Ken Richards - USA Dance President

President’s 2023 Message to USA Dance

By Ken Richards
Staff Author

Dear Members and Dancing Friends:

While dressing for the New Year’s Dinner Dance, hosted by the Tidewater Chapter (more on that later), I had a chance to catch several of those “look-back” TV programs. You know the type – the top 10 moments, people, events, etc. for the history books, as we put a close to 2022 and ring in the new year. Of course, there are a few things ranked top that I never heard of (you too?) and wonder if I was too busy dancing and missed something.

Regardless, the dawn of a new year is a great time to look back and remember… In fact – if you get your facts from Google – “Auld lang syne” translates into “days long ago”… Thus, should old acquaintances be forgotten and days long ago… I think not.  

So, as I begin the third year of my presidential term, I will list my top recent memories for USA Dance, while remembering that day – long ago – when USA Dance Senior Vice President Vivian Beiswenger introduced me to President Archie Hazelwood. Wow, that man loved social and competitive dancing and worked tirelessly to build USABDA, the forerunner to today’s USA Dance. He wasted no time in appointing me to a position on the Governing Council as the Director of Publicity. And so began my years of service to our members, leading to these great recent memories:

  • The return to a LIVE National DanceSport Championship… AND for the first time, combining National titles for Teacher/Student, Pro/Am, Professional, Solo Proficiency and Collegiate with our many Amateur Ballroom DanceSport titles.
  • The implementation of several new added value partnerships offering discounts and more for our members… DanceVision, DSI, and Perkspot are all great ways to earn more than your membership contribution in great products and services.
  • The release of a plethora of new Governing Documents like the Revised Bylaws, Breaking DanceSport Rulebook, Ballroom DanceSport Rulebook, Ethics and Conflict of Interest Policies, and National Elections Policy.
  • The generous support of sponsors providing scholarships and organizational underwriting – Thank you Jake Mazhar for your National Professional Division Scholarships; and Nike, Afatti, Silverback Foundation, Red Bull, Monster Energy, and Snipes for your support of the Breaking Division and its athletes.
  • The fun of attending my second National Breaking DanceSport Championship in NE Philly and the blast of watching the Junior and Youth divisions.
  • The finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) after several months of meetings to finalize the agreements of how the Breaking Discipline will be managed through the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
  • The implementation of the various Digest Newsletters with valuable updated information and reminders relevant to each of the social and competitive divisions.
  • The rollout of SafeSport Training and how it provides our officers, coaches, and officials with new tools to protect our athletes.
  • The opportunity to travel to the World Games, in Birmingham, Alabama, to cheer on our athletes in Standard, Latin, and Breaking and to witness the Breakers score three medals including the Gold in the Bboy competition.
  • The chance to represent USA Dance at the USOPC Assembly in Colorado Springs, which included being nominated by all the other Recognized Sport Organizations to represent them on the Nomination Committee for future sports. I also had the opportunity to tour the Olympic Museum.
  • The exuberance of the National and Chapter-Level Volunteers stepping up and making a difference with renewed vigor to spread the benefits of dance back to their communities.
  • And for the Tidewater Chapter for pulling together a return to their New Year’s Gala – their 31st edition. And for finally getting to the event and having the enjoyment of dancing side-by-side with several hundred others looking forward to 2023!

As we step into 2023, I remind you that our organization is like no other and promotes a love that we all share – DANCE. We care about our members and are eager to increase your dance opportunities. You have and continue to make USA Dance what it is today. To all the members, I promise to remain fully engaged in the challenges of this organization and encourage you all to promote USA Dance to your friends and fellow dancers. Thank you!

Good health, happiness, and dancing in 2023!!

Ken Richards

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