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And our previous episode is here.
With episode 3 of Welcome To The Ballroom, we have some time passing, and with that comes some clear dancing progress, too. Tatara’s teachers declare that his Waltz is “perfect”, and there is much rejoicing—and also many, many comparisons of his dancing to various animals. (The newborn fawn was a good one; it can definitely feel like you’re wobbling around on fawn legs after a long day of dancing!)
Of course, while Tatara is happy with his new Waltzing prowess, after heading to the next competition to watch Kiyohara and Shizuku perform, he has a startling realization: he wants to learn more dances. He isn’t content with where he is—he is driven forward by a thirst for knowledge and progress.
(Please take a moment to imagine your dance instructor’s unbridled glee at the very thought.)
This competition introduces us to some Latin dancing proper, with all of the sexiness and sensual hip movements that entails. Tatara can’t help but feel out the rhythm as he watches; he taps his foot through the entire competition. He doesn’t yet understand how to move to this newfound beat, but he knows he wants to.
In addition to seeing the spicier side of ballroom dance, we also see the sweatier side. This has been a recurring theme already—from Tatara sweating so much through his all-nighter that Sengoku slips on the floor, or Kiyoharu splattering the door when he tossed his head—but it’s great to see that the series will not shy away from the hard work and exertion involved in dancing. Even if it isn’t always pretty. (Though, of course, the anime happens to make it rather sparkly.) By the time anyone is done with a rigorous dance session, they’re dripping sweat and gulping down air. It’s great to see that kind of accuracy portrayed here.
But as with all competitions, with Latin also comes Standard.
And, due to rivalries, injuries, and a terrible accident (or was it…?), Shizuku is left waiting by herself.
With Kiyoharu missing and the Waltz heat coming up, Sengoku pushes their team into a drastic decision: Tatara is going to go out onto the floor and dance with Shizuku.
So Tatara, in full competition wear for the first time in his life, is thrown out onto the dance floor with a partner he hasn’t danced with. And he does what anyone in that situation would do: he freezes.
Dancing in that kind of situation for the first time can be understandably nerve-wracking. It’s a big step to take, and he hadn’t had any real prep, emotionally or physically. But even with Sengoku and the other teachers silently cheering on the sidelines, even with Shizuku whispering encouragement (and her own panic), Tatara ultimately has to rely on himself to get moving.
This means he relies on muscle memory. This is vital to learning how to dance, and it’s wonderful to see it pointed out like this. Tatara may still be panicking, but he can move, and he can still lead Shizuku. He still gets to dance on the competition floor with her.
Of course, a good series is nothing without drama and emotional investment, so the episode ends with a cliffhanger: Kiyoharu, returned after his accident on the stairs, angrily confronts Tatara over him stealing Shizuku.
Continue with the next episode here!