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.]]>