BYU Ballroom team dances way to victory

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    By MARY ROGERS and DAVID GEDRIS

    BYU’s Ballroom Dance team has done it again.

    Both the Standard and Latin teams emerged victorious in the British Formation Championships, giving the team their 13th and 14th first place championship medals.

    The Standard Division won their competition Wednesday while the Latin Division had to wait until Friday to compete.

    “The competition was so big. There were people there from all over the world,” said Angela Davis, 24, a junior from Pietermaritzburg, South Africa majoring in ballroom dance.

    Davis came back from England Sunday after watching the teams compete last week. She said she could see a difference between BYU’s teams and the other competitors.

    “We have a really good program at BYU. We focus on technique a lot and it paid off. The others (competitors) weren’t as technically sound or polished,” Davis said.

    “(It was) a really good competition and the marks were close,” said Claudia Hill, part-time faculty in the Department of Dance. She received word from the team late Wednesday night.

    Hill also stated that a team from Russia posed some stiff competition for the BYU team and they had to work hard for their victory.

    Davis said the team was excited when the announcement was made.

    “I was reduced to tears — there was so much emotion. You don’t realize what it’s like until you get there — the Wintergarden Palace is so elegant. It’s an experience I’ll never forget,” Davis said.

    The team visits the competition every three years and has returned every third year victorious.

    Hill said the British Formation Championships are the most prestigious championships in the world.

    A lot of time, hard work and dedication went into preparing for this competition.

    “We’ve spent a lot of hours going over and over things to polish everything up,” said Jason Williams, a senior and team member from Rexburg, Idaho majoring in finance. Williams was interviewed by The Universe before leaving for the competition.

    “It is a lot of work to get ready to go, but it is also a great experience,” said Lee Wakefield, director of the Ballroom Dance Company in an interview with The Universe prior to the team’s departure.

    With the competition completed, the team will tour and perform all over England and in several regions of Scotland.

    The team will travel for about three weeks performing shows, firesides and other activities with members of the LDS Church in those areas, according to Wakefield.

    They will also visit the open house for the Preston Temple and numerous churches in England, Wales, and Scotland.

    “It’s a very important thing for us to do a lot of interaction with the members of the LDS Church in those areas,” Wakefield said.

    The work they do after the competition is great for the church, Wakefield said.

    “It shows the people of England that we are good people and gives a boost to the Saints,” Wakefield said. “One of the reasons we are there is to represent the church in that way. It is an opportunity to show people in that country that we’re really regular people and that Mormons are pretty normal guys.”

    The team left on May 22 and will be returning from England to BYU on June 22.

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