By: Raymond Chang, Emma Gampper, and Ananya Sathish

Featured photo credit: Hiran Shyamsundar

On the left, first place winners Aashika Mehta and Reuben Abilius perform their routine. On the right, second place winners Kush Bansal and Chihana Lloyd perform. Video credit: Hiran Shyamsundar

On Friday, January 17th, jazz filled the air and electrified the hearts of students and faculty alike as the 18th annual Swing Dance Competition transformed the gym into a swing dance club.  Participants made their way to the gym at 10:20 AM to warm up and practice their dances in the large gymnasium. The event began at 10:50 AM, the start of lunch, with the North Jazz Band providing the music. The dancers were juried by a panel of teachers and alumna, featuring Mr.Vogt, Mr. Romero, Mrs. Sieben, Juliana Wojtenko and Gayathri Pratha. Each round, two swing dance couples performed simultaneously for one and a half minutes. 

Partners Reuben Abilius and Aashika Mehta won the competition, followed by Kush Bansal and Chihana Lloyd in second place, and Lula Kavalov and Sami Hasan in third place. “Being partners with my best friend for the competition really made the whole experience so much fun and I am so proud of all the hard work that we and all the contestants put in,” said Aashika Mehta. The auditorium was packed. The bleachers were completely full, so many students sat on the gym floor to watch the dances. Even after lunch ended, many teachers allowed their students to continue watching the swing dance competition in the name of school spirit. 


The final four couples eagerly await the results of the senior swing dance competition. Photo credit: Hiran Shyamsundar

“While it’s all under the umbrella of swing dance, the top eight acts were all good for different reasons. They were all so individual and so different so it made it difficult for us to sort out which one was better,” said Mr. Romero, one of the judges. “Some brought a lot of energy, some were athletic, some were very elegant, some were on tempo, some did a lot of moves, some looked like they were almost careening out of control but were bringing just so much enthusiasm.” 

Seniors partook in the swing dance unit at the beginning of the second marking period. Gym teacher Beth Serugheti taught the unit, introducing different moves and also letting the seniors experiment on their own. At the end of the unit, the top two or three swing dance couples from each class were selected to participate in the main event today. 

Swing dance was first introduced to the senior gym curriculum 19 years ago when Serugheti was told that she needed to include a dance unit for the seniors to do. The competition and the unit has changed in many ways since its inception–the initial swing dance competition had a small turn out and no live band, a stark contrast to the school-wide turnout we saw this year.  “I would say that some of the moves have become more complex over the years. Also a big change we saw this year in comparison to other years is that we had three all guy groups in the competition and two of those groups made it to the final eight,” said Serugheti. 

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