WDSF versus WDC

I was perusing the World Dance Council (WDC) website the other day and came across this statement on their home page:  “The WDC is the World authority for all Dance for both Amateurs and Professionals”.  How can the WDC be the “world authority” when it is the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF), that is designated by the International Olympic Committee as the International Governing Body for DanceSport?  Let’s compare the websites of the WDC and the WDSF to see what each one offers the amateur DanceSport competitor.

The Amateur League of the WDC lists two pages of competition rules, while the WDSF competition rules go on for 61 pages, with a number of supplemental documents.  The WDSF rules cover everything from anti-doping, to proper organization of a competitive event, to the conduct of judges.  In fact, there is an extensive supplementary section dealing specifically with the ethical behavior expected of adjudicators.

And the WDSF costume rules provide page after page of detailed descriptions of what is and is not allowed in competition, complete with diagrams.  A particularly detailed description exists for the costuming of juvenile and junior competitors.  The WDC’s costume rules for amateurs on the other hand, state only that costumes must be “in compliance with each of the Ballroom and Latin-american disciplines” and that they “shall conform with accepted norms for men and women in competition-dancing.”  There is nothing listed on the WDC website to guide the parent on age-appropriate costuming for children.

And how important and significant does the WDC consider its amateur competitors to be?  It devotes only one page to photo galleries from the limited number of WDC amateur competitions, with the last update being a competition that took place over six months ago.  The WDSF, on the other hand, has close to 1,000 pages of photos from its competitions, including many of the most recent ones from 2014 supplemented by scores of videos.

And to top it off, the Chair of the WDC Amateur League is a professional whom the amateurs had no role in selecting, leaving one to wonder how much freedom competitors have within the Amateur League to chart their own course within the WDC.   The WDSF, on the other hand, has an Athletes Commission where athletes may voice their opinion on a variety of subjects in a democratic manner and are surveyed on their interests and concerns.  There is also a separate Professional Division so that professionals have their own area within the WDSF where issues specific to professionals may be addressed.

Competitors have the right to choose which competitive events they will enter.  However,  competitors who choose only to dance in WDC-affiliated amateur competitions are doing themselves a great disservice, and depriving themselves of the opportunity to compete in the world’s largest, most competitive  and most comprehensive system of DanceSport competitions in the world – those organized under the WDSF umbrella and its network of over 90 national federations.



There’s still time to register to hold an Olympic Day event, which celebrates the values of the Olympic Movement and the joy that sport and a physically fit lifestyle bring to our lives.  Olympic Day is celebrated each June 23rd in 160 countries around the world, and celebratory events can be staged any time in June.   The USOC provides a banner and informational materials as well as a template to all who sign up to host an Olympic Day celebration.  In past years USA Dance chapters have organized Olympic Day events that have included Olympic-themed social dances as well as dance and DanceSport demonstrations at shopping malls, emphasizing dance done competitively or recreationally as a wonderful way to stay fit for people of all ages.   Interested chapters are encouraged to visit the following site for further information and to register their event with the USOC.


WDSF Appoints USA Dance Past President Lydia Scardina to the Sports For All Commission

I am honored to receive an appointment to the World DanceSport Federation’s newly created Sports for All Commission.  USA Dance has issued the following press release regarding the appointment:

“USA Dance, the National Governing Body for DanceSport in the United States, proudly announces that the World DanceSport Federation, the global governing body for DanceSport and member organization of the International Olympic Committee, has appointed San Francisco-resident Lydia Scardina, immediate past president of USA Dance, Inc., to the newly created WDSF Sports For All Commission.

Ms. Scardina will serve on this prestigious Commission along with Sandy Brittain, president of Canada DanceSport, Professor Rainbow Ho of the University of Hong Kong and Commission Chair Heidi Estler, vice president of DanceSport Germany, German DanceSport Federation.

The Sports For All Commission will partner with the IOC, the National Olympic Committees and the various National DanceSport Federations throughout the world to promote the concept of healthy physical activity for people of all ages, emphasizing the role of dance in furthering  these healthy lifestyle goals.

The Sports For All Commission, as explained by the WDSF, promotes the Olympic ideal that sport is a human right for all individuals regardless of race, social class or sex.  The movement encourages sports activities that can be exercised by people of all ages, both sexes and by those with different social and economic conditions.

“I am looking forward to this new challenge and the opportunity it presents for the WDSF and its member federations, including USA Dance, to work hand in hand with the IOC and the National Olympic Committees in this important endeavor” states Ms. Scardina.”


USA Dance – the True Leading Authority for DanceSport in the U.S.

