2017-2018 Team Officers


Ariel Sánchez

Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology and Philosophy
Benjamin Franklin '19
Standard Foxtrot and Quickstep

Hailing from the suburbs of the Big Apple, Ariel never envisioned that one day he would be a member of Yale's illustrious ballroom team. He always enjoyed listening to the toe-tapping, finger-snapping beats of Latin music but could never bring himself to learn dance. Lo and behold one fateful night he made his way to the Berkeley multipurpose room and it was love at first beat. Now Ariel just can't get enough of the ballroom team. He particularly enjoys the wondrous range between classy, smooth dances like foxtrot and more sexy dances like the rumba. In addition to his time on ballroom, Ariel dances with Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Yale, a dance company that performs traditional Mexican dances in festive, colorful garb. He also loves to volunteer as an EMT in Trumbull, CT, making him the unofficial team physician. Ariel looks forward to leading such a close-knit group of passionate dancers in helping them to succeed their dancing aspirations.


Gloria Wu

Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology and Statistics & Data Science
Timothy Dwight '19
Rumba and Viennese Waltz

An international student from the distant land of Canada, Gloria grew up knowing little about ballroom dancing aside from a brief stint watching ex-gymnast Shawn Johnson on Dancing with the Stars. Thankfully, her ignorance did not last. Upon watching Icebreaker just days into her first year, Gloria fell in love with the dancers’ hypnotizing movements and realized that as fun as her time as a rhythmic gymnast had been, ballroom was her new calling. Since then, many of her happiest memories at Yale have been associated with YBDT, from social dances to team dinners to pre-dawn bus rides. Gloria is excited to lead the team forward, spread the ballroom family love and welcome the newbie class.


Newbie Captain
Tuna Uysal

Physics, Intensive
Pauli Murray '19

Tuna, from Turkey, did not have any intention of dancing before coming to Yale, but somehow ended up joining YBDT. Learning and dancing ballroom with people quickly became one of the things he enjoys the most and he came to notice that he couldn't help but smile when he heard music he could dance to (which does not work out that well for Tango). Going onto his third year in the team, he is looking forward to welcome and share his excitement with the incoming members of the ballroom team. When not teaching or practicing ballroom, he may be found trying to come to terms with quantum mechanics or talking with other international students as a peer liason.


Newbie Captain
Melissa Kropf

Timothy Dwight '19

Melissa is a junior in Timothy Dwight.


Kat Tan

Computer Science
Davenport '18
International Cha Cha and Waltz

Kat is from the Northern Virginia side of the DC area. A competitive swimmer for most of her life, Kat started dancing hip hop and contemporary her first year of college with Yale Danceworks, when she decided to revive her (largely unsuccessful) childhood efforts at dance. Two years later, she joined ballroom and fell in love with all things Latin and Standard. Now, she reflexively counts the ballroom steps to whatever song happens to be playing at any given moment. When not dancing, or thinking about the next time she can finally be dancing again, Kat can be found camping out in the library with her programming assignments, helping to organize YHack, attempting to play the piano, or working the Davenport Dive.


Show Coordinator
Karen Yao

Literature & Comparative Cultures and Psychology
Timothy Dwight '20

Karen, from Cleveland, is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight, planning to double major in psychology and literature. She is as happy as a clam to be a part of YBDT and is thrilled to be show coordinator this coming year. From performing in shows and going on tour to being a part of such a fantastic team (feat. Luis' hugs, Cathy's meows, and Melissa's pies, just to name a few), ballroom has definitely made Karen's first year so wonderful and memorable, and she's excited to see what the coming years will hold.


Team Manager
Héctor Ricardo Hernández

Philosophy and Comparative Literature
Berkeley '19

A Bogotá, Colombia native and Texas resident, Héctor's first exposure to ballroom dancing came at the end of his senior year in high school, when he tried to learn the Rumba, with moderate success. From that moment on, he knew he wanted to join ballroom in college. Now, he's a junior in Berkeley thrilled to have another year of comps, shows, and team practices; this may be the year he dances Standard Foxtrot! Above all, he hopes to help make YBDT as welcoming of a family for newbies as he had the pleasure to find last year. When not wearing dance shoes, Héctor might be found playing viola, with Club Colombian, or hidden away in the Starr Reading Room.


Publicity Director & Webmaster
Rich Baker

Davenport '18

Rich is a senior in Davenport.


Tour Manager
Stephanie Hickman

Computer Science and Spanish
Timothy Dwight '19

Stephanie is a junior in the new Pauli Murray College. She joined the ballroom dance team as a first-year, without any ballroom experience, but a desire to learn a new skill and find a fun community. Not only did both of those things happen, but she also discovered that she had a passion for ballroom! After 6 years of playing lacrosse, she has discovered that she can have a great time dancing in a sport where grace and smoothness are the name of the game rather than aggression. Stephanie's true loves are sparkles, glitter, sequins, and making an amzing tour for the ballroom team this year! Majoring in Computer Science and Spanish, she can be found in the CS building at 3am on a weekday, but always is out teaching her friends ballroom moves at 3am on the weekends.


Social Chair
Sophie Xu

History and Economics
Ezra Stiles '20
Latin Rumba

Sophie is from Beijing, China and joined ballroom as part of the "you gotta try something new in college" whim. Back in the day, she did not have any previous dancing experience unless you count the few weeks when she dabbled in ballet or that one dance show in 5th grade. After a few newbie lessons, she decided she loved ballroom and its community and embarked on a year of waltzing, ballroom puns, and procrastinating psets with ballroom videos. She is super hyped to serve as social chair and spend her time bringing together this wonderful community and welcoming the newbies! Outside of ballroom, Sophie is busy organizing events as Cultural Chair of the International Students Organization, leading projects at Yale Net Impact, filling up her Vivi's rewards card, and laughing at Buzzfeed posts and other random things.


