Photo Credit: Tom Smart/ Deseret News
The National Dance Council of America (NDCA) has always identified a ballroom couple as a man and a woman, but it was recently forced to change its school of thought. In September 2019, a lawsuit was filed that made the NDCA change this specific rule and instead place no restrictions on what gender combination constituted a couple. Now, after receiving some backlash, Brigham Young University (BYU), a conservative institution that has hosted the U.S. National Amateur Dancesport Championships since 1997, has agreed to recognize NDCA’s new rule even though it violates the university’s strict honor code of no “homosexual behavior” on campus.
“As we are hosting an event that is sanctioned by the NDCA, we are obligated to follow their rules and regulations,” BYU Dance Department Chair Curt Holman told The Daily Universe.
Originally, BYU was against the idea of same-sex or same gender couples in a competition it was hosting, so it announced in November that the university would forgo having the council officially sanction the event and instead it would be classified as an “all-amateur event” for collegiate and studio owners. By the end of that same month though, the decision sparked controversy with many couples in the ballroom dance community. Katerina and Xingmin Lu, a well-known senior amateur ballroom couple from the Czech Republic, announced that they would not be attending this year’s competition at BYU because of their exclusion of same-sex couples. Now that BYU decided to recognize NDCA's new rule, the couple agreed to attend the upcoming event.
Photo Credit: BYU Ballroom Dance Company (https://pam.byu.edu/ensembles/ballroom-dance-company/)
On March 11-14 in the Marriott Center, BYU will make history by hosting an event with 3,000 people allowing same-sex and same gender ballroom couples. Many couples like Alex Tecza and Kato Lindholm see this as a huge step in the right direction.
“We have been advocating for same-sex inclusion in ballroom dancing for some time. It seems like there is a sense of fairness and justice going on around in waves around the dance world,” said Tecza to The Salt Lake Tribune. Tecza and Lindholm began as a traditional couple, then moved to same-sex when Lindholm transitioned.
Even though the current definition of a couple according to the NCDA rule book for sanctioned events now reads “a leader and follower without regard to the sex or gender of the dance,” BYU’s standards haven’t changed. It still considers a ballroom couple a man and a woman, and in dance class at BYU, two men dancing together in any capacity is not allowed.
Traditionally, ballroom dance has set gender roles where the man is supposed to lead the woman, but lately mainstream dancing has had some breakthroughs to erase gender roles. Jakob Fauerby and Silas Holst made history by winning Dancing with the Stars Denmark. Giovanni Ciacci and Raimondo Todaro were in the finals of Ballando co le Stelle, the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars, and Ian Watkins and Matt Evers were paired on Dancing on Ice. Also, Strictly Come Dancing included a same-sex pro dancer performance on its last season featuring professional dancers Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima.
I think the important thing to focus on here is that people in the community were successful in getting the NDCA to update an antiquated ballroom dancing rule. It doesn't matter how the council got there- it happened and it's something huge to build on. It's a big win for the dance community and will encourage more people to speak out in regards to inclusive dance.