Colgate Ballroom Dancers: Ballroom for All

James Sexton-Holtmeier, Contributing Writer

During the first Dancefest of 2022, the Colgate Ballroom Dance Club performed two very fun and high-energy dances. The group holds open lessons throughout the semester where students can learn the basics of various ballroom dance styles. Because the club is so open and welcoming to all, they are one of the larger dance groups on campus. Part of what makes this group so special is that it is not required to have any background in dance. Many members were entirely new to dance before joining the club.  While the primary goal of this group is simply to teach people how to ballroom dance, another very important aspect is to encourage and support the beginner dancers. Though learning how to dance can be intimidating, the group makes sure that each member will feel comfortable and confident when they are practicing. 

Sophomore Jonathon Eaton explained the importance of the group to him.

“Ballroom has allowed me to explore an art I never thought I’d be able to explore; it’s shown me what it’s like to be a performer and, moreover, what it’s like to be part of a such a great, dedicated cast. I’ve made so many friends and memories in just two semesters, and I’m looking forward to making countless more as the program continues to grow. More specifically, I’m looking forward to continuing work as a choreographer and instructor alongside some new and returning leadership and who knows, maybe learning some more lifts, too.”

Not only is the group a way to learn the basics of ballroom dance, but it is also a good opportunity to meet new people. Each dancer performs with a partner, and many of these partners had not met prior to joining the club. Dancing with a partner allows the group to perform dynamic dips and lifts.

First-year Danny Ruiz’s experiences in the Ballroom Dance Club are a testament to its inclusive environment, and has even climbed the ranks to become a leader for next year. 

I joined ballroom this past semester as a [first-year] because my friend Audrey Chan has been involved in ballroom for a while now and invited me to join her. I didn’t have much experience with dance groups outside of social dancing but it seemed like fun especially if I was going with a friend so I decided to give it a try. I have absolutely loved my experience in ballroom,” Ruiz said.

One of the leaders for this year, senior Adriana Rush, also reflected on her time in the club.

“It is really important to us that people are having a good time dancing and learning something new. I joined ballroom dance in my first semester of [first-year] because I’d always wanted to try dance, and the Ballroom Dance Club was really friendly and welcoming to beginning dancers,” Rush stated.

The basic structure of the club includes weekly rehearsals on Sunday as well as office hours during the week. The leaders of the group also make every effort to be available to members for extra practice. Because there is a performance at the end of each semester, it is important that members meet as often as possible to prepare. Though they do not want their performances to feel overwhelming, the leaders still enjoy making the dances somewhat complex.

“Our leadership team dedicates a lot of time choreographing our large group dance to be challenging but manageable, while still being fun and looking good,” Rush added.

Dancefest is an important event for the dance group because it is a time where all of the hard work and practice can be displayed to the entire university. Furthermore, the group gains many members as a result of Dancefest because they finally have the opportunity to see what the group is all about.

Though ballroom dance might sound like something reserved for a fancy event, the club likes to keep energy high by dancing to upbeat music. In their recent performance, the group’s first dance was a cha-cha to a familiar favorite: “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” by ABBA. Due to such a unique and lively style, their performances are exciting for any audience. This dance was performed by the complete group of over 30 members. There is no audition required for this larger group, but the second dance that only showcased six pairs were chosen from an audition. This second performance was a swing dance to the song “Luigi’s Mansion” by 8-bit Big Band.