About Us 2018-07-17T20:53:33+00:00
Who We Are
Our Program
Our Leaders
About Ballroom
Contact Us

Who We Are

We are the premier ballroom dance organization at Columbia University, and we do everything we can to support our members in their dance journeys. We offer classes and workshops, practice space, a one-on-one mentorship program, and the opportunity to compete. We are a fun-loving, social group that welcomes all new members — no partner or prior dance experience necessary to join!

Our Mission

We believe that anyone, at any age or level of experience, can easily pick up and fall in love with ballroom dance. In fact, many of our current members had never danced a step before joining! Our mission is to promote ballroom as an exciting competitive art form, an outlet for creative expression, and a gateway to an amazing dance community.

Our Program

Our ballroom program has a 5-part structure: Classes, Practices, Mentorship, Competitions, and Community. We believe that all of these form a holistic approach to ballroom dance training, enabling every dancer to pick and choose what they need most at any time. Participation in each part of the program is completely voluntary – put in as much time as you wish! Click on each tab to learn more.



+    We offer classes taught by world-class professionals in the three styles of dance to the right, and we encourage you to try all three!

+    Class time is divided into 45-minute blocks for different skill levels. Newcomers are encouraged to stay for the advanced classes!
+    To attend classes, all you need are comfortable shoes and a willingness to learn! After the free trial classes, you must also have paid membership dues for that style to continue attending classes in that style. To learn more about membership dues and officially joining the club, click here.
+    Class times and locations may vary from week to week. Join our mailing list to receive our weekly announcement email with updated class times and locations each week! Also, be sure to check our events calendar!

Dances: Waltz, Tango, Quickstep, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz
Schedule: Mondays, Newcomer – 10:00 pm-10:45 pm | Bronze – 10:45 pm-11:30 pm | Advanced – 11:30 pm-12:15 am
Location: Lerner Hall, Room C555 (5th Floor)
Instructors: Stanley and Jennifer McCalla
Stanley and Jennifer held the U.S. Amateur Standard, Latin, and 10-Dance titles, the last couple to have been so distinguished, and represented the U.S. at four world championships. As professionals, they were Ohio Star Ball Rising Star Smooth Champions, and Fred Astaire National Smooth Champions. They currently own and operate a studio in New York called Dance Chelsea. Both act as judges at many collegiate ballroom competitions.

Dances: Chacha, Rumba, Jive, Samba, Paso Doble
Schedule: Tuesdays, Newcomer – 10:00 pm-10:45 pm | Bronze – 10:45 pm-11:30 pm | Advanced – 11:30 pm-12:15 am (may differ each week)
Locations: Lerner Hall, Roone Auditorium or Columbia/Barnard Hillel, Rennert Hall (may differ each week)
Instructor: Andrew Phillips
Andrew has just recently exited the world of professional ballroom competition. Andrew placed 4th at U.S. Open Professional Latin in 2002. He was also a U.K. Open Rising Star Finalist and Blackpool Rising Star Finalist, and has consistently placed among the top 12 professional Latin couples at major world competitions. He currently is a resident coach at Manhattan Ballroom Dance and frequently judges collegiate competitions. He also travels abroad for demonstrations and workshops.

Dances: Salsa
Schedule: Fridays, Beginner – 4:30 pm-5:15 pm | Intermediate – 5:15 pm-6:00 pm
Location: Wien Hall, Main Lounge
Instructor: Annika Schimmer
Annika specializes in ballroom dancing with a strong background in social Latin dancing, hip hop, ballet, jazz and Pilates. In 2008, she relocated to NYC to continue her training in hip hop, ballet, and jazz at Broadway Dance Center, and started focusing on Latin dancing. She then competed in ballroom and studied to become a certified ballroom and Pilates instructor. Annika has over 10 years of experience teaching students of all age groups in several countries. Her performance and teaching background in many different dance styles and vast knowledge about dance techniques make her teaching and choreography unique.


