When Marilyn Fordney and Alex Havasi came back from the Arnold Youth Dancesport Classic and told me about these two people
who had a very exciting moment at this event, one you don’t normally experience at these types of events, we thought it would be the perfect story to share with our readers and dance fans. I want you to meet Sylvia and Kris and let me tell you their story.
First, congratulations to Purdue University dance team, the winners of the Collegiate International Style Team Match at the 2016 Arnold Youth Dancesport Classic. That’s pretty terrific! Secondly, the Fordney Foundation is very happy that your engagement happened right on the ballroom dance floor at the end of the team match. Please tell our readers about who you are, as dancers, and now as an engaged couple.
Freddie Brock: Please tell us Kris where you are originally from? Same question for Sylvia?
Kris Ezra: Monticello, Indiana
Sylvia Lefebvre: Home for me is Mundelein, Illinois
FB: At what age did you first become interested in dance? Kris/Sylvia
KE: I was never actually interested in dancing until after I was a member of the Purdue ballroom team in 2008, at that time I was 21. Given how male dominated Purdue engineering is, and my hobbies at the time (Karate and Powerlifting), I joined on a whim in my junior year in an attempt to meet some women on campus. Before that time I had never danced a step in my life, now it’s one of my favorite pastimes.
SL: I had been interested in dance since middle school. I took ballet, tap, and jazz throughout high school while I was on the high school dance team. I knew I wanted to continue dancing after high school, but was interested in trying something else. Purdue’s ballroom team (including Kris) was on Dancing With The Stars the summer before I came to school which is what inspired me to go to the callout as a freshman. I joined and have been addicted ever since.
FB: Tell us about your training? Do you have any mentors? Kris/Sylvia
KE: I have received almost all of my training from the various coaches brought in by the Purdue team, the most regular of whom have served as good mentors as well. My background is almost entirely drawn from the international styles (Latin and Standard) and all my training outside of lessons has been self-motivated. Unfortunately, without having a true “studio environment” this has been rather difficult at times. Purdue does not have many wood floors big enough to dance on, and those that exist are expensive or difficult to reserve as an individual or couple.
SL: We have two sets of coaches, all of which have served as mentors throughout the years to me. Most of our training is self-motivated, though. It is up to us to make time between school, and work schedules to get together and practice. Finding space can be tricky as well. Before competitions, we spend almost every night in the gym or at lessons.
FB: I know you both attend Purdue University, what is it you wish to become? Or, do you both wish to become professional dancers? Kris/Sylvia
KE: At this point in my life, I wish I had a good answer to that question! I just finished my PhD in Aeronautics and Astronautics
after almost 11 years as a Purdue student. Generally, my aspirations include moving out of central Indiana as early as is convenient. Besides having lived my whole life here, it is a relative vacuum for ballroom dance instruction. I have significant experience in computational modeling of complex systems and could reasonably work as a consultant or research scientist for any large company. With respect to the future of my ballroom career, I would be open to dancing professionally with Sylvia; however, we both lack the time to invest (past and future) to become really excellent dancers at a professional level. Besides that, we both enjoy ballroom as a hobby rather than a career. A more likely endpoint is that we start more seriously exploring the amateur competitions outside of the collegiate circuit and try to succeed in that environment.
SL: I just finished my PharmD this year. I will be a pharmacy resident at a local hospital in Lafayette for a year. Afterwards, I hope to practice pharmacy in either a hospital or outpatient clinic setting. I would love to dance professionally, but the reality is I would have needed to start younger and/or put a lot more money into it when I started (which I didn’t have). That being said, I still plan to dance and compete for as long as I can after this year with Kris.
FB: Did you both meet at school or somewhere else? Kris or Sylvia?
SL: I met Kris on the ballroom team at Purdue. We started dancing together about 2.5 years ago and got to know each other by taking really long road trips to take lessons. The rest is history.
FB: So Kris, did you plan all along to ask Sylvia to marry you? What was that moment like for you Sylvia? Were you completely surprised or did you have a clue Kris was going to propose? I heard this was quite an exciting moment for the audience too. That’s got to be an amazing lifetime memory!
