Name: Valerie L. Manha
Town you Live In: Manchester, NH
When I started dancing: I’ve been dancing ballet for almost 17 years, and ballroom for about 5 years.
How I got into ballroom: Some friends from my ballet studio were in an Argentine Tango formation and they needed one more girl. I was nervous about doing it so they told me I could come “just watch” to see what ballroom was like. Of course, I didn’t get to “just watch” and Ray immediately paired me off with some random guy and informed me that I had to do the formation now because they finally had an even amount of couples. I was so nervous that I couldn’t say no and I’ve been “just watching” ever since.
My favorite dance: My favorite used to be the Waltz, but my boyfriend hates smooth dances and kept making me do rhythm dances so now my favorite is probably Swing.
My favorite dance memory: There’s definitely two memories at PaperMoon that I will never forget. One is my first dance social. After I “just watched” my first formation, my friends kept trying to get me to attend a social, which I was most certainly not going to do without practicing more first. Our first performance was at the PaperMoon Valentine’s Day social at Kathy Blake’s studio so I HAD to attend. But I arrived in sweatpants and a ragged t-shirt, determined not to dance socially; I actually hid in the coat room. But my friends “somehow” magically found an extra dress and shoes and then told the ever-determined Jake Meier that I wanted to dance. Being his normal outgoing self, he came over and literally dragged me onto the dance floor for a salsa. I was furious to be forced into dancing with him before I was ready and refused to speak to him the entire song. As soon as the salsa was over, I ran back and hid in the coat room.
Apparently it was kindof-sortof-ish love at first sight because Jake showed up two weeks later to dance at the next Waltz formation I was in. Jake is very vocal of his dislike of smooth so Ray was extremely confused and thought Jake had the schedule mixed up. But when Jake was adamant about being in the formation, Ray put two-and-two together and paired Jake and I off as a dance couple. We started dating shortly thereafter.
My next goal I want to conquer: I would like to become more proficient at smooth. I can follow pretty easily but I don’t always understand the technique behind the steps.
My other hobbies: I’m passionate about teaching dance, especially to kids. I also love to create graphic design, cook new recipes, play video games, and spend time with my nephews and nieces.
Something most people don’t know about me: I’m very shy; I tend to look very intense and out-going but I’m actually very easily intimidated by meeting new people and new environments.