BYU hosts US National Amateur DanceSport championships

Competitor poses at the end of a round of dancing. She and her dance partner share the floor with other dancers competing in the same round. (Chloe Peterson)

Dancers from across the U.S. gathered at the BYU Marriott Center from March 12-16 to compete in the National Amateur DanceSport championships.

“This is the biggest event for ballroom dancers in the U.S., it’s the event we all look forward to and prepare for,” competitor Nina Adams said. 

Competitors from all walks of life participated in different age categories, including youth, juniors, pre-teens, pre-adults, adults and seniors.

A team of dancers make formations on the dance floor. Many teams and dance partners traveled from far distances to attend the competition. (Chloe Peterson)

According to the U.S. National Amateur DanceSport championships website, a total of $48,450 was awarded in prize money, as well as a chance to represent the U.S. in this year’s World Championships in Paris.

Known for its highly successful ballroom program, BYU has regularly hosted the amateur championships on its campus. 

“BYU is, without question, the most influential school in the nation in terms of identifying dance as both a sport and a respected curriculum,” Brian McDonald, president of the National Dance Council of America, said on the competition’s website

The website goes on to speak about the effect of BYU ballroom on the world of dance, saying that because BYU regularly hosts the U.S. National Amateur DanceSport Championships, the ballroom world has been exposed to the standards and values of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Opening prayers, clean music selections and modest costume regulations are some of the ways BYU demonstrates their unique culture to the dancers who attend the event.

Tiffany Gunnell, a teaching assistant for the BYU youth dance teams, came to support her little sister in the competition.

“It’s kind of a big deal and a lot of people prepare all year for these events and they’re really trying to compete for those titles, but there are also people competing just to have fun,” Gunnell said.

Dancers’ preparation often includes multiple hours of practice a day, many days a week, Madigan McCormick said. McCormick is a BYU student studying elementary education and a member of the BYU touring ballroom company.

McCormick said she personally knows a dance partnership who prepares for the competition by taking six private lessons a day, on top of attending school and working part-time. 

Originally from Ukraine and now living in North Carolina, Polina and Anton Skaskiv attended the competition to cheer on their son and other dancers from the Skaskiv Dance Community studio. 

They spoke about the challenges dancers face, including the physically demanding schedule and difficulties of finding the right dance partner.

“But for someone who wants to dance, they will find a way,” Anton Skaskiv said. 

To learn more about the U.S. National Amateur DanceSport championships, visit their website

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