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Denebola » Marina Afonkina http://www.denebolaonline.net The Award-Winning, Official School Newspaper of Newton South High School, Newton, MA Fri, 17 Jun 2011 02:00:19 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0.2 The Winding Paths of Prague http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/09/30/the-winding-paths-of-prague/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/09/30/the-winding-paths-of-prague/#comments Thu, 30 Sep 2010 09:00:06 +0000 Marina Afonkina http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4739 Tiredly anticipating the long-awaited arrival, 17 exhausted students and two teachers stepped off the plane into Prague. The historical yet majestic city of Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, formally known as Czechoslovakia. The ride to Hotel Arbus consisted of winding roads and steep hills on which castles stood, with the Vltava  River twisting through. Prague’s monuments and architecture, displaying the history of the once united kingdoms of Moravia and Bohemia.
Throughout Prague Spring’s–in this case Prague Summer’s–journey, we saw monuments, walked up hills, watched FIFA Matches, and ate traditional Czech food.  Our everyday journeys began by taking the tram to various locations in Prague. On the first day, we explored the exterior of the Prague castle, situated on top of a hill, where guards were stationed to protect the president.  A prime location for touristic pictures, the castle exhibited the best view of the skyline in Prague. Continuing our 10 mile exhibition, we walked down the hill and over a bridge to explore the old town square.  Although packed with FIFA fanatics, we noticed and appreciated the Jan Hus memorial and Albert Einstein’s plaque.
Day one of Prague exploration was not over without a walk along the Charles Bridge. This gothic-style architecture spans across the Vltava River. The beautiful bridge is full of tourists, kiosks with jewelry, and performing arts: men playing glasses filled with water to be exact.  After we crossed the Charles Bridge we went inside the Lucerna palace which was originally a concert hall, but now a home to an arcade, cafes, and festivities. Walking through the great hall, we came upon a hanging statue of an upside down horse with a knight sitting on it.
The next day, we took the tram again to the outer city of Prague.  We walked through the empty streets and a tunnel, and up a winding path to the Vitkov National Museum. This memorial exhibits the crossroads of Czech and Czechoslovakian Statehood, including an exhibition, a mausoleum, and an equestrian statue of Jan Zizka. Along with displaying the history of the Czech Republic, the national memorial’s café, located towards the top, expressed an exceptional view of the Zizkov TV tower.  The unconventional structure was made to jam Western radio and television transmissions by the Warsaw pact forces in the case of attack by NATO. The structure is inhabited by “Crawling babies and continues to be a unique, yet popular view in the Prague skyline.
After a picnic atop the memorial, we headed down the hill and took the tram to the new Jewish cemetery where we found the tomb of Franz Kafka and other important Czech figures. Although a trip through a cemetery is gloomy, we finished off our day by going to the Wenceslas Square, where we saw the National Museum in Prague.  We stood “under the tail of the St. Wenceslas statue, where we admired the view of the oldest museum in the Czech Republic.
Prague is a one-of-a-kind city. With its history, culture, food, and scenery. In just three days, the studious brains of Prague Spring participants absorbed it all.

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World class ballroom dancers channel emotion into art http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/world-class-ballroom-dancers-channel-emotion-into-art/ http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/world-class-ballroom-dancers-channel-emotion-into-art/#comments Wed, 14 Apr 2010 05:24:48 +0000 Marina Afonkina http://www.denebolaonline.net/?p=4117 The spotlights are ready, the dancefloor dark, and the judges waiting. Couples from around the world parade onto the floor, ladies clad in bedazzled Swarovski crystal dresses holding up one arm as the gentlemen lead their partners onto the dance floor. Then, the music starts and the dancing begins.

This is the atmosphere that sophomores Ava Donovan and Phillip Kudryavtsev and juniors Allen Rudman and Olga Rapoport experience as they compete in ballroom dancing.

Genres of partner dancing range from Latin dances, such as the Cha Cha and Rumba, to classical ballroom dances, such as the Waltz and Foxtrot. Ballroom dancing has become increasingly famous in America after the 2005 release of the television show Dancing With the Stars, in which celebrity-dancer pairs compete.

Ballroom dancing has been a recreational activity among all ethnicities and nationalities long since the Renaissance Period. Additionally, ballroom dancing is an important aspect of many South students’ lives.

Rapoport was introduced to ballroom when her friend took her to a lesson. After that, she fell in love with it and started dancing herself.

Kudryavstev was introduced to dance by his brother, and he nearly quit until he witnessed a competition that changed his mind. Donovan, a sophomore at Newton South, has been ballroom dancing for nine years, and Rudman has been ballroom dancing for ten.

Although people of many different ethnicities participate, ballroom dancing is a big influence in Russian culture, especially in Newton.

“Ballroom dancing, specifically in Newton, is such a big part of the Russian culture because the [dance studio] owners are Russian so they attract a lot of Russian families, Kudryavtsev said.

“I am Hispanic. Everyone assumes I am Russian because I dance so when they find out I’m not, they are shocked, Donovan said. Ballroom dancing is therefore an element of self expression in many cultures around the world.

Ballroom dancing is not an easy sport. From the one-footed jive to the bouncing Samba, it requires holding good posture, sharp arm movements, and pointed toes.

At competitions, each dance is only a minute and 30 seconds. This may seem short, but the dances are filled with power and intensity. Students spend up to 20 hours a week at their studios practicing, taking lessons, and dancing “for as long as [their] feet can hold [them], Rapoport said.

Dancers compete and strive for first place, but love ballroom dancing for larger reasons.

Donovan loves ballroom “because it’s a good way to let yourself go; each dance had a different emotion which gives you a chance to be many different things and express all emotions.

“Dancing is a way to express myself. I dance when there is a lot on my mind, Rapoport said.

“[I love] traveling around the world performing and doing something that most people in the world don’t have a chance of doing, Rudman said.

“It is something that makes me unique and helps break stereotypes, Kudryavtsev said.

To these four students, ballroom dancing has not only taught them how to chasse or move their hips, but it has built their characters.

“Ballroom dancing has also taught me to show my emotions more and not to be shy. It also taught me to be a good sport and a good team player, Donovan said.

For Rudman, ballroom dancing taught him to “not care what people think about me, be myself, and have my own character.

As these individuals finish their dancing heat, bow to the audience, and gracefully walk off the dance floor, exhausted yet elated, their faces show the incredible influence ballroom dancing has had on their lives.

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