• Kora Stoynova

Interview with Brian McDonald: Part Two

Updated: Oct 4, 2019

In Part One of our interview with NDCA President Brian McDonald, Maria Hansen and Brian discussed the various ways the NDCA and those who actually sit on the Council have helped and protected members. We also got to know Brian a little better. If you haven’t read Part One, you can do so right here!


Maria asked Brian some pretty in-depth questions in Part Two, including how the voting structure of the NDCA works. This half was especially informative, and we really recommend you read it entirely in order to educate yourselves on how the NDCA is structured in order to represent the many diverse interests of its members. We pick right up where we left off:


Maria: Where do you see the dance business going in the next 5 years?


Brian: Well, there is no question… what are the biggest issues facing our business? It’s the pro/am divisions overseas, the American Smooth and Rhythm Divisions being held throughout the world. I have made statements and reports to the WDC recommending that each country establish its own American Style Division within its own council following the rules and guidelines of the NDCA and following our syllabus and step list. When they need assistance communicating with any of our dance teacher organizations, we will be happy to supply them with information and help to qualify people in those styles. A good example of that was Jason Daly communicated with me last year that he had been approached by the British Dance Council, and one of the teaching organizations there asked for assistance in the American Rhythm syllabus and medalist work, and he asked for permission to and assist them with that. I said yes, absolutely! It’s a good example, where I’m hoping they will come back to our people and our people will go there and give guidelines based on the knowledge and information here in America. That will help educate the rest of the world on our styles, and the pro/am divisions that were founded in this country.


Maria: Are there other ways the NDCA helped to protect our sport?


Brian: This is difficult. No! Not difficult! But I don’t know quite now to explain this to you. This is important to know. What is “sport”? We deleted the world “sport” for everything in the rulebook. Why? Because there’s been a traditional argument for more than 60 years about the artistic qualities and the sporting qualities, and one could argue that it’s really both. But… in many of the legal ramifications, sport is covered under a different way that what traditional Ballroom Dance is. We have used the term “Traditional Ballroom Dance” because it is traditional… it’s been there for over a hundred years. And speaking personally, I really don’t think we will ever get into the IOC (International Olympic Committee). As a subjective sport… honestly, it’s never going to happen. Therefore, the word “sport” is not really relevant to what we actually do.


Maria: I see. I was wondering why the term “Traditional Ballroom” what now being used. Now I understand. Thank you!


Brian: “Traditional Ballroom” because that’s what it always has been. This style has been this way since before World War II… back to the 1920s!


Maria: Could you please explain the structure of the NDCA and the voting system?


Brian: Right. So the NDCA has Full Members, Associate Members, and Affiliate Members. Full Members have 6 votes, Associate Members have 2 votes, and Affiliate Members have 1 vote. The difference between Full Members and Affiliate Members is that Affiliate Members don’t have medalist or teaching credential exams for dance teachers getting certified in Ballroom, Latin Smooth, Rhythm, or Theatrical, whereas Full Members do. And also as a council – most people probably don’t know this – but with Arthur Murray or Fred Astaire or the USISTD (United States Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing), we have overseen their syllabi and approved it. That’s why they have that voting privilege, because of the credentials they supply and bring to the table.


Maria: What about an Associate Member with 2 votes?


Brian: Associate member… we have that in a smaller teaching society, such as “New York Society”. It was very small, like 30 members. But they had been in existence for a very long time, and if they ever grew to membership of 200 and above, then they could apply for Full Membership. Teachers of Boston, the same thing. They were founded in 1948 before any of the other societies were even in existence.


Maria: What should people do if they want to get involved?


Brian: Ha! Pardon my laughter. The same as we did… work up to it! Through their organizations! If they’re not a member of an organization, shame on them! In other words, if you want to help the PDF, get involved with the PDF. If you want to help Terpsichore, get involved with Terpsichore. If you want to help Imperial (USISTD), North American… get involved with them! And I’m glad to say, in all sincerity, when I look around the table at the council meetings, I would say a lot of, I wouldn’t say young people, I would say 50 year olds, are sitting around that table now which I think is fantastic because when I first went to a council meeting in 1979 and I looked around the table, I didn’t know anybody. I knew one person, John Kimmins, and there was not another Ballroom or Latin teacher at the table. They were all performing arts teachers. So that’s changed a lot throughout the years. At that time, the issues were very different. The NDCA helped with things like contractual sales, what was happening with commercial studios, and so on. We still do that, but not to the same degree because we don’t have the same problems they had in those days.


Maria: What do you think the Member Organizations can do better to promote the dance business?


Brian: I’m not sure it’s the business of the Member Organizations to promote the dance business, because the NDCA is a sanctioning body that deals with the sanctioning of all these competitions. Perhaps NADOA (North American Dance Organizers Association)…. [but] most of these Member Organizations are responsible for education and certification. Quality of, not quantity of… you know what I’m saying? So they provide a quality candidate for teaching. Most organizations try to build their numbers within their own organizations… they don’t go out promoting the dance business really. We do more of that because we advertise the NDCA not only in Chip Zwerling’s monthly magazine, in Dance Beat, in Dance News, in Blackpool, the International program, the UK program. We advertise the NDCA every year in all these things. The NDCA does this for the members to keep our people in the forefront at all times.


Next week we will continue with Part Three of this great interview between Brian McDonald and Maria Hansen. Remember, to catch up on Part One, click on the link to be directed there. Let us know if you have any follow up questions you would like us to include in our next interview with Brian!