Eric and Yanina
Eric Austin and Yanina Kisler won both Senior III and Senior IV Standard at the 2023 Nationals! They will represent the United States in two WDSF World Championships!

Results of Senior Committee Survey After Nationals

By Senior Committee – Report
Staff Author
Photo by Carson Zullinger
Seniors were asked: If you attended Nationals, please make a comment about the event itself.

Following Nationals 2023, the USA Dance Senior Committee surveyed Seniors with one request:

If you attended Nationals, please make a comment about the event itself. It may be positive, negative, or even simply informational.

The answers showed that Championship-level Seniors and Syllabus/Novice Seniors viewed Nationals very differently. Their comments are organized accordingly.

Responses about Nationals

Championship Seniors

  • We really should, as a committee, thank the Nationals Organizers for addressing our concerns and working so hard to bring us a top-notch event.


  • We just wish judging would be fairer for all dancers by all judges.


  • I thought the Nationals were great! I believe the past two national comps, however, have had the S3 and S4 dancers competing toward the end of the nights. When they run behind, we don’t get out of the ballroom until midnight, and most of us have early flights back home the next morning. It would be great to rotate who dances late at night.


  • The biggest complaint I have after this comp was the behavior of the young teens on the practice floor as well as some of the champion-level adults. We all know the practice floor is for everyone at every level. Yet, when some of the higher-level dancers are practicing, they want to do their entire dance on a practice floor that is not the size of the ballroom floor. Youth power through and get way too close to couples who may just be reviewing trouble spots. Some are very rude even if they run into you or “clip” your heel as they zoom past you with no apology. This happens on the dance floor as well. I understand they are told by their parents/coaches to continue no matter who they run into or even injure when competing. This type of coaching and just lack of decent manners concerns me very much as a fellow dancer and competitor. Accidents happen on the floor frequently, but they don’t HAVE to. I hope this issue can and will be addressed because it would be a shame for someone to make the effort to travel and compete, and then be injured on the practice floor, which could possibly prevent them from competing. (This also happens at the S2 level with the higher-level competitors.)


  • As far as comments–we would have loved to see a videographer there. We’ve come to count on that service, and it was missing from Nationals and from the Atlanta comp last month.  It would also be great to have a photographer who had a booth, or some kind of presence, at the actual comp.  I checked out the website of the Nationals photographer and it said to go to their booth and use their iPad to look at your pictures.  That is exactly what we would have loved to do.  But they didn’t have a booth.  I’m grateful for a photographer at all, but over the past 14 years, we really appreciate the competitions that have an actual presence at the comps.  We also assumed there would be more vendors.  I always love shopping for dresses and jewelry and other dance-related things.  I totally understand if it was a financial decision, and it wasn’t lucrative for vendors to come.  I guess we just assumed that Nationals was big enough to support a wider selection of vendors.  Having said all that, it was a wonderful event.  The hotel was great, the location was great, and the rooms and spacing were great. Everything was well run from what we could see.  We love USA dances and will support as many as we can!


  • I thought the event was wonderful. Ann D. and Sterling S. work very hard to make it a fun event.


  • Could we have some of the Senior events earlier in the evening and leave the later times to the younger competitors? Maybe move the Team match to after 9 p.m.?


  • Thanks to everyone for all of their hard work.


  • My partner and I attended the USA Dance Nationals in the past many years, including this year, and we LOVED it! We are so appreciative of the USA Dance organization and the officers for the countless hours that they all have contributed to making the Nationals such a fun and happy experience for us all. We particularly enjoy seeing our fellow Senior dancers at Nationals each year and sharing our pearls of joyful and hard work.  We try to improve our dances at a speed hopefully FASTER than the speed of our getting older. Overall, we end up dancing better and better at each Nationals!


