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BYU welcomes ballroom's best for competition

Campus will host national Dance Sport contest

About 27 years ago, Brigham Young University began holding ballroom dance championships. Five years ago, BYU became a hub for the U.S. National Professional Standard International Competition.

"That changed us forever," said BYU dance faculty member Claudia Hill. "There are still competitions held in Florida, but they moved some up here."

One of those competitions — the U.S. National Dance Sport Championships — will meet for three days this week, Thursday-Saturday, March 8-10, in the Marriott Center.

Tickets are available from the Marriott Center ticket office at 1-800-322-BYU1 or 1-801-378-BYU1. Ringside table seats on the edge of the dance floor for Thursday's and Friday's meets are $30 per person per day; chair seats for rows 1-20 are $14; rows 21 and back are $10. Saturday's tickets are $50 for ringside table seats; $18 for rows 1-20; $12 for rows 21 and back. Daily passes are also available.

"There are a lot of supporters of ballroom dance in Utah," said Hill. "When the competitions were moved here, organizers were amazed at the excitement and attendance.

"It's also fun for BYU students to have a professional competition they can attend and see what can be done in the world of ballroom dance," she said.

But along with that come the trials, Hill said, referring to staff members who basically volunteer their time.

"There is a lot of work getting organized for the championships. We work on it a whole year. We book the judges. We schedule the dates and we have to make sure that we don't violate the National Dance Council of America rule that prevents the scheduling of too many competitions in an area so close together."

Everything from the Youth Standard Formation Division I to the Professional Standard Championship dancing, which includes such steps as the waltz, tango and quickstep, will be part of the matches.

As for the more exotic works, the Latin Championships that feature cha-cha, samba and paso doble and the Cabaret Championships will also be presented.