Department News

BYU engineers help ballroom dancers shine at international competition

 

Engineers and ballroom dancers might not be the most typical collaborators on a college campus. But the combination recently paid off for BYU.

The BYU Ballroom Dance Company took first place in the formation category at the British Open Championships in Blackpool, England Wednesday night. Part of the praise goes to BYU engineering students who built the custom-made LED light dresses that wowed the audience.

“When we went out and did our ballroom medley, the crowd went nuts,” said Ballroom Dance Company director Lee Wakefield. “At the end of our dance there’s a tag, which is about 40 seconds long. But before the tag started the entire audience was standing. You could hardly hear the music.”

 

Never before in the 93-year history of the British Championships had a formation team received a standing ovation.

What St. Andrews is to golf, Blackpool is to ballroom dance. Every year the best ballroom dancers in the world gather to Blackpool for the chance to dance in the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens. For the BYU dancers, just to be there was great, to win in their category was even better, but to wow the audience the way they did made the experience incredible.

“It was so magical what we experienced,” Wakefield said.

Light dresses and light suits aren’t necessarily that unique within the dance community in and of themselves. What set BYU’s apart from the rest is that the lights progressed in sync with the music.

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