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Magazine » September October 2011 Issue » Batons and Ballroom

Batons and Ballroom

Michael Mecham
Date Published:
September 10, 2011

The United States was awarded the hosting of the 2011 World Baton Twirling Federation International Cup August 4-7 in Jacksonville, Florida, USA at the Jacksonville Veteran's Memorial Arena. That's right, baton twirling. Why would we be discussing baton twirling?

Well, on June 19 in Luxembourg, the World Baton Twirling Federation, along with the World Rock 'n' Roll Confederation and the United Country and Western Dance Council became associate members of the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF). The purpose of the alliance is to work for the common goal of the development of the World Artistic Games, with the long-term future eye on the formation of the Olympic Artistic Games.

Aside from the new alliance that has developed between the World Baton Twirling Federation and the World DanceSport Federation, amateur dance partners Richard Olszeski and Marie Harrington were contacted to provide some intermission entertainment at the International Competition. Richard and Marie, who have been dancing together for five years, are former United Country and Western Dance Council world champions in their age division.

Richard serves as the President of the St. Augustine USA Dance chapter. He received an email looking for a youth or amateur ballroom couple to perform at the International Baton Twirling Championships. After talking to Marie about the email, Richard responded to the email and they were quickly snatched up to perform.

Richard and Marie performed three different dances: Night Club 2-step, Country 2-step, and East Coast Swing. The baton participants and spectators received their performances with enthusiasm.

Richard and Marie were also enthused by the performances they were able to watch. "We were spellbound. " Richard was in awe by the baton twirling performances. "I never knew that people could do what they were doing while twirling a baton." Of course there was baton twirling, but amidst the twirling there were back handsprings, spins, and crisp choreography. Richard recommended, "If you ever have a chance to see any of this baton twirling, go to it. It just blew my mind." Richard and Marie plan to continue improving in their own dancing, and they look forward to future opportunities to display their talents.

For more information about the World Baton Twirling Federation visit
Photo Courtesy of Sandi Wiemers