Coming Home

by Lisa Plummer Savas

I honestly never thought I’d dance again. It had been more than 15 years since I’d put my ballet slippers, favorite leotards and worn out jazz shoes away. While I never stopped longing for that blissful feeling of freedom that used to be mine when I danced across a studio floor or stage, I thought for sure that my aging body would never be able to handle the inordinate demands of the classical dance forms again. I just figured my days of sweeping across the floor and leaping through

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Interview with Kelly Batchelor

Kelly Batchelor is an active competitive DanceSport member of USA Dance and the co-organzer of the Chicago DanceSport Challenge, a USA Dance National Qualifying Event held annually in late October. Kelly and her partner, Alan Burns who also happens to be her husband, currently hold the #36 spot in Senior 1 Standard and the #41 spot in Senior 2 Standard on the WDSF world leader board. Kelly sat down with The Dancing Housewife earlier this year to share her thoughts on World Dance Sport Federation

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The One About the Bad Breath

Dear Dance Diva,
This is awkward so I’ll get straight to the point. My pro-am partner has bad breath. It’s really bad. I’ve been working with him for about six months and he’s a good instructor, but I’m thinking about finding another pro because I don’t know how to handle this without embarrassing him (and me). At first I thought I could just grin and bear it. I tried mouth breathing, but I get so parched that I find myself holding my breath during my lessons. As I write this I know it sounds like I’m being overly dramatic, but honestly his breath reeks. It literally takes my breath away. I’ve tried offering him gum and mints at the start of our lessons, but he politely refuses every time.  Any suggestions?
—Breathless

 

Dear Breathless,
This certainly is an awkward situation, but you won’t be doing yourself or this gentleman any favors in avoiding it by finding another instructor. You need to address it head on.

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, can result from poor mouth/dental hygiene as well as a heavy dose of pungent foods. Onion, garlic, cheese, pastrami, orange juice and alcohol are a few of the most common offenders, but bad breath also can be a symptom of an underlying health problem. Sinus or chronic lung

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The Dancing Housewife Show, Season 1 Episode 4: Lauren Walier, The Swan Princess

Meet Lauren Walier, a nineteen year-old amateur ballroom dancer who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age one. At fifteen she founded the Make Lemon-Aide Foundation for Cerebral Palsy.Lauren and I recorded this episode of The Dancing Housewife Show earlier this year, just before she headed off to begin her freshman year at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. She is currently mid-way through her first semester. In addition to juggling the responsibilities of class work and practice sessions with her pro-am coach and partner, Mayo Alanen, she also is hard at work on her first children’s book, The Swan Princess, due for release in November.

Pro-Am Solo, International Grand Ball, 2017

Prom-Am Solo, Millenium 2017

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What’s Up with the Feud Between NDCA and USA Dance?

What’s up with the feud between NDCA and USA Dance? The rift is so polarizing you get a different answer depending on whom you ask so I decided to find our for myself. No biased opinion here… no impudent #NotMyGoverningDanceOrganization… just the facts. I promise.

Believe it or not, the first world championship of ballroom dance took place in 1909. The event was considered unofficial due to a lack of rules and ill-defined, inconsistent protocol for ranking and judging couples. Fast forward to September 22, 1950. A group of folks, compelled by the idea of establishing a set of standards for an official world championship, gathered at a meeting organized by Phillip J.S. Richardson in Edinburgh, Scotland. In doing so, they conceived the International Council of Ballroom Dancing, which would eventually become today’s World Dance Council (WDC).

In 1957 a distinction was drawn between professional and amateur dancers and the formation of a new governing body, the International Council of Amateur Dancers, ensued. The ICAD sanctioned amateur competitions and served the needs of amateur dancers. After several iterations, it was renamed and is known today as the Word DanceSport Federation (WDSF).

Similar efforts to standardize competitive ballroom dance were taking place in the United States. In 1948, the National Dance Council of America (NDCA), originally called the National Council of Dance Teacher Organizations, sprung from a concerted effort to foster cooperation by and among professional dance teachers. This was stimulated in large part by the burgeoning Arthur Murray and Fred Astaire dance studios. It was accepted into the WDC as a member organization in 1962 and has been representing the interests of American dance professionals in worldwide matters since. The NDCA is widely accepted as the authoritative body for professional and pro-am dance in the United States. In addition to sanctioning competitions, the NDCA has been certifying adjudicators and scrutineers since 1973 and holds the exclusive right to choose the judges and competitive couples who represent the United States in all World Professional Championships.

USA Dance, originally named the United States Amateur Ballroom Dance Association or USABDA, was organized in 1965 as a byproduct of the charge led by ballroom dance champion, Normand Martin, and a faction of interested amateurs to petition the Olympic Committee to classify ballroom dance as a sport for inclusion in the Olympic games. USA Dance is recognized as the official governing body for DanceSport  (a.k.a competitive ballroom dance) by the United States Olympic Committee, the Amateur Sports Act of the United States Congress and the WDSF, of which it has been a member since 1987.  USA Dance represents the interests of American amateur ballroom dancers in all matters domestically and internationally.

The WDC and WDSF along with their American affiliates set standards, sanctioned competitions and evolved to serve the specific needs of their distinct professional or amateur members. Their relationships were harmonious and mutually beneficial until 1997.

Promoting ballroom dance as an Olympic sport has not been an easy undertaking. After decades of negotiating, the WDSF agreed to numerous stipulations made by the International Olympic Committee, including drug testing of athletes, defining and implementing criteria for a more objective system for adjudication and stringent invigilation. In return, on September 4, 1997, the IOC recognized the WDSF as the official international governing body of competitive ballroom dance. This means only competitors who are members of the WDSF and its affiliate organizations (like USA Dance) would be eligible to represent their countries at the Olympic games, should DanceSport ever be added as an event.

In spite of this IOC decision being a long-awaited victory for the DanceSport community, members of the WDC resented potential exclusion from Olympic competition and after festering for a decade, responded by admitting amateurs and creating their own competitive amateur division. Three years later in 2010, the WDSF retaliated by accepting professional members and likewise creating its own professional division in. Suddenly, both organizations were competing for participation and financial support from the same pool of dancers. The situation became even more contentious when the WDC and WDSF imposed penalties on athletes and judges who supported the opposing organization.

Fortunately, there are currently no repercussions for American dancers who choose to compete in both USA Dance and NDCA sanctioned events. However, in 2014 the NDCA announced it would deny membership renewal to judges, scrutineers and other types of licensed officials who work at non-NDCA events.

While not specifically targeting USA Dance, the intent was clear. Essentially anyone working a USA Dance event would be kicked out of the NDCA. A handful of judges ignored the announcement, which prompted the NDCA to issue THIS stern signature addendum to the membership renewal application at the end of 2015.

It was an effective, if not a little insidious, method of forcing licensed officials to choose the NDCA’s side in the quarrel.  NDCA events are more expensive for competitors than USA Dance events, but they are also much more lucrative for judges, scrutineers, staff and pros. People need to eat, pay their mortgages and buy shoes for their kids, so the mass exodus of judges and officials from the USA Dance circuit is no surprise. Poorly contested Teacher/Student events (the only competitive opportunities USA Dance makes available to professionals), however, has been somewhat of an unexpected consequence. Although pros are not required to pledge allegiance to the NDCA in the same manner as licensed officials, the hostile nature of the signature addendum has left pros reluctant to enter USA Dance Teacher/Student events, in many cases citing fear of negative backlash.

Unfortunately the strained dynamic between the WDC and WDSF has seeped across the pond and THAT is what’s up with the feud between the NDCA and USA Dance. read more