A Day At The Ball

Daniel Novikov & Natalina Chen Photo by Alex Havasi

For all my dancer friends and readers who ever desired to go to the Emerald Ball, one of the most prestigious ballroom/dancesport competitions in the United States; held in the Los Angeles area near LAX Airport, I’m here to fill you in and share details of this monumental event. Where else in dance can you see professional dancers, coaches, dance teachers, movie stars, adjudicators, former champions, and so much more, all under one roof!

I was lucky to attend the last day’s event on Sunday, May 3 on behalf of the Fordney Foundation with our founder Marilyn Fordney and her husband, co-founder, Alex Havasi. By the way, it was Alex, who took all these fabulous shots you see here.  And Marilyn Fordney was asked to help give out the awards.  This was the day to see the amateur ‘Youth Series’ in all its fine glory, broken down in categories of ‘Pre-teen’, ‘Junior’ and even the ‘Teddy Bear’ divisions, giving everything they’ve got! Let me tell you that this was a fantastic dance display of emerging talent and I was truly blown away by the energy, dedication and discipline these young people truly displayed. I never got tired of seeing the smiling faces, the gorgeous costumes and young people so poised for success in

Daniel & Natalina win medals Photo by Alex Havasi

dancesport. I could hardly believe that they were amateurs. Their determination to achieve their goals proved that they wouldn’t be that way for long. It was a wonderful show to see and I loved every minute of it.  I especially want to tell you about one young man.  His name is Daniel Novikov.  He and his partner Natalina Chen won First Place in every category they danced in!  Daniel is only 7 years old and already a force to be reckoned with.  He is no less than sensational in every way.  He’s so good, I’m sharing a picture of him and his partner dancing, as well as a picture of them winning all those medals.  You had to be there to believe this young man, truly a show all by himself!

That being said; let me tell you what goes on at this event while the dancers dance their heart out. When you enter this event, you are given a “program” that you should probably not call a “program” at all. This “program,” is a HUGE book with page after page of performer details of every dance category being performed at the Emerald Ball from Tuesday through Sunday. Statistics have proven that ballroom dance/dancesport has increased its numbers drastically from even just a few years ago. Ballroom dance/dancesport is extremely popular and gaining momentum yearly. Thousands of people attended this event and that is only the half of it. There were over 15,000 entries for 6 days of competition. I was mesmerized by the number of young people wanting to perform! I heard that on Friday, there were 3,000 professional entries for judging! They actually had two stages going on at the same time when I was there. I started calling this event “dance subway.” People were everywhere in the audience and on the stage. Often times for the audience, it was standing room only. There is no stopping this show, it starts early in the morning and ends late at night. There is no lunch or breaks during this show. There are so many performers and categories – the competition just keeps moving forward to accommodate all entries.

Marilyn Fordney, Stephen Krauel, Giving Awards Photo by Alex Havasi

You may not realize what it takes for a young dancer to perform at the Emerald Ball. Many times, studios where the children take dance lessons will hold fundraisers. Friends and family come together to lend support and donations to see their child/students, etc. be able to perform at the Emerald Ball. The expression, “It takes a village,” is certainly appropriate here, not to mention the money needed to subsidize your dance journey in this competition. A lot of preparation is necessary in many areas of your career to perform at a ballroom/dancesport competition.  It is certainly one of the many challenges, a dancer may experience.

There are many people at this event that actually do the work to make it happen. These people are the unsung heroes. For example, the job of a Scrutineer is necessary and not easy. The Scrutineer has to make sure that all dance competitors are lined up on the floor before they compete.

Isabella Kats & Geramy Lashchev Photo by Alex Havasi

The Scrutineer must see that all numbers are on backs and verify that everyone in that group is accounted for. Most events have one Master of Ceremonies; this event had two. In fact, I got to interview one of the famous dance competition Master of Ceremonies, Mr. John dePalma.   He is absolutely a pleasure to talk to, and you must stay tuned for that wonderful interview in weeks to come! I promise you will not be disappointed. Also there are Music Coordinators, Deck Captains, Ballroom Liaisons, NDCA Observers, Awards Coordinators, Runners, Social Media, Judges and so many other people involved in this famous event. If you can imagine, all of these people are running around at one time with all the guests, performers, etc. – it is kind of a “dance musical circus” and one of the most exciting places on earth to be. In that room is enough quantum energy to fill up an entire nation. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but us dancers are exciting people that generate a lot of positive energy that brings pleasure to so many! You tell me, what trumps that!!

I’m not through yet, stay tuned for my interview with a famous dance personality that I had the pleasure to meet at the Emerald Ball!

Emerald Ball 5/3/15

Photo by Alex Havasi

Thought Of The Week:

Optimist – someone that knows that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a Cha-Cha.       –  Robert Brault



Shane Meuwissen is the Media Specialist for Fordney Foundation.  He is a former dance instructor who know works with his company Slow Motion Dance Videos capture the beauty of dancing. If you would like to learn more about Shane and his video work, visit his website https://slowmotiondancevideos.com/