53d Wing's ballroom dancer wins US title, second in the world

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
  • 53d Wing Public Affairs
A member of the 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron took second place last month at the World Dance Championships in Ohio, a competition that consisted of hundreds of the world's top ballroom dancers.

Just over a year ago, 1st Lt. John Scheuren, an operations analyst, took his first ballroom dance lesson - because he had a flyer for a free lesson. His teacher, Georgia Ambarian, a World Professional Cabaret Ballroom Champion, would become his mentor and dance partner. A year later, he won the United States Pro/Am Cabaret title.

"It's like learning how to throw a football from Tom Brady - I'd be foolish not to try to learn from the best," said the MIT graduate.

Lieutenant Scheuren said he picked up the moves very quickly and found an early knack for "cabaret" style or "showdance." He began competing a few months later. Cabaret is the only style that allows for the woman's feet to leave the ground. It's categorized by dramatic lifts and spins.

"I wrestled in college, but I was blown away by how physically demanding dance is," said the 25-year-old. "Cabaret makes it even harder because I have to throw my partner in the air and hopefully catch her... of course."

In May, he realized he had a chance at the U.S. title when he won a national showdance competition in Los Angeles.

The lieutenant immediately ramped up his training to more than two hours a day to prepare for the U.S. championship in September.

"The adrenaline and electricity of walking onto that huge ballroom floor and realizing you have just a few short minutes to impress the judges and show an entire year's worth of hard work is almost unsettling," said the lieutenant who also plays the piano and is a trained professional baritone. "If you've ever been on a sports team and made it to the finals or the championship, it's the same feeling. There's no second chance. You have to leave it all out there on the floor."

Obviously, the judges thought he did, as they awarded him first place.

"When they announced my name, all I could think about was, 'I have to call my mom and... I hope I don't trip going up to the stage,'" said the Alexandria, Va., native.

The win springboarded him to the global stage where he took the silver medal, only a couple marks away from winning the gold.

After a competitive year, the fire still burns in the lieutenant to continue competing. He said he is currently going back to basics to refine his technique for another shot at the World Title next year.

"If you told me last year, I'd have done this much with dance I would have called you crazy. Now, I've realized that you should never put limits on yourself and just go for it. You never know what might come out of a free lesson."