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Penn Latin & Ballroom Dance

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Team Coaches

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Standard Coach: Ihor Kravets

Ihor has won numerous awards for his excellent Standard dancing in both the United States and Ukraine. Ihor was two-time Ukrainian Ballroom Dance Champion, a former Ukrainian World Representative, and a United States National Rising Star Standard Finalist. In Ukraine, he built and ran a studio, developed an active junior ballroom dance program, and coached top amateur and professional couples. Ihor immigrated to America in 1998 and has since been teaching in the New York, New Jersey and Philadelphia areas as well as competing at the professional level in the US and throughout the world. He has been certified as an instructor by both the United Kingdom Alliance and the FADS. In total, Ihor has over 25 years of competitive ballroom experience.


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Latin Coach: Brona Vrtalova

An award-winning dancer and instructor, wry and energetic, Bronislava began her career in the Czech Republic, where she was the Professional Czech National Champion for seven years, as well as Czech representative to the World and European Championships. While in the Czech Republic she became accredited both as a First Class Coach and as an International Adjudicator due to her extensive coaching and judging experience. Brona immigrated to the US in 2002 with her partner Rene Ostarek. Ever since, Brona has been teaching in the Philadelphia and Delaware area, as well as competing in professional competitions in the US and throughout the world.



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Newcomer Latin / Latin Drills Coach: Vichet Ou

Vichet Ou started his career in dancesport when he arrived at Cornell in August 2003, and hasn't stopped since. He began teaching his junior teammates at Cornell around 2005, and since graduating has been training exclusively in the Latin style for the championship level. He has also recently discovered ballet and modern, both of which have helped with his training immensely.


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Newcomer Standard / Standard Drills Coaches: Spencer Caplan & Maria Peifer

Spencer Caplan and Maria Peifer, both PhD students at Penn, have been dancing together since 2015. Maria joined PLBD in 2009, while Spencer got involved in Ballroom dance while an undergraduate at Brown University in 2012. Specializing in International Standard, they are currently ranked in the top 45 in the US. Spencer and Maria train regularly with Italian Coaches Emanuele Pappacena and Francesca Lazzari as well as other top US and World couples. Outside of competing, they both enjoy teaching Ballroom -- particularly emphasizing "expressive partner dynamics" and "strong movement through the standing leg".


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American Rhythm Coach: Sam Wert

Sam Wert discovered dancing as his true passion as a newcomer with PLBD in 2014. He has progressed through all the syllabus levels in American Rhythm in addition to international Latin and Standard since that time, and he is currently training to compete at the Pre-Championship level in both international styles. He began teaching newcomer rhythm for the team in 2016, and he has thoroughly enjoyed helping team members learn to dance.



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American Smooth Coach: Victoria Gilbert

Vicki Gilbert's love affair with ballroom dancing began in September 2006 with the Tufts University Ballroom Dance Team. Eventually she forsook all other styles in favor of American Smooth and was MIT Open Smooth Champion 2011-2013, Ohio Star Ball Open Smooth Finalist in 2010 and 2011, USA Dance National Prechampionship Smooth Champion 2011, and USA Dance National Championship Smooth Finalist 2011-2013. In addition to dancing Vicki loves to teach. She began mentoring dancers at Tufts in 2007, went on to teach the Bentley University Ballroom Dance Club from 2010-2012, and is very excited to now be involved with PLBD!