Alexandria native takes up competitive dancingAll Jhane Pappenfus was looking for was an indoor form of exercise. She had no idea when she started ballroom dancing that it would become much more than just exercise.
By: Tara Bitzan, Alexandria Echo Press
All Jhane Pappenfus was looking for was an indoor form of exercise. She had no idea when she started ballroom dancing that it would become much more than just exercise.
Pappenfus, an Alexandria native and Jefferson High School graduate, currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri, where she is an administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration.
She started ballroom dancing in 2005.
“I was looking for a way to get some exercise that was climate-controlled,” she said. “It’s very cold here in the winter, and sweltering in the summer.”
She had no prior experience with ballroom dancing.
“I was even scared to walk into the dance studio, I knew so little about it,” she admits.
But she did walk into the studio and has been kicking up her heels ever since.
She began dancing competitively in 2007. During a competition in Baltimore that year, she suffered an injury that halted her dancing temporarily.
“I blew out my knee doing the Argentine tango,” she said. “But I won the competition, so it wasn’t all bad!”
She had knee replacement surgery and took eight months off from dancing to recuperate.
Since her return to the dance floor, she’s accumulated more wins, including a win at a Wisconsin competition in April and at the Twin Cities Open Ballroom Championships in Minneapolis last month.
Pappenfus participates in both American Ballroom and Standard (International) Ballroom events, competing against others in her age group dancing the foxtrot, tango, waltz, quickstep and Viennese waltz.
At the Minneapolis competition, she participated in 33 separate dance competitions, placing first in 25 of them and receiving three scholarships.
Pappenfus plans to compete in Kansas City in August, and at the international competition in Ohio in November.
“I just see it as a great way to stay healthy and fit – it’s definitely a life-long hobby,” she said. “I absolutely didn’t see myself doing this when the instructor first pulled me out on the dance floor. But I really love it.”