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Ballroom Dancers rock MITs Rockwell Cage

By Nicholas Bolt

Section: Arts

April 8, 2005

Art and sport were merged potently together at the 2005 MIT Open Ballroom Dance held April 2nd & 3rd, 2005 at Rockwell Gymnasium on MITs campus in Cambridge, MA. In a two day dance off with more intense strutting than the famous movie duel between Derek Zoolander and rival male model, Hansel;

24 Brandeis students were judged against competitors from 34 colleges at the seasons final competition. The prestige of the event attracted competitors with participating teams as far flung as University of Michigan and some of the top talent in Collegiate Ballroom Dance.

For the Brandeis Ballroom Dance Team, the distance to MIT, which closed out the competitive season, was measured not in miles traveled but in hours of practice. Team members, from veterans to newcomers who picked up the sport as recently as January, spent hours perfecting challenging routines designed to impress the judges and wow the crowd. They did not disappoint.

Saturday morning in Cambridge began with the sound of Waltzs gentle 1-2-3 beat as the International Standard Style competition brought some old world class to the Rockwell Gym. Newcomers got things started as Yair Fuxman and Lilly Bellman took 6th place for Brandeis in the Waltz. With the dance floor warmed up, the music pulsed and hands clapped for the American Rhythm and International Latin competition. Veteran dancers, Daniel Ludevig 05 and Veronica Peschansky 06 swept first place in Intermediate Swing, Bolero, Mambo, Cha-Cha, and Rumba and then (still out of breath from their sweep!) finished 1st place finish in both Advanced Mambo and Bolero and place 2nd overall in advanced. In the Bronze category, Nicole Cruz and Katie Piatelli danced their way through to quarterfinals in both Rumba and Swing while Huy Luu and Brienne Engel 07 took 6th place in Bronze Cha-Cha for Brandeis.

On Sunday, Brandeis Dancers returned for more, as Huy Luu and Lilly Bellman took 2nd place in Newcomer Rumba, while Noah Wolfson 08 and Kalina Gospodinov took 3rd. In the Intermediate level, Georgi Gospodinov and Veronica Peschansky 06 took 4th place in the passionate Paso Doble and 5th place in Cha-cha/Rumba. Daniel Ludevig, 05 and Gwen Bourque won 1st place overall in the Advanced International Latin style.

The Fun Dance broke the tension of a competition filled with serious technique and proper ballroom etiquette. Guys and gals reversed roles as leaders and followers, rookies led veterans and generally chaos reined on the dance floor. Proudly representing Brandeis in the same sex/reverse role Samba were Natalie Elman and Lilly Bellman and Brienne Engel leading a skirt clad, flower adorned Dan Ludevig. The crowd reacted loudly as they cheered on their favorites.

The MIT Open was a thrill for competitors and crowd alike. The power of music and dance to transform an ordinary weekend in April into an experience that will be long remembered as a shared experience and personal joy is feeling all the Brandeis dancers know. Muhammed Ali, a man who in his heyday, was blessed with grace and moves any dancer would envy, once said of his training The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights. It is now back to the studio (and anywhere else there is space!) for the Brandeis dancers, who will keep practicing for the sheer joy of dancing, and eagerly wait for the music to start playing.

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