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Ballroom Dancers Succeed at Harvard Invitational

Krzysztof Gajos -- The Tech
Michael Posner G executes a leap in the Harvard Invitational Ballroom Dance Competition last weekend.
By Laurent Bradford
Team Member

The MIT Ballroom dance team made an outstanding showing at the Eighth Annual Harvard Invitational held last weekend. Spanning two days, the competition was attended by over three hundred couples representing 22 colleges and universities from as far away as Utah State University. The competition was tough, but MIT dancers proved to be more than up to the task.

The Saturday morning session was the Rhythm category, American style dances, and MIT started it off with two ribbons in the first event. The Beginner Cha Cha found Tuan Phan '02 and Ying Lee '00 in eight place and Yen-Hong Lim G and Margaret Wong '02 in sixth.

In the Swing, Beginner couple Tony Maesto G and Sherry Jenq '02 took fifth place. At the Intermediate level, Mark Herschberg '95 and Tammy Yap '99 did very well, placing sixth in the Rhumba/Swing Two-Dance, and dancing Advanced, Pubudu Wariyapola G and Vikky Kheifets '00 took sixth in the Cha Cha, Rhumba, Swing Three-Dance.

Ending that section of the day was the Rhythm Championship (Cha Cha, Rhumba, Swing, Bolero, Mambo Five-Dance), in which Michael Posner and Reena Freedman blew away the competition with a sweeping first place.

Next came the team match in which both the International and American teams took fifth place in their respective styles. Dancing on the team was Warren Dew '81 and Elizabeth Ditchburn '92, Tom G and Elizabeth Nugent '90, Pubudu Wariyapola G and Vikky Kheifets '00, and Stephanie Shaw G and partner. After the team matches was the exciting Latin Championship (Cha Cha, Samba, Rhumba, Paso Doble, Jive Five-Dance) in which Michael Posner and Reena Freedman placed sixth.

The afternoon session, International style standard dances, was dominated by MIT couples. The Beginner International Waltz final had six dancers, three of which were MIT dancers. Boris Berdinkov G and Sofya Raskhodnikova G took fourth, Tuan Phan '02 and Ying Lee '00 placed second, and Jatin Misra G and Xuemin Chi '01 won the event.

Even more impressive was the Beginner Quickstep, five of the seven finalists were MIT. Brygg Ulmer and Cameilia Turcu '01 placed seventh, Jude Nimesh and Maria Minkoff G placed sixth, Lukasz Webster G and Neda Vukmirovic G took fourth, Phan and Lee took second, and Misra and Chi once again won the event, making them the overall winners of the Beginner Standard division.

MIT continued to impress on the Intermediate level with the Waltz, Foxtrot, and Quickstep Three-Dance. Jatin Misra G and Chi came in seventh, Feng Li and Kate Mahoney placed sixth, Eugene Bae G and Stephanie Shaw G placed fifth, and Seth Webster and Christine Tsien G took fourth place. The Advanced Waltz/Quickstep Two-Dance placed two MIT couples in the finals, Martin Szummer G and Cathy Leamy took seventh, and Webster and Tsien came in sixth; Stephen Gildea '87 and Phyllis Kristal '87 placed fifth in the Foxtrot/Tango Two-Dance of the same level.

The day was rounded off with the Standard Pre-Champ Four-Dance (Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Quickstep), in which Michael Otero and Marta Lipinsky G danced their way to a beautiful fourth place, and the Championship Five-Dance (Waltz, Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep) which Mark Sheldon and Didi von Deck won with exquisite grace.

Sunday's competition started with the American Smooth dances. MIT started off with another three ribbons in the Beginner American Waltz; Mohammed Zaman and Lauren Bradford '02 placed seventh, Phan and Lee took second, and Berdnikov and Raskhodnikova won the event. The American Tango was also won by an MIT couple, Misra and Adora Lin '02, with Berdnikov and Raskhodnikova in second, making them the overall winners of the American Smooth category.

There was a break in the action for the fun dances on Sunday afternoon. MIT couples swept the Rookie/Veteran Waltz; fifth place went to Zaman and Tammy Yap G, Tony Maesto and Yen Hong Lim took fourth, Phan and Stephanie Shaw took third, and Sam Sopiee and Jen Hammock G won the event. Zaman and Maesto also danced their way to an eighth place in the Same-Sex Mambo. The day moved on to the Advanced level, and MIT couples continued to dominate.

At the Advanced level, three out of the six finalists in the Waltz/Tango/Foxtrot Three-Dance were MIT dancers. Warren Roos and Mahoney took sixth place, Isin Dalkilic '99 and partner placed fourth, and Wariyapola and Kheifets took third. The Smooth dances ended with the American Smooth Championship in which Michael Posner and Reena Freedman placed third.

The last portion of the competition was the International Latin dances. As usual, MIT started off with a very impressive first event. In the Beginner Rhumba, three MIT couples made finals; sixth place went to Maesto and Sherry Jenql, Ishan Anand '01 and Natasha Wan '00 took fifth, and Berdnikov and Raskhodnikova won the event. In the Intermediate level Three-Dance (Cha Cha, Rhumba, Samba) Wariyapola and Kheifets took seventh, and Shaw and partner placed fourth; they also took sixth in the Advanced RhumbaKha Cha Two-Dance. The competition ended with a beautiful performance by Alex Wang G and Haixia Lin '99 in the Latin Pre-Championship Four-Dance (Cha Cha, Samba, Rhumba, Jive) in which they placed sixth.