Meet Our Leadership Team

Nathan (left)

Nathan Gates

President, Spring 2022 | txb.president@gmail.com

 

Fun Fact: I am a Cellist of twelve years, and spent the two years before the coronavirus as a member of the UT University Orchestra. My name is Nathan Gates, and I am the president of Texas Ballroom this year. I am a senior here at UT, working towards a double major in Computer Science and in Mathematics. This is my fourth year in the club as both a member and a competitor. Prior to my time in college, I had a musician’s background and very minimal east coast swing dance experience, but had otherwise never danced before. Nowadays, it’s quite hard for me to believe that – I can’t imagine a life without ballroom dance. In Texas Ballroom, I have discovered both a second family and many new interests. I’ve been granted a wonderful opportunity to build confidence, learn new skills, and compete against others who share my passion across the state. I found my closest friends in this club, and I am ever grateful to it for the relationships and the memories I’ve made.

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: I found Texas Ballroom through a high school friend who I used to go swing dancing with, in Denton, Texas. I asked her for club recommendations and she recommended I come to Free Week. The low cost and low barrier of entry, combined with the most welcoming atmosphere on campus drew me in, and I have been here ever since! Texas Ballroom helps me be the best that I can be. It keeps me involved in the community, physically and socially active, has given me a second family. I never thought in a million years that I would learn how to dance Ballroom, and then couldn’t possibly imagine leading or competing. Yet in just weeks, I was preparing for my first competition, Dances with Owls at Rice University 2018, and by the end of the year found myself on the Officer Board. This club continually challenges me in new and exciting ways, and has taught me social and leadership skills, practice skills and work ethic, and confidence. For anyone who is sceptical about giving this club a try, its own president once stood exactly where you are – I highly recommend it! I am all the better for it.

Noe Leon

Vice President, Spring 2022 | txb.vicepresident@gmail.com

 

I’m Noe, the TXB’s Vice President! This is my third year in the club and honestly nothing has impacted my time at college as much as this club has. I’m a junior math major and this club is my end of day relaxation after a day full of classes. From incredible friends to competitions I could not ask more of any club!

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: For me being a part of Texas Ballroom is an opportunity for me to focus on something non academic and see myself progress as a partner dancer. It’s relaxing when I want it to be but when I want to just focus on getting better it can also be incredibly engaging. Having the flexibility there is huge for me where my workload week to week changes. Nothing excites me more than getting better at something I care about and seeing myself get better at dancing every week is what keeps me hooked!

Grace Baldwin

Secretary, Spring 2022 | uttexasballroom@gmail.com

 

I am a sophomore majoring in International Relations. I love to dance the samba, jive, and I love a good line dance (have fun go mad, chill factor, etc.). I love history, reading, podcasts, dark chocolate, films and documentaries, writing, etc.

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: I joined Texas Ballroom at the recommendation of my mom. I have always loved to dance and wanted to learn! I enjoy the atmosphere and the community, which is a great group of people. The people are all amazing and fun to hang around and even more, fun to dance with. In this org, I am excited to dance with people and have a good time.

 

Links:  Instagram

Lyndsey (left)

Lyndsey Allen

Treasurer, Spring 2022 | txb.treasurer@gmail.com

 

Hi! My name is Lyndsey Allen and I am the TxB Treasurer. I am going into my fourth year in my iMPA program, where I will be graduating with my Masters in Accounting in 2023. Starting this fall, I will be starting my third year in the club, second on the officer board, and I have loved every minute of it!

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: I have always loved dancing, social dancing any chance I could since middle school, but Texas Ballroom has shown me a whole world of dancing that I never thought I could be part of, something that was only on shows like Dancing with the Stars. But the club has shown me that there is so much more to dancing than just the Texas Two-Step, there are actually styles of dance that fit the rhythm set by songs. Now I know what songs fit what style of dance and the confidence to dance the styles when they come on. Competing is also an important aspect of Ballroom to me, as competing has helped me build a certain type of confidence and work ethic so that I could be successful while building friendships and creating memories.

 

Links: LinkedIn

Julian

Treasurer Shadow, Spring 2022

Maya Ylagan

Ballroom Captain, Spring 2022 | txb.ballroomteam@utexas.edu

 

Hey!!! I am Maya Ylagan and I am the TxB Ballroom Captain. I am just starting my third year pursuing a BS in Computational Biology. Starting this fall, I will be starting my third year in the club, and I am super excited for what this upcoming year has to offer!

