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Dancing with Stars

By Tyler Bridges

On Saturday, April 19th, I had the pleasure of dancing at the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club’s formal social dance for the semester, A Night with the Stars. The name was well deserved, for I was in the company of true ballroom champions, as well as several new faces.

The champions in attendance were Nels Petersen and Theresa Kimler (eight-time national champions in smooth), Michael Kasinkas and Taylor Wall (first in gold smooth at Nationals), Nic Westlake and Neli Petkova (pre-champ standard finalists at Nationals), and Andy and Janie Nordberg (seven-time nine-dance champions). Except for Andy, each of these champions was present for the dance, and they all performed for everyone who attended the dance. Watching these people never gets old, at least for me. Their choreography, their costumes—it’s all so mesmerizing to see, and it was an absolute pleasure to experience.

Several schools came out to see the show and have some fun. Seven schools from three different states came up to dance with us—Luther College, St. Olaf College, Macalester College, University of Northern Iowa, University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, University of Wisconsin - Madison, and of course the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities—as well as several alumni and adults. It was wonderful to see so many people turn out for the dance, especially the other schools. Personally, I always meet so many people at the competitions I attend, but we rarely stay in touch. Seeing all the friends I made and dancing with them again made the night much more fun.

In addition to dancing with those old friends, I had the privilege of dancing with each of the female champions mentioned before. Asking those ladies to dance was nerve-racking, because I was incredibly shy and starstruck all at the same time. Not only did they dance with me, but they also provided constructive criticism aimed towards my future improvement. The fact that they put up with my dancing (which is mediocre at best) is a testament to their patience and kindness. Dancing with each of them made my night, and I’m glad that I was able to attend.

On that note, I almost missed the entire dance due to a scheduling conflict. Looking back, I’m glad that I made time to attend, because it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve ever had.