MARCH 2018
Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Ballroom Dancers Enjoy Success in National Competition

Demarest, NJ: Karolina Lokaj of Clifton and Kamil Falkowski of Linden have only been dancing together since the summer of 2017, but they are already enjoying success at the national level. The pair recently competed in the United States National Amateur Dancesport Championships in Provo, Utah, where they finished sixth in the Under 21 category and made it to the semi-final round of the youth category.

Lokaj met Falkowski through one of her dance coaches, Diana McDonald, who is the 1997 World 10-Dance Champion. McDonald arranged for Falkowski and Lokaj to participate in a few tryouts in August, and the two have been dancing together ever since.

Commenting on her first experience in this national event, Lokaj said, “It was honestly pretty stressful, as I have been dancing through a foot injury and had to be training really hard each day for this competition. There were nights where I would lie down on my pillow and fall asleep instantly from exhaustion.”

In addition to practicing together six times a week, Lokaj and Falkowski run for stamina and participate in a regular workout routine that promotes strength. 

“We also try to eat as healthy as possible to keep our bodies in the best possible condition,” she added.

As the pair worked toward the competition, their practice sessions became longer and more intense, Lokaj noted. The two also decided to focus on the standard, rather than Latin dances.

“Although results can always be better, I am really happy with them, as my partner and I have only been dancing for about half a year, and this was my first time competing at such a high level,” she said, commenting that the hard work and fatigue were worthwhile. Lokaj said they are trying to maintain the same work ethic for their future competitions.

Despite their rigorous schedule, Lokaj and her partner did some sightseeing and visited two of Utah’s national parks: Arches and Canyonlands. She pointed out that this was her first visit to the West.

“We also stayed active by hiking and visited Brigham Young University's campus, which was where the competition was located,” she said.

Lokaj, who is currently a senior at the Academy of the Holy Angels in Demarest, has been dancing for 11 years. When Lokaj was just seven years old, her mother enrolled her in a children’s ballroom dancing group class. Soon afterward, this young dancer began testing her skills in numerous competitions.

In addition the national event in Utah, Lokaj’s most recent competitions included the Manhattan Amateur Classic in Jersey City, New Jersey; the Maryland Dance Sport Championships in Baltimore, Maryland; and the New York Dance Festival in New York City.

Lokaj is currently the captain of the AHA Handbell Choir, another pursuit that allows her to connect with music and movement.

Asked about the link between playing handbells and dancing, she said, “I definitely think that enjoying and feeling the music help with my timing and coordination, because through dancing and movement I am literally filling out the music. Musicality is a crucial aspect of ballroom dancing.”

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.

Academy of the Holy Angels

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