WDSF Sports For All Commission Meeting

Next week I will be attending the first meeting of the WDSF Sports For All Commission.  The meeting will be held in Bucharest, Romania in conjunction with the WDSF’s Annual General Assembly.  On the Commission agenda will be a discussion of ideas on how the WDSF and its member federations can work with the IOC and the national Olympic Committees to further the Olympic message that participation in sport is a human right for all men, women and children of all economic strata and in all societies around the world.

If USA Dance members have any ideas they would like to suggest on this topic, please contact me.

 

As DanceSport Prepares to Become a Pan American Sport – Some Thoughts for USA Dance

Participation in the Pan American Games is moving ever closer for DanceSport as more Latin American countries are added to the roster of nations whose national Olympic Committees accept their DanceSport federations as members.  In the next few years USA Dance will need to make some important changes to its bylaws in order to fully comply with the requirements set forth in the U.S. Amateur Sports Act and the USOC Constitution for National Governing Bodies (NGB’s) in order to prepare for DanceSport’s entry into the Pan American Games.  I would like to discuss in this column one of the major changes to the bylaws that will need to be made as well as some related issues that need attention.

In 1996 USA Dance made application to the USOC for recognition as an NGB. The USOC allowed some flexibility in certain provisions of the USA Dance bylaws because USA Dance was initially approved as an affiliate member of the USOC rather than as a full member, and had very few World Team athletes at that time. This affiliate status allowed USA Dance to select athlete representatives from a larger pool. This pool included not only world team or elite-level adult international style competitors, but also championship level athletes in open or age-protected senior age categories.

This flexibility, however, would no longer be afforded at such time as DanceSport becomes a Pan American sport, at which time all NGB provisions of the USOC Constitution would need to be satisfied.  That document defines athlete representatives as individuals who “must have represented the United States in the Olympic, Pan American or Paralympic Games, (or) World Championships…within the ten (10) years preceding election.”

At that time any individuals serving on the DanceSport Council not satisfying that eligibility requirement would need to resign from their positions as DanceSport Delegates and be replaced with elite competitors who are currently representing or had represented USA Dance in the last ten years in World DanceSport Federation world championships.  If an election for DanceSport Delegates were held today, two of the four Delegates presently serving on the DanceSport Council would not be eligible to run in that election and would need to step down from their positions.

At such time as DanceSport becomes a Pan American sport, USA Dance will be moved from the Multi-Sport Organizations Council of the USOC on which it currently serves into the NGB Council, and an athlete will be selected to represent USA Dance athletes on the USOC Athletes Advisory Council, with the rights, privileges and responsibilities associated with full membership as a Pan American sport. In the run up to this recognition, USA Dance will be subjected to ever closer scrutiny by the USOC to ensure that the sport is being properly managed in a fair, ethical and responsible manner. Even today as an affiliate member of the USOC, USA Dance is required to afford member athletes, officials and organizers all due process rights in the event USA Dance takes disciplinary or other action against them or they file a grievance against USA Dance for alleged denial or restriction of their rights.

USA Dance athletes, officials and organizers who claim unfair treatment are afforded the right to have their grievance reviewed by the USOC ombudsman and/or assigned to a panel of three individuals chosen from other Olympic or Pan American NGB’s to hear and adjudicate the grievance. NGB’s that are shown to be noncompliant in affording their members the necessary due process face disciplinary action themselves from the USOC.

The USOC also looks askance at individuals who may be financially profiting from their position of oversight of the sport in any capacity. As such, individuals should not be serving in administrative or governance positions where they are a party to the formulation or approval of rules or regulations that may financially benefit them.

USA Dance now needs to start grappling with and addressing issues of this nature in order to be well-positioned to apply for Pan American sport status when DanceSport becomes eligible in the near term.

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.

 

OLYMPIC DAY – CALLING ALL USA DANCE CHAPTERS!

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.

http://www.teamusa.org/About-the-USOC/In-the-Community/Olympic-Day.aspx

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:

http://www.usadance.org/social-dance/event-calendar/2014-3-6-2014-national-chapter-conference/

*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.
http://www.teamusa.org/About-the-USOC/In-the-Community/Olympic-Day.aspx

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.