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Minnesota Ballroom Blast

By Michael Kasinkas

This October marked the third annual Minnesota Ballroom Blast, and it was fantastic! We introduced nearly one hundred new people to ballroom dancing in a way they will never forget. We also increased the participation of adults and collegiate students alike—we had over two hundred registrants in all, plus over one hundred spectators. We’re most pleased with the Halloween Ball, reviving an old tradition of the University of Minnesota campus we hope to someday bring back to its former glory—and with over 175 wonderful dancers of all ages at the Ball, we've certainly made a good start.

Minnesota Ballroom Blast has grown greatly in the three years since its inception. Initially conceived as a way to target new collegiate markets for participation in ballroom dance, the program has expanded include workshops and lectures, a social dinner to promote interaction between the diverse groups in our community, and a Halloween Ball to cement those wonderful new ties. In future years, we hope to develop a strong adult mixed-proficiency program and provide adults with new opportunities to participate and explore the wonderful world of ballroom dance in a low-stress and fun environment.

There are too many people to thank in this article who made this year’s Minnesota Ballroom Blast a huge success, but I wanted to thank some of its biggest contributors.

A big thank you to this year’s core Blast volunteer team: Daniel O’Connell, who did a wonderful job bringing in collegiate participants; Mary Beth Beckman, without whom there would be no program, registration, or competitor packets; Nic Westlake, who made all the graphics and organized all the heats; Craig Hagensick and Jack O’Leary, who managed all things money; Karen Maldonado, who made sure we had the correct venue layout; Tijen Petersen, who designed the wonderful decoration scheme; Rachel Marusinec, for supporting Tijen and Karen as well as securing Blast’s 2015 date: Saturday, October 24th; Cathy Dessert, for securing our wonderful vendors; Jacob Karr, for making sure the DJ had everything he needed to make the music happen; Neli Petkova, for keeping everyone updated on Facebook; and Taylor Wall, who organized volunteers. Thank you to our wonderful on-deck captains, Len Farrington, Bridget Knickerbocker, and Jeff Knickerbocker, who managed to get all the participants on the floor for their dancing on time with no holdups.

This year was also made possible by some very generous sponsorship and grants. The University of Minnesota Student Union Activities Board, Coca Cola, and U Partner Dance, Inc., provided significant financial assistance to help make this event a reality. Without the assistance of these wonderful organizations, we could not have provided this opportunity at all, let alone so affordably.

I also wanted to thank Bill Dessert and his team at Rapit Printing for printing such amazing banners and programs. My thanks go out to the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club for their key volunteerism and participation. Their support is what made Minnesota Ballroom Blast possible in the first place.

Lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank our critiquing professionals, Elena Bersten, Kate Bratt, Jennifer Foster, Robert Foster, Julie Jacobson, Mariusz Olszewski, and Lisa Vogel; our wonderful MC, Gene Bersten; our DJ, Shane Meuwissen; our host, Kristina Lee; and all of our evening show performers. Their investment in the future of dance will go a long way in enhancing the ballroom dance community.