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DanceSport on the Chapter Scale

Alexandra Caluen

DanceSport is one of the top priorities for USA Dance as a national organization. If you read the national mission statement, you see DanceSport prominently featured. From the very beginning, USA Dance was formed with the vision of securing a spot for DanceSport as a medal sport in the Olympics, and we are inching ever closer to that goal.

As part of this vision, USA Dance encourages its local chapters to organize dance contests, ranging from informal "dance-offs" during social dances to full-scale competitions. Understandably, most chapters start small and grow into bigger events.

Offering competition events is one of the best ways for chapters to reach out and include junior and collegiate dancers. Juniors (under 18) don't really "do" social dancing; but many juniors interested in ballroom dancing take private lessons, and a lot of them start competing very early.

Another entry point for dancers is college clubs, which offer low-cost lessons, socials, and other events. However, while a studio with many juniors may provide a small-scale studio competition, juniors and collegiate dancers often look to USA Dance for a chance to test their skills in a cost-effective competitive format. USA Dance National organizes a national Collegiate Championship every year.

A chapter might begin by organizing a showcase. A showcase event provides an opportunity to perform a solo routine with no judgment. If a chapter receives a good response to a showcase event, the officers may then stage a small-scale contest. From there, it's a natural step to a chapter competition. In areas with many dancers interested in competition, the chapter event may soon grow into a regional championship or National Qualifying Event.

Recently, the Phoenix chapter of USA Dance hosted its sixth annual chapter competition – and this time around, their competition was a National Qualifying Event. That means that dancers who participated became eligible to compete in the subsequent USA Dance National Championships.

In order to mount a NQE, a chapter must be able to provide a full roster of judges, invigilators, a scrutineer, and other officials for at least one full day of competition, in order to include all the events to be offered at Nationals. Note, they don't have to actually stage all events – they just have to offer them for registration. If no-one signs up for a particular event (say, Senior II Novice Smooth), it doesn't "de-sanction" the competition!

Another Western chapter that is active in competition is Seattle. In 2011, Seattle USA Dance offered three chapter competitions under its "Quest for the Best" banner. (See their website at: The event roster includes syllabus, open, and formation events for all ages. Seattle has also hosted a Northwest Regional Championships twice. In 2013, the Northwest Regional NQE is hosted by the Portland OR chapter.

In California, the Orange County chapter has hosted the Southwest Regional Championships in the past and has hosted the SW NQE for the last couple of years. This NQE returned to the Culver City Veterans' Memorial Auditorium on January 31-February 1, 2014, again hosted by the OC chapter.

The NorCal chapter in the Bay Area has hosted the Southwest Regionals and the Nationals, and recently developed its chapter competition into the California State DanceSport Championships – which was later reincarnated as another NQE under the working title, "The Quake." In 2013, the California State championships hosted by NorCal was an NQE under that name.

We are looking for ways to expand the activities of USA Dance Los Angeles, in line with our members' interests. If competition – of any sort, on any scale – is of interest to YOU, let us know!