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Latin dip with a leg thrown over the leader's.

Latin competitors showing off some flashy moves.

With the second episode of Welcome to the Ballroom, we meet more characters, learn about different styles of teaching and learning, and get to see our first competition. It’s a lot to take in, but it does a wonderful job of highlighting not only the thrill of ballroom dancing, but also the hard work that it demands.

Hard work seems like it’s going to be a big feature of this series. (As well it should be, considering its subject matter!) After spending the first episode practicing the Waltz box until his feet were blistered, this episode finds Tatara with new teachers, new inspiration, and new moves—or so he hopes.

What continues to drive Tatara forward is his hope of becoming a competitive dancer. Sengoku invites him to a competition, to see Shizuku and Kiyoharu in action. Shizuku is a classmate of Tatara’s, but Kiyoharu is a new face—and an intimidating one. (Sengoku points out that he could be a potential future rival, but of course also points out that Tatara has a long way to catch up with him, but that only excites him further about dancing.)

Tatara slips while trying out some fancy footwork.

This is why it’s important to have properly hemmed pants.

Tatara continues to grow his dance wardrobe—this time with a pair of pants that he is incredibly excited and grateful to receive. He has borrowed dance shoes, and while these pants come used (an old pair of Kiyoharu’s that he outgrew), Tatara is happy that he’s finally feeling a little more properly outfitted for his dance journey. …After hemming the pants.

We’ve talked about the importance of team teaching before, and while we’re very happy to see differences in teaching styles, this episode uses them as a narrative hurdle to overcome. Tatara can’t seem to pick anything new up, no matter how much hard work or desire there is. That can be incredibly frustrating, whether as a beginner student like him or even a professional. “It’s amazing how everyone can think about so much while dancing,” he says, sheepishly, trying to explain why he isn’t grasping the lesson at hand.

Tatara sheepishly comparing himself to Kiyoharu's skill level.

Tatara sheepishly comparing himself to Kiyoharu’s skill level.

And so we learn that there are differences in learning styles, too. You hear things like “oh, I’m a visual learner!”, but here we see it in action: Tatara, who can’t keep his eyes off of Shizuku and Kiyoharu, is definitely a visual learner. He ultimately learns by copying Kiyoharu, and that works better than any approach the other teachers took. It’s vital for any student, no matter their experience level, to figure out a learning style that works for them.

The episode closes on Tatara’s realization that, again, dancing is hard work. After he and Shizuku stop by Kiyoharu’s place, Tatara catches Kiyoharu practicing by himself. Despite Kiyoharu’s aloof demeanor, he is fully dedicated to dancing. He may seem like a genius who hardly has to try, but that’s not true; no one is good at dancing without trying, and Tatara gains a new respect both for his future rival, and competitive dancing.

Continue with the next episode here!