Strictly Ballzoom

first_imgEvery year, the Harvard Ballroom Dance Team hosts a fall competition for beginner dancers at the Malkin Athletic Center. For team rookies, it’s the first opportunity to strut their stuff in the cha cha, rumba, swing, waltz, salsa, or bachata, and to cement the close-knit bonds for which the group is known.Facing a remote semester, Harvard Ballroom reimagined their landmark competition in an entirely digital format called Ballzoom — the only college event of its kind.“We [as an executive board] felt that the Harvard Ballroom Dance Team was more than just an extracurricular activity; it was a big family,” with 45 members, said Angelika Anette Antsmae, a rookie captain and rising sophomore on leave this year. “It would be unfair to lose communication with other team members during these complicated times, so we decided to provide an opportunity for our new dancers to participate” in a competition for the first time.Rather than try to recreate a live competition with multiple couples dancing to the same song at the same time, Antsmae and the group’s competition committee chair, Will Dey ’23, decided to use their burgeoning skills in computer science to develop a digital-first competition, and hosted Ballzoom over one weekend, Nov. 20-22.The process was layered and difficult. First, Antsmae and Dey used the coding language Python to create a platform to receive the dancers’ video submissions and automatically assign each couple or person a number, just as they’d receive in a regular competition.The team received 72 submissions from around the world, including seven current College students and recent alumni. To mimic the camaraderie of a traditional competition weekend, Dey and Antsmae set up Slack rooms with regular ice-breaker activities to help the dancers — from as far away as Canada, Romania, and Vietnam — get to know each other.Behind the scenes, they created tools that would match each video with the corresponding music and display the competitors in a synchronized Zoom grid with their competition numbers. They also put together a judging panel made up of national champions and assigned videos to each person that matched their expertise. On the Sunday of the competition weekend they broadcast almost three hours of competition live on Zoom and presided over the results, which included awards for first-year students and ballroom newcomers Maggie Chiffer, Bryce Reynolds, and Claire Guo in the rhythm, Latin, standard, and social (salsa and bachata) categories.The process was time-consuming and involved many late nights across multiple time zones, as Dey was at home in Austin, Texas, and Antsmae lives in Tallinn, Estonia. But it was worth it, they said. And in the spirit of collegiality, they published their open-source code on Github for other school teams to use for their own Ballzooms.“I’m really glad we were able to take stuff that we both learned in classes and do something that has a lasting effect and benefit to the team,” said Dey, who recently declared a joint concentration in computer science and physics. “The whole atmosphere [of live competition] can’t be recreated, but I think ours was different in a good way.”last_img read more

Assess for success

first_img 6SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr In a recent study conducted by Quantum Governance, only 22 percent of credit unions rated themselves as “effective” or “very effective” at conducting a regular process of self-evaluation. Comparatively, 34 percent felt they were ineffective or even “very ineffective” in doing so.With the long tenure of credit union board members and the continually evolving business climate that faces today’s credit union, remaining relevant, current and ahead of the curve is more important than ever. In fact, it is incumbent upon every credit union director to do so.A board assessment is a critical component in an ongoing process of board renewal, strengthening and improvement. Done well, it can provide an objective and comprehensive perspective that ultimately will help your board and senior management team focus your efforts, activities and precious resources. Together, you will identify your credit union’s strengths and challenges and, in doing so, find ways to move forward collectively to the betterment of your members.You can frame your issues in a new way, generating bright ideas and insights that will lead your credit union effectively into the future. Plus, you will build a baseline against which you can measure future progress. continue reading »last_img read more