They say practice makes perfect, and that applies in ballroom too! Practices are optional, but they are a great way to review steps from classes and meet other club members in a smaller setting, so we encourage everyone to check them out! We will have a board member supervising every practice to answer your questions, whether they be about dancing, Columbia, or life in general.

+    Practices are held weekly in Dodge Fitness Center, Aerobics Room 3 (Dodge Fitness Center membership required to enter) and Columbia/Barnard Hillel, Rennert Hall (anyone can enter) on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Check the weekly announcement email sent out to our mailing list for up-to-date practice times and locations each week.
+    Practices are largely unstructured, with music and speakers provided. You don’t need a partner or experience to start practicing. If you’re not sure what to practice, reviewing figures from class is always a good place to start—these will be posted regularly on our YouTube channel!
+    One practice every week (usually Wednesday) will feature a Newcomer Workshop, where an advanced dancer will review the steps learned in that week’s newcomer classes, introduce some basic elements of technique, and answer any questions.
+    Before competitions, Thursday and Sunday practices will feature Rounds, where each of the five Standard and Latin dances are done continuously for 1.5 minutes each to mimic a final round at a competition. These are a great way to prepare for competitions and build up your stamina!
+    Occasionally, additional workshops will be hosted in practice spaces. Keep an eye out for them in our weekly announcements!


For dancers interested in taking their dancing to the next level, the mentorship program is an amazing opportunity to work with an advanced dancer one-on-one each week, at no additional cost! We highly encourage joining for those who want to get more involved with the club or start competing. Mentorship is a great chance to connect with some of our upper level dancers for insider technique tips, stories of competitions past, and genuine care for you and your dancing. You’ll feel like you’re part of your own ballroom family!

Once you have paid membership dues for the semester, you will receive an invitation to sign up.  Just fill out the sign up form by the deadline and save the date for our mentor meet-and-greet! If you have a partner, make sure that both people in the partnership sign up if you want your partner to be mentored too.

Acceptance into the program is dependent on your performance as a mentor/mentee in past semesters and your standing with the club. For open-level mentors in particular, we are looking for people who are experienced, enthusiastic about sharing their wisdom with newer dancers, and engaged in the CU Ballroom community.

We cannot guarantee a mentor to anyone who signs up after the deadline. However, if you would like to join past the deadline, email us and we’ll see what we can do!

For Newcomer and Bronze dancers: 1 hour per week to receive mentoring, in addition to attending regular weekly classes and attending 2 competitions per semester.

For Silver and Gold dancers: 2 hours per week, 1 to mentor a Newcomer or Bronze couple, and 1 to get mentored yourself.

For Open-level dancers: 1 hour per week to mentor a Silver or Gold couple.

*ALL participants in the program will be expected to help out at our home competition, the Big Apple Dancesport Challenge, by hosting competitors from other teams and volunteering day-of in early December.* Specifics will be shared and training provided as the competition date approaches.

**Lack of fulfillment on any of these may compromise program eligibility for the remainder of the current/following semester.** However, if you feel that you would like to be a part of the program, but are unsure if you can meet these requirements, feel free to email the club for further conversation and consideration. We would like to ensure that all our members can learn optimally through the mentorship program, and will definitely take into consideration your concerns.

As we typically do not have mentors available for Open-level dancers, those who join as Open-level mentors will not have to pay dues to the club, and will get full travel expenses to and from club-sponsored competitions covered (in addition to registration fees). To qualify as an Open-level mentor, a dancer must consistently compete at Novice/Prechamp or above. For more details, please email the Mentorship Chair at cuballroom.mentorship@gmail.com.


For those of our members who are interested in the competitive side of ballroom, we organize trips to competitions held by other East Coast colleges. Sometimes we even travel to national-level qualifiers and advance to the finals! The club usually participates in three competitions per semester and coordinates travel, housing, and other resources (such as apparel) for our members.

Note that these benefits are only accessible to members of the club who have paid dues. They will also only be made available to those who adhere to our club policies regarding registration, travel, housing, and apparel.

