Culver City Resident Takes First Place


November 24, 2016

Culver City resident Renée De Palma and USC student Ilana Urman took first place in Newcomer American Smooth Fox Trot at the Claremont Showdown 2016 dancing for the USC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team. But this win for De Palma meant more than just the blue ribbon.

Renée took up ballroom dancing as a method of overcoming her chronic pain from a serious freak crush injury to her legs in 2014. After a bleak medical diagnosis, Renée’s doctor gave her a short list of options for exercise and on that list was ballroom dancing.

“The level of pain was debilitating. I could no longer work, exercise or be active in the ways I was used to. And I knew absolutely zero about ballroom dancing.”

Renée found the USC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team and then SOHO Dance LA in West Los Angeles and began training with them a few hours a week. “I couldn’t wear heels anymore, so I decided studying the leader’s part was my best option.” She grins, “I am a terrible follower anyway.”

In Fall of 2016 one of the dance team students at USC approached Renée to compete. “She was really very brave. It’s unique to see two ladies compete in ballroom dancing. But Ilana didn’t even blink an eye. I admire her for that.” They started with the Fox Trot routine taught by USC pro dance instructor Lorena Bravo. When Bravo underwent knee surgery Renée turned to her own professional dance instructor Mireille Gineste at SOHO Dance LA in preparation for the competition.

Dancing in the Newcomer and Bronze categories as Amateur/Amateur dancers, Renée and Ilana took the Newcomer first place prize.

“I think what was most important to me was proving to myself that I could achieve something again while dealing with this injury and extreme chronic pain. I want anyone facing physical pain to know that ballroom dance can be a really fun option to rebuild stamina” Renee said.”

The USC Ballroom and Latin Dance Team welcomes community donations to their on campus dance program. Email Club President Reed Blaylock at SOHO Dance LA offers weekly dance classes and social dance parties to the public and is located at 1618 Cotner Ave. in West Los Angeles. (310) 473-8187.


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