It is Friday night at the United States Dance Sport Championships and our style of dance has just its biggest publicity push since Dance Fever.  I fully expected to see a packed house.  After all, an open to the world Standard Championship, a world Mambo Championship held in SW Florida with a large Latino population, and the national Latin Championship all on a Friday night in Hollywood, Florida should draw a full house, shouldn’t it?

It did not.  The audience in the Ballroom was acceptable, certainly not embarrassing, but not overflowing.  When speaking to people that had been hanging around all week, they were very complimentary of the organization of the event, the officials, and the judges.  The hotel certainly is above par, though the price of water in the room is $28.00 – $35.00/gallon, depending upon brand.  No one should complain about the price of gas after leaving here.

Well, going back to the attendance, it seems that politics, and power brokers have shown their true colors.  I remember being at meetings where the power brokers would declare that it is the patriotic duty of each and every dancer to fully support the United States Championships.  Nothing to do with money of course, but your duty is none the less to support it.  These are the same people who implied and advised that they were deserving of the “I DO MORE FOR DANCING THAN YOU DO” award because they were helping dance a little more than Mother Teresa helped the poor.

It is not that most people, even dancers, care about the internal workings of anything like a competition.  The American Ballroom Company probably doesn’t merit much concern anyhow since it is a private company, whose stockholders probably have more money than they need anyhow.  Attendees are more interested in the wonderful music offered, the vast array of vendors, the dress makers, and celebrity dancers they may see, than the dividends paid to stock-holders.  That being said our industry needs to step up and take advantage of the publicity offered by the shows and stars and it appears it is failing.

So who needs to step up?  The for-profit private companies that run the various competitions are doing what they do.  They are trying to compete in the marketplace and make money.  (In the desire for full disclosure, I must mention that I too am involved in a Council of America which must be brought to task.  As a non-profit company charged with the responsibility of educating the public and promoting dance, its charge naturally includes doing it in a non-biased way.  That means that events, championships, and title events must be awarded in a fair and open manner.  That means that the officers and directors must act entirely to the benefit of the sport, and if it becomes apparent that they have received hidden compensations or rewards, whether direct or indirect, they need to be removed.  That means if they have given events or titles to personal friends rather than for the benefit of the sport they should be removed.

But it means even more.  It means that the members of the NDCA have to become involved and knowledgeable, and decide if they are going to let the status quo remain.  If they do let the leadership remain, then everything that has happens is acceptable.  Americans traditionally complain in great numbers and then vote in small numbers.  If they get mad enough then they vote.  I am not here to tell you whether people should go or stay.  I am here to tell you that each and every member should demand to know what is going on.  Rumors of lawsuits, private deals, stipends should either be substantiated or dismissed.  Demand of your association a full accounting of all the activities that have and are occurring and get involved.  The publicity provided through all of the recent shows should not go to waste.  The NDCA should not be used to provide preferential treatment to some and massive profits to others while others are intimidated to shut up and be quiet.

So speak up, make noise and get involved.  Find out what is happening.  Don’t let your association president tell you it will all be OK, or not to worry about it.  Ask questions and get answers, before it is too late, and everything is swept under the rug.

Michael Reichenbach

Published in

Dance Week

October 7, 2005


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