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ISE major finds her rhythm at Ohio State

Emily ReedEmily Reed began taking ballet lessons when she was just three years old. When she came to The Ohio State University to study industrial and systems engineering, she was afraid of losing her biggest creative and social outlet. 

So, she did what any resourceful freshman would do: She emailed every Ohio State club with the word dance in it. It didn’t take long for her to find her niche in DanceSport at OSU, a ballroom dance student organization combining competition with fellowship. 

“Dance was such an important part of my life growing up and I didn't want to lose that about myself,” Reed said. “The social aspect of the club was just a nice benefit.”

DanceSport is a national organization inviting students from a range of dance backgrounds to take weekly classes in different ballroom styles, from the waltz to the tango.

The University of Michigan and Purdue University are among the opposition at DanceSport competitions, held about three times a semester. Fifty couples perform between 12 and 15 dances, and those that qualify continue on round by round until a winning pair is chosen.

In addition to these individual winning pairs, schools are placed overall on their performance. Ohio State showed up well to the National Collegiate DanceSport Championship held recently in Columbus, earning first place in American style dances and third place overall.

Reed and her partner advanced to the quarterfinals in American cha cha and swing, as well as to the second round in American waltz, international waltz and American tango.

Her goals are to progress to the next level of expertise, bronze, and to place at the 25th Annual OSU DanceSport Classic in the spring.

Her drive to succeed comes from a lifetime of ballet, an art form requiring near militant discipline. 

“I’ve learned determination because of the challenges I’ve overcome with not having the right body type for ballet,” said Reed. “I worked really hard to still find a way to enjoy and be a part of it.”

Having dance lessons three days a week at Ohio State has helped Reed improve her ballroom skills tremendously in just a year. She said the time commitment is manageable and well worth the experience she’s getting out of DanceSport—especially the friendships.

“We’ve gone to sky zone, played laser tag and we have spaghetti dinners. I’ve made a lot of friends through it,” she said. “Over the summer eight of us piled into a car and drove to La Fogata to salsa dance. It was so much fun.”

Outside of dancing, Reed is a College of Engineering Ambassador and president of Humanitarian Engineering Scholars, a group focused on socially responsible engineering and service learning.

“I really like working with the other second-year students and leadership council advisors to get freshmen super excited about engineering. It’s important,” Reed said.

After graduation, Reed will pursue a career in humanitarian engineering abroad, helping those less fortunate. But no matter where her job takes her, she’ll always keep a passion for dance.

“I will always want to support the arts. Dance is always going to be a part of my life and that's the really cool thing about it—even if you’re older, you can still dance.”

Written by Karlie Frank

Tags: Students