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Dance Team Wins First Prize

Crimson Team Pummels Competition; Tops New England

By Benjamin R. Kaplan

Blending the fast-paced athleticism of modern funk, the vibrant energy of contemporary jazz and the classical grace of lyrical ballet, the Crimson Dance Team soared to first place yesterday in the New England Regional Dance Competition, held at Boston College High School.

Despite a lack of competitive experience, the eight-member female squad beat out the other six area colleges with superior technical execution, combining an assortment of "switch-leaps," "Russian jumps," and "kick-lines," according to co-captain Azucena Verdin '98.

She said yesterday's competition is only the team's second since its formation last spring.

"We didn't know how we would stand against everyone else," said Verdin. "Other schools use more of a street funk look, while we combine skills from many different dance styles. We had no idea how the judges would view our routine."

Earlier this month, the team submitted a videotape of the same two-minute routine to the Universal Dance Association and was one of about 25 college teams to qualify for the semifinal round of the National Championships. The championships will be held January 5-7 in Orlando, Florida.

According to team captain Roxanne S. Pan '96, one of the greatest challenges team members face is synchronizing their diverse dance styles, since each member has been trained in varying dance disciplines.

Pan added that the team benefits from the strong technical background of their members-most are associated with either the Mainly Jazz Company or the Harvard-Radcliffe Ballet Company.

In addition to competing in dance competitions, the team is scheduled to perform at several men's and women's home basketball games this winter.

The team's first performance will be when the Crimson women take the court against Team Slovakia on Thursday.

"I want to get the word out that we are not just some high school pom-pom squad with little girls running here and there," said Verdin. "Our members work hard, practice 8-10 hours each week and give their all in every performance."

According to Pan, the emphasis on perfecting a single two-minute sequence as well as on maximizing the athleticism of every move is something unique to the team.

Verdin said that the closeness of the team also sets it apart.

"What separates the Crimson Dance Team from dance companies at Harvard is how close you get to the other members," said Verdin. "It's great to spend time with people who have such a passion for dance--you feel a sense of camaraderie that you can only get in a sport-type setting."

Pan and Verdin said they started the team after seeing a need for competitive dance at Harvard. Both had been involved with dance teams in high school and were surprised to find nothing comparable at Harvard.

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