Ballroom dancing has experienced a resurgence in the past few years with shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Dancing with the Stars,” and has even experience popularity at the University of Miami.
Miami Ballroom, a ballroom dancing club that meets Thursday nights in the UC, was created in 2006 by President Alex Suarez-Mondshein, a junior studying sociology and business administration.
This semester, the club will start providing intermediate classes for the first time, and also welcomes a new instructor.
Michele Francois Jacques, owner of New Millennium Ballroom in Hallandale Beach, has more than 25 years of dance experience and is the regional representative to the International Dance Council, a United Nations organization. Not only will he be teaching the club’s weekly lessons, but he will also instruct Miami Ballroom’s competition/performance team.
The recently formed competition team attended two tournaments last year: The World Salsa Federation Dance Championships in Miami and the Royal Palm USA DanceSport Championships in St. Petersburg. The team’s competition schedule for this year is currently undetermined.
Though team members did not participate in any tournaments during the fall semester, they kept busy with a number of performances, such as those at National Gandhi Day of Service and Canefest, as well as off-campus performances at Best of Dance Studio and New Millennium Ballroom.
The club welcomes everyone from students to members of the community
“The day we come here, we call it a workout,” said Lucilla Jiminez, who owns a bakery on Bird Road and attends Miami Ballroom with her husband. “I love to mingle with [other members]; it makes me feel younger.”
Chris Mukon, a junior in the theater management program, acknowledges the exercise and social benefits of ballroom dancing, but attends classes for other reasons.
“I think the best part is that it’s intellectually stimulating,” he said. “It teaches discipline for both mind and body, challenging you with new ways of moving and thinking.”
Andrey Beylin, a physics graduate student from Russia, offered a more cultural perspective.
“I would say [social ballroom dancing] is one of the simplest ways to communicate with native citizens of the country,” Beylin said. “By this communication, I can learn something about country traditions, about how students live here, and improve my English.”
Though club dues currently cost students $75 per semester, Suarez-Mondshein hopes to receive enough university funding that the club can offer lessons for free. She also hopes to increase participation.
“I hope that we create a real community for students to make lasting friendships,” she said. “It sounds corny, but it’s true.”
Stephanie Genuardi may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Miami ballroom meets every Thursday in the UC Flamingo Ballrooms. From 6 to 7 p.m., students learn Latin dances, and from 7 to 8, students are taught standard ballroom dances.
-Tryouts for the competition team are held at the end of every semester.
-Semester lessons cost students $75, UM faculty members $125, and members from the community pay $155. No experience, dance shoes, or partners are necessary.