Masquerade Ball glamorizes UMass.

By Vincenza Parella

The evening began with an air of electricity as guests streamed into the beautifully decorated Campus Center Auditorium last Friday night. Tables were scattered about the room, covered with treats like necklaces, candy, confetti and colorful masks.

Courtesy shelterhomecc.org

Those who gathered all came for the same reason: to partake in a masquerade ball.

And everyone was wearing their best, some donning one of the numerous masks that were provided by the Ballroom Dance Team, who was hosting the event that night.

Many of the male guests wore suits, and many of the female guests wore long, beautiful dresses or cute, knee-length dresses with matching accessories.

The evening began with a lesson on the foxtrot taught by Adina Galili, a senior at University of Massachusetts and a member of the Ballroom Dance Team, and Andrew Billings, a fellow dance team member.

To get everyone excited, they performed a flawless foxtrot before starting the lesson in earnest. Galili, in a sparkly blue dress that swayed breezily with her movements, glided across the dance floor with grace and ease, accompanied step-for-step by the dapper Billings.

After the lovely performance, Galili and Billings proceeded to teach everyone how to dance the foxtrot, which proved a little difficult at first. Nevertheless, novice dancers seemed to pick it up eventually, and before long, the room was hopping.

And as the event ramped up, a special performance was announced. The floor was cleared, and the suave sounds of Mike Posner’s “Cooler Than Me” filled the room. Members of the Ballroom Dance Team launched into action, moving quickly and fluidly, executing synchronized moves with timing and precision. While some dancers maintained a central anchor group, others would break off to tell a story. The charming and complex performance finished to wild applause.

Afterward, two guest instructors from Amherst Salsa, Sophal and Huong, treated guests to a presentation of salsa dancing styles. After a scintillating showcase of their rhythmic technique, Sophal and Huong proceeded to get up on stage and lead the ball attendees in a lesson.

Many agreed that they enjoyed learning the salsa but also said it was a bit more difficult to follow.

Emmett Fitzpatrick, a junior neuroscience major at UMass, said, “Foxtrot is easier, and salsa is more fun – if I could do it.”

Kari Phan, a junior biochemistry major, added, “They did a really good job teaching, because I was kind of like, ‘OK, I don’t know how to dance … it’s going to be hard,’ and then it wasn’t that bad.”

Caroline Adams, a senior biology major and the coordinator for the event, was satisfied with her choice to invite the salsa instructors, saying, “It’s something that most people don’t know how to do, and it’s a very fun, social dance – you see it in clubs everywhere.”

Adams also commented on the Ballroom Dance Team’s unique ability to put on this kind of event: “We all know how to dance, we can teach dances. We teach all the time – every Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Fine Arts Center.”

“You see it in movies,” she said. “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

Still, Adams expressed a wish that “guys would be less nervous about it, because I think everyone begins learning a dance at some point, and you can’t be afraid of not doing it well the first time … you have to stumble at first, but then it’s literally exponential growth…I guess I just want more people to dance, that was the goal.”

Vincenza Parella can be reached at [email protected]