  • Thank you for soliciting comments about the Nationals.  It is important to hear from our athletes and no one really knows where to send their feedback.  We thought Nationals went extremely well and give Ann Durocher and her committee KUDOS and our thanks!  The event was well organized, in a lovely space, with great music, and a lot of fun.  We know St. Louis was not the original spot, but it turned out to be a great location — lots of room, a big ballroom, good rates, good food, a big practice area, plenty of room to change, separate room for collegiates, fast elevators, the ballroom was a good temperature, good service, central USA.  It was excellent!!!


  • It was sad that some Professional events were combined with Amateur events.  It is hard to get Professionals to compete in this circuit and that did not send a good message to them.


  • We would hope, in the future, that until it gets bigger, Pro-Am and Teacher-Student would be placed earlier in the day.  The young Teachers were running back and forth between their students and primary partners in the evening, which is not good for them.  Plus, these events are not real crowd-pleasers.


  • Some of the costume rules need to be changed or really eliminated. For Smooth, please get rid of the single-colored tie rule.  There should not be a rule, where a rule is not needed.  We all agree that everything should be in good taste — No one is trying to wear a tie with rude comments or symbols on it.  Some of the Professional males today are even wearing turtlenecks under their Smooth jackets; it is a good look and should not be treated as if it is in poor taste or scandalous.


  • For Latin and Rhythm, some of the men at Nationals were told to roll down their sleeves, when some of their outfits didn’t even have full-length sleeves.  Their looks were again not in poor taste or scandalous.  Some of the guys were tearing seams out of their expensive shirts so they could dance…not good.


  • If the rules committee really wants to hit a topic that detracts and distracts, please eliminate man buns from Smooth and Standard.  There is nothing good about them.


  • At USA Dance Nationals 2023, I entered Rhythm Showdance. As of January 3rd, a new set of rules came into effect for this event. If there will be substantial rule changes in the future, I recommend they not take effect until the following year’s Nationals (in this case 2024) because I had to make many revisions to my existing program to reflect the rules starting in January. I only had about a month to change things because I had to submit an audition video by mid-February.


  • The rules for Showdance state there must be an overhead lift, and there is no definition of an overhead lift in the rulebook. It would be so helpful to have a clear definition, perhaps including some pictures of what does and does not constitute overhead. What part of the partner’s body needs to be over the lifter’s head?  NOTE: (Does this requirement not discriminate against some dancers – some gender neutral, some lacking in arm strength, or some not-so-traditionally proportioned partnerships?)


  • I submitted the audition video and music on time before the deadline of Feb 15. On March 9th, I received feedback indicating I needed to edit the music and change the choreography. It may be nicer to have feedback sooner.  I had a very hectic week leading up to the competition because of all these last-minute changes that were needed. I would suggest we post a clarification document that includes videos from this year’s showcases and how the judges are counting whether something satisfies the rules so that in the future this last-minute frenzy doesn’t happen to anyone else. I don’t even mind using my video of all the violations to show others if it will enhance education generally. I noticed the other team that entered our event withdrew, I don’t know their story, but I have a feeling if they had the same experience as we did, they might not have been able to manage to make all the changes needed in such a short time.


  • Just a suggestion for the Nationals organizing committee.  We believe the best location for all competitors whether it’s on the east, central, or western portion of the USA, is a hotel by the airport. No need to get on a shuttle — no fuss about renting a car or paying an expensive parking fee at a downtown hotel. If anyone wishes to visit the city, it’s their worry to figure it out and USAD doesn’t have to worry about running the Nationals downtown.  Also, most of the downtown areas at night are not exactly the safest place to go. The Chicago Airport Hyatt was a great choice In October 2021 for Senior Nationals.


  • We wanted to thank the hard-working senior committee for prioritizing our concerns and relating them to the organizing board.  Your efforts are greatly appreciated!!


Syllabus/Novice Seniors

  • They followed the same schedule in 2023 as in 2022 and Friday was a long day with all Senior Syllabus events in all four styles in succession. People were so exhausted that they began dropping heats. I believe they were then awarded last place in each event.


