USA Dance National Championships, April 1-3, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a huge event with over 900 dancers. Justin Chiou and Hannah Bundus, here, demonstrate their dynamics and flexibility. They were 2nd in Adult Championship Smooth. Photo by Carson Zullinger.
USA Dance National Championships, April 1-3, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was a huge event with over 900 dancers. Justin Chiou and Hannah Bundus, here, demonstrate their dynamics and flexibility. They were 2nd in Adult Championship Smooth. Photo by Carson Zullinger.

USA Dance 2022 National Ballroom DanceSport Championships

By Rose-Ann Lynch
Managing Editor
Photos by Carson Zullinger, Patt Penatzer, and Guy Platt
The future is hopeful, and the dance floor is calling!!!!!

Many USA Dance senior competitors and professionals remember well the days of Nationals with standing room only, multiple heats, cheering crowds, scholarships, excitement, excitement, excitement!!!  The 2022 Nationals were happily reminiscent of those days!  Dancers from across the United States gathered at the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Downtown Hotel to compete for “The Gold”, at the USA Dance National Ballroom DanceSport Championships, April 1-3.  The competition included over 900 dancers who waltzed, tangoed, cha cha’d, and jived for national and category titles in age groups Pre-Teen I (age nine or less) to Senior V (age 75 and up).  Dance styles ranged from International Standard and Latin, American Smooth and Rhythm, Night Club and more.  Dancers included Amateur Couples, Professional Couples, Professional-Amateur Couples, Teacher-Student Couples, and Solo Proficiency Competitors.  

“The young college dancers added a lot of excitement to the competition,” exclaimed President Ken Richards. “They definitely raised the decibels in the ballroom!” Photo by Carson Zullinger.

“This was an enormous undertaking by a lot of great volunteers,” said USA Dance President Ken Richards.  “It brought together dancers of all ages, along with coaches, officials, and vendors.  They came from as far as Hawaii to gather in Pittsburgh, and they all had a great time!”  

This year’s events incorporated college-level competitions, where students from 30 colleges and universities joined the Championships to compete for individual and team titles.  The synergy of their participation on and off the dance floor was electrifying and synonymous of Nationals in days gone by.

“The young college dancers added a lot of excitement to the competition,” exclaimed Richards.  “They definitely raised the decibels in the ballroom!”  

The competition was fun, loud, and intense.  In the end, the dancers from the University of Minnesota claimed the top spot, edging out — by only 0.25% of a point — Purdue University’s team, who came in second.  To the delight of the home crowd, third place went to Pittsburgh’s-own Carnegie Mellon University.  The college team events were the largest events of the entire competition and included 91 talented and energetic dancers from across the country.

Pittsburgh was not a new site for Nationals; the last time was in 1983.  American Dancer did a little research to see who won the titles in 1983:  The Adult International Standard was won by Daniel Radler & Suzanne Hamby.  The Adult International Latin Champions were Stanley McCalla & Jennifer Ford.  The Adult American Smooth Championship, that year, went to an exciting, young couple by the names of James Lindsey and Marianne Hallahan.  Although USA Dance has not seen James in a few years, Marianne remains a long-recognized and very active member of this organization.  In fact, there she was at this year’s event!

“I think the quality of dance is continually improving,” said Hallahan with a ready smile.  “It has definitely changed from when I was competing.  Limits keep getting pushed.”  She was having a great time.  If she had a partner, we have no doubt that she would be giving us all a run for our money on the dance floor!  

This year’s National Championships proved a special celebration, as it marked a late return to the ballroom floor for many dancers who were affected by the 2020/2021 COVID-19 Pandemic.  To improve attendance, Senior Vice President Todd Kirrane announced, earlier in the year, that qualifications were not required for the event, and dancers were encouraged to dance at their chosen levels.  To ensure a continued level of comfort and to maximize capabilities, the competition site included a large ballroom floor and two large practice floors, which were constantly filled with activity.  Events included a Saturday evening social dance for all who wanted to take part and DanceSport workshops, for those not on the competition floor.  

World-renown Professionals Jake Mazhar and Yuliya Besarab graced the floor and wowed the Saturday night crowd. Photo by Patt Panzer.
World-renown Professionals Jake Mazhar and Yuliya Besarab graced the floor and wowed the Saturday night crowd. Photo by Patt Panzer.

Saturday night was capped with a special show by world-renown professionals Jake Mazhar and Yuliya Besarab, who mesmerized the audience with their elegant and inspiring demonstration of strength, beauty, flexibility, and grace.  This was a true pleaser that left an appreciative crowd screaming for more. 

The 2022 USA Dance National DanceSport Championships, under Organizer Ann Durocher, recruited an impressive panel of 19 distinguished judges – including international adjudicators Salvatore Todaro (Bulgaria) and Andrea Rizzo (Italy) — co-chaired by the ever-vigilant Dan Calloway and Renata Shvarts.  Music was provided by Todd Wakefield, with Van Hoang and Ricky Semlitz as co-emcees, Sterling Sightler as registrar, Webmaster Myra Coffield, and Jack Jaubert as the stalwart Deck Captain.  And then there were the many many volunteers, including Jane Downing, President of USA Dance’s Pittsburgh Chapter, who received a special shout out from President Ken Richards.  

