An era of swing in the 21st century

In the air, sliding on the dance floor, men and women dressed in 1930’s-styled sailor suits and floral dresses, swung to the sounds of the brass family.

The Pierce College Dance Company competed in the US Open Dance Championships Team Division Finals on Friday, Nov. 25 at 8:15 p.m. at the LA Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel.  The event was one of many competitions and workshops organized for the US Open where competitors from across the nation and globe danced for titles.

“We committed a lot of time and effort to it,” dance major and member Cassandra Godinez said. “It was an awesome experience.  It was actually my third time going to that competition, but for a lot of people on our team it was there first time ever being there. So, it was a really cool experience.”

Emily Part, Alejandra Leon, Camila Medel, Godinez, Julio Elias, Derek Kosol, Giancarlo Zapata and Chris de-Piazza composed the group directed by dance instructor and Vice Chair of the Performing Arts Department Denise Gibson.

“I was actually really nervous and my nerves transferred inward,” Zapata said. “We didn’t place sadly, but we gave it all that we could.  It sucks, but I’m happy with our performance.”

The team placed ninth among their competition. Although they did not win a title, the experience was invaluable as it provided the opportunity to network with other dancers and learn from one another through social dancing, said Godinez.  

“Social dancing is like when you go out onto the dance floor and just grab a random partner that you’ve never met before and start swing dancing,” Godinez said. “Emily was swing dancing for like eight hours straight with competitors who are world wide champions, and I think she learned valuable things from that.”

At first the team was unsure that they were to participate in the open because they lost a dance couple earlier in the semester due to an injury, according to Gibson.  

“Didn’t really expect anything, but I hoped that they had good performance, which they had,” Gibson said.  “Judging is a person’s opinion and as long as you go out there and you do a great performance, that’s what matters.  They got a half-standing ovation which is more important than anything, that they were loved by the audience.”

Gibson added that the group excelled in the long run as a team and they maintained superb showmanship,  as well as having the best facial expressions out of any of the teams.

“I kept emphasizing that you are only as good as your weakest link,” Gibson said.  “It doesn’t matter how good you have the choreography if the person next to you doesn’t.  You’re graded as a team, judged as a team.  In the end, they came together and supported one another,  which was nice to see.”