Today we have Kian Kiong, the ex-president of Ballare, with us. An athlete turned ballroom dancer, Kian Kiong talks about his switch from volleyball to ballroom dancing, as we as his subsequent adventures and experiences on this exciting journey.

Getting into ballroom dancing: Hey there, I’m Kian Kiong! I was a volleyball player for 15 years. You could say ballroom dancing was never a natural choice for me, since I had no prior background. The turning point came when I met Professor Winston Koh, who was an athlete and ballroom dancer, at a ballroom dancing competition my brother brought me to. The exchange between prof and me inspired me to take on the challenge of ballroom dancing.

Being the change: It may come as a surprise that I almost quit Ballare in my first year. I’ve heard a lot of great things about Ballare, but there was nothing close to it when I entered. I left for 3 months, yet eventually decided to make a change by running for the role of President. I assembled a team and allocated roles even before I was elected into the committee, as I felt was the right thing to do. I’m really proud that our team managed to transform the club from where we first joined.

Relationship on and off ground: It makes things tougher when you are close to your partner (KK’s dance partner is also his girlfriend), and you have to separate your relationship from your partnership. We struggled for quite a while, but we persevered. One simple rule that we always have for each other is when we are on the floor we only talk about dance; nothing else. When we are off the floor, we do not bring our arguments off the dance floor back onto the dance floor.

Exchange in Shanghai: I treated the exchange as a gateway for some time and space to sort myself out. One of the major takeaways I got was that “you are only able to dance when you feel good and look good.” I was actually sent back on the first day of training as my instructor felt that my nails were not trimmed properly, my hair was not done properly and my energy level was negative. The way they see ballroom dancing is different, almost as it was their reason for living. I danced for months, practicing all alone in the studio, and it was painful. My family, friends and the committee that I enjoyed so much in Ballare were all not around for me to lean on. But I don’t regret any of it.

Change within him: I feel like I’m more approachable now. Previously, it has been tough on me, and tough on people. Perhaps I was a little overly intrusive, making it a point to give 3 members a call to follow up on their progress everyday. I opt to play a mentorship role now, guiding them through what is it like handling stakeholders, balancing commitments and yet still manage to leave some breathing space for themselves. I like this role much better because it makes me more likable!

Role model: My brother. He founded Ballare and gave it a great culture. He is soft-spoken yet articulate, never making a decision for me yet providing me with multiple perspectives. I enjoy going overseas for competitions with him, as well as competing alongside him. Best advice he has given me is that time is short. Don’t waste it. People may not thank you now for what you do, but that is no reason to stop doing what you believe in.

Goal for himself: ‘Blackpool in 2 years’ time.’ It’s a place where all ballroom dancers want to compete. It’s like the holy ground of ballroom dancing. I want to be one of the best ballroom dancers in the region.

Summed up in one word: I would say life-changing is the word to describe my journey, from first joining Ballare to organizing Ballare International Championship 2015.