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MIT Dances Bolero, Tango, Wins Contest

By Jessica A. Lee


This weekend, Rockwell Cage echoed not with the squeak of sneakers but with strains of waltz and samba. Athletes approached the Z-center at 7:00 a.m. Saturday morning to participate in the 2004 MIT Open Ballroom Dance Competition, tailsuits and evening dresses draped over their arms. With 2,436 entries -- 372 couples total with 37 affiliations -- this year’s competition hosted by the MIT Ballroom Dance Team was smaller than last year’s, but impressive nonetheless.

Most impressive was MIT’s performance: in the overall team standings (based on points won by every couple that places in the final) MIT finished with 1094 points, while the closest runner-up, Boston University, mustered only 447 points.

A good part of the win may be credited to the rookies, who have performed outstandingly and consistently all season: Steve Zhang ’02 & Esther Ryvkina placed 2nd overall in Beginner Smooth, unbeatable except by another MIT couple, F. Joseph Pompei PhD ’02 & Jin Zhou G, who took 1st. Pompei & Zhou also took 2nd overall in Beginner Standard and placed in the finals for all Beginner Rhythm and Latin events.

MIT’s Intermediate dancers were no less spectacular. In Standard, Wei An G & Zeynep I. Inanoglu G placed 3rd overall. Tyree W. Harris G & Yana Averbukh ’05 took the 1st-place overall prize for Intermediate Latin, and Victor Tu & Jessica A. Lee ’05 won 1st overall in Intermediate Smooth.

Among MIT’s victories at the Advanced Level, Christopher C. Stratton ’97 & Katarzyna Herink placed in the top 3 in every Standard dance; in Smooth, Bradley J. Morrison & Margaret A. Wong ’02 took 3rd in Tango and 5th in Foxtrot/Viennese Waltz.

The weekend’s excitement peaked on Saturday afternoon, when competitors and spectators crowded the floor to watch the Pre-Championship and Championship events (in Pre-Champ and Champ, competitors are not restricted to a syllabus of permitted steps).

At the Pre-Champ level, MIT’s Boris Berdnikov ’98 & Carrie L. Sougnez placed second in the Latin 4-dance, while the Standard 4-dance final was dominated by four couples from MIT: Iuliu Vasilescu G & Irina Nikiforova in sixth, Lingze Duan PhD ’03 & Mildred Yuan in fourth, Harris & Ekatarina V. Lesnaia G in third, and William P. Liteplo SM ’00 & Ika Setyawati in first.

In the Championship events, at least one MIT couple placed in each of the four styles: Mark A. Herschberg ’95 & partner, 6th and Liteplo & Michelle Goldhaber, 5th in the Rhythm 5-dance (ChaCha/Ruma/Swing/Bolero/Mambo); Liteplo & Setyawati, 4th in the Smooth 4-dance (Waltz/Tango/Foxtrot/Viennese Waltz); Carlos A. Lopez ’03 & Genevieve T. Cuevas G, 3rd in the Latin 5-dance (ChaCha/Samba/Rumba/PasoDoble/Jive); and Igor Pavlovsky MS ’03 & Yanfeng Lin, 2nd in the Standard 5-dance (Waltz/Tango/Foxtrot/Quickstep/Viennese Waltz).

For many dancers, the MIT Open was the last competition of the season, and a satisfying one. A good many couples who performed well were not mentioned in this article; to find more results and see hundreds of pictures, visit