Warwick teen defies odds, takes dancing world by storm
There aren’t many amateur dancers in the country as young as Warwick’s T.J. Kyle with a trophy case and a story like he has.
With a World Pro/Am Bronze Medal, a U.S. Pro/Am Rising Star Championship, a U.S. Open Pro/Am Finalist and U.S. Open Youth Smooth Finalist under his belt, Kyle looks to add to his awards collection next mouth.
Kyle is Warwick native that graduated from the MET School in Providence in 2017 and is now on his way to putting Rhode Island on the map in ballroom dancing.
The journey wasn’t always easy for Kyle. When he was younger in 2013 he was diagnosed with Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS). According to the PANS Network website, PANS is when an infectious trigger, environmental factors and other possible triggers create a misdirected immune response results in inflammation of a child’s brain.
This never stopped Kyle. He continued to progress through his childhood with the help of his mother, Jeanne Muto-Kyle.
“Honestly if I listened to his medical team he would have never graduated from high school,” Muto-Kyle said.
But graduate Kyle did, and while in school he competed on both on the baseball field and basketball court for Warwick Veteran’s Memorial High School because the MET didn’t offer interscholastic sports. In the spring of his senior year he traded in his cleats and a view from the dugout for shoes and a spot on the dance floor.
Kyle is now preparing for his next competition in Blackpool, England at the Blackpool Dance Festival.
“It’s the biggest, most prestigious dance competition in the world,” Kyle said. “That’s the main event of the year.”
The dance festival lasts 10 days and features the best dancing talent from across the world. Kyle has high expectations for himself going into Blackpool.
“My expectations going into every competition is to win,” Kyle said. “I plan on going to England and dancing my best while enjoying the experience and coming home with a first place [finish].”
A win at the Blackpool Dance Festival would certainly add to his already long and growing dance résumé.
“We are looking forward to our travels to Blackpool next month,” Kyle’s mother said. “Placing at Blackpool will give him an international title and open the door to not only a professional career but possible college scholarships.”
College is one of the next steps Kyle plans to take on his journey. He also plans to apply to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. BYU has one of the best dance programs in the country. Right now, he is currently an amateur dancer with the hopes of being a professional dancer within the next year.
The journey to Blackpool begins May 18, for Kyle and his dance partner and instructor Jaimee Tuft. The duo competes in ballroom dance, which includes four different dances: the waltz, tango, foxtrot and Viennese waltz.
Tuft lives in New Jersey with her husband and fellow dancer, Travis. Kyle spends his weeks between his home in Warwick and her home in New Jersey, training and conditioning for competition.
“Jaimee and Travis are world American Smooth Champions and one of the top Smooth professional teams in the world,” Kyle’s mother said. “They coach and reside in New Jersey and T.J. spends a few days a week crashing at their house and having intense training and practicing at Rogers Dance Studio in Fairfield, New Jersey.” When in Warwick Kyle spends his time at The Dancing Feeling.
What has become a deep passion and dedication to dance for Kyle started one night with his mother and a Groupon. Kyle’s mother had bought a Groupon for a night out dancing at The Dancing Feeling.
“On my third lesson T.J. had a baseball game off of Jefferson Boulevard,” Muto-Kyle said. “Instead of driving back and forth, I made him come with me.”
It was from that lesson that Kyle discovered his love for dancing. Two instructors from the Dancing Feeling chatted with Kyle and he expressed that he wanted to take lessons. Kyle excelled on the dance floor and quickly rose from newcomer to the gold levels. A transition his mother said is similar to that of going from tee-ball to the Major Leagues.
For now, Kyle is just happy to be preparing and competing every day.
“Right now, it’s just exciting,” Kyle said. “Right now I’m on a high of doing really, really well and that’s what’s pushing me. The results are going well and I need to maintain my results.”