KE: I would like to say that I planned to marry Sylvia all along; however, I have to admit it took me a little bit by surprise! When Sylvia and I met, we were both seeing other people (our current dance partners at the time) and I was personally apprehensive about going down that road again. Once we were both on board with the idea of the relationship, yes it was a pretty obvious decision.
Sylvia and Kris
With respect to knowing I was going to propose at the Arnold (which may have been your actual question) yes I had planned that moment since around Thanksgiving last year. Over the course of several conversations about ideal proposals and so on, I got the full list of requirements from her: she wanted to be dressed up, wanted to share it with family and friends, wanted pictures or video, and wanted it to be a surprise. She also told me she was open to being the center of attention for a proposal as long as the group wasn’t too large. Considering all those wants, it would have been a real challenge had it not been for our ballroom competition background. Of course, I might have drawn attention from a bigger group than she anticipated.
The most challenging problem with the plan turned out to be keeping it a secret. I told my parents very early on, and I told her parents a month before, but nobody else was informed until it was happening or just before. Sylvia is sometimes too smart for her own good, so I had to resort to some creative misdirection techniques and a small lie to keep her off my tracks.
In the end, we won the championship Latin event and the proposal went off without a hitch. It was a pretty great day.
SL: The proposal was a complete surprise to me. Like Kris said, he misdirected me to think that he hadn’t talked to my parents yet, so I didn’t think it would happen at Arnold.
The proposal took place during our team photos. Kris came running up in front of the picture and I just thought he had missed the team photo. All of a sudden, he was pulling me off the ground and I knew immediately he was going to propose. He got down on one knee, everyone started cheering and just like that, the moment was over. I don’t even remember saying yes, but I guess I did. I have never been the center of attention for that many people and it was honestly a bit overwhelming, but I am so glad I got to share such an important life moment with my ballroom family. Kris did an amazing job with the proposal. Definitely a once in a lifetime moment. Fortunately, Kris’ brother got a video and there were wonderful photos taken so I can remember how it felt as often as I would like.
FB: That is an amazing and outstanding story! Kris, I admire your due diligence and of course, the ultimate surprise/shock of it all!
FB: When do you plan to get married? Do you have future plans?
KE: We are currently looking at venues and saving money. We are expecting to nail down the place and time in the next few weeks then actually get married sometime near July 2017. As of right now, our future plans are to stay in this area and keep dancing and working until Sylvia finishes her pharmacy residency. Once that’s done and we are married, we will tackle the problem of where and what we want to do next.
FB: What is your favorite dance and why do you like it so much? Kris/Sylvia
KE: For me it’s definitely Samba. An intense, bass-ey Samba is an excellent motivator and hard not to dance to. Samba music is easy to identify, fun to listen to, and has a lot of depth. Coupled with the fact that it has so many rhythms and technical nuances to master makes it interesting to me in just about every way.
SL: For me it’s the jive. I love the happy, energetic character of the dance.
FB: Any words of wisdom for our up and coming dancers planning to enter competitions? What are some do’s and don’ts?
KE: I guess I would say that the best wisdom I have is to remember that dancing is for each of us individually and not to get too caught up in results. It’s important to manage your expectations and your dance timeline to know what it is you want to accomplish and when you want to accomplish it. Becoming a good dancer or a great dancer takes time.
That being said, ballroom dance is a sport so treat it like one! Nobody wants a participation trophy, so play to win. The way you dance is a reflection of who you are on and off the floor. It’s not just about putting in an hour of practice a few times a week with your partner, it’s about watching videos, going to the gym, managing your diet, getting enough sleep, keeping track of your goals, and a million other things that culminate with the best performance you can give every time, and the best physique/costume/makeup/posture/etc. you can create while you’re doing it.
Wow, I was really impressed with Sylvia and Kris. They are bright people, good dancers and very smart about life and dance. And I bet, no one can beat their special competition event story; that they now can treasure for life! The Fordney Foundation wishes Sylvia and Kris all the best with everything they wish to accomplish and their upcoming wedding plans, no doubt in my mind that they can do it all!
Thought Of The Week:
Life is really very simple. What we give out, we get back. Every thought we think is creating our future. – Louise Hay