When I first saw Gregg at UB, I thought to myself, “What a beautiful woman who looks so great for her age. I want to be like her when I grow up.” I remember first time watching Gregg perform at one of the studio’s ballroom showcase events in a gorgeous black Tango gown. I loved watching her move and flow so gracefully across the dance floor. As I got to know Gregg more, I later found that not only is she a beautiful woman and dancer, but she is quite a talented writer as well!
Much to her mingled pride and astonishment, Gregg Elliott has been a successful solopreneur since 2009, when she launched K Gregg Consulting. She has just written a book – launched yesterday! – “Career Reinvented” (featuring Misha Konstantynov among others), to help people aspiring to start their own business. Gregg started dancing at Ultimate Ballroom the summer that UB first opened.
How did you discover dance and how long have you been taking dance lessons?
I started dancing at the age of 33 at a studio in Sacramento where I was taking aerobics classes. I would watch the Jazz dance classes with envy until one day I finally got up the courage to take a beginner class. After that, I was hooked – to the tune of about 3 hours a day whenever possible! Much later, I could not find Jazz for adults in Memphis, so I “held my nose” and walked into a ballroom studio. Boy, am I glad I did!
What do you love about ballroom dancing?
First, I love most forms of dancing because, when you dance, you are totally in the moment. You cannot really dance well unless you are 100% focused on what you are doing. It’s a great “flow” activity. Ballroom is the whole package: it’s flow, it’s physical activity, it’s with music, and it also is a form of self-expression but at the same time is interactive with your partner. There’s also great variety in ballroom. I love practicing and working on something to become better and better at it – I’m a junkie for the steep part of the learning curve. I also love the give-and-take and laughter with the instructors and how the lessons and performances help you to be a better social dancer, which is also wonderful.
Gregg performing at a studio showcase with her dance instructor Yura Kora
What is your favorite dance style and why?
I can’t choose just one! In ballroom, I really love Waltz and Rumba the best, I guess. I like Cha Cha as well, but I find it to be the most difficult dance. What I love about Smooth is that you can really move, and what I love about Latin is the feeling and attitude you can put into it.
What do you find challenging in ballroom dancing?
Having a flawless performance during a show, which is not the same thing as perfect! It’s when you dance all out, at your own personal best, with no mistakes. I hate when I make mistakes during a show that rarely happened while practicing. A flawless performance is my holy grail. I think it’s only happened a couple times for me, but it’s the journey, not the destination, right?
3 favorite things about Ultimate Ballroom Dance Studio?
I have to list 6: Misha, Yura, Jorja, Ben, Denys, and Alice!
Do you have a memorable story or a funny moment from one of your ballroom showcase performances?
Well, this is about prep for a showcase… there was the time I walked into the studio after changing into my gown, and, unbeknownst to me, the hem was stuck in my underwear. Several people got an eyeful before I discovered that!
How has ballroom dancing enriched your life?
Fun, fun, fun… great exercise… and some good friends!
Do you have other hobbies besides dancing?
Yes, I love to birdwatch, hike, read, dance Argentine tango, and travel the world with my daughter.
What gives you inspiration?
I use this quote from Martha Graham to inspire me about dance and any creative pursuit I’m involved in:
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable, nor how it compares to other expressions. It is your business to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that activate you. Keep the channel open.”
Gregg with her with family in Iceland!
Watch some of Gregg’s Ballroom Dance Showcase performances:
by Irina McGuire