The Binghamton Ballroom Dance Association (BBDA) transported Binghamton University students, family and friends back to 19th-century royalty with their Royal Ball event this past Friday.
The event — hosted in the Mandela Room — featured musical and dance performances from members of the ballroom team, as well as a waltz dance lesson and a buffet.
The event opened with a performance from several of the ballroom team members as they performed a waltz to Klaus Hallen Tanz Orchester’s “Ständchen.” The dance was a major feat in choreography and execution, as the several pairs of dancers on the floor were in synchronization with their timing and symmetric in their placement around the center of the dance floor.
After a buffet-style dinner arrived, a performance began from BU’s very own Explorchestra — which performed orchestral versions of three pop hit songs. Zoë Rose, a viola player for Explorchestra and a sophomore majoring in biochemistry, discussed the band’s change to a pop music performance.
“This was the first time we broke down into a smaller group and played more pop music instead of original music,” Rose said. “We pulled it together over the last few weeks and it went well.”
Next on the agenda were four unique performances from members of the ballroom team. First up was a vocal performance of “So This Is Love,” and afterward came a Latin rumba and pasodoble performance by two team members.
The subsequent performance was perhaps the most elaborate of the night, as Efe Cankat Turkmen, a member of the team and a first-year graduate student studying computer science, danced to Rihanna’s “S&M” and “Umbrella” in the vein of Tom Holland’s viral performance on “Lip Sync Battle.” Turkmen said it was his dream was to perform the dance after watching it on television.
“Our captain came to me and asked if I wanted to do the Tom Holland ‘Umbrella’ performance and I said definitely yes,” Turkmen said.
The last scheduled performance was a Viennese waltz to the “La La Land” soundtrack performed by Michelle Baginski, programming coordinator for the team and sophomore majoring in accounting, and Justin Frank, another member of the team and a sophomore double-majoring in chemistry and theatre.
Baginski was one of the key people behind putting the event together. She said her experience training with Frank was not without its slip-ups.
“When I was practicing with [Frank] the other day for our waltz, I was running and I slipped and fell while I was trying to get his arm and he slipped with me, so that shows our partnership,” Baginski said.
At the end of Baginski and Frank’s performance, all of the event’s attendees were invited to come onto the dance floor and get a lesson on how to waltz. The lesson was geared toward beginners and focused on the basic footwork of the dance. Rose described the lesson plan as a success.
“They did a fantastic job of breaking the waltz down for everybody,” Rose said. “It was a great balance between the team performances and including the other attendees of the ball.”
By giving all attendees the opportunity to learn dance, the team broke down the barrier between members of the ballroom team and attendees who were there to see the performances. Brian Flynn, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, came to the event with little experience in dance.
“Dance has always been something that I have been interested in, but never decided to take it as a hobby,” Flynn said. “Up until this point, ballroom dancing has been something I have considered to be exclusive or elitist and not for someone like myself, but that is exactly what the event was trying to combat.”
Although not on the official agenda for the event, the two masters of ceremonies of the event — Steven La, competition coordinator for the BBDA team and a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, and Jason Yang, another team member and a sophomore majoring in computer science — performed their own “fun” dance along with Christopher Thomas, competition coordinator for the BBDA and a sophomore majoring in integrative neuroscience. La discussed his favorite moment of the event.
“We had been working on that all week, but it was kind of nerve-wracking at the start because we felt a little under-practiced, but once it came down to it we did a good job,” La said.
The event ended with an open dance time for all attendees to dance along to popular songs. On the whole, the Royal Ball was a smashing success that brought the regal aspect of ballroom dance to BU while showing the fun and silly side of the sport as well.