The University of Georgia Ballroom Performance Group

The Ballroom Performance Group (BPG) is a pre-professional student dance company at the University of Georgia. The group promotes an appreciation of ballroom dance through performances on campus and around the community. The company was founded in 1991 by Dr. Mark Wheeler.

BPG hosts its annual showcase, "Ballroom Magic," the second semester of each school year. The show consists of between 20 to 25 choreographed pieces in Smooth and Latin dancing, along with guest performances. The majority of pieces in, "Ballroom Magic," are choreographed for and premiered at the show.

Several dance pieces created for and premiered by the UGA Ballroom Performance Group are in the repertories of university ballroom dance performance companies in California, Kentucky, New York, Texas, Brazil, and South Korea.

Dancing with BPG develops a serious ballroom dancer's technique and style, which enables him or her to perform or compete professionally. However, most members have no ballroom dance experience before entering university.

Several BPG members teach ballroom dancing on campus and around Northeast Georgia. BPG alumni have gone on to teach at studios throughout the Athens/Atlanta area and across the United States.

Typically, every first and third Friday of months during the school year and twice during the summer, the group hosts a Friday Night Dance Party (FNDP).  These dances begin at 7pm with a one hour beginner lesson in various styles, and each free lesson is taught by different members of the group. Then, from 8pm to 10:30pm, BPG welcomes students and the community to social dance a mix of ballroom and partner dance styles with members. FNDPs are a fun way to learn and practice dancing while meeting new people.

Founder - Mark Wheeler

Dr. Wheeler.jpg

Mark Wheeler was a professor in UGA's Department of Dance, and the founder of the Ballroom Performance Group. Wheeler received masters degrees in dance and in literature from Indiana University and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Wheeler also studied ballroom at Brigham Young University. Outside the academic setting, he studied modern dance at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, jazz with Phil Black, Gus Giordano and Luigi in Chicago and New York, and tap with Michael Fredrics and Henry LeTang in Chicago and Las Vegas. In addition, he has acted, sung, and danced with Equity and non-Equity theater companies in and out of New York City.

At UGA from 1981 to 2014, he was published widely on dance history and on current trends in dance education. Pieces choreographed by Wheeler have been performed by university dance companies in California, Kentucky, New York, and Texas. Wheeler taught dance history, rhythmic analysis, methods for teaching social dance, and ballroom, jazz and tap technique. He guest taught in numerous dance programs including Columbia University, Vassar College, and the Federal University of Pernambuco in Brazil, among others.

Notable BPG Past Performances

  • Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Black and White Ball
  • Children's Museum of Atlanta 's Fairy Tale Ball
  • Cloister Hotel on Sea Island
  • UGA Concert Dance Company productions
  • With the Glenn Miller Orchestra, "In the Mood," October 1998
  • UGA School of Music's Second Thursday Concert Series, November 2001
  • Olympic Games in Atlanta , July 1996
  • Georgia World Congress Center
  • Consider the Circle - A Tribute to the Olympic Games at Georgia Tech and at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta
  • Hosted THE OLYMPIC BALLROOM, an internationally recognized dance party which included a showcase by Canadian and U.S. amateur and professional champions.
  • "Consider the Circle" and six other pieces at the Snowball Classic in Vancouver , British Columbia , February 1998
  • Dance festival in Curacao , Netherlands Antilles , Summer 2000
  • The High Museum in Atlanta

Organization

The Ballroom Performance Group is a UGA student organization, and therefore it does not receive any money from the Dance Department. The group is funded through proceeds from "Ballroom Magic," Friday Night Dance Parties, and other functions throughout the year. BPG is always thankful for the help and support of the University and greater Athens community, without which we could not continue to perform.

Auditions

Group auditions are held at the end of each semester. Students who are interested in performing and taking their ballroom dance training to the next level are encouraged to audition. Auditionees do not need to be at the level of BPG Principle dancers, as all new members go through at least one semester of initial training. However, auditionees are expected to know a few basic moves in Waltz, Cha Cha, and East Coast Swing.  For more information about auditions and how to prepare, contact us at ugaballroom@gmail.com.