by Ken Richards, President of USA Dance
A busy couple of months provided me with an opportunity to step out from behind the computer and participate in a few USA Dance-centered events. First, I answered the invitation of Lolita Brawner, District 9 Director and Tallahassee Chapter President, for their first educational, social dance, mini-comp, extravaganza. It was a blast to connect with our dedicated members in the North and Central Florida areas as they shared dance and health workshops along with hours of great dancing fun. Read about the event here.
Next, I found myself back in Florida for the chance to see my first live breakdancing event, which was also the USA Dance Breaking National Championships, crowning the top two B-Girls and B-Boys to represent the United States at the WDSF World Championships. I was joined by Todd Kirrane, our National Senior Vice President, who was instrumental in helping to organize the event with our partners Cros1 of Freestyle Sessions and Natylite of Shaolin Productions. See Challenges of the Pandemic – Back to Breaking Live and the report on the USA Dance Website.
My third USA Dance event was much closer to home, as my wife, staff, and I were given the opportunity to host the Delaware Valley Chapter weekly social dance in our studio. The Chapter’s normal dance venue in New Jersey has remained closed, so Chapter President Philip Zoebisch found options for hosting and restarting their dances by rotating throughout various studios in the area. All members received a discounted admission, and all new members received a 4-week group class series valued at twice the price of a social membership. And five new members joined that evening!
Of course, the Annual General Meeting also happened on August 28, when the board of directors had a chance to present the current state of USA Dance and the progress made since January. If you were not able to attend the online webinar, I encourage you to view the recording and/or the minutes, which will be available soon at: https://usadance.org/page/Minutes .
One of the highlights of the meeting was the Q&A session, and to my surprise, the vast majority of the questions had to do with USA Dance’s involvement in Breakdancing. Many years ago, the wheels were set in motion for both the World DanceSport Federation and its National Member Bodies to become “umbrella” organizations able and willing to manage and welcome all dance forms. And while the Board and the NGB (National Governing Body) Task Force are still hammering out the details, we are now establishing a new structure that allows other dance disciplines to find an autonomous home inside of the USA Dance structure. And this means Breakdancing, Argentine Tango, Salsa and more.
The perceived rush to add Breakdancing to our organization (something that has been in the works since 2015) was precipitated by the International Olympic Committee’s announcement that Breakdancing would become the first dance discipline to become a Medal-Sport in the Summer Olympics, Paris-2024. Further, Breakdancing was added to Standard, Latin, and Acrobatic Rock-n-Roll as a new dance discipline in the World Games. That event takes place in Birmingham, Alabama, July 2022, so mark your calendars.
Since only USA Dance can qualify dancers for the World Games and the WDSF World Championships, a number of top influential Breakers have started to join USA Dance for our expertise in managing a National Sport Program. As a highlight, six American Breakers have been identified by the WDSF to join the international Breaking Division as Technical Advisors in an effort to have Breakers run the sport of Breakdancing… with names to be released soon.
Ultimately, I would ask that all “dance members” of USA Dance recognize that “a Division” is only a structural term, not an invitation to divide us. If you are a pure ballroom social dance enthusiast, or a top-level professional competitor, coach, or something in-between, this is the time to welcome all dancers to our family. We will continue this conversation over time and remain transparent on social media, the USA Dance website, and through the various Board and Executive Committee Meeting Minutes.
Of course, there was the normal assortment of internal meetings with the various councils and committees working each week to improve the organization for the members. The bigger meeting of past few weeks included the 7-hour long WDSF Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Election, and the WDSF-Professional Division AGM and Election.
On the competitive front, USA Dance also hosted its first of four National Championship events during the Oklahoma Dreamcatcher DanceSport event crowning our National Champions in the Junior II and Youth divisions for Standard, Latin, and 10-Dance – see Oklahoma – Where Dreams Came True for Youth and Junior II Champions for full coverage of the results.
In summary, I am elated to see the progress being made with growing the events, both social and competitive, that bring our dance community together and back to USA Dance.