The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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A speaker addressed protestors at an Earth Day rally in Schenley Plaza on Monday.
‘Reclaim Earth Day’ protest calls for Pitt to divest from fossil fuels
By Kyra McCague, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
Stephany Andrade: The Steve Jobs of education
By Thomas Riley, Opinions Editor • April 24, 2024
The best cafés to caffeinate and cram for finals
By Irene Castillo, Senior Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Pitt Ballroom Dance Club tangos through WPU for dance bootcamp

Pitt+Ballroom+Dance+Club+tangos+through+WPU+for+dance+bootcamp
Amaya Lobato | Assistant Visual Editor

“T-A-N-G-O!” members of the Ballroom Dance Club chanted in rhythm as they steadily danced through the steps of the tango.

Latin music, eight-counts and clicking heels echoed throughout the William Pitt Union early Saturday afternoon as students of all experience levels became dancers. Students learned about American Smooth and Rhythm dance styles during a short boot camp with Pitt’s Ballroom Dance Club. The club introduced aspiring dancers to the vast world of American dance techniques and genres. 

Pitt Ballroom Dance operates as a social club and a competitive club sports team, which is one of the things that drew Nathan Barta, a junior computer science major, to join the club.

“I was not a dancer before I joined the team,” Barta said. “I saw dance as a nice skill to have and something that is kind of competitive without having a massive team.”  

The team competes throughout the year and the country, with competitions in Maryland, Ohio and elsewhere. 

As students came into WPU’s Assembly room, club members greeted the new faces. The dancers stretched in anticipation of the upcoming event while music traveled throughout the room. Two more seasoned dancers demonstrated their advanced technique as they jointly waltzed around the waiting students.

Among those greeting the students was Kayla Honeysett, a junior nursing major and president of the Ballroom Dance Club. She started dancing after joining the club freshman year. With little prior dance experience, she decided to stay on and eventually work her way up to the club’s presidency. 

“I had never danced in my life before this club, and now I have come full circle teaching students who are in the same shoes I was in two years ago,” Honeysett said. “Dancing is such a great way to stay active and find a community in school.”

After two years of dancing, Kayla is an adept teacher. The dance styles taught during the boot camp, Smooth and Rhythm, are American dance styles.

“Smooth and Rhythm are American style dances. Smooth dances include Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, and Viennese Waltz.” Honeysett said. “Rhythm dances include Cha Cha, Rumba, Swing, and Mambo. Rhythm incorporates grounded Afro-Cuban hip movement.”

While box steps may be easy, moves such as spins and promenades prove to be more difficult. However, the teachers instruct each student thoroughly and deliberately, with some even remarking that they would give Honeysett five stars on Rate My Professor. She split dancers into two groups –– leads and follows. Leads make the decisions while dancing, and the follows “look pretty and spin,” according to Honeysett. 

After moving into their respective groups, students learned the steps required of their role. Students asked a multitude of questions to make sure they grasped the choreography. Once students got the hang of their individual parts, Honeysett invited the students to pick a partner who had just learned the opposite half of the dance. 

Students came together to form 10 duos before the music began to play. They stumbled over each other’s feet, out of time with the music –– focusing on their own steps along with moving with another human being could be difficult. However, Honeysett said, they slowly began to move around the room in a coordinated manner, although some had to stop and start over to avoid obstacles.

“I’m seeing that some of you have run into a common issue –– the wall,” Honeysett said.

After teaching students how to tango in a straight line, the instructors moved on to dancing in a circle. Slowly but surely, the students mastered moving around pillars and away from other dancers. Honeysett had students rotate partners to ensure that each person had experiences with multiple dancers.

Ava Wilmont, a first-year undecided pre-med student, was among the dancers learning the basics of leading. She had no prior dance experience and recently stumbled across the club.

“I was just looking for something fun to do with friends. I would not consider myself a dancer,” Wilmont said. “However, I would definitely consider coming back for more classes.”

Lydia Gitner, a freshman marketing major, does consider herself a dancer. As one of the few students in the class with prior experience, she knew she wanted to join the club before arriving on campus. Despite her background, she was still having fun learning from her peers. 

“I do know some things already, but I’m still learning a lot of new things today,” Gitner said.

Vice president Liv Lohman, a senior Communication Sciences and Disorders major, guaranteed there is more to come. These boot camps happen twice each semester, once for Smooth and Rhythm styles and the other for Standard and International styles.

“This was an event where I as a beginner learned a lot about the different styles of ballroom, what they mean, and the basics for at least 12 different dances,” Lohman said. “These boot camps are such a fantastic resource for new dancers and a great refresher for returning dancers after a long summer off.”

Despite not taking a teaching role in the beginning, Lohman does not limit herself to dancing alone. 

“I really do love teaching! I love teaching beginners and advanced dancers alike,” Lohman said. “Ballroom is a very niche hobby and I love to be that person who introduces someone to their newest passion or to teach someone their new favorite move.”

Whether you would describe yourself as a dancer or not, Lohman described ballroom dance as a skill everyone should have.

“Exercising and moving your body is important, and doing so through art is one of my favorite things about dance,” Lohman said. “Ballroom, specifically, is something that can come in handy when you least expect it.”