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Check it Out — Keystone Classic hosted by Penn State Ballroom

robbieninaIf you have read Onward State’s post on the best Gen Eds, you probably noticed a cooler-than-all-the-others class on that list: KINES 17: Introduction to Ballroom Dance. Many Penn Staters take this class to fulfill some GHA requirements and don’t really realize that Ballroom Dance is actually a thing. Did you know about the Penn State Ballroom Dance Club? Did you know that Penn State has a competition team that travels to all the major cities to compete with other collegiate teams?

Yeah, I just blew your mind, didn’t I?

I happen to be a part of this wonderful group of Penn State student-dancers. It has been one of the best endeavors I have committed myself to at Penn State—hands down—and I am writing this post to invite you to come watch and support the amazing dancers that make up Penn State’s Ballroom Dance Team this weekend for the 9th Annual Keystone Classic competition, held in Alumni Hall.

The competition begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning and the schedule is packed full of dancing. What kind of dancing will there be, you ask? A little bit of everything, actually. “Standard” dances –morning events—include Waltz, Foxtrot, Tango, Quickstep, and Viennese Waltz; these are the elegant dances that travel counter-clockwise around the floor to beautiful orchestral music. “Latin” dances—held in the afternoon—include Rumba, Cha Cha, Jive, and Samba; these dances are peppy, sexy, and always have foot-tapping Latin beats. The “fun” dances of this competition are West Coast Swing, Salsa, and Hustle—some dances you can see in the club scene.

Collegiate Ballroom Dance competitions are tournament-style events and there are four different levels. The first round in each level usually consists of 48 couples in four heats (of 12). Quarter-final rounds have 24 couples in two heats (of 12), and so on, until the final round, in which 6 couples remain. All 6 couples who dance in finals are placed 1st through 6th places. Sometimes, couples competing in two levels (like newcomer and beginner or intermediate and advanced) dance back-to-back-to-back semi-finals and final rounds if they are getting call-backs. These dancers have a lot of stamina and are in it to win it!

Competitions are fun to watch and can get really intense. There is always a lot of cheering and—for Penn State, especially—team spirit. Some awesome Penn State couples to keep your eyes peeled for: in Standard: Carl and Serena and Natalie Plumb (alumna) and her partner Jacob; in Latin: Christie and Craig and Robbie and Nina. These are just a few of the many couples that represent Penn State on the dance floor. If you attend Keystone this weekend, cheer on your favorite couples as they dance their hearts out all day long.

After the final awards at the end of the evening, there is a Ballroom Semi-Formal in Alumni Hall. What is that, you ask? MORE DANCING! Each semester there are two semi-formals hosted for students taking KINES 17 or ADV I and ADV II classes as part of their class grade and for opportunities to dance without the pressure of competing or exam scores. The theme for Saturday night’s Semi-Formal is “White-Out.” Dancers are encouraged to wear white (AND dress up), as there will be black lights everywhere.

All students and members of the community are welcome to BOTH the Keystone Classic Competition and the Ballroom Semi-Formal to watch a lot of awesome dancing — and to dance (don’t be scared)! While the Semi-Formals are required for KINES 17 students who are currently taking the class, many former students of KINES 17 and friends still attend the dances because, well, they LOVED their ballroom class!

That is, in fact, how my fellow teammates and I got started with this whole Ballroom Dancing thing. I took KINES 17 because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle a Basketball class and I heard Ballroom was fun. Jolene Nickel, one of the two instructors, infected me with the “ballroom dance bug” last spring, and I can definitely tell you that there is no cure for this addiction to Ballroom Dancing.

If you aren’t going home this weekend, definitely check out the Keystone Classic. Alumni Hall will be transformed into an elegant and energetic ballroom, and the dancers who grace the floor with their talents would love for an equally energetic audience.

The fee for spectators is $5, but if you are a Penn State student, with your student ID, you get in for free!

This one’s for Jolene: “WE ARE….” “FRAME!”

For more information and the schedule, please visit the Keystone Classic’s website and their Facebook page. For more information on Penn State’s Ballroom Dance Club, please visit their website.

And for some more awesome videos of Penn Staters dancing….simply search “rfraleigh” on YouTube to satisfy your needs. Warning: you will be distracted by super low V-neck shirts…among other things.

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About the Author


Senior CAS major and rhetoric minor at Penn State. Ballroom Dance team. Yeah, seriously!

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