In the January 24, 2014 issue of DANCE WEEK I came across a statement by the president of the National Dance Council of America to the effect that the NDCA is the “official governing council of dance and dancesport in the USA.”  In my opinion, this statement is incorrect and confusing because the only organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the National Governing Body (NGB) for DanceSport in the U.S. is USA Dance.

USA Dance’s NGB designation is of prime importance.  The Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act, an Act of Congress which was signed into law in 1978 gives the USOC sole authority to determine which organization may be designated as an NGB and which may not.    Among American dance organizations, only USA Dance holds the NGB designation.

The president of the NDCA goes on to state in DANCE WEEK that the NDCA is the “leading authority of dance for Professionals, Amateurs and Pro/Am competitors”.  This too is a questionable statement, given that the NDCA has no NGB status conferred upon it via federal law.

Just as USA Dance is recognized as the NGB for DanceSport in the U.S., its international federation, the World DanceSport Federation is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the International Governing Body (IGB) for DanceSport world-wide.

Both the WDSF and USA Dance are democratic organizations, giving members a voice and a vote, an important criteria which the IOC and the USOC considered in granting IGB and NGB status to these respective organizations.  Other important criteria include  transparent grievance and appeal procedures for all athletes, officials and organizers that meet well defined international standards as well as the national standards established in the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act.

The National Dance Council of America may well be a trade association that is in the business of protecting the interests of organizers of NDCA competitions, but only USA Dance has the right to call itself the National Governing Body for DanceSport in the U.S.


Attending the 2014 USA Dance Chapter Conference

I have received some inquiries from several chapter officials wanting my opinion on whether it is worth their while to attend the 2014 USA Dance Chapter Conference, which will be held in Irvine, CA on March 6-9, 2014.  My response is that it is extremely worth while.  The annual Chapter Conference brings together officials from chapters all over the country where they can obtain useful information on growing their chapter, retaining members and volunteers and learning new techniques to improve their chapter over-all, in an environment meant to facilitate friendly interaction interspersed with lots of social dancing.

This year’s Chapter Conference will have some new elements because several of the past key presenters will not be there.  Chapter officials will not see the previous corporate officers Esther Freeman and Bill Rose, nor have the opportunity to attend their popular sessions because they have left office and will not be in attendance.  But chapter officials will get to hear from their replacements and begin to evaluate whether this new team is living up to their campaign promises.

In reviewing the list of topics and presenters this year, my recommendation is to make a special effort to attend the sessions presented by Stan Andrews and Angela Prince.    Attendees should also plan to schedule some time with Ben Moseley, who will be there throughout the conference in order to discuss the Website and Marketing Promotion Program for chapters.  I have attended presentations by these individuals on several occasions in the past and can attest to their high quality.

I have always believed that it is important when inviting presenters to identify those who can best engage the attendees as well as provide them with accurate information in a clear fashion.  It is also extremely important for the integrity of USA Dance that presenters who are also members of the organization be upstanding individuals who understand and support USA Dance’s role as a National Governing Body of DanceSport first and foremost, and the key activities provided by social dancers in support of that mission.  Individuals who do not meet these high standards should be screened out as presenters.

I note that there is no presentation this year regarding USA Dance’s K-12 program, which has as a key element the role that chapters can play in expanding dance opportunities in the schools.  This is an omission that needs to be corrected for next year’s conference, because the encouragement of dancing in the schools is part of USA Dance’s mission and fully aligns with the educational activities of the organization.*

This year’s conference hosts will be the Orange County, Los Angeles and Inland Chapters.  These host chapters have wonderful volunteers and I am sure they will perform their host functions in the gracious manner for which they are known, particularly in welcoming the many chapter officials from around the country to Southern California and ensuring that they have an excellent conference experience and many enjoyable dance activities during their stay.  So chapter leaders should go and enjoy the conference, and take away some useful information as well.

The link to the Chapter Conference site is:


*January 31, 2014 Update Regarding K-12 Program:  I have been informed that a K-12 presentation has been added to the Chapter Conference, although it has not yet appeared on the published schedule.  Attendees should make a point to attend this presentation and pick up the literature that will be available in order to assist chapters to start their own K-12 Student Program.

Olympic Day 2014

USA Dance is a member of the Multisport Organizations Council of the USOC, and as such, helps promote Olympic Day celebrations and their message of physical fitness for people of all ages.  This is a natural fit for USA Dance, and what better way than dancing to promote physical fitness!

Olympic Day is celebrated on or around June 23rd of each year.   The USOC provides informational materials and a template to all who sign up to host an Olympic Day celebration.  In past years USA Dance chapters have organized successful Olympic Day events at shopping malls that have included presentations by Olympians and dance demonstrations by chapter members.  Chapters have also held Olympic-themed social dances.  Anyone interested in hosting an Olympic Day event in their community should visit the following site for further information.


