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Ballroom Rookies Dance to Win

By Shlomo H. Meislin

Last week, as the first lasting snowfall fell over New England, several members of the MIT Ballroom Dance trudged their way through New Haven’s Payne Whitney Gym for the 14th Annual Yale Ballroom Dance Competition. Upon entering the massive Cathedral-like structure, they were greeted with the anachronistic scene of feather, sequin, and tailsuit-laden dancers on a backdrop of neogothic arches.

The MIT rookies maintained their season-long dominance of the Newcomer level events at Yale. Vikram Chandrasekhar G and Jane M. Wolcott ’09 won the Newcomer International Waltz event, followed by Ran Yi and Olga Rostapshova and Alex D. Salcianu G and Stefana P. Stantcheva in second and fourth, respectively. Yi and Rostapshova also came in second place in Newcomer International Chacha/Rumba.

In American style, the Yale Competition pitted newcomers against more experienced bronze-level dancers in a combined “beginner” category. Despite the added challenge, MIT rookies fared well. In Beginner American Waltz/Foxtrot, Zhaohui Zhang and Tracy A. Hammond G placed fifth and Yi and Rostapshova, sixth, while Chandrasekhar and Wolcott made it to the top 12 in a field of over 110 couples. All three couples reached the semifinals in Beginner American Chacha/Rumba, and in Swing, Yi and Rostapshova placed fourth, while Adam Lerer ’09 and Marielle Noble reached the semifinals.

Several more MIT rookies succeeded in making at least one cut, no small feat considering that a large number of their opponents had up to a year’s experience over them.

As for the veterans, nearly every competing couple reached a final. In Silver Standard, Eric Sturtevant and Jin Zhou G placed second in Waltz/Quickstep and fourth in Tango. In Silver Latin, David Xie and Amy Y. Tang ’06 placed third in Chacha/Rumba and fourth in Samba/Jive. Meanwhile, competing in all 10 international-style dances, Boris Berdnikov SM ’00 and Jessica R. Huot ’06 placed second in Open Standard (Waltz/ Tango/ Viennese Waltz/ Foxtrot/ Quickstep) and fourth in Open Latin (Chacha/ Rumba/ Samba/ Paso Doble/ Jive).

In the past several years, a number of more advanced dancers have graduated or left the team, so current MITBDT members must rebuild the roster. With rookies rising to Bronze and yearlings competitive in Silver, the team’s future rests on good feet.