Competitions are just dancing! You and your partner, sharing the floor with other couples, dance a certain dance (e.g. Waltz) for 1 minute and 30 seconds while the judges watch. If the judges like your dancing, they call you back to the next round. Simple as that! In the final round, the judges place the remaining couples from first to last, and that’s how a winner is determined!

Competitions are a great way to improve your dancing quickly and are also a great way to bond with other club members on the trips to and from each competition.

Don’t worry! Competitions are divided into levels based on skill, and you can choose the skill level at which you’re comfortable competing.

Every competition has the Newcomer level, which is restricted to beginner dancers (people who started ballroom dancing no more than 6 months ago). That means that even if you’re brand new to ballroom, you’ll be competing against people who also just started!

Above Newcomer, the levels in ascending order are Bronze, Silver, Gold, Novice, Pre-Champ, and Championship. Novice, Pre-Champ, and Championship constitute the “Open” levels, where choreography is almost unrestricted. In the “Syllabus” levels (Newcomer to Gold), choreography is restricted to figures outlined in the nationally-recognized “syllabus,” or list of available figures, for that level and below. See the About Ballroom Dance section for more info on the syllabus.

Most of our members will tell you that some of their best ballroom memories were made at competitions. Competitions are a great way to improve your dancing quickly, bond with other CU Ballroom members, and meet collegiate dancers from other schools! At competition, CU Ballroom prides itself on being a club whose members loudly cheer each other on, so whenever you’re dancing on the floor, you’ll definitely feel our support! Lastly, you also get to watch and admire other skilled dancers and cheer on your friends as well!

Competing doesn’t have to be expensive either – since you’ve paid membership dues, the club covers your registration fee ($50-$60 per competition) and half of travel ($20-$30 per competition) each time. So what are you waiting for? Come and compete with us!


CU Ballroom isn’t just a dance group—it’s a vibrant, tight-knit community of friends formed through a variety of bonding experiences. From dancing at socials downtown to post-competition dinners and performing on the CU Ballroom Formation Team, the club offers a wide range of activities that you can partake in as a member. We try to alleviate the financial costs of being a member as much as possible too! Most importantly, we warmly welcome everyone and anyone, no matter what your level of experience, because at the end of the day, it’s all about having fun with people who you can call family.

Some of the many ways our club members bond and build community within our club, within Columbia, and within the greater NYC dance world:
+    Traveling to competitions all over the Northeast with a Competition Buddy
+    Showcasing at Columbia events such as NSOP, Passport to Columbia, and Red Cross Benefit Dinner
+    Participating in the Formation Team and performing at the End-Of-Year Gala
+    Attending a Friday Night Fever dance social at a studio downtown
+    Collaborating with Bach Society to hold a Valentine’s Day Gala with live music and dancing
+    Hosting a joint dance mixer with the NYU Ballroom Dance Team
+    Mentoring a new dancer to their first final and receiving mentoring from a high-level dancer
+    Holding club study breaks and club dinners
+    And much more!

Our Leaders

The CU Ballroom Board is a group of dedicated members who lead the club and make critical decisions on the club’s direction. Each year, elections are held to select the Executive Board members, which comprise the President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. Other board positions are created as needed and are selected by the Executive Board through a selection process.


Meet the 2018-2019 CU Ballroom Board

Class Year 2017-2018

President – Caitlyn Morris
Vice President – Samantha Gonzalez
Secretary – Joelle Santiago (Fall), Matt Lutz (Spring)
Treasurer – Michaelle DiMaggio-Potter
Mentorship Chair – Katie Sirko
BADC Chair – Crystal Song
Competition Chairs – Tina Liu (Fall), Annie Lin (Spring), Winnie Chan (Spring)
Newcomer Chair – Yimeng Xu
Events Chair – Wenny Zhu
Media Manager – Patrick Lin
Salsa Chair – Selina Zheng (Spring)
Senior Advisor – Natalia Romano Spica (Spring)

