Encouraged by his dentist father to explore a wide range of professions, Dr. Marty Williams (Green Bay) originally went to Marquette University to pursue an interest in electrical engineering – but the call of dentistry was louder. He applied to the Marquette University School of Dentistry just a few months after being on campus and went on to practice with his dad for two years before his father, along with two of Dr. Williams’ brothers, died in a private plane crash.
Dr. Williams has kept the memory of his father and two brothers alive. He opened his own practice near Lambeau Field and named it Sierra Dental after the call sign on the plane. And he’s continued to follow his dad’s advice to try new things – which is why he’s also known as Doctordance, the dancing dentist.
After a serious neck injury in 2007 prevented him from practicing the high-impact sports he was used to, Dr. Williams decided to take a ballroom dancing class with the desire to stay active and fit. “Looking for something else to do after my injury, I got into dancing, which I soon found out would be one of the most difficult sports I’d ever try,” he said. “Keeping all of your different body parts in the correct spots, leading your partner, adjusting to changing music during rounds – there’s just so much that you have to multitask.”
Participating in showcase events and pro-am competitions, Dr. Williams practices and competes with a professional partner, similar to what you’d see on “Dancing with the Stars.” Together, they travel to Midwest competitions where they compete in various dance styles, of which there are many. There are four categories that ballroom dances are grouped into: International Latin, International Standard, American Rhythm and American Smooth. More than 20 kinds of dances in total fall under these categories – and Dr. Williams is familiar with many of them.
“In freestyle competitions, one of most difficult aspects is adjusting to the various songs played by the judges throughout each round,” he said. “You can be on the dance floor with 10 to 12 other couples at a time, which can make it really stressful and difficult to maneuver. Spacing, along with actually hearing the music that judges decide to play can be even harder – especially after sitting next to a (dental) drill for more than 35 years!”
Dr. Williams’ favorite memories from his dancing experiences are from the times he participated in “Dancing with our Stars,” a local annual fundraiser event for the American Red Cross.
“In 2016, I performed a dance done in memory of my brothers and dad that night,” Dr. Williams remembers. “At the 2018 event, I dedicated my dance to my late mother and father-in-law. I’ve never had such an emotional connection with myself, my partner and the music like that before. It was especially cool because the judges, Peta (Murgatroyd) and Maks (Chmerkovskiy), both ‘Dancing with the Stars’ pros, were very complimentary, saying that it was one of the best dances they’d seen all night.”
Dr. Williams credits ballroom dancing with bringing balance to his life, and allowing him to be more passionate about dentistry by prolonging his career through maintaining his flexibility and posture.
“Working with an assistant is like a dance. I’ve got to be in rhythm, leading and always communicating,” he said. “Dentistry as a profession is like a dance, too. You have to learn to take the day and your frustrations one movement at a time. It’s not about worrying if you’ll achieve a certain level in your career, but just enjoying every step along the way.”