Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company Places 2nd at Nationals

By Elena Hernandez ‘11Guest Writer

As six legs flipped over six heads into suspended upside-down splits, there was an audible gasp from the bleachers before the crowd of over three hundred burst into applause. At the 2010 National Collegiate Championships at the Ohio Star Ball in Columbus, Ohio, the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company’s formation Latin dance medley was quickly becoming an audience favourite just one minute into the routine. By the end of the evening, the Claremont Colleges had been named the second-place formation team in the nation.

This year’s nationals dance routine was in close contention with University of California, San Diego for first place. Team member and the CCBDC co-president Aaron Brown (PO ’11) agrees that the excitement of the crowd revealed that the routine was well received—and inspired the dancers to perform even better.  “It definitely felt like we won the crowd over,” he said, “There was never a moment when I wasn't excited to be dancing.”

The CCBDC has long been known for the complexity of their routines and the superior technical quality of their dancing, and the CCBDC has won six national championships since its formation twelve years ago. Nationals 2010 is a six-couple International Latin medley that combines the steps of Cha Cha, Samba, Rumba, Jive and Paso Doble into one six-minute routine to the tunes of Michael Jackson. Director Paul Roach (PO ’07) places the level of difficulty of the nationals choreography at the Pre-Novice competition, or what could be called the first stage of professional-level choreography.

The nationals competition routine members spent 10 to 20 hours a week rehearsing the dance, but nothing could have prepared them for the intensity of actually competing. The CCBDC co-president Asumi Ohgushi (’11) has previously competed with the CCBDC in the nationals routine, yet she still feels the adrenaline rush of performing. “It was very, very stimulating; it was very intense,” she said, “I was aware of what I was doing the whole time. I was up in the judges faces 80 to 90 percent of the time, so I was focusing on everything I was doing all the time.”

However, it wasn’t only members of the dance routine that prepared for the nationals competition; other members of the Claremont Colleges Ballroom Dance Company supported the routine members through encouragement and even by putting the final rhinestones on their costumes. “Seeing the costumes put together by team members shows just how much all of he team cares about each other and how collaboration makes everything on team possible,” nationals member Kelsey Frost (’13) says. It is in the same spirit of collaboration that the CCBDC hosts events such as the Claremont Dance Festival, the Ballroom Dance Concert and our own ballroom dance competition, the Winter Showdown, which is coming up early next spring.

The nationals dance routine expects the Michael Jackson medley to be just as energetic—and as competitive—in year’s competitions. One of the routine dance captains, Ian Jimenez (HMC ’11) sums it up this way, “The final performance was one of the best we had ever had. We did a great job and I am excited to see what we can do next semester.”