It has come to our attention that there are unfortunately a growing number of ballroom dance competitions in the United States that have elected to disregard costume guidelines and restrictions for young children, particularly relating to pre-teens and juniors. This is of serious concern to USA Dance and we want to extend our viewpoint for the purpose of protecting our children, who we consider an integral part of the future of DanceSport.
Costume restrictions, especially for young children, have been put in place over the years by USA Dance and the World DanceSport Federation, as guardians for the industry, all for the critically important preservation of the health, well being and reputation of our children. First of all, USA Dance does not believe it is a healthy and responsible practice to put young children into high heels while their feet are still developing. Nor do we believe that applying heavy adult-like make-up and placing a child in a costume that mimics adult costuming -- with sequins, rhinestones, feathers, elaborate mesh and cutaway panels and other adornments, is appropriate for children. Such make-up and costuming makes the child appear more like a pageant contestant than an innocent child participating in the sport of competitive ballroom dance. It also can cause event organizers, coaches, instructors and parents to be misunderstood as to their purpose and pursuits. Not having policies and rules to protect our children opens the door to general public criticism and eventually to the media portraying and representing our children and our sport in far less than favorable ways.
USA Dance also wants to remind our members that photography taken of dancers, adults as well as children, at DanceSport competitions are shared on the internet. Some of the incidences unfortunately may be for exploitation purposes. For that reason, any competition without strict media and photography supervision can place our athletes at risk and possibly in harm's way. We hope that parents of young athletes attending dance competitions without costuming restrictions will not follow competitive pressures and will keep children looking like children on the dance floor.
Please know that any dance competitions without costume restrictions for children are not affiliated with USA Dance, nor does USA Dance have any control or jurisdiction over such competitions. While parents are certainly free to register their children in non-USA Dance competitions, we urge parents to take a stand and continue using the same costumes that their child would wear acceptably at a USA Dance-sanctioned competition.
Furthermore, as the National Governing Body for DanceSport in the United States, USA Dance will always continue to advocate for the appropriate costuming and well being of all children in DanceSport.
Lydia Scardina, President
USA Dance Inc.