When officials from the American Ballroom Company visited the Brigham Young University campus three years ago to watch the International Ballroom Dance championships, they were amazed by how smoothly the event's organizers pulled off the competition.

They were even more impressed with the 11,000 spectators who filled the Marriott Center to watch the several hundred ballroom dancers from around the world.So strong was the impression the BYU dance department left on these officials that they have now decided to pull up the stakes of their national competition from the East Coast to bring it to the BYU campus for good.

"This is the ideal location for these championships," said John Kimmins, president of the American Ballroom Company. "We are positive that everyone will enjoy these great facilities and large audiences."

Beginning in 1996, the U.S. National Professional International Standard Championship and the U.S. National Professional Rising Star International Standard Competition will be held in BYU's 23,000-seat Marriott Center. BYU has also been named the site of several youth and preteen ballroom competitions that will begin in April 1995.

"This will give the residents of Utah a chance to see a national ballroom competition year in and year out," said Claudia Hill, of BYU's dance department. "This competition has never been held in the West before, and so we are thrilled to have it come to our back yard."

Hill said BYU was chosen to host the event because of the university's reputation as a ballroom dance center and for Utah's strong support of ballroom dancing at the youth level. Both factors should combine to guarantee the largest ballroom crowds in the nation, Hill said.

During the international championships, spectators from Utah, Idaho and other surrounding states filled the Marriott Center. Utah and states from the Intermountain region also have a large base of youths who participate in ballroom dance programs in high school or private dance studios.

"I think the biggest draw of BYU was the amount of junior competitors that were involved with ballroom programs three years ago," Hill said. "There are a lot of private ballroom programs, and more come out to compete here than in anywhere else in the nation."

"It should be a great benefit for youth in Utah and Idaho," Hill said. "They just don't find this kind of support anywhere else in the nation."

Tickets for the two national youth ballroom championships will go on sale March 13 at the Marriott Center ticket office. The events will be held April 7 and 8.