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: I joined Texas Ballroom because I wanted something outside of my classes that was different and fun. Then, on Speedway, I was inundated by tablers which is where I found Texas Ballroom. The club provided me that creative and athletic outlet I was looking for. In attending free week I also got to know the environment of Texas Ballroom and it is now my home, as it is the most welcoming and safe space I know on campus. Nothing else gets me more excited than partner dancing! 🙂

Mady (right)

Mady Blok

Country Co-Captain, Spring 2022 | txb.countryteam@gmail.com

 

Hi Y’all! I’m Mady, TxB’s country co-captain. I am a sophomore math major here at UT, and this is my second year in Texas Ballroom. I compete in both ballroom and country, but I love social dancing as well. Before college, I was a competitive swimmer for 13 years with no dance experience. Now, I can’t imagine my life without dancing! Since my time in the club I have been able to build confidence, learn many new things, and I have made so many memories with some of my closest friends.

 

Why Texas Ballroom? For me, Texas Ballroom was a whole new world. I had never danced before, but I wanted to try a totally new athletic activity. Now it has become so many things to me. Texas Ballroom is not only my favorite way to stay active, but it is also a place for me to get away from the hustle and bustle of academics here at UT. I love to be able to come and dance with my friends, but also focus on learning new moves and dances. I love being able to see my growth and progress as not only a dancer but as a person! I have found such an amazing support system here as well. The atmosphere that this club creates is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Bryan Bowling

Formal Events Coordinator, Spring 2022 | texasgreatwaltz@gmail.com
Country Co-Captain, Spring 2022
 | txb.countryteam@gmail.com

 

Hello! I am the Formal Events Coordinator for Texas Ballroom, where I host both the Great Waltz in the Fall and Austin Open in the Spring. My name is Bryan Bowling and I am a sophomore Physics major. Before joining Texas Ballroom, I’ve been in theatre for most of my life and love to perform for an audience. I thoroughly enjoy music on the side and can’t wait to meet everyone who wants to join!

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: I never expected myself to Ballroom Dance in college, it was more of a funny “what-if” I’d talk to my friends about until I was actually presented with the opportunity. Taking a chance on it, I met the best friends I’ve made yet in college, and have realized that Ballroom is more than a dance organization, it’s a social life that will follow you for the rest of your life, gaining life skills and confidence in your body and movement. Something that excites me is sharing my passion of the performing arts, and bringing out the best in people when I see it, I love to push others and myself to be the best people we can be, and self-expression (whether it’s dance, music, sports, etc), ballroom encompasses many of the creative aspects we all have.

Elizabeth Nguyen

Public Relations Officer, Spring 2022 | txb.publicity@gmail.com

 

Hello! I’m Elizabeth and I absolutely love dancing! It’s my senior year and I’m a CLD major and Business minor. I’m super excited to make this a great year with all of y’all!

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: I’ve always wanted to learn how to waltz, and ballroom taught me that and so much more! The best part is that ballroom can teach you a ton of new dances and you can use it competitively or just for fun. I get especially excited for all the fun events and dances that we do!

 

Links: InstagramLinkedIn

Michael Byrd

Social Coordinator, Spring 2022 | txb.socialcoordinator@gmail.com

 

Hello all! My name is Michael Byrd and I am the Social Coordinator for Texas Ballroom. I come from a small town outside of Waco called Gatesville. I am a junior pursuing a major in government and a minor in business. I am always excited to meet new people so feel free to reach out!

 

Why Texas Ballroom? What sold Texas Ballroom for me was the people! TxB is filled with unique and awesome members that create a welcoming and inclusive environment. I am excited about welcoming new members to the club and making lots of fun memories!

Naila Hajiyeva

Formal Events Assistant, Spring 2022

 

Hello! I’m a second year Mathematics student, pursing minors in Computer Science and Informatics. This is my second semester with Ballroom, and my favorite dances are Foxtrot and Jive! I did ballroom dancing as a child, but took a break in high school and tried other sports. Eventually I realised that I’ve had the best time in dance, and was looking forward to trying it again at UT.

