Spotlight on… Dancesport!

Dancesport's Vicky Hawkins and Santhosh Kannan competing at the Empress Ballroom in March 2015.

Dancesport’s Vicky Hawkins and Santhosh Kannan competing at the Empress Ballroom in March 2015.

EACH edition of The Courier, we’re turning our focus on a different club, bringing in members for an interview and finding out more about the people that make up Tim/Team Aber. This month it’s Dancesport, with their very own Jack Cook and Angharad Evans!

What is Dancesport?

Jack: Dancesport is a friendly club open to all, and allows people to experience and learn how to dance. If they wish, they can even show off the steps and skills they learnt at competition expanding across the country! It’s a great way to make friends and to keep fit. It also comes in handy at social events like a wedding!

Angharad: The Ballroom dances we teach include Waltz, Quickstep, Tango, Argentine Tango, Viennese Waltz, Foxtrot and some sequence dances such as the Catherine Waltz or the Mayfair quickstep. For Latin we teach classes in Cha Cha Cha, Jive, Samba, Paso Doble, Rumba and a number of sequence dances.

Did you start the sport when you came to university or were you dancing before?

Jack: I started the sport at university around October time, which is a little late in the semester. But when I arrived I was welcomed with opened arms, and felt like I fitted in straight away. Members of the club helped me to catch up quickly with the rest of the group.

Angharad: I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old, but that was mainly styles such as Ballet and Tap among others. I have always wanted to try Latin and Ballroom and found the perfect opportunity when I came here to Aber.

What drew you to Dancesport more than other clubs and societies?

Jack: The thing that attracted me to Dancesport was that it was more relaxed than other sports, mainly through the way it is taught and the nature of the sport.

Angharad: I’ve always wanted to learn how to dance Latin and Ballroom ever since watching Strictly Come Dancing over the last few years. Dancesport is like my family away from home, unlike a few of the clubs, there’s no pressure when it comes to skill or nights out and I’ve found that to be a major help when I first joined the club. It was also very hard to resist the sparkly dresses and all of the cakes everyone loves to make!

How have you done at competitions?

Jack: I think my experiences with competitions have gone well. I have won medals at a few and that has been wonderful. But it’s not just about winning at competitions, they have a great atmosphere and it’s amazing just to take part and be a member of the team!

Angharad: In the past year of competing I have reached both semi-Finals and quarter Finals with various routine in beginner and novice categories. In the competition I last competed in, my dance partner and I won a gold medal for our Non-Acrobatic Rock and Roll routine!

Where do you compete?

Angarhad: All over the country! We compete in an Intervarsity circuit and have travelled to the likes of Manchester, Warwick and Blackpool, which is our biggest competition of the year as we get to dance in the Empress Ballroom, The Spanish Gardens Ballroom and the Tower Ballroom (which is an experience in itself!)

What are your greatest achievements so far with the club?

Jack: Well apart from making friends and winning medals at competitions, I think my greatest achievement is actually gaining the confidence and skill required to dance in public and at social events, including weddings. Now I am able to stand up in a crowd of people and take them round the dance floor, even if they haven’t danced themselves, and that is a great feeling!

Angharad: I’d say one of my greatest achievements so far would be receiving a message from one of the judges after one of our competitions complementing both mine and my partners dancing. To receive something like that is just an amazing feeling after working so hard for weeks beforehand. Along with that I’d say winning a gold medal is still pretty high up there with my achievements!

Tell us about your socials!

Jack: Dancesport socials are unique as they range from nights out in the pubs and clubs to social dances with the local community. They are great fun and you are guaranteed to have a good night!

Angharad: Our socials can vary from having a quiet movie night in the union or a social drink after our Friday night sessions, to going all out and doing a whole different kind of alcohol induced dancing that I’ll probably be glad not to remember in the morning! With Dancesport we don’t pressure our members, so if someone doesn’t want to drink with us we respect that; as long as they’re there and enjoying themselves, we’re happy!

We also join with other organised dance nights where we get to dance with members of the local community in both Latin and Ballroom dances along with fun sequence dances. These nights are great fun for all of us as we get to practice our skills, learn new steps and eventually end up in Pier at the end of the night!

Do you go on Tour?

Jack: Yes we do go on tour! And we get to meet all the other Dancesport teams across the UK who also attend! Along with the other sports teams too! Tour is a great experience! So much fun with some dancing and learning too! How can you beat good food, hot weather, great people and opportunities to dance all in one place?!

Angharad: Yes! Over the past two years we’ve been going on SportsVest tour to Loret de Mar, Spain. The trip takes place for a week during the Easter holidays and whilst there we can take a trip into Barcelona to join in with pool parties, take part in the themed nights in some of their many designated bars and relax on the beach when our hangover gets the better of us! Most importantly of all, we get to have a Latin and Ballroom class taught to us by some of the best teachers in the intervarsity circuit.

Dancesport at the Blackpool Empress Ballroom in March 2015. Credit: Iita Kulmala.

Dancesport at the Blackpool Empress Ballroom in March 2015.
Credit: Iita Kulmala.

When and where do you practice?

Angharad: We practice every Monday (10-12am), Tuesday (9-11am), Thursday (10-12am) and Friday (8.30 – 9.30pm) in the dance room on the top floor of the Aberystwyth University Sports Centre, and Sunday afternoons in both the sports hall (1-2pm) and the dance room (2-3.30pm).

Jack: We will be posting when and where on our Facebook page if any changes are made to our training times, Aberystwyth University Dancesport. The room is fully equipped with sprung floor and mirrors.

Do you have a fresher session?

Jack: We will be hosting a table during the Sports Fair, where you can get more info on dance sessions.

Angharad: During the first few weeks of term most of our sessions are open for anyone to join and will accommodate to all levels of dance. To find out more come visit us at our stall during the Freshers’ Sports Fair, or come and join one of our sessions during the week.

I’ve got no rhythm at all, can I still join?

Jack: Yes you can! We will work hard with you, teach you to dance, and you will have fun doing it! Most people don’t realise that not having no rhythm is more of a mindset, but we can change that!