Artistry, Sport or Both?

A New Year and new challenges await us all.  I’ll start off by discussing a concern I’ve had for a while now.  I am hearing a lot of talk these days from supporters of the World Dance Council (WDC) to the effect that those who choose to participate in WDC competitions are the “true artists”, while the World DanceSport Federation’s (WDSF) emphasis on dance as a “sport” places the artistic element in a subservient position.  I find this argument to be without merit, and any coaches who push their students to go the WDC route exclusively are doing those students a great disservice as well as revealing a bias that harms the development of DanceSport over-all.

Anyone who has seen a recent WDSF competitive event in either live or broadcast form knows that artistry is not only alive and well in DanceSport, but that those athletes who choose to compete in WDSF events are continually coming up with new and artistically inventive choreographic elements as well as pushing the envelope in terms of the strength, agility and stamina needed to compete at the world class level in WDSF competitions.

DanceSport is not something that is frozen in time, but is a continually evolving artistic and athletic endeavor.  Nor do DanceSport athletes who compete in WDSF events have to contend with the same couples winning all the major events year after year after year.  This is because the much larger pool of competitors that can be found in WDSF competitions than in the WDC means that all of them are constantly having to push themselves artistically and athletically in order to get ahead of the pack.

And in the WDSF, judges are required to continue taking adjudicator congresses in order to refresh their judging skills and become aware of new and developing trends in DanceSport.  The WDSF presently has within it over 90 participating countries, and because WDSF judges come from such a large variety of countries, their perspectives are more varied and they bring these perspectives to their judging assignments.

Also in the WDSF, the judging system is always under review and development as it should be and as it is in many sports, in an effort to make it fairer for competitors and more understandable for the general public.  This is part of the WDSF’s goal to bring DanceSport ever closer to becoming an Olympic Sport.  DanceSport is already accepted into the IOC-affiliated Games on several continents as well as the World Games; and the Pan American Games are on the horizon.

This evolutionary track on which the WDSF has placed competitive dance is good for athletes, officials and organizers as it will ultimately attract a growing fan and spectator base that will enjoy and appreciate the artistry and athleticism that is DanceSport.

Happy 30th Anniversary, Nor Cal Chapter!

As we approach the end of 2013, I would like to extend my congratulations again to the vibrant Nor Cal Chapter of USA Dance, which has just celebrated its 30th anniversary, having been founded in 1983, making it the oldest USA Dance chapter west of the Mississippi.  Its first board consisted of founding members Mike Riggs, John Duffy, Bruce Leppert and Karen Andersen, and Karen has served on every succeeding board through the present day – surely a record of chapter service!

Over the years Nor Cal has played an important role in USA Dance, producing scores of national champions and world representatives from among its members.  And Nor Cal volunteers have proven their worth through years of significant contributions to our national organization.

Among the national champions the chapter has produced who have also served as chapter board members over the years are Vernon Cheng, past chapter president and Adult Standard National Champion, Tina Moretti-Rose, current chapter treasurer and Senior I Latin Champion and Adult Latin World Representative, James Kleinrath, current chapter president and National Champion in a variety of senior categories in Standard and American Smooth, Genya Mazo, past board member and National Champion in Junior and Youth Latin, and Turtle Brennen, past board member and National Champion in Adult American Smooth, Senior I Standard and World Representative in Adult 10 Dance.  Turtle was also a DanceSport Delegate on the Governing Council of USA Dance for many years.

In my post of September 4, 2013 I covered the accomplishments of my husband, Mark Scardina, a current chapter board member, who together with former chapter secretary Art Lashbrook wrote the first  DanceSport Rulebook in 1993.  Mark and Art went on to serve as USA Dance’s first Vice President of DanceSport and Chair of the Rules Committee respectively.

Also of major significance to USA Dance were the accomplishments of another former Nor Cal chapter member, Bill Bennett, who founded the USA Dance Youth College Network Program, personally bringing over 100 college clubs into USA Dance.  Bill and his wife Phyllis, although living 100 miles from the ballroom where Nor Cal held its competitions in its early years, nevertheless were among the first on the scene at each event in order to help set up the ballroom, and were usually among the last to leave after having helped with clean-up duties.  Such volunteers are worth their weight in gold!

The Nor Cal Chapter has had a number of firsts – first chapter to receive a national sanction to organize a Regional Championship (now NQE) in 1992, first chapter to host three National Championships (in 1995, 1999 and 2006), all of which made a significant profit for USA Dance, first West Coast chapter to receive the Chapter of the Year Award from the National President in 1995 and National Volunteer of the Year Award (Tina Moretti-Rose in 2006).

