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Intellect

BYU Ballroom Dance Company waltzes away with top honors at Blackpool competition

Has won first place in both divisions each of the last six times it has participated

The Brigham Young University Ballroom Dance Company recently took first place in both the modern and Latin American formation competitions at the 2004 Blackpool Dance Festival in England.

The Ballroom Dance Company, which enters the competition every three years, has won first place in both divisions each of the last six times it competed and 18 times overall since 1971.

The festival began in the 1930s in Blackpool, situated on the northwestern coast of England, and has consistently attracted top dancers from around the world since its inception.

"This competition is the pinnacle of ballroom dance," said Lee Wakefield, Ballroom Dance Company director and BYU Dance Department chair.

Linda Wakefield, co-director of the Ballroom Dance Company, called the honors a "feather in our cap" because of the quality of international competition and judges.

The company, which was represented by two teams of 16 dancers, performed two six-minute original medleys for the competition, with music composed and produced by Kurt Bestor.

The company performed "Cinemagic," an interpretation of famous movies over the past 70 years, for the standard competition medley, where dancers perform a waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, fox trot and quick step.

The medley includes elements of black and white films, as well as "Gone With the Wind," "Singin' in the Rain," "Moon River," "Star Wars" and "Titanic."

In producing the music for the medley, Bestor combined melodies from the various movies.

"Rhapsody 'n Blues," the Latin American division medley, features blues and jazz music with a 1930s and 1940s flair. The dance has to include a cha cha, samba, rumba, paso doble and jive.

Bestor composed original music for the piece, with inspiration from "Summertime" and "Rhapsody in Blue" by Gershwin.

Linda Wakefield prepared all the costumes in consultation with Designs by Randall in Los Angeles.

The company will continue its 2004 European tour with performances in England, France, Belgium and Spain. Before the company returns home June 24, it will have performed 17 times in 11 different cities, including two special performances for the U.S. ambassadors to Spain and France.

The Ballroom Dance Company, formed in 1971, has a reputation for performance and competition excellence. It has won the U.S. National Formation Dance Champion Team title consecutively since 1971.

The company has performed in 31 states in the United States and in 30 countries in Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, South Africa and the South Pacific.

For more information about the festival or the Ballroom Dance Company, call Curt Holman at (801) 422-5875.

Writer: Thomas Grover

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