Cornell Competition Recap

Hello again readers!

Today I’d like to relate the events of this past Saturday–a stint in Ithaca, NY at the Cornell Dancesport Classic, an annual college-hosted Ballroom competition. Myself, my partner-in-crime, my partner-in-Standard, and four other SU students got up before dawn, shambled into cars, and drove down to Ithaca College. As unpleasantly early and unseasonably cold as it was, I actually prefer the morning start. My partner and I were competing Gold Standard, which put our dancing time at 10:30am–perfect for getting up at 5am and maintaining alertness.

Frankly, the comp was more fun than I was anticipating, for mostly selfish reasons. Last year, my partner and I competed after a significant practice-hiatus and pretty much got creamed. Granted, since then we have elsewhere competed more successfully, but I was still worried about the possibility of total systems failure.

Luckily, we did well! We placed 2nd all-around in Gold Standard, out of 6 couples. That includes Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Quickstep, and Viennese Waltz, for those of you not “in” on the Ballroom comp scene. However–

Every victory comes with a caveat. We need to double-check the points-math, but this winning may have pushed us out of eligibility for Syllabus events–which is awesome, in that we have progressed, but less awesome in that it means we can only do Open events. And, given that every time we’ve attempted Open events we’ve consistently placed last–we have work to do. Specifically in learning actual Open choreography. Weeeeeeee…..

I’ll be honest. I have no great love for dance competitions, of any variety. Most of that attitude comes from my childhood ballet company, whose directors turned up their noses at comps and discouraged us from entering. As I’ve grown up and had the opportunity to make my own opinions, I have realized that as a dancer my motivations are the movement and the art and the audience. I want what I do to *mean* something, and I have a hard time finding 90-second whirls on a crowded floor in front of a distracted crowd to be meaningful. It’s really unfortunate that the only way to gain notoriety as a ballroom dancer is to compete, and I consider my work for the SU Ballroom Team the beginning of a long journey to change that–or at least to explore other options.

On the less-angsty side of things, part of the fun of this weekend was in the success of one of my young charges. One of the SU Team members hesitantly came out for her first Ballroom comp TBA (paired with a mystery partner at the comp, instead of in advance), met a gentleman from Penn State, and then proceeded to win ALL THE THINGS. No really. They won something in each of the Big Four categories, and most of those ‘things’ were 1st place.


I’m blown away, and I’m ridiculously happy–again, for mostly selfish reasons. Most of what she’s learned in Ballroom has been from me, and that reassures me that I’m doing *something* right. Now, I can’t take all the credit. She got incredibly lucky with her random partner, in his height, musicality, and overall skill. Also, this particular young lady has a dance rap sheet very similar to my own–ballet company in high school, branched out to other styles in college. She’s serious, dedicated, and I hope her success will encourage the Team to come out and compete–for even though I personally have mixed feelings about them, collegiate Ballroom comps are a great experience to dance, watch, and learn.

Until next time!

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