The 2018 Senior Perspectives is the 13th in a series of annual collections. Senior captains and representatives of teams at Harvard have been invited to contribute viewpoints based on personal experience from both their senior seasons and full varsity careers at Harvard.
Dan Fu, Ballroom Dancing
Hometown: Carmel, Ind.
Concentration: Computer Science
House Affiliation: Quincy
I never expected to pick up ballroom dancing - or any club sport for that matter - when I came to college. College athletics just weren’t on my radar - besides a couple years in high school running (very slowly) with the cross country team, the only sort of organized sport I had ever done was some little league in second grade. But one Tuesday night freshman year, I followed a girl to a rumba class. She left after twenty minutes, but I was hooked. If you asked to me to explain why, I wouldn’t be able to say - there’s just something intoxicating about dance that always leaves you wanting more. Maybe it’s in the blood; I found out later that my mom had also picked up ballroom in college, and just never told me about it.
I told myself at first that ballroom would be my casual hobby. Like most Harvard students, I was a very competitive high schooler, and I thought it would be nice to enjoy something casually for a change. And to be perfectly honest, I wasn’t very good; I had trouble memorizing routines, and I couldn’t count the music to save my life. That attitude lasted for maybe three months before I found myself wanting to spend more and more time practicing. My partners and I danced everywhere we could find empty space, from the mezzanine in the MAC to the basement of the science center. And when I wasn’t practicing, I was listening to ballroom playlists on Spotify and trying to learn how to find the downbeat. In short, ballroom slowly began to take over my life.
And over the past four years, ballroom has given me so much more than I could ever have imagined. It’s connected me to a huge community of people who are extremely passionate about what they do - I’ve met some of my closest friends through the ballroom team, and I’m lucky enough to say that I have close dance friends everywhere from Seattle to Hong Kong. I’ve been able to travel to a huge number of faraway places, from our annual team trips to New York and Montreal to an all-expense paid trip to China, sponsored by the Chinese Ballroom Dance Federation. It’s even helped me academically - I found a surprisingly strong CS community on the ballroom team, and I know that I would not be in the same place today without them.
But by far the biggest difference ballroom has made in my life is giving me the opportunity to work closely with wonderful partners. Competitive partner dance is different from most other sports because at the end of the day, it all comes down to perfect communication and synchronization between you and your partner. Throwing myself into that world over the past four years has turned me into a better leader, communicator, and person, and I know that I’ll be using those skills for my entire life.
When people hear that I basically only did a single extracurricular throughout all of college, they sometimes ask me what I would do if I had the chance to go back and do everything differently - if I would try out more clubs or go back to taking ballroom more casually; maybe spend some more time on classwork and less time on this single obscure hobby.
Four years later, I wouldn’t change a single thing.