Behind every great athlete is a supportive family. Similarly, behind every Olympic athlete is a very, very, very (did we say very?) dedicated parent. That’s profoundly accurate when it comes to Cheryl Davis, mother of Olympic Ice Dancer and Gold Medalist Meryl Davis. Cheryl’s commitment to her daughter’s dream was unwavering – including the journey through Dancing with The Stars. When Meryl’s travel obligations picked up to 10 days a month, Cheryl retired early at age 46 to be with her. So, when the journey came to a close (a very successful one by the way), Cheryl had the opportunity to focus her efforts on something new.
Dance has always held a special place in Cheryl’s heart, and her home; when she was growing up, she remembers her parents had fixed up the basement with tile for dancing, there was a little bar in the corner, and they had so much fun with friends. “I remember those moments,” Cheryl tells us. Today, Cheryl’s own mother battles Alzheimer’s disease, but the love of dance remains an important part of their relationship. “When I take my mom out, we play music in the car: Fred Astaire and Dean Martin.” It was during a day out with her mother that she visited the studio and Cheryl’s reconnection with dance began.
We had the chance to spend some time with Cheryl to get the full story:
What’s your relationship with dance?
I could never really pursue dancing because my family couldn’t financially do it. When I was retired and Meryl was done pursuing her Olympic career, I drove my mother up to watch the dancers in the window. [My mother] said she had always wanted to dance (she was a great dancer). And I said I have too. So she said, “Then what are you waiting for?” I thought, this is it! This is my time to do what I want to do.
How did your mom’s Alzheimer’s affect your motivation?
The whole point of me doing this is the fear of Alzheimer’s. I read about it and [learned] dancing is really good for Alzheimer’s and for your brain. [The] neurologist said I should use my brain as much as possible… and reading isn’t enough; so I told [the Arthur Murray manager] Jessica and my instructor that I wanted to work on my memory. So far, it works great. [Ballroom dance] forces me to do things I wasn’t doing, like memorizing sequences.
A year into lessons, how are things going?
I got top student newcomer in the Texasorama Theme Party! Going out there on the floor with all the instructors… they make you feel really good about it; they’re the best. I usually take two lessons a week. I’m building up my confidence to go in front of [more] people, and [my instructors are] slowly getting me to do it. I’ve been to the dances at night, and I’m starting to meet more people. It’s such a great experience.
Do you have a favorite dance?
I can’t say that one is my favorite; they’re so fun when you get out there – I’m just having a blast. I find the Latin dances are easy to do when you’re with a partner and they’re pushing you along, but when you have to do them on your own, they’re much harder than the smooth. I do love the smooth dances too; they’re great and elegant.
Some say it’s like a community; is that true for you?
You know, the comradery is unbelievable. I feel like we’re all there for the same reasons. The women absolutely embraced me… asked me to go to lunch… It’s something we all have always wanted to do but we didn’t have the funds or the time, and now we’re doing it.
Is it your time? Is it your turn to do something you’ve always wanted? Use the button below or at the top of this page to sign up for your first dance lesson. Well, what are you waiting for?