Dance Fest 2015
By Talia Rudahl
I watch as freshly danced competitors stream by me. "I think I saw a judge mark us," an excited follow tells her partner.
"We totally messed up that last spin turn," a lead says in anguish to his upset partner. I listen in as more competitors walk by, completely unaware of their silent observer.
Being a volunteer at Dance Fest, you truly get the best of both worlds. I am a competitor myself, so not only did I later share in the excitement (mixed with the slight fear of not getting a callback) that these competitors were feeling, but I also had the pleasure of working behind the scenes to make sure the competition ran smoothly. Each competitor's overjoyed face was evidence of the many volunteers' extensive contributions to Dance Fest, and for me, at least, that vicarious joy made it all worthwhile.
This was my second year volunteering at Dance Fest, and I am incredibly proud of all the efforts every volunteer committed to making this event excellent. I've been competing for about five years, and Dance Fest is one of the most successful competitions when it comes to getting the job done. I have never participated in another competition that is consistently a few minutes ahead of schedule. Ballroom competitions are infamous for running behind schedule, sometimes being even forty-five minutes behind a projected start time. Dance Fest has taken on this challenge and beat the standard of badly timed competitions.
Dance Fest is also amazing at attracting volunteers from the collegiate, amateur, professional, and social dance communities alike. All of the coordinators, volunteers themselves, not only recruit these volunteers but also get them excited to help promote and make this unique event a success. The coordinators are also fantastic at finding top-notch judges to make sure everyone gets fairly marked in each style of dance. They were even able to secure So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars celebrity dancer Alan Bersten as a judge this year!
Finally, Dance Fest prides itself on rewarding all of the competitors' efforts. In addition to the very affordable registration fee, the fun, welcoming atmosphere, and the high-quality seminars taught by some of the best dancers in the nation, Dance Fest also offers special incentives that really go above and beyond. All collegiate competitors at this year's Dance Fest received fun, useful souvenirs to take home with them in the form of a leak-proof water bottle and a nice, big dance backpack. In addition, the Dance Fest coordinators were hard at work all year finding local ballroom enthusiasts to donate to the cause and provide scholarship money, lesson packages, and event tickets to top finalists in many of the events throughout the weekend. The total value of these gifts and scholarships was over $12,000 this year. Walking away from a competition with amazing memories and a sense of accomplishment is great, but coming away with some extra pocket money and a nifty new bag and water bottle makes Dance Fest easily the most memorable competition of the year.
Overall, I am proud to be part of such an amazing ballroom community. We all band together for a good cause, and the results show for themselves. I was lucky enough to place second in silver standard with my wonderful partner this year, and I cannot wait to continue putting my best foot forward and practicing hard to place even better next year. I'm especially excited to return as a volunteer next year, putting my best hand forward to support this amazing competition's cause by donating my time and efforts to the continued success of Dance Fest.