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: Going into my second year at UT, it has been 5 years since I was in a dance class. Joining TX Ballroom was the plan even before I got to campus, and I’m very happy I did it. This organization helped me get out of my comfort zone, make friends, and take a break from classes and work. TX Ballroom is so different from other dance activities in a way that it always makes you come back, no matter how difficult or exhausting your day was – its fun, exciting, and you always know you’ll learn something new and have a good time while doing it.

 

Links: LinkedIn

Thomas Porter

Social Committee, Spring 2022

 

Hey y’all! I’m Thomas, I’m a senior art history major and am also pursuing a computer science certificate. This is my third year with Ballroom, and my favorite dances are the Waltz and Jitterbug! I also like to watch movies, play video games, and go shopping!

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: I chose to join ballroom because I needed something to get me out of my comfort zone and express myself creatively, and this organization fit the bill perfectly. I’ve met so many amazing people, I’ve competed, and I can’t wait to meet even more people and continue competing!

Alejandro Benavides Aguilar

Social Committee, Spring 2022| alejandrobenavidesaguilar@gmail.com

 

Hello! I am a freshman with a psychology BS major, and I am very happy to be in UT Austin. I have been dancing for almost 4 years and I have traveled to many cities to compete in ballroom and country dancing. I like playing games, martial arts, and skateboarding!

 

Why Texas Ballroom? I chose tone part of Texas Ballroom because I have been interested in dance before I entered the school and I wanted to keep my practice going so I don’t lose my training. I am also excited that we can learn more styles like swing and country dancing!

Margaret Godfrey

Social Committee, Spring 2022 | margaretegodfrey@utexas.edu

 

I’m a social committee member as well as a family head. I’m a Junior Biology BSA major also in the polymathic scholars program. I started ballroom a semester ago and already love it! I’ve been a classically trained cellist for 15 years and am a composer, so I’ve had a lot of musical experience prior to ballroom. Coming into ballroom, I did have some dance experience with high school dance classes but most of my prior ballroom knowledge comes from Dancing with the Stars. As a kid, I’d watch the routines over and over and try to replicate the moves in front of a mirror, never thinking I’d actually be doing then for competition! Even though I’ve only been here a semester, I feel like I’ve found a family and I can’t wait to make more memories in this org!

 

Why Texas Ballroom? I’ve always wanted to ballroom dance (see nerdy mirror comment above) and really wanted to compete in dance. This org gets me excited because we’re a family, we’re friends, and dancing just makes me happy.

Mariana Rivas Varela

Social Committee, Spring 2022

 

Hello! I am an Environmental Science and Plan II double major and I love all sorts of dancing. I am a sophomore and started ballroom dancing last semester. I am originally from Leon, Gto. Mexico and moved to the McAllen TX before high school. A little fun fact about me is that I used to play in chess tournaments when I was kid🤓. I also love music, playing the piano, going thrift shopping, Mediterranean food, and I am passionate about making an impact to mitigate the effects of climate change. I am very excited for this semester and hope to meet lots of new people!

 

Why Texas Ballroom?: Throughout my life I have always loved any type of dancing but never even imagined I would be doing ballroom dancing. I danced tap, jazz, and a little bit of ballet before. I love to try a lot of new hobbies which is why when I saw there was a ballroom free week, I did not hesitate to at least give it a try. I loved it, had so much fun, and as I got more involved realized going to ballroom was the highlight of my weekdays. I love that this organization is a shared dancing experience, you get not only the joy of dancing but also of meeting great people.

 

Links: LinkedIn  •  Twitter

Adam Hotchkiss

Social Committee, Spring 2022

Nilavra (Neil) Bhattacharya

Web-manager, Spring 2022 | txb.webteam@gmail.com

 

I am a PhD student at the School of Information, researching on Human-Computer Interaction. Ever since reading and watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I’ve wished to learn ballroom dancing. This wish strengthened further when I was attending the social event at the ETRA 2018 conference in Warsaw, Poland, and during that event, everyone “automagically” seemed to know how to Waltz, except for me. Since then, I’ve always been on the lookout for an opportunity to learn ballroom dancing.

 

Why Texas Ballroom?:  Texas Ballroom is a very beginner-friendly, warm, and loving community of people, and I absolutely enjoy being a part of this vibrant and energetic team. Making websites has been a rewarding hobby for a long time, and I feel I get to know an organisation better and more intimately while making their website.

 

Links:  Website • Twitter

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