Bright lights, elaborate costumes and some of the most talented amateur ballroom dancers in the nation will create the atmosphere in the Marriott Center this week as BYU hosts the U.S. National DanceSport Championships.
One of the largest dance competitions in the nation, DanceSport attracts ballroom dancers of all ages.
Daniel Bennett, a senior in economics and mathematics, has been on BYU’s Ballroom Dance Company for three years. This will be Bennett’s seventh year in the competition. Bennett, who has attended ballroom competitions all over the country, including Britain and Thailand, said the atmosphere at DanceSport is unique.
“It is by far the rowdiest crowd you’re going to see at a dance competition,” Bennett said. “There’s a lot of energy and it’s easy to get excited.”
Bennett said, like any attraction, the competition is most engaging if viewers can appreciate and understand the effort and skill exhibited on the dance floor, but he thinks the talent at the competition speaks for itself.
“It’s always fun to see people who do anything really, really well,” Bennett said. “These are people who come from all over the world to compete.”
Stephen Clawson, a sophomore from Provo studying facility and property management, has competed eight times at the BYU DanceSport Competition, but he said he’s spent more time watching than competing.
“I definitely would say it’s the biggest bang for your buck in ballroom,” Clawson said. “You can watch professionals and the best ballroom dancers in the U.S. all day.”
Clawson appreciates the variety of age groups and dance styles one can see at DanceSport, including formations which feature a group of couples who choreograph with each other instead of as individual pairs.
“I love watching the formation teams, which include high schools from all around the country,” Clawson said. “And the amateur level is the best of the best of people that are college age.”
Ryan Palmer, a senior in mechanical engineering from Phoenix, has participated in the competition six times. He said he appreciates what he learned from competing in something he hadn’t previously performed in.
“It’s a lot of fun to expose yourself to something so different,” Palmer said. “A lot of people, especially in lower levels, have never been exposed to it before.”
But Palmer noted the fun isn’t only for participants.
“As a viewer it’s fun to see all the different costumes and see the level of talent there is,” he said. “There is really a lot of talent. As someone who has competed, I can appreciate all the time they put into perfecting every move.”
The U.S. National DanceSport Competition runs Wednesday through Saturday, March 7-10, at BYU’s Marriott Center.
To purchase tickets visit the Marriott Center Ticket Office, byutickets.com, 801-422-BYU1.