Class Year 2016-2017

President – Crystal Song
Vice President – Sally You
Secretary – Patrick Lin
Treasurer – Tina Liu (Fall), Anna Liu (Spring)
Mentorship Chair – Samantha Gonzalez
BADC Chair – Dina Manasherova
Competition Chairs – Anna Liu (Fall), Caitlyn Morris (Spring), Kathryn Sirko (Spring)
Newcomer Chair – James Chin (Spring)
Publicity/Events Chair – Laura Tutunikov (Fall), Joelle Santiago (Spring)
Salsa Chair – Selina Zheng (Spring)
Senior Advisor – Natalia Romano Spica (Spring)

Class Year 2015-2016

President – Jayati Verma (Fall), Natalia Romano Spica (Spring)
Vice President – Crystal Song
Secretary – Agnes Carlowicz
Treasurer – Joanna Lee
Competition Chair – Spencer Brown
Competition Assistants – Andriana Matviyishyn, Tina Liu (Spring)
Newcomer Chair – Caitlyn Morris (Spring)
Social Media and Publicity Chair – Charlotte Quincoses (Spring)
Events Chair – Kevin Adato (Spring), Alexandra Reyser (Spring)
Outreach Chair – Laura Tutunikov (Spring)
BADC Co-Chairs – Natalia Romano Spica (Fall), Dina Manasherova (Spring), Darin Patmon
Mentorship Chair – Cathleen Villapudua

Class Year 2014-2015

President – Jayati Verma
Vice President – Djordje Vuckovic
Secretary – Darin Patmon
Treasurer – Natalia Romano Spica
Competition Captain – Lauren Chadwick
Social Chair – Louis Lin Chen
Newcomer/Events Chair – Sheryl Crespo
Formation Team Chair – Andriana Matviyishyn
BADC Chair – Spencer Brown
Webmaster/Publicity Chair – Feifei Kong
Travel Coordinator – Crystal Song (Spring)

Class Year 2013-2014

President – Djordje Vuckovic
Vice President – Sarah Kellner
Secretary – Feifei Kong
Treasurer – Christina LaGamma
Competition Captain – Olivia Xiang
Social Chair – Louis Lin Chen
Mentorship/Newcomer Chair – Desi Petkova
Formation Team Chair – Shivrat Chhabra / Louis Lin Chen
Events Coordinator – Adeeti Katti
BADC Chair – Shivrat Chhabra
Webmaster – Spencer Brown

Class Year 2012-2013

President – Shivrat Chhabra
Vice President – Djordje Vuckovic
Secretary – Vincent Xu
Treasurer – Lauren Chadwick
Competition Captain – Helen Chen
Social Chair – Louis Lin Chen
Mentorship Chair – Roel Mercado
BADC Chair – Teresa Lii
Publicity/Webmaster Chair – Vangie Shue

Class Year 2011-2012

President – Helen Chen
Vice President – Jennifer Alzate
Secretary – Vangie Shue
Treasurer – Abigail Struhl
Competition Chair – Denise Machin
Social Chair – Rachel Goldstein
Newcomer Chair – Shivrat Chhabra
Events Coordinator – Sebastian Garcia
BADC Chair – Catherine Woo
BADC Delegates – Simone Nguyen, Grace Baek
Publicity/Webmaster Chair – Connie Liu

Class Year 2010-2011

President – Connie Liu
Vice President – Josh Walteros
Secretary – Jennifer Alzate
Treasurer – Helen Chen
Competition Chair – Denise Machin
Publicity Chair – Simone Nguyen
BADC Chair – Catherine Woo
Publicity/Webmaster Chair – Cecile Auger

Class Year 2009-2010

President – Aileen Yan
Vice President – Dasha Wise
Secretary – Connie Liu
Treasurer – Alice Xu
Competition Chair – Ersi Nie
Social Chair – Rosalyn Hansrisuk
BADC Chair – Nishant Mittal
Publicity/Webmaster Chair – Cecile Auger

