Some may say that I started to dance before I was born; my mom’s last competition happened when she was five months pregnant with me. I truly was born into a dancing family—all of my relatives, including aunts, uncles, cousins, were competitive ballroom dancers at some point in their lives. Being a very shy kid, ballroom dancing and performing in front of others was the last thing on my mind. I never thought this would be my life, my passion, my everything.
Dancing has changed my life. It has influenced my character and personality, teaching me how to push my limits. I’ve learned with dance to strive to be the best version of myself, work towards my goals with 1000% dedication, to persevere despite any obstacles, and to always seek to inspire others.
My mom signed me up for ballet classes when I was about five or six years old. After a few years, the teacher told her that I would never be a dancer, I didn’t have a good turnout, and I was a slow learner. She said I should find a different passion. So, I quit...In the meantime, she had begun to teach ballroom dancing at my elementary school. We had little performances here and there, but nothing serious. When I was 10, we moved and I didn’t want to dance anymore, as I had a new class and new friends… but guess what? I had no choice. My mom would take my younger sister and I to her studio every day. Unlike me, my sister was a dancing star, winning every competition she danced in.
I became more serious about dance when I was a teenager, and I met a handsome boy who wanted to dance with me—a dream come true! At least, that’s what I thought back then 😉 The boy stopped dancing after 9 months—but I was finally hooked. I found a new partner and we practiced 5 days per week, started to travel to competitions, and attended training camps with top Polish and British coaches. My life was changing and I began to see that through dance, I was becoming more confident and open to others.
I knew that dancing would always be a part of my life, when that was the only thing I could think of. When my friends would go to parties or have lazy summers, I would go to practices and intensive summer camps. I faced sore muscles, sweat, and blisters‚yet none of that mattered, because I had a dream. Passion accelerates your abilities and pushes you to achieve the impossible.
A few years later, I met Slawek (Sochacki) at a summer dance camp. Dancing with Slawek was every girl’s dream…he practiced 8-10 hrs per day, even when his partner wasn’t there. Lucky for me, my mom worked her magic. She offered up our studio as a new “dance home” for Slawek, and asked if he might be interested in partnering with a girl from the studio—and he chose me. I felt like I was in that RedBull commercial and I “got the wings.” Our first practice lasted 20 hours (of course with small breaks for water and food), but I knew that this day would change my life. I have found that when you are fully passionate about dancing and you are practicing with someone that shares the same feeling, it enhances your mind and body. You become more innovative, creative, progressive, and successful.
Slawek and I have now been dancing with one another for over a quarter-century (don’t even count how old we are😜). We’ve been through ups and downs, tiny injuries, little failures, big failures, and huge successes, but no matter what, we’ve never quit. We’ve always had goals, and we’ve always strived to accomplish them, with an amazing team of coaches who continue to inspire and motivate us. After winning 4 US and World Titles, we’ve not stopped: we push ourselves to be the best coaches and organizers, with our studio, Mastery Camp in Las Vegas, the Royal Ball in LA, and our newest “baby,” our American Smooth Platform. We have the opportunity to continue sharing our passion with many dancers and we could not ask for a better career.
I am forever grateful to my parents for believing in me, even when others didn’t; for “dragging” me to the studio, but not forcing me to be a champion as a child. I thank them for allowing me to decide for myself if I was on the right path for me, as my passion for dancing grew as I did. I understand I had the advantage of being born in a dancing family, but if I had listened to my first ballet teacher, I would likely be within another career path. Life is full of choices we face, but as long as these choices allow you to live your life to the fullest, drawing you to follow your dreams and passions, you will enjoy the outcome. Remember that when you are passionate about your life, sport, or job, you will be ready to fight any obstacles that will show up on your path.
My wish for all of you is that you find your passion—your life, your career, your oxygen, your everything—and never allow someone to tell you that you will not be able to succeed in something.
“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” – Steve Jobs
About the Author
Marzena Stachura is a 4 time undefeated USA and World American Smooth Champion, owner of Mastery Camp Las Vegas, creator and owner of AmericanSmooth.net training and certification platform, co-owner of The Royal Ball Dance competition, Dance Vision Examiner, NDCA and WDC adjudicator, and proud mom of 2.