair…
Chemist during the day, outdoors aficionado on weekends and ballroom dancer at night.


Name: Amber Blair
Nickname: “Bambi”
Age:  27 years old
Education:  Master of Science in Chemistry
Current Occupation:  Scientific Communications and Publishing Coordinator at STEMCELL Technologies.  Amber’s main role is to write weekly science newsletters covering a variety of immunology and cell biology fields.
Favourite music:  Muse, The Cold War Kids, Radiohead, Glass Animals, and Alt-J.
Favourite dance right now:  Tango
Current status:  Bronze/Silver Ballroom Dancer
Current classes with JC Dance Co: Private lessons & PEAK
TA in Beginner Class Wednesday nights

A Chat with Amber…

Q:  When did you start dancing?
A:  I took my first beginner class with JC Dance Co. at the Broadway Ballroom around three years ago, and I started competing approximately 1 year after I started.

Q:  Once you started dancing, what made you want to continue learning?
  It is very exciting to see your own progress and build on what you’ve learned previously.  Another exciting part for me is how happy I was/still am after each lesson. No matter what my mood is before the class, I am always put into a good mood afterwards – it is certainly as much of a stress reliever as it is exercise.

Amber in action on the competition floor!  Photo taken by Cindy Shi.

Q:  After the Beginner class, what did you do next?
A:  After the Beginner class, I did another set of the Beginner classes and then proceeded to the Intermediate class.  After taking a set of the Intermediate classes, I was asked by Joel if I wanted to start competing and the answer was of course a very excited YES!

Q:  Why did you take the Beginner class twice?
A:  The first time I took it was the first time I had ever danced before.  Since I was in graduate school at the time, I didn’t attend all classes back to back; I spread them out so that the next time I attended, I forgot all of the moves!  I wanted to take all of the classes a second time to get a better grasp of the moves before moving up, and I felt like that was the right choice for me.

Q:  What are you currently doing with your dancing?
A:  Currently I am dancing at the Bronze and Silver levels in Standard and am hoping to start competing in Latin at my next competition.

Q:  Are you taking group or private lessons right now and why?
A:  I take both group and private lessons with JC Dance Co. At the moment I am taking private lessons with Clara. The private lessons are beneficial because you get one-on-one attention that allows you to build on your technique faster and you have someone who knows you well enough to pick out your flaws and knows how to fix them. I also attend the PEAK workshop for standard practice. The group workshops are beneficial because you feed off of the other more advanced student’s energy and they are always happy to help you out with your questions or just to offer insight.

Q:  What do you enjoy about helping out in Beginner class?
A:  I enjoy helping out because I started there and I remember how intimidating it was to attend. I also enjoyed getting to dance with the more advanced students [when I was a beginner] because you can learn faster and easier. It is also very fun learning to dance the lead portion and helping people learn dance in general.

Q:  What’s one tip you wish you knew when you first started dancing?
A:  I wish that I remembered that everybody was a beginner once! For the longest time, I was scared to mess up while social dancing or practicing and kept apologizing for being a beginner.  I generally felt a bit sorry for myself for not being better. It took me too long to learn that it’s okay to know where you stand in the learning curve and that no one will think less of you for being a beginner and wanting to learn.

Amber on one of her many hiking adventures.

Q:  What other activities do you like doing besides dancing?
A:  Outside of dancing I LOVE being outdoors. I love going camping, backpacking or climbing with friends. I also spend a fair amount of time running, reading and playing board games.

Q:  Being an outdoorsy person is quite different from the glamour and sparkle of the ballroom.  How do compare the two?
A:  They’re both very athletic [activities]. Depending on the day, I can easily work up a sweat in dance that rivals some of my big hikes, as you can push yourself to your limits in both.

Q:  How did you feel about wearing heels to dance?
A:  I feel great about wearing heels now and I don’t even notice them. I will freely admit that my dance nickname was Bambi (it still may be Bambi but I haven’t heard it in awhile) and I blame that on a combination of poor balance and not wearing heels [for most of my life]. Once I started practicing heel turns, it really helped with my balance wearing heels.

Q:  Is there a specific memorable moment that stands out in your time of dancing?
A:  A specific moment that stands out as a huge jump for me dancing was when I stopped being devastatingly nervous during competitions. It took awhile, but once the nerves went away it let me focus on the presentation of the dance.

Q:  Why did you choose JC Dance Co.?
A:  I chose JC Dance Co. because I loved Joel’s charisma during the Beginner classes and he was very welcoming and entertaining. I now take lessons with Clara, who is equally entertaining and talented. Overall, I chose JC Dance Co. because they produce amazing dancers and getting better includes lots of practice but also great, dedicated teachers.

Q:  Why are you still dancing and what are your future plans?
A:  I’m still dancing because I still love it and I have an infinite amount left to learn. It does take up a lot of time but I still haven’t lost the happy feeling after every practice, group class, or lesson and the desire to keep learning and get better still remains. My future plans involve becoming a Championship dancer of course!

A big thanks to Amber for sharing her thoughts and feelings on ballroom dancing!  Come and ‘chat’ or better yet ‘dance’ with her on Wednesday nights at Beginner class from 7:30-8:30pm.  Unfortunately, we are bidding a fond farewell to our sunny little helper Amber, as she is going to the University of Calgary Law School.  Good luck Amber.  We will miss you!