July 15, 2011

National Dance Council of America:

It has been NDCA’s intent not to enter into rhetoric and recrimination in regard to the suspension of its member USA Dance (USAD,) thus the releases put out by the Council have been short and purely factual. It would be hard to say the same of the most recent release from USAD, therefore it has become necessary to respond in some length to the misleading accusations published on Wednesday evening. However, first it should be said that, while the two associations have had their differences, NDCA has been a strong supporter of USAD since its inception by Normand Martin, and through many ups and downs in its fortunes over the years, as even a quick perusal of the association’s history will clearly show.

The NDCA and its members are professional organizations; the members of the organizations are also professionals. Dancing is their livelihood, not their hobby: it is the way they pay their bills, raise and educate their children, and put food on their tables. Understandably then, their point of view may be somewhat different from that of an organization of self labeled ‘volunteers’ whose job security and quality of life does not depend on the business of dance or dancing. NDCA is happy to include among its registrants many amateur dancers; we value their participation and look forward to continuing to welcome them at NDCA competitions and championships.

Contrary to the statement made by USAD, NDCA has made no attempt to restrict the ability of USA Dance to conduct its activities; USA Dance is free to do what it decides to do. However, in the matter of the WDSF Congress USAD knowingly disregarded the rules of the NDCA, of which it is a member, and of which it had full knowledge. The published 2011 NDCA Rule Book contains a statement as follows: “NDCA organizers are not allowed to accept sanction or recognition from any other organization unless approval is given by the NDCA. It is the decision of this council that approval under this rule will not be given to IDSF sanctioned events for the foreseeable future.”

On January 30, 2011, the USAD Dance Sport VP, Mr. Ken Richards, wrote to the president of NDCA regarding the IDSF congress, asking “ … will the NDCA object to another venue such as Ohio Star Ball? In other words does the new restriction only cover IDSF competitions?” The reference to “…another venue….” being a reference to the fact that IDSF Congresses have been held for the past 5 years at the Embassy Ball, as mentioned in the USAD Wednesday release. Indeed, the owners of the Embassy Ball have been extremely supportive of USA Dance, organizing and hosting these congresses for USAD at their own cost, supplying the venue and the services of Embassy expert judges to lecture, free of any charge to USAD. Further, Embassy Ball organized and completely sponsored the entire professional show of six couples for the USA Dance organized World Championship in Brooklyn last fall. Given that one of the owners of Embassy Ball is the NDCA president, these are hardly the actions of a professional organization intent on restricting USA Dance.

Mr. McDonald replied to Mr. Richards the same day, Jan 30, 2011, “At this point in time we are not prepared to have any of our NDCA organizers involved in any IDSF activity.” A Judge’s Congress is a sanctioned IDSF, now WDSF, activity where approval is given by IDSF/WDSF and is a required qualification for an IDSF/WDSF judge’s license. Nothing further was heard from USAD about this matter. Evidently, a decision was taken to completely ignore this correspondence and move ahead without regard to, and in full knowledge of, how the professional organization felt, and in direct contradiction to NDCA’s clearly stated position. NDCA learned of the congress through USAD’s recent advertising.

Also contrary to the Wednesday release, NDCA has not moved “…to immediately discipline, fine or otherwise punish judges, lecturers, organizers or other officials who participate in WDSF competitions or congresses….” thereby inferring that the NDCA is the big bad guy. On the contrary, on Wednesday morning, several hours before this long USAD release was posted, NDCA put out a release telling its professionals that, despite USAD’s suspension, they may continue to do following this action, exactly what they were doing before it, “to abide by the current 2011 Rule Book.” USAD president, Ms Lydia Scardina, was sent a courtesy copy of this release prior to its posting, and therefore had full knowledge of this position before USAD’s erroneous statements were posted. NDCA’s Rule Book, as it relates to USA Dance and judges, has not changed in very many years.

Further, on Tuesday July 12, 2011, a full day before the USAD Wednesday release, in a conversation with one of the professionals contracted as a lecturer by USAD for the WDSF Congress, the NDCA president instructed that professional “to fulfill your contract with USAD.” Once again then, the statements made by USAD demonstrate misleading rhetoric at best. NDCA counts among its registered professional judges a number that have chosen to become IDSF judges, who currently hold IDSF licenses, and who are current professional members of USA Dance. NDCA has made no statement regarding these licenses; it has stopped no one from becoming licensed by IDSF, and several of the NDCA officers hold, or have held, IDSF licenses.

For more that sixty three years, NDCA has worked diligently to promote ballroom dancing through its teachers, registrants, organizations, and competition organizers; for the past forty five years the NDCA has been a member of the World Dance Council, formerly ICBD. There have been many changes over the years in the transition of the International Council of Ballroom Dancers to World Dance Council, just as there have been many changes in the transition of the International Council of Amateur Dancers (ICAD) to the International Dance Sport Federation and, most recently, to World Dance Sport Federation, this is to be expected. The lines between professional and amateur have been blurred so as to be almost impossible to determine, but NDCA and WDC have always been the professional organizations, administering to the profession, and it is true that the NDCA leadership have tried to have world bodies stay out of USA affairs, stating strongly “Leave us alone!” and managing for a very long time to do just that, since WDC has never interfered in the NDCA’s relationship with USA Dance or with NDCA business in America.

However, when IDSF became WDSF earlier this year, its change of name solidified its new position and vision of itself as an international body that now incorporates a professional division, that runs professional competitions, qualifies judges, and bans couples and judges from participating, not only in events in Europe, but now in the USA too. The world’s leading amateur champions were banned from participating in the Grand Slam in the USA; judges contracted by USA Dance for the IDSF World Championships in Brooklyn were banned one week prior to the event, and were removed by USAD.

This professional division was formerly the International Professional Dance Sport Council. IPDSC was an independent and completely autonomous professional body, which intended to work in harmony with the IDSF. The NDCA was a member of the IPDSC under the registered name of ‘Dance Sport America.’ In October 2009, the IDSF completely absorbed the IPDSC into its main body, thereby making it the IDSF professional division: Dance Sport America resigned immediately, therefore to say that this current issue is one between NDCA and WDSF is untrue; NDCA has no relationship with WDSF. USA Dance is its member, with whom it has a relationship; its professional relationship is with WDC.

In closing, there is naturally a great deal more to this small history lesson than can be discussed here and there are always two sides to every story. NDCA recognizes that an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation should prevail in all its dealings with both its members and all other organizations, and had expected that USA Dance and NDCA would negotiate to iron out their differences in just such an atmosphere, not the current one of public pillorying with unfounded and misleading rhetoric as initiated by USA Dance with their Wednesday release.