The 12-time national championship-winning Michigan Ballroom Dance Team opened its doors Wednesday evening to newcomers interested in joining the group this semester.
Students who attended the meeting learned the basics of ballroom dance, including how to swing and foxtrot. Amid lessons on how to dance, the team also showcased some of their best dancers.
The center of the Rogel Ballroom quickly filled with over 250 students as the lesson began by separating attendees by gender. First, the males were taught step by step how to lead a basic swing dance. As current members demonstrated the dance, the female side was then instructed.
“It was a lot easier than I expected, and I want more” said LSA freshman Erica Edwards “My friends on the team have been begging me to come out and give it a try and after seeing how fun it was, I’m definitely considering it.”
Soon after experienced members finished teaching their planned steps, the team moved on to a showcase of their more seasoned members. It opened with a rumba performed by LSA sophomore Jenelle Rofe and Art & Design junior Jonny Pang. The couple has performed on the national level. Prior to joining the Ballroom Dance Team both had no experience whatsoever.
Rofe said her time on the team has been rewarding and has given her opportunities to compete with accredited dancers.
“It was amazing to see the professionals showcased at Nationals and compete in the same field as some of the best in the country,” she said. “Ballroom has given me so many great memories I know I’ll take with me later on in life.”
Their performance was followed by a samba jive done to “Jailhouse Rock,” a combination piece, and finished with a cha-cha from two alumni.
Wednesday’s event was the first free lesson of four more to come. The lessons are designed to demonstrate what membership in the team looks like, according to LSA sophomore Saharsh Hajela, the team’s public relations chair.
“We really think for people to get the ballroom experience individuals need to actually experience the dancing itself,” he said. “This is just a taste on how a lesson would work.”
He added that the team has a positive environment that doesn’t require any previous experience, which other members of the team also emphasized.
“Just be brave and go for it; you never know until you try,” Hajela said. “Most of our team has little to no experience. I would say that around 95 percent of the team, including those we showcased today, started with no prior experience. We have all different kinds of people on the team from all different backgrounds majors and career paths — no one fits a mold for Ballroom.”