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UI Ballroom Dance social chair discusses the groups success

BY DI STAFF | NOVEMBER 02, 2011 7:20 AM

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The Daily Iowan sat down with Chris Dunlay, the treasurer for the Hawkeye Ballroom Dance Company, to talk about the UI's ballroom-dance organization.

The Daily Iowan: What has changed within the Hawkeye Ballroom Dance Company in the past year?

Chris Dunlay: I definitely think that we have brought in a larger crowd. Most of the people were beginners last year and now have started an intermediate class. A lot of people who were beginners last year can take these classes and keep improving — I would say everybody has definitely improved. If anything, it has gotten a whole lot more fun, because we have gotten to go to competitions and I feel like we have kept things pretty well professional and are being recognized by the university. The more we improve, we can represent the university better and will be recognized as a vital student organization on campus.

DI: Members of the company recently returned from the Badger Ballroom Dancesport Classic in Madison, Wis. Can you tell me a bit about that experience?

Dunlay: We had 20 dancers go and compete in Madison last weekend. We competed in all of the American ballroom styles for newcomer and bronze categories of the competition as well as some of the international styles. There are many levels of skill within the competition. Right now, we are still playing around with the newcomer and bronze levels, and at Wisconsin, a lot of us were called back for quarterfinal, semifinal, and final rounds. We did the Iowa Dancesport Classic last semester, and a few more of us went, because it was closer. But with this trip it was different. It was the University of Wisconsin's first competition that it has ever done, so it was a way to support other schools who are still starting up with ballroom competitions.

DI: You have a trip to Ohio coming up for the Ohio Star Ball — How is the group preparing for its first national collegiate competition?

Dunlay: Practice has been a little more intense. We are getting instruction from local dance instructors at Dance New York, who just opened up a studio in Coralville and they've been a great help. They have a lot of experience with competition and know what judges look for. We look at them like advisors. Normally, we only practice one day a week, aside from our lessons, but recently I have worked on getting more time for group to practice, so we have additional practice time on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The collegiate portion of the competition will be on Nov. 19th. There's going to be 17 of us for this trip, and we will make the drive to Ohio together on the 18th.

DI: The Haweye Ballroom Dance Company also plans dance events on the UI campus. Tell me about the event you will host tonight.

Dunlay: In addition to all of the competition, we don't want to limit the group to just people who want to compete, but we also want to create opportunities for the people who want to do this socially. We try to have two social dances per semester. The first one was a Welcome Week dance in August. The Masquerade Ball tonight has a sort of Halloween theme, except it is a little after Halloween because of the competition we had last weekend. This is a great time for students to come and pick something up. Coming to these social dances is a time to see that there isn't a lot of pressure. It helps build skill, and you can meet a lot of great people and make friends through dance.

— by Hannah Kramer


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