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Ballroom Dance Team's Rookies Dominate Harvard Competition

By Vikas Bhushan
team member

The ballroom dance team continued its tradition of dominating the annual Harvard Beginners' Competition held last weekend.

At least 10 universities were represented in this competition, which is only open to rookies who compete in one of two categories: newcomers (for those who just started dancing this fall) and beginners (for those who started dancing no more than one year ago).

The team places a strong emphasis every year on training their rookies to be competitive very early in the season. This is made possible in large part through the time and effort that the team's veteran members spend to help train the rookies.

In addition, the rookies received excellent coaching from the team's amateur coaches Warren Dew '81 and Elizabeth Earhart G and from their professional coaches at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Boston and at Studio 665 in Malden. The results at this competition reflected this effort and demonstrated the strength of MIT's rookie competitors.

There were two newcomer events at the competition: foxtrot and swing. In the newcomer foxtrot event, MIT had five couples competing, and all made it through the quarter and semifinal rounds to earn a spot in the seven-couple final.

Kuochun Wu G and Wenjia Fang G placed first, Feng Li '97 and Susan Rushing '99 placed third, Justin Zhuang G and Lucila Ramirez '00 placed fourth, Jorge Barrera '99 and Alice Yang '00 placed sixth, and Frank Wang G and Rebecca Xiong G placed seventh.

The newcomer swing event had a record number of participants, and despite the strong competition, two couples from MIT made it through four qualifying rounds and placed in the finals. Barrera and Geeta Sankappanavar G finished a strong second and Zhuang and Radhika Dutt '99 finished in seventh.

In the beginner category, MIT had one couple competing. Edmund Yeh G and Mary Chen G placed second in the beginner waltz event.

The team plans to attend two more competitions this semester: at Brown University in late November and Yale University in early December. Both of these will be full-scale competitions with dancers competing at all levels - newcomer through advanced - as well as in open categories.

Given the strength of the rookies and the veterans on the team this year, the team is expecting to place well in all levels at these upcoming competitions.