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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    The Ballroom Dance Team: So you think you can salsa?

    The contestants walk onto the floor. Nervously, they wait for the moment that they have been preparing for.

    They take a look at the competition. For the next few seconds, they are equals – all vying for the same coveted prize.

    The music starts.

    “And five, six, seven, eight.”

    The couples start to glide across the dance floor, bringing every bit of technique, every inflection that they practiced to life in front of the judges.

    They twist and turn effortlessly.

    As the music draws to a close, the couples take their bows and breathe a sigh of relief. They know that they left it all on the floor. They have just chassed all over the competition.

    Who are these magnificent masters of movement? They are none other than the Stony Brook Ballroom Dance Team.

    The team started 12 years ago when a group of interested students approached former Stony Brook faculty member, Giny Rae Sciurca who owns a local studio, and asked to start a ballroom danceteam.  Nowadays, Sciurca and her daughter, a professional ballroom dancer, still return on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s to help the team prepare for competitions.

    On Wednesday’s, the team asks an alumnus or former student to return for the year and teach a class open to all Stony Brook students. This year’s selection was Colette Vaughan.

    Vaughan picked up ballroom dancing when she was nine years old and then quit until her senior year of high school. She danced the entire year and then joined the Stony Brook team as a freshman.

    When discussing team competitions, Vaughan noted, “One callback is a serious achievement.”

    Last year, she and her partner Colby Allen, a senior psychology major and vice president of the club, won in the Bronze division in Overall Latin and Overall Rhythm at the spring competition at Columbia, one of the largest amateur ballroom competitions in the country.

    Allen started dancing when he transferred to Stony Brook in the fall of 2009. “I had been watching ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ and I got excited by the routines,” he laughed.

    Other members of the team have been dancing since they were children.

    Yelena Miraskova’s, junior information systems major and president of the club and found out about the team from some of the studio’s dancers. “I kind of came to Stony Brook for the team,” she said.

    Cassandra DeFelice, the sophomore treasurer who is majoring in social welfare and Spanish, has been dancing since she was little and wanted to find another form of dance other than cheerleading. “I found out from a team member at a party,” she said. “I told him that I knew how to salsa and we started salsa dancing.”

    The team takes their competitions as seriously as the lovers’ quarrel in the passionate pasodoble.

    Boarding the bus at 3 a.m. to arrive by 7 or 8 a.m., depending on the competition, the team takes the time to sleep or watch a movie. Upon arrival, they pay for registration and find a table. Then, “we collect our lives,” said Allen.

    After putting on their costumes, make- up and fixing their hair, they dance in heats and watch the screen for callbacks.

    “As much as I love samba, my favorites [types of dances] are jive and salsa,” said Mirsakova. She likes the salsa for its immense amount of spinning and she likes the jive because it is upbeat. “You’re dead after doing it. If you want to sweat, jive.”

    DeFelice, who does realize that her combination is kind of weird, enjoys the rumba for its combination of slow and sensual beautiful steps and lines and the waltz because she likes the interesting conversations about the physics of movement.

    The club is for amateurs, professionals, extroverts, introverts and those who truly have two left feet. Students who want to be a part of a tight- knit ballroom family, have fun or maybe avoid the freshman fifteen, could consider joining the Ballroom Dance Team. No experience is needed.

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