Sequin-studded masks might seem a bit flamboyant. But when you’re a competitive ballroom dancer being judged on appearance, you need a mask to match your dress and heels, says Trisha Pérez Kennealy, a dancer and chef-owner of the Inn at Hastings Park, a boutique hotel in Lexington, Mass.
New costumes weren’t the only thing she had to adjust to. When her studio closed, she had to learn to dance via Zoom. Ms. Pérez Kennealy has been surprised to find that virtual dance lessons have improved her moves.
Normally, her partner’s touch helps communicate the next step in a dance combination. “We use the strength of our bodies to speak to each other,” she says. “It can be as subtle as the pressure of his hand on my back to help me know what will happen next. When you’re dancing on your own, you don’t have that guidance keeping you in check. You have to own all of your technique.”
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Ms. Pérez Kennealy took tap and ballet as a child and dabbled in various styles of dance into adulthood. About five years ago she complimented a friend on her fitness. When the woman said her secret was ballroom dancing, Ms. Pérez Kennealy immediately asked to meet her teacher.
She started training at nearby SuperShag Dance Studios and found she loved the challenge of being in sync with a partner. Within a year she was competing in both American Rhythm (cha-cha, rumba, East Coast swing, bolero and mambo) and Smooth (American waltz, American tango, American fox trot and American Viennese waltz).