Class Year 2008-2009

President – Ying Liao
Vice President – Shaun Wilson
Secretary – Dasha Wise
Treasurer – Teresa Lii
Competition Chair – Aileen Yan
Social Chair – Dehui Kong
BADC Chair – Nishant Mittal
Publicity/Webmaster Chair – Cecile Auger

Class Year 2007-2008

President – Liza Volkova
Vice President – Tom Chen
Secretary – Ying Liao
Treasurer – Shaun Wilson
Competition Chair – Nonie Shiverick
Social Chair – Sandra Hudak
BADC Chair – Catherine Woo
Publicity/Webmaster Chair – Nishant Mittal

Class Year 2006-2007

President – Catherine Woo
Vice President – Yvonne Chang
Secretary – Shira Hoffman
Treasurer – Tom Chen
Competition Chair – Alice Yang
Social Chair – Liza Volkova
Publicity/Webmaster Chair – Jeremy Xia

Class Year 2005-2006

President – Rushan Guan
Vice President – Maggie Jan
Secretary – Catherine Woo
Treasurer – Nishant Mittal
Competition Chair – Yvonne Chang
Social Chair – Naomi Choodnovskiy
MAC Chair – Andrew Fleming
Publicity/Webmaster Chair – Jeremy Xia

Class Year 2004-2005

President – Joyce Lee & Marina Zeltser
Vice President – Rushan Guan
Secretary – Jen Taler
Treasurer – Maggie Jan

About Ballroom Dance

Unsure about what ballroom dance is, exactly? We’ve compiled a series of resources for you to find out more about this unique dance style that so many of our members have fallen in love with. Explore below to find out more!


Styles and Dances

There are 19 competitive ballroom dances and numerous social dances. The competitive dances are divided between the International styles and the American styles, which are further divided into International Standard, International Latin, American Smooth, and American Rhythm.

The International styles, as the name implies, are the ballroom standards that are recognized worldwide, while the American styles are danced almost exclusively in the United States. There is one syllabus, or set of recognized figures, used worldwide in the International styles, while there are several different officially recognized syllabi in the American styles. While we do not offer classes in the American styles, many of our dancers compete in the American styles in addition to the International styles.

Hover over each style below and click on each dance to find out more about it!


Couples compete against other couples with the same level of experience. These are the levels available at collegiate competitions:
  • Newcomer / Pre-Bronze
  • Beginner / Bronze
  • Intermediate / Silver
  • Advanced / Gold
  • Novice
  • Pre-Championship
  • Championship / Open
Generally, only people who have competed for less than 6 months are considered Newcomers. Newcomer through Gold are “Syllabus” levels and must adhere to a syllabus of figures designated for each level. Novice, Pre-Championship, and Championship are “Open” levels, for which there is no set list of figures.

Thus far, we have discussed collegiate competitions. Beyond collegiate competitions are higher-level Amateur competitions, “Pro-Am” competitions in which an Amateur student dances with a Professional dancer, and Professional competitions such as the Blackpool Dance Festival, where the best dancers in the entire world compete.

Social Dancing

Experienced ballroom dancers should be able to lead—or follow—any other ballroom dancer. That is why our team believes that social dancing is a key component of our program. There are a variety of dances that fall outside the competitive sphere and are exclusively danced as social dances. These include (click on each dance to see a video):

Social dancing is usually available at competitions in the form of a team match or general dancing between events. Our club offers a social track that focuses on New York Salsa, as well as occasional outings to social dance events and workshops in other social styles. Social dancing is a large part of the social scene in CU Ballroom, and it’s a great bonding experience—learning to lead and follow without set choreography will only improve your dancing and trust in your partners!

Contact Us

Interested? We would love to hear from you. Send your questions to cuballroom@gmail.com and a board member will be in touch with you shortly. In the meantime, stay in touch through our various social media channels, or learn more about how to join!