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Letter to the Editor of Minnesota Dancer

By Taylor Wall

The author of this letter requested we print it in our publication, as Minnesota Dancer declined to publish it in its entirety. As it adheres to Sheer Dance's submission policy, we were happy to publish it, though it does require the context of having read the January issue of Minnesota Dancer, a publication with no relationship to Sheer Dance.

To Whom It May Concern,

I am confused and concerned by some of the statements made in the January issue of the Minnesota Dancer regarding the intentions of the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club. Your publication noted that no reasoning was provided with the request for a special election. Although reasoning is not required, I am happy to share my personal reasoning for signing the special election request.

Board President Leland Whitney wrote in his "President's Corner" that the board recognizes the value in having advisers from all factions of the ballroom dance community represented on the USA Dance Minnesota Chapter #2011 Board. As a collegiate dancer and thus a member of a significant faction of this community, I cast my vote in 2012 for board members that I felt worked to better the dance community as a whole, individuals I trusted to accurately represent and usefully serve my collegiate group. I was happy with Peter Westlake's appointment to president, as he met these criteria, and I was satisfied when Daniel O’Connell was appointed as his replacement, as I knew him from our work together on the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club board. I have never known Daniel O'Connell to be ignorant, condescending, rude, or obstructionist as the board cites in the terms for his removal. On the contrary, I have personally witnessed Daniel’s dedication to effective and expedient leadership and his appreciation for the time and energy volunteers donate for the betterment of ballroom dancing, without which there would be no board. Therefore, I question the actions taken by the board in removing him from office and feel that requesting a special election is an appropriate response. I aim to again elect members who I feel work to better serve and better represent the dance community as a whole and who recognize the needs of all members of the ballroom dance community, including collegiate dancers. Although I cannot speak for my fellow collegiate petition-signers, I hope that my reasoning has shown that our position cannot be ignored or discarded as uninformed or "coached."

In the article "Board Election: Power Play?" the newsletter questions our input by writing, "They've been members for about 2 months, yet they're calling for an election!" Perhaps I can shed some light on this circumstance. Collegiate dancers must be members of USA Dance in order to compete at the National Collegiate DanceSport Championship, to which the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club travels every year. These championships are held annually during the fourth weekend of November, meaning that all thirty-nine members of my team obtained their USA Dance memberships in September (two months ago) upon joining the team. It is the individual dancers' choice if they wish to renew their USA Dance memberships in January, September, or any time in between, but we have found that because of the transitory nature of collegiate life and collegiate budgets, many students wait to renew their memberships until they know they need them: in September. I can without a doubt guarantee that no member of the University of Minnesota Ballroom Dance Club became a USA Dance member for the purpose of calling a special election.

I agree that stability and cooperation are required in order to serve all factions of the ballroom dance community. I certainly hope that the USA Dance Minnesota Chapter 2011 Board can recognize the importance of the collegiate market in the future and growth of ballroom dance in Minnesota and nationally. I feel that recent actions by the board have disrupted the community that I know and love, and feel that this special election can begin to piece back together the dance community instead of continuing to waste precious human and financial assets.