Club Director
Cathy Xue

Computer Science & Mathematics
Silliman '19
East Coast Swing

Cathy, a Maryland native, is a junior in Silliman who joined YBDT in the vain hope that it would help her be less clumsy. Despite remaining as uncoordinated as ever, Cathy fell in love with ballroom dancing and met many of her closest friends through the ballroom team, and looks forward to another year of comps, shows, team dinners, and roaming campus in search of open practice spaces. Off the dance floor, Cathy can be found playing flute, contemplating math and proteins, debating Star Wars and generally un-academic topics with the quiz bowl team, and drinking copious amounts of tea. She is also notable for her child-like love for Disney movies, soft blankets, and chocolate. Cathy can't wait to meet the newbies and hopes they find as much joy in ballroom dancing as she did!


Advanced Seminar Director
Elizabeth Li

Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry
Morse '19
International Cha Cha

Elizabeth has spent her whole life basking under the California sun but has also come to enjoy the actual seasons that exist in New Haven. She has trained in different types of dance ever since she was five years old, but her first experience with ballroom dance was on a cruise ship (yass free cha cha lesson) during her junior summer of high school. Unable to find an active ballroom community in the suburbs of LA, Elizabeth was so excited to find and join YBDT. She loves all the different aspects that come with being a part of the YBDT family: competitions, social dances, and team dinners, just to name a few. After taking on a more administrative role as captain last year, she is very much looking forward to having a larger impact on the team's dancing as Advanced Seminar Director this year. During her spare time, Elizabeth enjoys watching all kinds of ballroom videos (tutorials, performances, you name it) but also secretly wishes she could pick up horseback riding.


Advanced Seminar Director/Competition Coordinator
Pratik Gandhi

Pierson '18

An international student hailing from Mumbai, India, Pratik had no prior dance experience before coming to Yale, but is now a total ballroom addict - he can talk about it for hours on end! He loves competing and performing with the team, and is looking forward to help plan the various team events this year as well as share his love for ballroom with the incoming newbie class. Although he really enjoys the Latin dances as well, everyone knows that Pratik's heart ultimately belongs to the Standard dances. Outside of ballroom, he can be found working with the Yale Undergraduate Aerospace Association, reading, biking, eating sinful amounts of chocolate, and getting excited about space in general. Don't hesitate to reach out to him with questions on DanceSport, his Yale experience, or anything else!


Events Committee
Emma Garcia

Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry
Morse '19
Viennese Waltz

Emma's parents reacted to her decision to join the YBDT with much confusion, including several exclamations of "DON'T BREAK YOUR ANKLE DANCING IN HEELS!!!" Emma however, wasn't confused at all- since seeing all the amazing dancing at icebreaker, Emma knew that she had finally found the amazing group of people who could teach even someone known to walk into walls how to dance.When not dancing, Emma can be found playing violin, drinking coffee, trying to pet all of the dogs on campus, or having way too much fun in lab.


Events Committee
Katy Way

Chemical Engineering
Morse '19

Katy is a junior in Morse majoring in Chemical Engineering. She comes from a rural part of Kalamazoo, Michigan- where the only dancing she knew of was of the country line variety and what princess did in the cartoons. She was first introduced to the ballroom team through two of her roommates that are members. They dragged her to the events her first year of college, and she decided to join during her sophomore year. Standard (waltz, quickstep, foxtrot) has quickly become her favorite style of dance (and all of the pretty dresses are a bonus). However, while not dancing, Katy spends her time fixing things and killing bugs for her roommates, studying thermodynamics, devouring pints of Ben and Jerry's, and working as a chief office aide for Morse. She also enjoys playing soccer and cooking/baking when she can, but also secretly wishes she could pick up horseback riding.


Events Committee
Luis Fernando

Jonathan Edwards '18
Waltz (Or Tango, depending on the day)

Luis is a Senior in Jonathan Edwards (JE Sux!) majoring in Astrophysics. Originally from Brazil, where he was born and raised until moving to Yale, he somehow grew without learning how to samba (or to dance at all, for that matter). But after he witnessed the wonderful dancing the YBDT could do without having any prior experience (!), he felt the urge to attend his first Newbie Lesson in his Sophomore Fall, and has been dancing ever since. After one year of dancing, he served as one of the Newbie Captains during his Junior Year (Newbies, Assemble!), and will now be helping the YBDT Events Committee! Outside of Ballroom, you will find him in the Farnam FroCave as one of the JE FroCos (again, JE Sux), teaching Astronomy classes for Splash, eating pizza and Oreo Milkshakes in Yorkside or simply making silly jokes about virtually anything.


Events Committee
James Diao

Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry and Statistics & Data Science
Pauli Murray '18
Viennese Waltz

James decided to visit a group dance lesson on a whim, and is still amazed by how much the decision has shaped his college experience. James now counts out every song he hears, plans his life around practice times, and sees pretty much nothing but dance videos as youtube recommendations. His favorite dances are international rumba and tango, mostly because he's not in shape for anything faster (but he'll still get it together for a good Vwaltz song). Some of his happiest moments at Yale have been dancing at comps, socials, shows, and around campus, and he is excited to return for his final year with YBDT.