And the Nor Cal Chapter is still going strong, with a capable and experienced board at its helm, and its 300 members made up almost exclusively of competitors, who repeatedly bring home national titles in a variety of age categories from the Pre-Teen through the Senior ranks, and continue to distinguish themselves on and off the dance floor.

I’m proud to call myself a member of the Nor Cal Chapter, and look forward to many more  accomplishments in the years to come from this wonderful chapter.



Some of the Messages We Have Received

Bill Rose, Esther Freeman and I will be wrapping up our various projects during December in preparation for leaving office at the end of the year.  We want to thank all those who are continuing to express their support in conversations, phone messages and personal notes.   Here is but a sampling of the messages we have received:

To:  Esther

“I must say that I am in shock and total disbelief at the outcome of the election.  You have been an extraordinary officer for this organization, and I am so sorry you will not be leading us on in the future.   My best to you, and you definitely will be missed.                         Thank you so much for all you have done to help me over the years.  I think this organization will suffer with mostly men in charge.  Women get things done!”

- From a Chapter President in a Mid Atlantic state

To:  Bill

“I’m very sorry you weren’t reelected as VP. Your candidate statement was the most positive of all the officers. This election was “new” vs. “old” instead of evaluating each candidate individually. “

- From a former contributor to the AD Magazine, New York State

To:  Lydia

“I have very little dance experience and know nothing about the issues or differences between the candidates in the recent election, so I did not vote. In any event, I am certain that you have devoted countless hours to USA Dance and I want to thank you for those efforts.”

- From a Chapter President in a Southern state

To: Lydia, Bill and Esther

“My sincere thanks to all the officers that have served our association, donated their time and for their dedication to USA Dance.”

- From a Chapter President in a Mid Western state

And may we in turn say thank you to all those members who have shown kindness, respect and loyalty to us over the years.  It is because of members like you that we have continued as USA Dance volunteers for as long as we have.

A Message to our Supporters

Dear friends:

I am very humbled by the outpouring of support that has been coming in for Bill Rose, Esther Freeman and me following the announcement of the results of the USA Dance national election.  Please be assured that we will remain engaged in USA Dance.

You have probably surmised from viewing the announcement of election results the other day that this election was decided by a very small number of voters.  In fact, 93% of the approximately 14,000 USA Dance eligible voters did not choose to vote, and so the election was decided by the 7% who did. This tells me that neither side in this contested election succeeded, in spite of the considerable social media component of this election, in getting the vast majority of our members to actually send in their ballots.  An effort must be made in future elections to find a way to engage this vast majority of our membership, competitors and social dancers alike.

This election also clarified for me that most of our members do not follow very closely what is going on at the national level, and/or are simply too busy enjoying their own dancing to vote.  Individuals who are dissatisfied for one reason or another or who simply want “change” are often the most prone to vote, while those who are pleased with the direction of the organization are more inclined to forgo voting.  The problem is that a small group of motivated voters can then swing the election in a direction the majority of non voters may not want.  But that’s the way it is – those who vote decide who will lead the organization, and then they and all who did not cast ballots must be prepared to live with the results.

Many of you have asked us what we will be doing when our terms of office conclude.  Bill Rose, as many of you know, is the president of the Orange County Chapter and on the organizing committee for the Southwest Regional Championships and NQE, and will continue with those activities.

Esther Freeman and I will also remain active members and volunteers of our local chapters, and as National Past Presidents, we will join the other Past Presidents on the newly created USA Dance Past Presidents Council come January.

Under the USA Dance bylaws National Past Presidents have always been offered the opportunity to attend and participate in Governing Council meetings, and most have chosen to do so.  They are also invited each year to attend the National Championships.

At its meeting last month the Governing Council strengthened the role of the past presidents even further with the creation of the Past Presidents Council.  This Council will advise GC members individually and collectively on a variety of issues and will also provide a historical perspective which will be needed now more than ever.  Additionally, the Past Presidents Council will undertake studies and reviews of various components of USA Dance programs, councils and committees and will make recommendations for their increased effectiveness.  The Council will be developing its list of priorities and announcing its activities for the coming year in the near future.

Again, we want to thank all who have supported us throughout this election and who have since come forward to express their good wishes.  For those who remain angry or disappointed with the outcome of this election I urge you to channel your feelings into positive avenues and work to make USA Dance an even better organization than it is already.  USA Dance is a wonderful organization with many thousands of caring people who are joined together by their love of ballroom dancing and DanceSport, and that is what will keep USA Dance strong now and in the future.