As Sydney Jensen gets ready to graduate this August, she reflects back on her dance career at BYU, which has been like a roller coaster—filled with nerves, cold sweat, heartache, thrills and triumph.
Three years ago, Jensen had the problem of finding the right dance partner. She wanted to dance the ballroom cabaret but knew this would require finding someone that could perform the many lifts and movements that are so prevalent in this particular style.
Often referred to as theater arts style dance, ballroom cabaret is considered the most contemporary style in ballroom. Unlike most dances, there are no strict rules as to what dancers can and cannot do. Viewers can expect to see a lot of overhead and low level lifts.
Another aspect that makes ballroom cabaret unique is that it’s choreographed to a specific song and performed more as a showpiece. In comparison, cha-cha or waltz, which are more traditional styles, can only be danced to a song that has a specific type of rhythm.
A Colorado Springs native, Jensen has been dancing for the last 12
years. At 16, she began ballroom dancing and learned the value of a great partner.
“The biggest thing to have a successful partnership is trust,” Jensen said. “This is especially true in ballroom cabaret because there are so many lifts and if you can’t trust your partner then you will never be successful.”
It wasn’t until Jensen met Trevor Guthrie, an exercise science major from Iona, Idaho that she realized she could achieve her aspirations to win at the highest national level. However, for Guthrie, he wasn’t so sure that he was the right man for the job.
“She (Jensen) asked me if I had ever danced ballroom cabaret,” Guthrie said. “And I told her that I had in high school as a team but I had never competed individually because of my short stature. Typically in ballroom cabaret the dancers are big guys and little girls. I was fairly confident in my lifting but I was just worried because I didn’t fit the standard criteria.”
Despite his concerns, Guthrie decided to team up with Jensen and the two began practicing and working with choreographer Curt Holman on new and exciting routines. At first, it was difficult because both had different opinions and views on how the routines should be but they were quickly able to overcome this obstacle.
In just two years, this dynamic duo won two US National Amateur Cabaret Championships and in the spring of 2014 they went for a third. However, the routine didn’t go as the pair had planned.
“About two minutes into our performance, my shoulder partially dislocated,” Jensen said. “I knew something was terribly wrong and my partner felt it happen. However, because we have been dancing together for a long time, we were able to communicate to each other as to how to get through the dance injured. We gave it our all and lucky for us, we won.”
Now three-time Cabaret Champions, Sydney Jensen and Trevor Guthrie have performed around the world using their talents to not only entertain but to touch the lives of others.
“Dance is a different type of a missionary tool. It’s not going out and straight out inviting people to learn more about our faith but it’s providing people with an opportunity to feel the Spirit,” said Guthrie
Before each performance, Jensen and Guthrie pray together in hopes that they can connect with someone in the audience.
“It’s such an amazing feeling to have people come up to and tell you how your performance touched them,” said Guthrie. “I remember this one specific instance, when this big burly man came up to us with tears in his eyes and told us how moved he was by our routine. For me, these are the moments that make it all worth it.”
The future is bright for Jensen and Guthrie. Jensen will graduate in August of this year and is pursuing a professional dance career. Guthrie is graduating this year and will be going into the medical field.
When reflecting back on their time partnership for the last three year, their minds are filled with countless memories of the people that they have touched and the invaluable experiences that they gained while at BYU.
“I believe one of the greatest lessons I have learned at BYU in the dance department is that of taking big risks and making myself vulnerable,” Jensen said. “Vulnerability is uncomfortable, but reaps a beautiful result. There is a spiritual awareness that can be achieved through vulnerability that can help us achieve oneness with our Father in Heaven and His Son. I am grateful for the knowledge that I have received at BYU and I will forever cherish the experiences I have had and the lessons I have learned.”