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Competitor Eligibility

Alexandra Caluen

USA Dance is a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee, and as such an increasing number of its rules, policies, and procedures are being brought into line with those of other sporting organizations under the USOC.

One question to which there is still no hard-and-fast answer published, by DVIDA or NDCA or USA Dance, is "What constitutes eligibility for competition as an amateur with USA Dance?"


First of all, if you are purely a student of dance – you take classes and private lessons, but you do no teaching, you are not paid for performances or appearances, and you do not have any sponsors (other than your parents) – you are definitely eligible to compete as an amateur. The only requirement is that you register as a Dancesport Athlete member of USA Dance – and, if you wish to compete in NDCA-sanctioned competitions, you must also register as an Amateur with NDCA.

IF you register with NDCA as a professional (and you must already have a teaching certification from DVIDA, ISTSD, or another certifying organization in order to so register) for the purpose of competing as a professional, either with your students or with a professional partner, then you are considered a professional by NDCA and USA Dance and may not compete as an amateur.

IF you are employed full-time in a dance studio as an instructor, OR if you teach independently as a dance instructor, and that is your primary source of income, USA Dance will consider you a professional and you may not compete as an amateur. This provision is, at present, on the honor system.

Part-time teachers (like myself) who have another primary source of income – even if it is tangentially related to dance instruction, as in fitness coaching, or even working as a studio receptionist or manager – and who are not registered as professionals with NDCA, are not considered "professionals" for the purpose of qualification for amateur competition.

It used to be that USA Dance disqualified you as an amateur if you were a teacher of dance. However, in bringing the organization into line with the rest of the Olympic Committee members, they had to allow their amateur athletes a) to earn some money from coaching and b) to earn some money from appearance fees and/or sponsorships. All the other athletes are allowed to, so dancers have to be allowed to as well.

What this allowance means is that you can compete as an amateur and still accept:

  • Payment for performances;
  • Payment for teaching;
  • sponsorship by a dance-related vendor; and/or
  • "Scholarship" money from a USA Dance chapter or other sporting and/or arts organization; as long as the total remuneration you receive does not constitute your primary income.

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