On Saturday, March 26, dancers, friends and family alike packed into MacArthur Elementary School in Binghamton for the annual Binghamton Ballroom Dance Revolution. The event was hosted by the Binghamton Ballroom Dance Association and featured dancers from 17 different schools. There were no age restrictions on the competition, so the dancers ranged in age from 12-year-olds to college students to older adults.

During the competition, there were four types of dances featured — smooth, standard, rhythm and Latin. Each type of dance was divided into five competition levels, with newcomer being the lowest level, then bronze, silver, gold and finally open as the most advanced category. For each type of dance and competition level, there were three to four rounds of dancing depending on the number of competitors — first round, quarterfinal, semifinal and final. Each type of dance had its own award ceremony where the dancers who made it to the final round were ranked.

The event also featured a “fun dance” after the four main dances were finished. The theme of the fun dance was “Unsexy Latin,” an oxymoron so to speak. In order to make their Latin dances unsexy while still maintaining strong form, the dancers rolled up their sleeves, messed up their hair and made funny gestures. The “Unsexy Latin” dance was one of the most entertaining to watch and the dancers all appeared to have lots of fun trying something a little different.

Overall, the Binghamton Ballroom Dance Association performed well in the competition. Alyssa Miville, a first-year graduate student studying clinical psychology and a member of the team, commented on how she and her partner Edwin Hirsh, a freshman majoring in computer science and mathematics, did at the competition.

“I think that there were some [dances] that we messed up on, but that’s OK,” Miville said. “We kind of went right back into it then and we were happy. We fixed the mistakes quickly, but overall we’ve been really energetic and excited.”

Beyond her own dancing, Miville said the competition as a whole was a success for the Binghamton Ballroom Dance Association.

“[The competition] was really efficient and has been run well,” Miville said. “It’s been really enjoyable.”

In addition to Binghamton University students and graduate students, alumni also competed. Christopher Hackett, ‘17, and Klara Rusinko, ‘17, are getting married this summer and decided to compete in the competition. Both Hackett and Rusinko were happy to return to the college circuit to compete.

“I think we did really, really well,” Rusinko said. “It was really nice to compete with our home team and do well.”

“We’ve been competing for the past couple months,” Hackett said. “Nice to be back at a college [competition].”

One of the biggest surprises at the Binghamton Ballroom Dance Revolution was the appearance of Andrew Prouty, 62, and Ilona Prouty, 54, of Syracuse. They are on the USA Dance senior team and are the treasurer and president of the Syracuse Chapter of USA Dance, respectively. The two have competed in Spain, France, Italy, Slovakia and Germany.

“We come here whenever we can,” Andrew Prouty said. “This is not our first Binghamton [event]. We love the college competitions because there’s so much energy.”

“We compete internationally,” Ilona Prouty said. “We’re always looking for places to compete, always searching, but we love the college circuit. It’s one of our favorites. We saw this and had to be here.”

Andrew Prouty and Ilona Prouty danced incredibly well at the competition, finishing first place in the Latin dance at the open difficulty level. The pair also had a positive energy that allowed them to connect with the crowd.

“I usually come out with a goal,” Ilona Prouty said. “My goal was really to connect with the audience and connect with my husband so I felt like I did that today.”

Another important aspect of the competition was the change it marked from last year’s competitions, which had all been drastically different because of COVID-19. Don Chavavit, a senior majoring in business administration, is the competition coordinator for the ballroom team this year.

“We’re coming out of [COVID-19] and all that, people haven’t really had the chance to dance,” Chavavit said. “Last year was completely virtual, so this is the first time for a lot of competitors on the team to experience this sort of thing.”

While it was exciting to finally have another in-person dance competition, there were many challenges associated with returning to non-virtual competitions. Two of the biggest were finding a suitable location and figuring out what safety rules to put in place.

“There were very few venues that would take us because of [COVID-19],” Chavavit said. “Some of the old [locations] that we used to go to shut down completely because of it and then of course it was just figuring out mask rules, vaccination rules, [COVID-19] safety policies and things like that.”

On the whole, the Binghamton Ballroom Dance Revolution was a smashing success that brought ballroom dancing to a public audience. The BU team did really well at the competition and beat out dancers from schools including Yale, MIT and Columbia in many of the categories. However, something that the team still struggles with is finding adequate practice space.

“It would be really nice to see dance groups on campus have more practice space,” Rusinko said. “Something that was a struggle for us while we were on the team and is still a struggle for the ballroom team and other dance groups is having a rehearsal space to practice.”

“I have a lot of choice words [for BU],” Chavavit said. “Mainly just give us more practice space because we are doing all this crazy stuff.”