From the Ballroom to the Emergency Room: Nursing Student Helps BYU Dance Team Win International Dance Competition

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Nicole Udall and her team leave victorious. Photo courtesy of BYU Dance Instagram.

By Quincey Taylor

On June 18, the Brigham Young University dance team returned victorious from the 2019 British Open Championship in Blackpool, England. Teams from various countries, including places like China and the Czech Republic, came to try and claim the title. BYU’s spectacular students, including recent nursing graduate Nicole Udall, brought them to victory. Their Latin dance team took first place overall, and the ballroom dance team took second.

Finding her Dancing Shoes

Coming to dance at BYU had been a dream of Udall’s since she was a little girl. As a child, she had danced different styles, including jazz and lyrical. She had no idea, however, that ballroom would eventually become her passion.

Her brother introduced Udall and her fraternal twin to the world of ballroom. At the time, he was on the BYU ballroom dance team going on tours. He had been doing ballroom since he was 13, and he wanted his younger sisters to start in that same stage of life. Udall and her sister loved to see their brother perform and to see the impact he was making.

She was inspired to try out ballroom for herself, and Udall loved it. She set the goal to one day dance on the BYU ballroom dance team and was successful, along with her twin.

Dance Led Her to Nursing

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Udall’s first IV insertion! Photo courtesy of Udall.

Udall soon found nursing, and immediately knew that it was the career for her. “I wanted to work with people,” she says, “As a dancer, I was so used to that. I wanted to have a deeper relationship with the people I worked with. When I looked for a career with those aspects, I found nursing. It checked those boxes that I had. I also wanted to find a degree that was intellectually challenging. I wanted to find something that would build me as a person and help me develop.”

Balancing Interests

However, balancing these two interests was not always easy. She reflects, “When I first came to the Y, I thought, ‘I’m going to do ballroom, that’s why I wanted to come to BYU.’ Then I found nursing. I was like, ‘This is the thing for me, this is the degree I want to do.’ However, when I was talking to people, they told me there’s no way I could do both. Nursing is a huge commitment. It definitely takes 100% of your effort. But dancing was such a part of me that I didn’t want to give it up.”

Udall did not give up and found a way to be able to do both. She says, “The thing that helped me balance the two was being able to communicate early with people. If you wait until the last minute, and came up to a professor and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to be gone this week.’ Then they would say, ‘What? You can’t do that.’ Being able to communicate early and to present solutions to problems was key.”

She has worked on being present for whatever she is doing at the moment, and says, “It’s also helpful to learn to prioritize, giving 100% of my effort to whatever I was doing at the time. If I was doing nursing, I was focused on nursing. If I was dancing, I was focused on dancing.”

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Va va voom! Photo courtesy of Udall.

After years dancing, Udall attributes many life lessons to ballroom. She says, “You learn how to unify as a team and be able to build relationships with other people. You’re not only working with a whole team, you’re working as partners as well. It’s important to be able to communicate with one another and problem solve, while still being happy and joyful while you work hard towards a goal.”

Another blessing Udall has gained from dance was her husband, who took a ballroom class where they met.

Udall is not the only nursing student to be on the ballroom dance team. She has always been happy to give advice to other nurses helping them to balance their passions. Having others going through the same thing is comforting and empowering.

The Championship

Udall was ecstatic to compete at the British Open Championship this year, as it was her last year as a BYU undergraduate as well as a competing ballroom dancer. While she has competed on both teams, this year she danced ballroom instead of Latin. She comments, “It was a culmination of our whole experience working together. We were all working towards this common goal unifying as a team through the ups and the downs. Seeing the reward of our progress was really cool.”

Team members support one another throughout the experience. Udall explains, “We got to watch each other, and we are each other’s biggest fans. We were so excited.”

Advice for Future Students

When asked what Udall would tell other nursing students struggling to balance multiple interests, Udall says, “I think the best advice I could give is to just go for it! A lot of people will tell you that you can’t do things because they don’t know how you can do them. However, being open to early communication and being a problem solver can make it possible.”

She expounds, “Live your dreams. There were many times that I wanted to give up, but letting go of one passion was like letting go of a part of me. I think it’s important to still go for your dreams and live them, just prioritize and communicate.”

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Udall (third from the right) and her fellow students pose with associate teaching professor Dr. Shelly Reed. Photo courtesy of Udall.

Plans After Graduation

After graduation and the dance championship, Udall plans on studying for and taking the NCLEX. She looks to find a job in the emergency room in Arizona, where she and her husband are moving. She plans to eventually go to school for a master’s degree to continue her education.

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