Long practice hours prep dance club for competition

The Ballroom Dance Club is preparing for its Feb. 25 competition.

Brian Folger dances with Paige Sandness during competition team practice in the ballroom dance club Friday evening in Bierman gym.

Image by Erin Westover

Brian Folger dances with Paige Sandness during competition team practice in the ballroom dance club Friday evening in Bierman gym.

by Claire Bramel

Standout dance partners Michael Kasinkas and Corissa Ranum may live dance, but they donâÄôt study it in the classroom.

Kasinkas is a mathematics and economics junior, while his partner Ranum is a senior studying supply chain and operations management in the Carlson School of Management.

A bachelor of fine arts degree in dance isnâÄôt a requirement for the Ballroom Dance Club.

The partners and the rest of the clubâÄôs competition team have been hard at work fox-trotting, waltzing and tangoing across the basement floor of the Bierman Field Athletic Building to prepare for the upcoming Star of the North DanceSport Classic on Feb. 25 and 26 in St. Louis Park, Minn.

 âÄúStar of the North is much like other competitions, but as the most serious local competition for people of our level, it is more fun because the colleges and competitors are familiar,âÄù said club president Katie Menk, who started dancing with the team as a freshman.

Competitions can be up to two days long and are generally held on weekends. Dances are divided up into four categories based on style: American Smooth, International Standard, American Rhythm and International Latin. The categories are then divided into levels like bronze, silver and gold, Menk said.

The Ballroom Dance Club held tryouts for its competition team in mid-September for only the second year in row. It selected 15 leads and 15 follows, forming 15 partner groups for the team, Menk wrote in an email.

âÄúWe practice five hours a week: one hour each on Tuesdays and Thursdays, led by officers or experienced dancers, in which we learn syllabi for the dances we compete in,âÄù she said.

While hour-long practices every Tuesday and Thursday as well as three-hour practices on Friday nights sound daunting, Kasinkas and Ranum also spend time preparing outside of Bierman for Star of the North.

âÄúCorissa and I will practice additionally like five to six hours outside of [scheduled] practice and school,âÄù said Kasinkas, who has been dancing since he was 3 and joined the club in fall 2010.

Kasinkas has another partner for this particular competition, but he and Ranum will be competing in the Standard style category âÄîthe pairâÄôs âÄúspecialty,âÄù he said.

The two have lofty goals for Star of the North because they did well in their last competition: the Ohio Star Ball.

âÄúWe ended up winning our International Standard Foxtrot in bronze,âÄù he said.

The two hope to win the silver level, a more advanced level of competition.

Ranum said that a big obstacle for them is maintaining their center âÄî a way for them to stay in sync throughout a performance.

âÄú[A center] is hard to explain to someone not in dance,âÄù she said. âÄúIt is really hard to stay together all the time.âÄù

The pair hopes to make a statement by winning a level otherwise unfamiliar to the Ballroom Dance Club. In past competitions, the club generally competes in bronze.