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Magazine » March April 2012 Issue » 2012 National DanceSport Championships in Baltimore

2012 National DanceSport Championships in Baltimore

Breanna Olaveson & Erica Colvin
Date Published:
March 1, 2012

Every year, the best dancers from across the nation choreograph, rehearse, compete and rehearse some more in preparation for the USA Dance National DanceSport Championships. This year, the competition celebrates 32 years and will be held March 30, 31 and April 1 at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore.

"It's an amazing event with lots of fun and really great dancing," says Daphna Locker, chair of the Nationals organizing committee. "Everyone gets so excited for the national championship. All of the dancers come in such a great mood ready to dance their best. You always see such great dancing, and it's a joy to experience."

In the past, anyone who participated in one of 10 national qualifying events could compete at Nationals. This year, that changed—only those who place in the top 75 percent at qualifying competitions are invited to compete in Baltimore. This means approximately 1000 of America's top amateur DanceSport athletes will be vying for national titles. Approximately 20 DanceSport couple finalists will be selected to compete at 11 World Championships held throughout the year in countries around the globe.

The USA Dance 2012 Nationals will include all four major ballroom dance styles – International Standard, International Latin, American Smooth and American Rhythm – ranging from Bronze, Silver and Gold to Novice, Pre-Championship and Championship levels. Competitors are expected to represent nearly every state in the nation, ranging from Pre-Teen (as young as age 7) and Youth (to age 18) to Adult (age 19+) and Seniors (35 to 70+).

"It's the culminating event where the best of the best come," says Shawn Fisher, Editor-in-Chief of "American Dancer". "Everyone wants to go see how they measure up to everyone else in the country. Some will qualify for world championships, some will be able to say they're national champions. I think that's why a lot of people go to Nationals."

Special attraction at the USA Dance Nationals will be the participation of Carrie Ann Inaba, celebrity judge on ABC-TV's top-rated show "Dancing With The Stars," who joins USA Dance not only as its Official National Celebrity Ambassador beginning in 2012, but also as Honorary Judge at the USA Dance Nationals for the prestigious 3rd annual USA Dance Star Quality Awards, on Friday and Saturday evenings.

For all of our celebrities (and those visiting from Hollywood), the USA DANCE Red Carpet area will once again be available near the main ballroom for all of our dancers, family and friends to have their photos taken. We'll use this area for media interviews and filming throughout the weekend.

In addition, for the first time at the USA Dance Nationals, there will be a special performance show, featuring Aubree Marchione and Nick Scott. They are the Atlantic Coast and Heart of America Dance Champions and are the first couple to ever represent the United States of America in the World Paralympics Wheelchair DanceSport Championship.

Benefit of Volunteering at Nationals

An event like the USA Dance National DanceSport Championships is a major undertaking, which requires volunteers to work year-round to make this premier event a success. Anyone with a few hours during the weekend of the competition are welcome to volunteer. All volunteers are expected to follow through with their commitments, follow the guidelines of their positions, be good representatives, and provide a friendly and festive atmosphere.

In addition to the happy feeling that comes from servingothers, there are some other great benefits for anyone who is willing to volunteer.

  • Snacks will be provided throughout the day
  • Free tickets will be available for volunteers based on the number of hours volunteered
  • A volunteers' evaluation will be available to help make next year's event even better

There is a wide range of volunteer opportunities available throughout the weekend from setup and take-down help to overnight security. If you would like to volunteer, please contact the event's volunteer coordinator at

For the Social Dancer

We hope you'll join us for this year's Social Dance program at our National DanceSport Championships in Baltimore, March 30 through April 1. Besides watching the variety of competitors you'll have the opportunity to take part in some exclusive workshops for the social dancer, sightsee the inner Harbor and meet social dances from across the US, mingle with celebrities at the cocktail parties and have preferred reserved seats in the Main Ballroom for the competition. And don't forget, if you want to get up and do a little dancing yourself to stretch your legs, we'll have
evening dances as well.

