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MIT Hosts Open Ballroom Dance Competition

By Catherine Sanders

The 1999 MIT Open Ballroom dance competition, one of the largest collegiate competitions in New England with nearly 500 competitors from over 30 different schools, was held this past weekend in DuPont Gymnasium. Schools as far away as the University of Maryland and Pennsylvania State University and schools right next door such as Harvard University and Northeastern University attended. The MIT ballroom dance team, which has now grown to over 80 members, has hosted this event for three consecutive years.

The event’s trademark is that it offers all 19 competitive ballroom dances at three levels of dance experience; no other collegiate competition in the New England area does this.

The two-day event ran from 8 a.m. to approximately 7 p.m., and was action-packed with dance events such as samba, cha-cha, jive, swing, waltz, foxtrot, and tango. Highlights of the weekend that generated the most school spirit were the team matches, during which members of ballroom dance teams combine their scores to see which team performs best overall. The MIT beginners (those who have joined the team within the past year) won first place in the beginner team match, edging out Harvard and eight other schools that entered this event.

The Engineers performed extremely well, winning numerous ribbons on both days of the competition. On Saturday morning, MIT swept the beginner international paso doble, winning five of the six places in the event; the first place winners were Sam Sopiee G and Carly Klein ’00. William Liteplo G and Margaret Wong ’02 placed second in the beginner international samba and paso. Tony Maesto G and Sally Yu ’00 won second place in the beginner rumba. Boris Berdnikov G and Sofya Raskhodnikova G won third in the paso doble, while Ben Sun G and Sherry Jenq ’02 placed fifth and Bernt Schiele and Silke Schiele placed sixth. Pubudu Wariyapola G and Viktoria Kheifets ’00 won third place in the advanced international rumba and the paso doble; and Mark Herschberg ’95 and Tammy Yap ’99, placed fourth in the advanced paso doble. Feng Li and Wendy Luo won sixth place in the advanced samba. In the open level, the most challenging competitive level in which dancers choreograph their own routines, Michael Posner and Reena Freedman won second place in the samba and paso doble, third in the jive, and fifth in the cha-cha.

In the international standard events, Berdnikov and Raskhodnikova won first place while the Schieles placed seventh in the beginner waltz and won second place in the beginner tango. Liteplo and Lin won third in the beginner tango and quickstep; they also placed seventh in the beginner foxtrot. Sopiee and Klein won the beginner foxtrot and beginner tango and placed eight in the advanced waltz. Cheolku Kang and Jaeock Yoon were the clear favorites in the advanced international standard category, winning first place in the waltz and tango and second in the Viennese waltz and foxtrot. Stephen Gildea and Phyllis Kristal won fifth in the waltz of this category, third in the tango, and fifth in the quickstep. Seth Webster G and Christine Tsien G won fourth in the advanced Viennese waltz and third in the quickstep. Wariyapola and Kheifets won seventh place in the advanced tango and sixth in the advanced waltz, while Yedil Workeneh ’98 and Isin Dalkilic ’99 placed eighth in this event, plus placed seventh in advanced Viennese waltz, and fifth in advanced foxtrot. In the newcomer category, in which eligibility is restricted to dancers with only a few months dance experience, Steve Santoso G and Felice Sun G placed third in the waltz. Michael Otero and Marta Lipinski G won fourth place in the open international foxtrot and sixth in the open international tango and Viennese.

On Sunday, in the American style events, Maesto and Yu won first place in the beginner American bolero. Berdnikov and Raskhodnikova won second in the rumba of this category. Liteplo and Wong won first place in the beginner mambo and second place in the beginner bolero. Mohammed Zaman and Lauren Bradford ’02 won fifth place in beginner bolero, fourth place in beginner swing, and sixth place in the beginner mambo. Liteplo and Wong won fifth place in beginner swing. Jeremy Zucker and Michelle Goldhaber won third place in the beginner rumba, fifth in cha-cha and fourth in mambo of the same category as well as winning the overall beginner American rhythm trophy. In the advanced category, Wariyapola and Kheifets won fifth place in the bolero. In the newcomer category, Santoso and Sun won seventh place in the swing. Wariyapola and Kheifets won sixth place in the open cha-cha. Posner and Freedman won the overall open rhythm trophy, placing first in the bolero and mambo, and second in the cha-cha and swing.

In the American smooth events, the Schieles placed second in the beginner foxtrot and fifth in the beginner Viennese. Liteplo and Lin placed sixth in beginner waltz and third in beginner foxtrot. Ben Sun G and Maria Minkoff won seventh in the beginner waltz. Jeeva Munasinghe and Kenia Franco won sixth place in the beginner foxtrot. Captain Eugene Bae G and Stephanie Shaw G won second place in the advanced American waltz and Viennese waltz, while Sopiee and Yanfeng Lim G won second in the advanced tango and foxtrot and placed seventh in the advanced waltz. Bae and Shaw won third and fourth in advanced tango and foxtrot respectively. Wariyapola and Kheifets placed fifth in the advanced Viennese waltz. In the open American events, Posner and Deirdre Pierotti took second place in the waltz and third place in the tango, foxtrot, and Viennese waltz. Wariyapola and Kheifets placed fourth in the open waltz, fifth in the tango, and fifth in the foxtrot. Workeneh and Dalkilic won sixth place in the foxtrot. Webster and Tsien won fifth in the Viennese waltz. Jung Yueh ’95 and Laurie Hurwitz won the open American smooth overall trophy. Although Jung now competes for the Northeastern University team, everyone on the MIT Ballroom Dance Team was especially excited and cheered for him and his partner over their big win, as he is a former captain of the MIT team.

Bae said, “It was a huge success; the MIT ballroom dance team and MIT should be proud. MIT as a whole, especially the MIT athletics department and the MIT dining services, was extremely supportive and really aided in making this event a success.”