• Kora Stoynova

Welcome to the PDF's Education Department!

Welcome to the PDF’s Educational Department! In the early months of this year, an idea was born to create an Educational Department of the PDF, whose main goals were to keep PDF members informed about the many facets of our ballroom dance industry. There are so many factors that affect professionals, in a myriad of ways, and the best thing the PDF can do to help professionals make the right decisions for themselves, their students, and their markets, is to increase their knowledge. For this reason, the PDF’s Education Department was born.


It took us a few months to come up with the outline for what the Education Department should be. We decided early on that we did not want to focus on the how to dance. After all, there are plenty of other organizations out there that provide wonderful information on the structure of syllabi and so on. Furthermore, PDF members are professional dancers. That means, in some way or another, we view ballroom dancing as our profession. And we are committed to our profession within the larger framework of the ballroom dance industry.

Bingo! Now we had our framework.


Instead of offering the same information 5 other member organizations of the NDCA can offer, we wanted the Education Department to be something different, something unique. The education we are interested in offering to PDF members is about the industry as a whole. Through our Education Department, we hope to offer explanation for the great machine that is our business; we also want to take it apart and discover each tiny, yet important, cog that makes the machine run. By expanding the knowledge PDF members have of how our industry works, we are confident PDF members will be able to use that knowledge to make better decisions for their careers, their businesses, and their students.

The first thing PDF Officers did to get the Education Department off the ground was to create an Education Committee. As of 2019, the members of the Education Committee are: Maria Hansen, Basil Issaev, Robert Nardozza, and Kora Stoynova. The Education Committee envisioned the Education Department as split into four categories: News Analysis, Ballroom Industry Ins and Outs, Career Pathways, and a Conduct Guide.


News Analysis


Twice a year, the NDCA has meetings where issues are brought up by the various member organizations. Some issues are discussed at length and voted on, some issues are “tabled”, meaning set aside for a vote at a later date, and some are scrapped altogether. Naturally, a number of issues successfully voted into practice have very little effect on professional dancers. Others have profound effects and far-reaching consequences.


Often, PDF officers have found themselves in the position of having to explain the background, reasoning, and consequences of these issues time and again to members. The Education Department hopes to be able to answer common questions regarding current rule changes or NDCA discussions under our News Analysis heading. By writing posts that will be more in depth, officers will be able to answer questions once, and will have their answers and the analysis of important rule changes left on the PDF Blog for future reference.


As a result, this should increase PDF members’ awareness of what, exactly, the NDCA rules are, what they mean for professionals across our industry, and clarification on ambiguities within the rules (which, unfortunately, there are).


Ballroom Industry “Ins and Outs”


Did you know that the structure of the NDCA is a representative democracy? Do you know who the NDCA’s main officers are? Did you know that NDCA meetings are open to all NDCA members to attend and observe?


The Ballroom Dance Industry in the USA is one of the strongest, most well-organized, and most profitable in the world. It’s a powerhouse of activity, from Teddy Bear Solo Competitions to Pro-Am D Events and more! But to keep this huge and complicated industry from collapsing under its own weight is a highly structured organization called the NDCA. Like any good organization, the NDCA has a number of officers in a myriad of positions, constantly reframing the rule structure of the NDCA so that the organization can continue to work for it’s many members.


Professional dancers wear many hats. Some of us are competitors, some only dance Pro-Am; some of us own competitions or judge, others run studios. Many of us do all of these things! As such, PDF members are involved in the industry at every level. Yet, we cannot encourage growth in the industry, and encourage the industry to work for us, unless we understand how our business is structured. This also includes the history of our organization. We cannot ask why, unless we know how.


The goal of this category of education is to describe both the how and the why. From explanations about the structure of the NDCA, to interviews with the industry’s “movers and shakers”, we will help you make sense of this crazy business.


Career Pathways


It is possible to make a career out of ballroom dancing! All members of the PDF should know that. After all, why else would you be a member of the PDF, if you hadn’t decided to make ballroom dancing your profession?


But the reality of the situation is more complicated than that. While there are many avenues for making a career within our business, the process may seem daunting. Opening a studio requires a basic understanding of commercial real estate, working within city building codes, etc. Becoming a judge can mean years of studying and taking complicated examinations. Owning a competition, in an age when there is a moratorium on creating new competitions, means knowing how to place proper value on current competitions that are up for sale.

Under Career Pathways, our vision is to create step-by-step flowcharts that will help you get from point A to point B efficiently and smoothly. Let’s say you’re a brand new professional who wants to start a one-day competition in your city. What do you do? Who do you go to, what do you say?


We want to take the guesswork out of it. Our vast network of professional dancers means we have a professional that has done what you want to do, no matter what it might be. We want to utilize the knowledge we have within our organization to help others become successful. Fellow PDF members helping fellow PDF members. That is the uniqueness of our organization.


Conduct Guide


There is no official code of conduct that covers all professionals in all capacities in our industry. That being said, our goal here is not the create a code of conduct that all PDF members must abide by. Rather, it is to create a set of guidelines that can help guide what the PDF considers to be professional behavior in difficult situations.


For instance, let’s say you are a teacher of children, and a child comes to you complaining of sexual harassment from one of the other teachers in your studio. What should you do? While the PDF recognizes that every situation is entirely unique, by creating a conduct guide, we hope to be able to smoothen out sticky situations such as these. And the possibility for sticky situations is endless!


Our vision for the code of conduct guide is not to create a mandatory code of conduct, but to offer case studies in professionalism and professional behavior. In this way, the PDF can help professionals work together to create a better environment within our industry, an environment that sets up every professional in our industry for success.


We want your feedback!


The Education Department is set up FOR YOU, the PDF members. Is there a particular topic that you would like us to tackle? Reach out to us and let us know! If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact any of us. The members of the Education Committee are committed to working towards expanding your knowledge about our business. We ask you, the members of the PDF, to keep us informed so that we can best serve you.


Maria Hansen: mariahansen@mac.com

Basil Issaev: basilissaev@gmail.com

Robert Nardozza: robertnardozza@gmail.com

Kora Stoynova: kora@ariaballroom.com