BYU dancing couple leaves competition behind to serve family, students

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Six professional American-style couples were presented on a floor usually reserved for international dancing. While they weren’t in England competing against each other, the six couples had the pressure of representing smooth ballroom dance — a newer style originating in America — to renowned competitors and judges.

After the daunting performance, the couples weren’t sure how their dancing would be received from the largely European audience. However, their performance was met with a standing ovation, opening up competition opportunities for American styles of dance in England.

To former BYU dancers Kyle Spinder and Allie Spinder, this was a highlight of their lives as professional dancers. Dance might not be considered a natural option for work, but through their efforts together, Kyle and Allie have found success through their experience.  

Kyle and Allie Spinder were named National Amateur Smooth Champions in 2011 and 2012. The Smooth style consists of four dances: waltz, tango, foxtrot and Viennese waltz. (Dancesport Photography)

After becoming partners in college, the duo was named U.S. Amateur Smooth Champions in 2011 and 2012. Their success performing together motivated them to pursue a professional dance career. 

“For us, it was important that we could dance professionally together,” Allie said. “It was a goal that we could share in, and it’s hard when couples have to split time between marriage and a separate dance partner.”

The choice to dance as a career seemed like a viable option for the couple, as Kyle and Allie both developed a love for dance at a young age. Kyle started in an elementary ballroom program, and Allie started dancing ballet and contemporary before settling on ballroom. 

“We were on team together growing up, but we were never partners,” Kyle said. “We first met when I was 12 and she was 10 at a ballroom camp.”

Even though they didn’t start dating until after Kyle’s mission, they knew of each other as competitors and teammates as growing up. Eventually, Kyle and Allie married after two years of dancing together in college. 

Kyle and Allie expressed the importance of open communication and showing love to each other throughout the day, even though dance can be a difficult career.

“It is a competitive sport, so it can be easy to get after your teammate,” Kyle said. He said it can be stressful and difficult, but anybody who can make it through a dance partnership should be able to make it through marriage.

Kyle and Allie Spinder compete at the Blackpool Dance Festival. (Dancesport)

“There have been hard things about dancing together, but there has also been a lot of growth,” Allie said. The two have learned to work through each other’s pet peeves, how to communicate as a couple and how to work in high-pressure situations.

Aside from having a love for dance and one another, the two have a strong love for God and worked to remain faithful as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during their competitive life.

“We would try to attend a sacrament meeting whenever we possibly could. There were a lot of weekends where we would travel, and it would be easy to not go,” Allie said. “You really have to put in the effort.”

Some of the social aspects of the dance world were more difficult. At one after-party, some dancers gave Kyle what they said was water. Immediately after drinking it, he realized it was vodka. The couple quickly left the party.

But Allie said this experience was the exception. The majority of the time, competitors treated them with respect.

“We put God and family first,” Kyle said. “The biggest thing is to stick to the covenant path, just like Russell M. Nelson teaches. There is no reason you can’t live the gospel and be a part of the dance world.”

The gospel is central to the Spinders’ lives, but they find that dance has the potential to help people in different ways. They strongly encourage everybody to give dance a try.

“I teach adults who are looking to dance for different reasons,” Kyle said. “It’s a social outlet, physical activity and it can be a therapy because it brings joy.”

Since retiring from competition two years ago, the Spinders’ lives are focused on judging competitions and coaching ballroom dancers. Though they are done competing together, they want to share their gift of dance with other people, which they consider a service to the dance world, themselves and the community. Kyle even teaches some of BYU’s ballroom classes.

“We want the couples that we work with to achieve better quality of dancing themselves,” Allie said. “We are trying to give to the community of dancers some of what we have learned from our experiences as competitors.”

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