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Eau Claire's Experience at Dance Fest

By Talia Rudahl

It has been a few weeks since Dance Fest finished, which has given me ample time to reflect on the competition. I was fortunate enough to play a role as not only a competitor this year, but also as a volunteer. Being a volunteer ended up being quite a blessing, as it gave me an excuse to meet some new friends/fellow competitors, as well as an inside look into all of the work it takes to put on a competition.

Some of you may have met me at dance events around the Twin Cities or possibly as a competitor at a competition around the Midwest, but unfortunately there are many of you I simply have not been able to become acquainted with yet, because of the simple fact that I'm unfortunately not from around here.

This year I was the only competitor from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which made it difficult to find a place for me to fit in. I'm originally from Eau Claire, which is about one and a half hours east of the Twin Cities. I've been ballroom dancing for about five years, but only competing for the last three. Unfortunately, being from Eau Claire has many challenges in the pursuit of being a ballroom dancer, as it severely lacks the resources or dancers are needed to progress in ballroom dancing. I am fortunate to be moving to the Twin Cities this summer, though, so I hope to get the chance to meet many more people that represent the ballroom dancing community in Minnesota.

But enough about my sad little history—back to Dance Fest! I was so happy to have the opportunity to participate as a competitor and volunteer at the first annual Dance Fest. I think that all of the volunteers and sponsors did an amazing job in putting together a competition so quickly. They made it seem effortless, though I know it was anything but.

The competition was run at a very nice pace (hardly ever running behind schedule, which many of you know never happens at competitions) and had a wonderful atmosphere. When I heard about the number of competitors that had signed up, I was worried about the studio being too crowded, but there ended up being just enough space for all of the competitors to have a nice-sized floor to dance on, as well as lots of room for spectators.

I look forward to volunteering again in the future and helping to make this competition even better! Also, I hope that I can coax some of my fellow Eau Claire dancers into sharing this experience next year, as they missed out on quite an incredible weekend.

Finally, I just want to give a shout-out to all of my wonderful partners: Seth Westlake, Mark Salzman, and Joel Torgeson. You guys rock!