Betty McDonald Pre-Med Institute

Dancing Outside the Box

April 11, 2013

Dancing with the Stars

SUU’s annual Dancing with the Stars event featured a new face this year, one that was very familiar to enrollees of MPI. After three years of being invited to participate in the event, a fun-filled dance competition that pairs members of SUU’s Ballroom Dance Company with well-knows “stars” of the community, Johnny Oh, Director of the Betty McDonald Pre-Med Institute, was finally able to say yes.

“Although I was flattered by the previous invitations,” Oh says, “there was always a conflict with my work schedule. It takes a lot of time to learn these dances.” This third time however, was the charm, and Johnny made his first venture into ballroom dancing.

Dancing with the Stars

“It was a lot of work for all of us,” Oh says. The stars, ranging from SUU faculty members to a local radio personality, had to learn and perfect Tangos, Salsas and Waltzes over the course of only two months. Oh and his partner, Rachel Hinde, were assigned a Rumba, an extremely difficult dance, requiring highly coordinated hip and arm movements. “I never could have done it without my partner,” Oh readily admits. “Rachel was a perfect teacher, an inspiration.”

Over the course of the two months of dance practice, Oh was taken far out of his comfort zone, learning certain movements, while unlearning others. His background in martial arts made some things easier, but others more difficult. “The Rumba is a whole different stance and posture than what I was used to in Tae Kwon Do. I had to relearn some things, but it was so much fun.”

On the night of the event, Oh and Hinde performed beautifully together. The audience applauded profusely for their dance, and shouted boos when they felt the judges scored them too low. Oh and Rachel easily won the audience vote and moved into the final round of competition.

Dancing with the Stars

“We won third place,” Oh says happily. “I couldn't be more proud of us.” Oh describes himself as being very accomplishment oriented, often forgetting to stop and relate to what’s going on in the moment. But for him the event served as a powerful reminder to enjoy the present. "This is experiencing life. It makes me feel connected, makes me feel alive. I need to do things like this more often.”

Oh has certainly made an effort to apply this point of view to his professional life. To the students he mentors through MPI and SUU, he offers this advice. “Make time to try new things, even if they don’t directly relate to your major. It will make you a happier, more cosmopolitan person. Stepping outside of your box opens up the geography of your soul.”

By David Cowley