T. W., you’re hosting a big dance competition in Georgia September, 24th featuring a lot of different styles. How did this idea come about?
First and foremost Terrance, thank you for the opportunity to interview with ChiSteppers. The iN10se Dance Challenge is a celebration of some of the most prevalent urban dances that we engage in across the country. We like to say it’s a celebration of our steps in dance with an intense one day, 12 hours of great music, engaging activities, top notch displays of competitive urban dance, networking, and tons of dancing opportunities throughout the day along with a basketball shoot out for those that want to take their game from the hardwood to the hoop. This was a venture that came about through a vision of having an event that paid tribute to more than one urban dance. Contrary to popular belief, most dancers that currently step, especially outside the Chicago area, dance more than one dance. For those individuals, Chicago Steppin came about as a desire to learn and do more than their local one dance. iN10se is an all inclusive project featuring categories in Chicago Steppin, Detroit Ballroom, and genres of Swing dancing including but not limited to DC Hand Dance, Swingout, Bop, East Coast and West Coast Swing. There is a line dance category, an over 50 category we’ve coined the “Prime Time” category for those in the prime of their lives, and there is a top gun category, where there’s no hold’s barred, bring your arieals, bring your lifts, bring your dips, bring your dance! We’re excited about this inaugural session and look forward to its expansion to other cities, with the addition of more days and more categories.
Do you dance in a number of different styles yourself?
Yes. I began with Detroit Ballroom, Graystone style dancing, and Detroit Bop. I then learned East coast swing, DC Hand Dance, DC Bop, Fred Astaire 2 Step, Chicago Steppin, and West Coast Swing. I also Swingout, KC 2 Step, Birmingham Walk the Floor and another dance they do in Birmingham they call “Tippin.” I have a basic Salsa, Bachata, Latin Hustle and I am currently taking classes in Night Club 2-Step and American Tango and as soon as I can, I want to learn the Houston 2-step. I travel a lot and where ever I go, I like learning the local dance and supporting new dance family.
Wow. I don’t know how you remember all of those different rules and steps. Considering all of these dance styles, and various rules, I saw the judges that were selected for the contest? Will the Steppin judges be the ballroom and hand dance judges and vice versa?
Because this venture was an all inclusive one, we needed dancers that were knowledgeable in not only the concept of each of the urban dances, but proficient in their application and skilled in competitive dance and judging. Our judges are of the highest pedigree. Winners of the MGM Ultimate Ballroom Showdown, Swing Fling, Grand Nationals, MadJams, The Master’s Competition, and the Swing US Open and even placed in the World’s Largest Steppers Competition. Our judges have been Head Judges at the International Swing Dance Competition in Houston TX, and owners of the Tri-State Swing, Line, Youth, Dance (S.L.Y.D.E.) competition in the DC area. Both of these competitions also support the all inclusive education and performance of our urban dances. Every judge dances more than one dance, including Chicago Steppin.
I see. It’s good to see that all of the judges are knowledgeable about each style of dance.
All of the judges are well versed on the different styles of dance represented in the competition. All judges are trained on the rules throughout the year, prior to the competition. All of the judges are trained on the relative placement scoring system being used to judge competitor’s performances. This system is used to ensure each judge has an equal vote on the end results without one judge having more power than the other providing a fair method to value each judge’s vote significantly avoiding biasness and favoritism.
How was Clayton State University selected as the location?
Clayton State University is conveniently located no more than 10 miles south of the airport, which made it convenient for travelers. It’s convenient to downtown without the traffic and congestion of downtown. The student activity center provides us with gaming rooms, pool tables, ballrooms, and a full court gym which was great. It allows us to be flexible in the other activities we can provided during the days festivities.
There are two competition sessions – one in the morning and one in the evening. How will the performances be divided?
Once competitor registrations are evaluated the final schedule will be made. Normally, the categories are spread out through the day. The matinee session would consist of the beginner and intermediate/advance categories of each division along with the line dance category and the evening session will hold the prime time and top gun division competitions. Also, Jack and Jills competitions (grab bag competitions) will be held throughout the day and the evening.
On a different note, I know you’re very big into youth Steppin? Do you have any future plans of getting children more involved in Steppin?
If there is one thing that I am passionate about, it’s the involvement of our children in our dances at an early age and on a grand level. Through dance our children learn of our culture and appreciation of the art of what we built over the years. Through dance I believe we can teach very critical character education elements such as leadership, citizenship, how to be social and interact in social settings. The children are the future of this dance, they are the present and we must provide them a platform to be a part of our history and culture in dance in order to preserve our dance. This year we were not able to include a youth division at the competition, but it’s definitely on the agenda for next year. I was inspired by how the DC Hand dance community involves the youth throughout the year on it’s national dance scene. I was inspired by the youth involvement at the International Swing Dance Championships held in Houston Texas by Teena Morales and I anticipate the youth involvement on the Steppin scene growing exponentially in the up coming years to the point, a spot in a youth division on the national level at competitions like the World’s Largest is warranted and welcomed. I believe their involvement and exposure to our dance is crucial to is preservation and I’m willing to invest in the youth, I believe in it just that much.
Anything else you want to share about the iN10se Dance Challenge before we sign off?
Again Terrance, we are grateful and humbled by the opportunity to inform the versatile readers of ChiStepper.com about another opportunity to display their talent and love for the dance on another large scale. iN10seDance Challenge, September 24 2016, over 6,500 dollars available in cash prizes! Category pre-registration ends September 6th. For more information you can call us 443-621-4032, visit our website at www.in10sedance.com, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are here to assist you with any questions you have, it’s our great pleasure to answer any and all questions you have. September 24th, all roads lead to Atlanta,GA. It’s going to be INTENSE!