A year in the life of CUDT

by Marta Tomaselli on 30 October 2019

Strictly Come Dancesport

If you've ever turned on the TV on a Saturday night, I'm sure you will have seen - or at least heard of - Strictly Come Dancing. Here at the Cambridge University Dancesport Team, we learn ballroom dances such as the slow waltz, the tango, the Viennese waltz, the foxtrot and the quickstep as well as Latin-American dances including samba, chachacha, rumba, paso doble and jive.

There is a very busy university competitive season which mainly spans the Michaelmas and Lent terms and culminates with the National Championship in Blackpool at the end of February.

Cambridge has one of the biggest teams in the country and we have been unbeaten national champions since 2011; and for the 8th year in a row, we won the Varsity Match against Oxford in 4th of May this year. CUDT couples have also represented Cambridge at international competitions in China for the past three years.

Our team is composed of:

  • a beginners’ team which includes couples with no previous dance experience; 
  • a second team for people with some experience; and
  • a first team with the top 16-18 couples.

We also have same-sex couples, as women sometime outnumber men - but do not dare to think less of those: Cambridge always had at least 2 couples in every same-sex competition throughout the whole year, including our current captain Maddi and her partner Tessa, who ranked third at Nationals.

We really value our team spirit, despite it being a couples sport, and with the help of our four amazing professional coaches we have seen so many couples progressing fast.


Becoming CUDT Captain

I would have never thought I would have taken over captaincy, but out of a joke with my former dance partner last year, who has also been captain, I started considering the idea and I thought it would have been a great chance to give something back to the team.

Being captain of such a big and successful team can be tiring at times: you want to set the example to the team, meaning at least four training sessions per week, and at the same time you need to be available for your team members and manage it. This journey would have not been possible without the help of my co-captains Katjana Lange (PhD student at Corpus Christi College), the team committee and my dance partner (and current team captain), Hendrik Pröhl (HSPS student at Pembroke College). Balancing work, team admin and your own training can sometimes be challenging, but it all pays off when you see the whole team and its couples achieving amazing results.

Getting an academic edge from sport

When I moved to Cambridge, people in my lab realised I was dancing only when they saw my lab coat dirty with fake tan. After one year captaining the Cambridge University Dancesport Team, some team members looked surprised when I told them I was actually doing a PhD. Dancing plays a huge part in my life here in Cambridge and it really helped me to get through rough times in my academic and personal life. I would like to conclude this post reflecting on some of the results of the Sport and Academic Performance Report which looked at data from 2005-2016:

“The percentage of first class results achieved by undergraduate sportspeople (28.4%) was greater than the percentage achieved by undergraduates in the University as a whole (23.7%)”.

The research focused on undergraduates but I can tell you that, as a graduate student, I got so much out of this experience and I would recommend any graduate student to take up a sport during their time in Cambridge - especially Dancesport!

If you want to know more about us, check out the CUDT website and follow us on Facebook for upcoming events and competitions.

Our first friendly competition (Old team vs New Team) takes place at the Chesterton Sport Centre from 09:00 on Saturday 9 November

In this section

Blog Authors

Agata Kurczynska

Alexandra Alridge

Alice Middleton

Aline Maalouf

Alison Russell

Anna Svegborn

Anna Wong

Annalisa Occhipinti

Annika Brouwer

Anthea Bain

April Bowman

Ateka Tarajia

Barbara Bollig

Barbara Wittman

Bea Aldrich

Bethany Howarth & Ida Svenonius

Bonnie Samuyiwa

Carol Atack

Caroline Egleston

Caroline Sier

Caroline Vinall

Cat Darsley

Catherine Palmer

Cecilia Wong

Charlotte Fiehn

Cherish Watton

Christine Pungong

Clarissa Hjalmarsson

Connie Buettner

Dame Anne Owers

Disha Patel

Donna Baillie

Dorothy Heeneman

Dr Angela Morecroft

Dr Barbara Wittman

Dr Bryanna Fox

Dr Emanuela Orlando

Dr Henriette Hendriks and Dr Isobel Maddison

Dr Isobel Maddison

Dr Jo Johnson

Dr Louise Foxcroft

Dr Nicola Rose

Dr Sarah Morgan

Dr Yvonne Zivkovic

Elinor George, LCCBC President

Elizabeth Forbes

Elizabeth Jurd

Ellen Gage

Ellen Verde

Ellie Brown

Emma Sims

Eva Simmons

Florence Hazrat

Gem Duncan

Gemma Maitland

Georgia Good

Georgia Hume

Gill Heyworth

Glyn Maxwell

Hannah Hutchings-Georgiou

Helen Gibson

Hollie Wells

Ingrid Dixon

Isabel Clare

Jean Cosslett

Jeanette Ariano, Marketing Manager

Jen Aggleton

Jennifer Ellis

Jenny Ridge

Jessica Henry

Jessica Lim

Jessica Phillips

Jessie Ingle

Jillinda Tiley

Jo Harcus

Joanna Walker

Joanne Limburg

Jothi Reddy

Joy Haughton

Judith Roberts

Julia Hayes

Julia Nielsen

Kate Coghlan

Katerina Georgopoulou

Kathryn Handley

Ketaki Patel

Kyaelim Kwon

Laura Shepperson-Smith

Laura Tan

Leona Awoyele

Lindsay Malone

Lizzie Moore

Lottie Greenhaf

Lucia Linares

Madeleine Kasson

Mara González Souto

Marianna Kopsida

Marion Beauchamp

Marta Tomaselli

Mathilde Whitburn

Michelle Baikie

Molly Yarn

Myriam Goudet

Nenette Scrivener

Ning Sang Jessica Tan

Novriana Sumarti

Patricia Vazquez Rodriguez

Poly Frangou, Women's Captain

Priya Lele

Raisa Ostapenko

Richard Berengarten

Ruth Haynes

Salma Elnagar

Sarah Godlee

Sheelagh Drudy

Sheila Russell

Shoko Hirosue

Sofia Maroudia

Stephanie Ma

Sulema Jahangir

Susy Jepson

Suzanne Tonkin

Sylvia Lynn-Meaden

Tamara Micner

Tanya Brown

Teresa Ma

Tianqi Dong

Tilda Bowden

Tim Arnold

Tom Hawker-Dawson

Wai Wan (Vivian) SZE-TO

Wendy Pollard

Yun Chiang