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Ballroom dance team excels at Harvard competition

By Irene Berlinsky

Section: News

March 11, 2005

Why would hundreds of college students choose to spend a rare warm and sunny March weekend cooped up indoors? While their peers trekked into Boston or simply frolicked in the sunshine, 26 Brandeis Ballroom Dance Team members were executing the best New Yorkers and dancing the best Cha-Chas at the 14th Annual Harvard Invitational held March 5th and 6th. Held at the elegant Moseleys on the Charles studio in Dedham complete with chandeliers, the prestigious competition attracted 369 competitors from 32 colleges with participants coming from as far as University of California Berkeley.

It appeared that the countless hours of practice Brandeis dancers put in both on campus and at the Supershag dance studio which coaches the team paid off: Brandeis couples made the final rounds and placed well in all of the styles of ballroom dance offered at the competition International Latin, International Standard, and American Rhythm (no dancers competed in American Smooth). The levels Brandeis competed in spanned Newcomer, Bronze, Silver, and Gold.

Saturdays American Rhythm event showcased a phenomenal 1st place finish by Daniel Ludevig 05 and Veronica Peschansky 06 in both Silver Cha-Cha/Rumba/Swing and Silver Mambo/Bolero. Huy Luu and Elizabeth Sanders 07 placed 4th in Bronze Cha-Cha, 8th in Bronze Rumba, and 8th in Bronze Samba. Newcomers were also very successful, with freshmen Noah Wolfson 08 and Lilly Bellman 08 placing 4th in International Standard Waltz.

Sundays International Latin Event was palpably charged with excitement and energy, as well as ironies only the initiated can appreciate. The controlled chaos of the changing room where hundreds of females wielding armies of eyeliner and safety pins fight for mirror space somehow regurgitates poised and sexy divas, taking their rightful place on wooden parquet dance floor with confidence.

The dances and moods alternate dizzyingly-quick, from sensual and romantic Rumba to upbeat and irreverent Jive. The couple must dance each event convincingly with abandon as if it is the only dance they know. The spectators, were equally dazzled by the brilliant moves and the sparkling, revealing costumes that only Latin ballroom dancers and Mardi Gras performers would feel at home in. And of course the artistic and theatrical quality of the spectacle mingled with the unmistakable scent of athletic competition, triumph, and disappointment.

The dancers got to bond and proudly showcase the new Brandeis Ballroom Team jackets that highlighted the teams size and success. One thing the Brandeis ballroom team has never lacked at competitions is spirit, as evidenced by having pretty much the loudest cheering section of any team in attendance (the author of the article knows this well from experience, having almost lost her voice for a week after cheering for the team.)

The support likely contributed to Brandeiss remarkably strong showing in International Latin. Dan Ludevig and Gwen Bourque placed 2nd in Gold Cha-Cha/Rumba and Gold Samba/Jive with energetic and demanding routine that never lost its sense of fun. Georgii Gospodinov (GRAD) and Veronica Peschansky placed 2nd in Silver Cha-Cha/Rumba and Samba/Jive and 1st in Silver Paso Doble, a highly theatrical dance that is modeled after and represents the Spanish bull-fight. The man is the matador and the woman alternates between being the bull and the cape (draw what feminist conclusions you will).

Bronze dancers faced perhaps the steepest competition a traditionally crowded event. Nonetheless, Huy Luu and Mieke Windecker 07 finished 4th in Bronze Cha-Cha and 6th in Bronze Rumba. Talented Newcomer dancers triumphed as well, with Lilly Bellman 08 and Nicole Cruz 07 placing 2rd in Newcomer International Cha-Cha and Noah Wolfson 08 and Kalina Gospodinova placing 3rd in the same event. Many other Newcomers danced very well, placing in the quarterfinals or semifinals of their dances.

All in all, the Harvard competition was an exhilarating and successful, if exhausting weekend. The Brandeis Ballroom Dance Team triumphantly showcased the full extent of the talents and abilities of its members and reinforced its reputation as a force to be reckoned with on the collegiate ballroom circuit.

Editors Note: Irene Berlinsky is a member of the Ballroom Dance Team.

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