  • We would rather the Collegiate competition be held at another time or place. Yes, combining the Collegiate Nationals with regular Nationals does inflate the numbers, but it also makes getting a hotel room, parking, food, etc. more difficult. Furthermore, they are charged less for entry fees which shifts more of the financial burden onto the Seniors. Finally, they do not buy tickets to watch Seniors and vice versa.


  • I find it an affront that the Senior Am/Am competitors are the ones supporting the competitions and the organization. The Pros are not charged entry fees and get rebates from their students’ entries, plus the Pros and their Pro/Am students get admission to all sessions (if we are not dancing, we must buy a ticket) and they are given reserved, preferred seating (again, we are charged for this). Finally, Pro/Am-only membership costs less than Amateur Athlete membership and they do not have to qualify to go to Nationals.


  • Syllabus/Novice Seniors are an afterthought at Nationals. Championship level is priority one. Lots of scholarships and stipends on the line. Good crowds. Great events.


  • There are seniors who compete at the Championship level just to have competition. They know they should not be there. I am considering dancing Championship myself. Success would be to occasionally make a final. Collegiate dancers are the second priority. Seniors take what is left. Several couples said their heats were stacked back-to-back. Some said they would not return to Nationals in 2024. For most Seniors, Nationals provides their worst heat schedule of the year. For the second consecutive year, Seniors dropped events because they were so compressed on Friday. Senior heats are used as fill-ins. Between semi-final and final collegiate heats, Seniors are thrown in. One senior five couple was thrown in with several teen/ adult couples. In Senior IV, a championship event, the five couples were not introduced as is the custom.


  • Seniors don’t matter at Nationals.


  • We enjoy dancing with other Seniors on the floor, more than in heats with wildly varied ages and skill levels. As a competitor, it is more meaningful to compete against a full dance floor.


Responses about the year in general.


  • We attended three USA dances in the past year (not including Nationals).  It’s sad to see the decline in the number of attendees (and in the number of competitions offered throughout the year), but there isn’t much to be done about that.  People pursued other hobbies during the pandemic and didn’t return to dance.  I understand USA Dance needs to get higher numbers, and therefore is expanding its boundaries.  But I wish it could remain what it was in yesteryear — an organization for Amateurs, not Pro-Ams.  It’s sad to see the Pro-Ams coming into our circuit.  They already have such a large circuit of their own, and I fear in the future they may try to take over ours.



  • Is there any way to receive information about the number of competitors by competition and category for the last few years?


  • We enjoy dancing with other Seniors on the floor, more than in heats with wildly varied ages and skill levels.


  • As a competitor, it is more meaningful to compete against a full dance floor.


  • I am concerned that the upcoming year will not go well. Going back to Regionals and eliminating NQEs was a mistake. This mistake is compounded by dictating date ranges for the Regionals. Also, we have seen the costs for entries go up dramatically, led by charging $20 per dance for entries. USAD used to pride itself on being affordable.


  • Suggestion — currently all Amateur Athlete memberships expire 12/31, New Year’s Eve, and must be renewed before going to Nationals. Nationals always take place March/April. Create a “Competition Year” from May 1 to April 30, i.e. amateur athlete memberships expire on April 30. That way when renewed for the next year, membership is good all the way through the next Nationals.


  • I read all the various minutes as soon as they are posted on the website. The latest membership numbers show that DanceSport members are about 4000, Social about 1800, and Breaking 95. DanceSport had to give up three BoD seats to Breaking; yet, we have 40 times as many members. Used to be Social was about 20,000 members, but USAD membership has little to no value for Social Members. DanceSport needs to take back the organization and stop spending our resources on Breaking.




All USA Dance Seniors who want to be included in the Senior Email Group, please email Senior Committee Chair Chuck Garrett:     

Also, read American Dancer at to stay current on what is happening with our organization. 

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