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Ballroom Dance Club Patters Into Agassiz

Six-hour event aims to recruit members


Ninety pairs of feet pattered into the dance studio in Agassiz House Sunday for six hours of ballroom dancing, sponsored by the Harvard-Radcliffe Ballroom Dance Club (HRBDC).

The event, called Dance Camp, was designed to offer potential student recruits a taste of the club's activities.

"[Dance Camp] is part of our team recruiting process for as long as I've been here-at least five years," said Michal Bortnik '00, co-captain of the team, who was in charge of organizing this year's dance camp.

"People who are interested [in the team] can come and see what dancing is about," he said.

According to Bortnik, there are three components to dancing: the social aspect, the lessons from professional coaches and the competition.

All aspects were present at Dance Camp, which consisted of a two-hour lesson from a professional coach and a mock competition, followed by a pizza party.

After an quick introduction, the participants were instructed by Anne Heiermann, the owner and coach of Dancesport Academy of New England and one of the many coaches who instructs the HRBDC.

Due to the large turnout at the event, Heiermann had to tailor her instructions to fit the crowd.

"Usually individual attention is very important in that it helps with technique. Seeing as she couldn't give individual attention to 80 different people, she focused on giving a routine that everyone could learn," said Laura L. Mehlinger '00, the assistant co-captain of the team.

The group was instructed in the foxtrot, the rumba and the swing. The dances were chosen to represent three different styles of ballroom dancing. The foxtrot is one of the five standard dances, the rumba is one of the five Latin dances and the swing is a social dance not performed in competition.

Heiermann taught the American style of dancing rather than the international version danced in competitions.

After the lesson, the participants were divided into seven groups for the competition.

"You have a chance to put on a show while team members have a chance to support you-a little preview of what will happen in the next year or the next four years for the people who join the team," Bortnik said.

The camp ended in a pizza party, where the 90 new-comers as well as the 26 members of the team who helped out with the event watched a dance competition.

"I think it went really well. I'm glad there were so many enthusiastic people there. I didn't have to do very much because people were cheering and getting involved on their own," Mehlinger said.

The participants felt that Dance Camp was a positive experience.

"It was a ball. I was going to join the team anyway but it was fun," said Laura A. Nevison '02 a participant of Dance Camp.

The HRBDC currently has 60 members. Last year about 40 to 60 people attended dance camp. Twenty-five to thirty people from last year's dance camp recruits are still on the team.

Mehlinger said Dance Camp is a key method of gaining members for the team.

"I think that everyone who is on the ballroom dancing team did go to dance camp and so it is a good way to learn. You have to dedicate one day and not just one hour and so you get a better idea of the team," Mehlinger said.

The HRBDC is run by its members, rather than by outside coaches.

"Everything the team does is organized by the team members-all the events and competitions," said Bortnik.

The HRBDC holds an important position on the intercollegiate circuit.

"Competitively we have won most of the team matches over the last five years, sometimes even taking first and second place [in a competition] for our A team and B team," Bortnik said.

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