USA Dance Nationals

28 March 2016

This upcoming Friday through Sunday is the beginning the USA Dance National Championships, the largest USA Dance competition of the year, with over 1,200 dancers from all across the country competing for three days in age categories from less than 10 years old to over 65, and in levels from Bronze to Champ.

The Competition

The competition is generally held at a high end hotel. Until at least 2018, it will be hosted in Baltimore at the Marriott Renaissance HarborPlace. The floor is impeccable, the ballroom is large and spacious, and the judges are certainly some of the best in the country and the world. Dancers from all levels and age categories compete, but dancers at the Open levels in particular (Novice, PreChamp, and Champ) will have the toughest competition, typically with 1/4 finals and 1/8 finals. It isn't unusual to see couples who compete in the collegiate circuit at Champ dancing Novice at Nationals, and the couples who do well at the Champ level are some of the best dancers in the world.

Moreover, Nationals has the largest attendence of Senior, Pre-Teen, Junior, and Youth Dancers of any USA Dance competition. Senior events can be as large as 1/4 finals, and kids regularly have 1/4 finals and 1/8 finals.

Here is an example of the level of Champ Latin at Nationals last year, with Latin on the left and Standard on the right.

The same goes for all four styles, and all age levels. The level of dancing is higher at Nationals, and if you want to see how good a dancer you really are, this is the place to put yourself to the test.

Prizes

Typically, every event from PreBronze to Championship offers cash prizes for the top three couples, ranging from $50 to $150. Perhaps the most valuable prizes awarded are the opportunities for greater things. Every year, winners at the Championship level may go on to represent the United States at the WDSF Amateur World Championships, and every fourth year, the winners at the Championship level are sent to represent the United States at the World Games.

Requirements

Because Nationals has higher calibre dancers than regular competitions, and sends its top couples to represent the United States,  not everybody can just register. There are certain requirements that must be met:

1 Both dancers must be current USA Dance members ($20-$70 per person, depending on age).
2 The couple must have qualified at an NQE (see below).
3a At least one dancer must be either a citizen or a legal resident, having resided in the United States legally for at least 6 months (citizens with family in the US may reside abroad if studying at University or in a dance training program).
3b If only one dancer fulfills requirement 3a, the other must be legally allowed to travel in and out of the United States.
4 Neither dancer may have competed in another country's National Championships in the past 8 months.
5 Neither dancer may have been caught using performance enhancing drugs.

If you are dancing a Championship Level event, make sure to bring proof of citizenship (such as a passport or a birth certificate), or of legal residency in the United States (such as a visa or green card). You can access your proof of USA Dance membership online, and USA Dance can look up wether or not you qualified, but if you do not bring with you proof legal status in the United States, you will not be allowed to compete. Non-Champ dancers are not required to bring proof as of 2016.

How to Qualify

What sets Nationals apart from other competitions is that the calibre of dancers at Nationals is much stronger than at regular competitions, since only the better dancers from regular competitions make it. In order to be eligible to dance at Nationals, you must have qualified in the past year at a National Qualifying Event, which are held all over the country. Here's how it works:

1 If you dance Adult Silver Latin with your partner and make the top 65% of couples, you qualify to dance partner at Nationals Adult Silver Latin with that same partner. If you want to dance Adult Bronze Latin, you have to qualify for that as well, which is to say that just because you made it in Silver, does not mean you qualify in Bronze.
2 Let's say there are 6 couples dancing in an event at an NQE. The top 65% of couples qualify, and 65% of 6 is 3.9, which is just rounded to the nearest whole number (i.e. 4). This means with 6 couples, the top 4 couples qualify.
3 If there are 3 or fewer couples dancing in an event at an NQE, all couples qualify.

A list of all future NQE's can be found on the USA Dance Competition Calendar

Visit the official USA Dance National Championships website