Adult Standard Dancers Alexandru Munteanu and Anna Sheedy are always crowd pleasers. They won Adult Championship International Standard. Photo by Carson Zullinger.
Adult Standard Dancers Alexandru Munteanu and Anna Sheedy are always crowd pleasers. They won Adult Championship International Standard. Photo by Carson Zullinger.
Sebastian Gluzman and Katerina Penatzer demonstrate style and sophistication. They won Junior II Pre-Champ Standard. Photo by Lee Penatzer.
Sebastian Gluzman and Katerina Penatzer demonstrate style and sophistication. They won Junior II Pre-Champ Standard. Photo by Lee Penatzer.
Angelina Zelenova and David Moiseyev competed in Junior 1 Championship Latin and Standard and won both categories.Photo by Carson Zullinger.
Angelina Zelenova and David Moiseyev competed in Junior 1 Championship Latin and Standard and won both categories. Photo by Carson Zullinger.
Christopher Affonso and Holly Hatleberg demonstrate a beautiful oversway in their Waltz. Christopher and Holly won Youth Championship Standard. Photo by Carson Zullinger.
Christopher Affonso and Holly Hatleberg demonstrate a beautiful oversway in their Waltz. Christopher and Holly won Youth Championship Standard. Photo by Carson Zullinger.

The vendor area had a new stand this year, and it was bustling with customers.  Along with the fabulous hair and makeup, shoes, bling, video, and photography vendors was a Volunteer-run Ballroom Consignment Shop.  Dancers were invited to bring ballroom attire to sell at the competition.  Items included everything from shoes, jewelry, and practice wear to tail suits and full gowns.  As Myra Coffield noted, “There are deals to be made!”  In the end, everyone who participated, whether a buyer or a seller, went away with a bargain, and USA Dance earned 10% of all sales. 

As for the dancers themselves…they danced, jumped, jived, swayed, stretched, and glided from round to round, to the screaming delight of a full audience.  Beautiful gowns, painted faces, and sculpted hair rolled out at every heat next to flawless figures in black.  All agreed that the level of dancing in each category had greatly improved over the years.  Competitors of all ages challenged each other with style, skill, versatility, and finesse.

Events went long and the daytime sessions bled into the evening sessions – again reminiscent of olden days.  Final judges’ marks revealed some long-standing champions, a few upsets, and some new and old faces on the podium.  

Amateur Adult Champions included:  Alexandru Munteanu & Anna Sheedy – International Standard; Artsiom Pazniakou & Daria Goryaynova – Latin; George Cometa & Amelia Wills – Smooth; and Stephen Sekoulopoulos & Sabrina Sharmeen – Rhythm.  

Professional Champions included:  Danya Rubashevsky & Anastasiya Rubashevsky – International 10-Dance, International Standard, and International Latin; Anton Silantev & Olga Akopova – Smooth; and Roman Zotov & Anna Zotova – Rhythm.

Champions in all categories were congratulated, medals were distributed, and smiles were captured forever on video and in photos.  A complete list of the 2022 Champions is here.  

To all Ukrainians and those who have ties to Ukraine, our thoughts are with you as well as our Russian friends and neighbors who oppose these actions. We are united in our solidarity with the members of the All-Ukrainian Federation of DanceSports and the Ukrainian people. Danya and Anastasiya Rubashevsky drape the Ukrainian flag as they take the podium. They won Professional Latin, Standard and 10-Dance. Photo by Carson Zullinger.
To all Ukrainians and those who have ties to Ukraine, our thoughts are with you as well as our Russian friends and neighbors who oppose these actions. We are united in our solidarity with the members of the All-Ukrainian Federation of DanceSports and the Ukrainian people. Danya and Anastasiya Rubashevsky drape the Ukrainian flag as they take the podium. They won Professional Latin, Standard and 10-Dance. Photo by Carson Zullinger.
Senior Championships are always popular at Nationals. Here, Glenn Okazaki and Anne Chang enjoy a lovely final with their fellow Senior IV Standard dancers. Photo by Carson Zullinger.
Senior Championships are always popular at Nationals. Here, Glenn Okazaki and Anne Chang enjoy a lovely final with their fellow Senior IV Standard dancers. Photo by Carson Zullinger.

“We are so proud of our National Champions and look forward to following their progress as they represent the United States overseas at world-class events,” noted Richards.  “These unique and talented athletes have worked hard.  They are the best our country has to offer.”

Although Nationals was a well-attended event and indeed reminiscent of the past, it was noted that some of our dancers are still missing.  So let them know, it is not too late to start preparing for the 2023 USA Dance National DanceSport Championships, which will be held March 24-26, 2023, in Cleveland, Ohio.  The future is hopeful, and the dance floor is calling!!!!!

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