The Social Dance package includes:

  • Reserved seating for evenings in Main Ballroom
  • Open pass for daily admission in Main Ballroom
  • Sightseeing Luncheon Inner Harbor Cruise aboard Spirit of Baltimore
  • Friday and Saturday evening Cocktail Receptions
  • Social Dance workshops Friday and Saturday by Walter & Judy Schultz
  • Friday and Saturday Evening Social Dances
  • Attendance at the General Membership meeting Sunday morning.

Friday Workshops
3:00 - 4:00 PM: Social Dance Workshop
Taught by Walter & Judy Schultz
6:00 PM: Social Welcome Cocktail Reception
8:00 – 10:00 PM: Social Dancing

Saturday Workshops
10:00 - 11:00 AM: Social Dance Workshop
11:00 – 12:00 PM - "Wheelchair Dancing"
Taught by Aubree Marchione & Nick Scott
11:30- 1:30 PM: Inner Harbor Cruise,
luncheon, sightseeing and dancing aboard
the Spirit of Baltimore.
1:00 - 2:00 PM - "Creating powerful movement"
Taught by Borbala Bunnett
3:00 – 4:00 PM: Social Dance Workshop
5:30 - 6:30 PM: Welcome Cocktail Reception
8:00 -10:00 PM: Social Dancing

Sunday Meetings
8:30 AM - "USA Dance General Membership Meeting" Lydia Scardina, President USA Dance.
Hear about upcoming programs, where USA Dance is headed and let the EC know how you
feel about the various issues before us.
Sunday Workshops
11:00 – 12:00 PM - "Characterization & Styling in Smooth"
Taught by Borbala Bunnett

Introducing DanceSport

For many, dance competitions may trigger memories of that epic Electric Slide contest you rocked at your high school prom. For others it may be the season premier of ABCs Dancing With the Stars. Whether you've ever been decked out in rhinestones, performed in front of an audience, or even remember the Electric Slide, you know that dancing connects people and excites emotion. That is where DanceSport comes in. All ages, all skill levels get to take the stage and seize the opportunity to just dance. This article is dedicated to answering your questions and leading the way to rhinestones, bright lights, and the Electric Slide—I mean, the Jive!

What is the difference between "Syllabus" and "Open" events?

Syllabus: Each dance has a list of recognized steps associated with it. This list is known as the "Syllabus," and it lists the steps you can dance at that level. Each dance is broken into three Syllabus levels: Bronze, Silver, and Gold. The steps of each level are grouped together by difficulty, So the bronze steps are pretty basic. The silver level encompasses all of the bronze steps plus a few, which are slightly more advanced. And, you guessed it, the gold level incorporates all of the bronze and silver steps, with the addition of even more complex steps. When competing in the Syllabus level events, you are only allowed to dance steps/figures at the level, or the level below which you are dancing. For example, let's say you are competing in a Silver level event, you may only dance Silver and Bronze figures. To see a full syllabus, visit and download the full USA Dance Rulebook. Additionally, some competitions have events for beginners or newcomers who have never competed before, team matches, or Jack and Jill (leading/following) events. These are perfect for dancers who want to experience competition in a more relaxed and friendly environment.

Open: Once dancers have progressed beyond the Syllabus levels, they may begin competing in Open events. These have no syllabus step restrictions and allow "open" choreography. Like syllabus, open events have a progression: Novice, then Pre-Championship, and finally, Championship.

I am not really sure what "DanceSport" means. Can you explain?

Technically, "DanceSport" is the term used for competitive ballroom dancing. Like other sports, DanceSport athletes are judged based on performance and execution. As Daphna Locker, USA Dance Chair of the 2012 Nationals explained, dancers compete as couples and must work together to progress.

She went on to say that: "DanceSport is the perfect sport—it challenges a person's physical and mental ability, requires talent but talent alone is not enough—one has to work hard at the sport to gain proficiency, has great music, and is a social activity where one has to interact with another person to achieve one's goals. What more can a person ask for?"