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Dancers cha cha to annual ballroom dance competition

By : Shirley Yi Lin

Members of the Binghamton University Ballroom Dance Association practice for the annual Binghamton Inter-Collegiate DanceSport Competition, a daylong event presented for the fourth consecutive year at Binghamton from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, February 21
Walking back to his residence hall one day through the University Union, George Yang stopped as he suddenly heard an arrangement of swing and waltz music linger from inside the Mandela Room.

Curiosity then led the junior biology and comparative literature double major to poke his head through the doors to see dozens of student couples dancing a variety of contemporary and traditional ballroom steps.

Now, Yang is among the approximately 500 students who make up the Binghamton Ballroom Dance Association (BBDA), a Student Association-chartered organization, which hosts regular ballroom dance socials, lessons and events.

“The team can be time consuming but it’s also a great stress reliever,” Yang said.

BBDA members are preparing for the annual Binghamton Inter-Collegiate DanceSport Competition, a daylong event presented for the fourth consecutive year at Binghamton. Teams from approximately 50 academic institutions will compete from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, February 21, in the Mandela Room. “Last year, we had over 200 competitors from all over the Northeast who attended,” said Soo H. Min, co-competition coordinator. “And this year we are hoping for a bigger and better competition.”

Contests range from newcomer to championship levels and are divided into four categories: smooth, standard, rhythm and Latin. Schools expected to send teams include Harvard, Yale, Cornell, New York and Columbia universities.

Since its creation in 1997, BBDA has become popular throughout campus, attracting students from all academic years, and attendance and enrollment are steadily growing.

Miho Urisaka, junior biology and psychology double major, said she joined the ballroom dance team as a freshman because she wanted to try something new. Urisaka had no ballroom dance experience. However, she was a trained gymnast, which she said helped in the process of learning the dance steps.

“The team is really friendly and there is a great dancing atmosphere,” Urisaka said, DanceSport is the competitive aspect of ballroom dancing. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United States Olympic Committee recently recognized DanceSport as an Olympic sport. The sport must now gain recognition from the IOC to become a medal sport, which would then enable it to become part of the summer Olympic competitions.

The BBDA consists of a social club and a competitive team. The club offers weekly dance lessons at 8 p.m. Tuesdays in the Mandela Room. Dances ranging from the waltz, tango, foxtrot and swing to the cha cha, salsa and samba are taught. Lessons begin with social and beginner classes, followed by advanced classes.

For those with a more competitive spirit, the association also includes a dance team. Tryouts are required. The competitive team currently consists of 30 members, dancing at levels ranging from newcomer to championship. For more information on BBDA, visit
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Last Updated: 10/14/08