Final Release of Statement from USA Dance
TO: ALL MEMBERS OF USA DANCE, OUR ASSOCIATES, SUPPORTERS, AND MEMBERS OF THE DANCE COMMUNITY AT LARGE
FROM: President Lydia Scardina, On Behalf of USA Dance, Inc,
DATE: Wednesday, July 13, 2011
USA Dance wishes to inform you about actions taken at the recent National Dance Council of America (NDCA) semi-annual meeting in Dallas on July 9, 2011 as it pertains to USA Dance, as well as the decisions made by the Governing Council of USA Dance in response to those actions.
USA Dance representatives present at the July 9 NDCA meeting were myself and our Vice President of DanceSport Ken Richards. Without any notice prior to arriving at the NDCA meeting, a demand was made by the NDCA that USA Dance immediately move the date and location of the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF) Adjudicators’ Congress that USA Dance had previously scheduled to take place following the Ohio Star Ball in Columbus, Ohio on November 20, 2011. The stated reason for this demand was the recent NDCA policy that no WDSF event may be held in conjunction with an NDCA event. Please note that USA Dance is a member of the WDSF, which is the new name for the former IDSF, International DanceSport Federation. The WDSF has a membership of over 88 countries around the world, and it is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the governing body for DanceSport worldwide.
USA Dance, as the official WDSF member in the U.S. had been designated as the organizer of the WDSF Adjudicators’ Congress in this country. All judges who desire to judge WDSF competitions around the world are required every two years to attend a WDSF Adjudicators’ Congress in order to maintain their current WDSF adjudicator’s license.
It should also be noted that this Congress was to be held entirely at USA Dance expense after the conclusion of the Ohio Star Ball
During the NDCA meeting, USA Dance responded that it would need to consult with its Governing Council on the matter of the WDSF Congress and would be in a position to respond within a week. However, the NDCA demanded that USA Dance give immediate assurance that it would move the WDSF Adjudicator’s Congress to a different date and time. When USA Dance again reiterated that it must first consult with its Governing Council of USA Dance, the NDCA moved to a vote to suspend USA Dance’s membership in the NDCA without providing USA Dance representatives with the requested week’s time or indeed any time at all for purposes of consultation. USA Dance abstained from this vote, which was passed by the other members of the NDCA without any further discussion of remedy, grievance procedures or time duration.
Unfortunately, the NDCA has suspended USA Dance’s membership without following its own Constitution and By Laws. The By Laws of the NDCA state that in the event of a complaint against a member organization, the Secretary of the NDCA shall notify the president of the organization against whom a complaint has been filed by certified mail, who will then have an opportunity to respond. This procedure was not followed with regard to the action taken against USA Dance. No letter was sent to the president of USA Dance outlining the complaint, indicating the remedy sought and the action the NDCA was planning to take in the event of noncompliance. Had the NDCA followed its own By Laws, the USA Dance Governing Council would have had an opportunity to discuss the matter and formulate a reply, and the USA Dance representatives would have come to the NDCA meeting prepared to discuss it.
What happened instead was that the USA Dance representatives were placed in the untenable position of having to either immediately acquiesce to a course of action or face retribution. In fact, the action taken against USA Dance was not taken because USA Dance said it would not move the Congress, but because USA Dance expressed its desire to consult with the rest of its Governing Council before providing a response to the NDCA.
USA Dance is the National Governing Body for DanceSport in the United States, recognized by both the WDSF and the U.S. Olympic Committee. It has a long standing written agreement with the NDCA guaranteeing its full autonomy as the sole governing body of amateur ballroom dancing in the U.S. to the extent required by the USOC.
USA Dance is an all-volunteer, democratic organization that serves both DanceSport athletes and those professions that work with athletes, as well as social dancers and dance supporters who are members and affiliates of its 180 chapters nationwide. USA Dance members have a voice and a vote in their organization.
Furthermore, USA Dance has a clearly defined discipline and grievance procedure that is used to resolve issues in dispute among its members. It does not take preemptory action against individuals or bodies without following the proper established procedures, and always provides a fair and equitable opportunity for parties to respond before taking action.
Since our beginning, USA Dance has assisted athletes, judges and organizers who have faced disciplinary action by other bodies, so we take very seriously any action taken against our own organization. Therefore, when a demand is made to move an already announced and planned event that is four and a half months in the future, USA Dance will only consider such an action or change in a thoughtful, measured and deliberative manner, and not under threat of suspension.
USA Dance informed the NDCA that it would be calling for a meeting of its Governing Council, which represents the full membership of the organization. That teleconference was held Tuesday evening, July 12, 2011, at which time the matter in question was thoroughly discussed.
During that teleconference, the Governing Council of USA Dance unanimously made the following decisions:
Given the NDCA’s move to immediately discipline, fine or otherwise punish judges, lecturers, organizers or other officials who participate in WDSF competitions or congresses, the Governing Council of USA Dance has determined that holding the planned WDSF adjudicators’ Congress on November 20, 2011 in Columbus Ohio would not be productive at this time. Therefore, the Governing Council of USA Dance concluded that the WDSF Adjudicators’ Congress should be postponed to another place and time where it can better serve those interested in obtaining a WDSF Adjudicators’ License. The Governing Council believes it is the decision of each individual judge, holding a WDSF judging license or wishing to obtain one, to determine if, when and where they will participate in future WDSF Congresses, as such opportunities for participation exist in numerous places around the globe.
The Governing Council of USA Dance urges the NDCA to reconsider its actions to take punitive action against its own registrants, many of whom are respected friends and colleagues of both the NDCA and USA Dance, as this is not in the best interest of either organization. Such threat of action by the NDCA against dance professionals would only generate considerable unhappiness and ill will, and again USA Dance does not believe that this is in the best interest of all participants, who celebrate our country’s wealth of opportunity, where individuals can participate openly and freely in activities of their choice.
Furthermore, the Governing Council of USA Dance has instructed that the NDCA be sent a letter outlining its belief that the NDCA actions taken to indefinitely suspend USA Dance were not consistent with the procedures governing the suspension of member organizations established within the NDCA Constitution, and, therefore, the suspension of USA Dance by the NDCA is considered null and void.
USA Dance recognizes that at such time as the NDCA wishes to suspend one of its member organizations, as stipulated by its own bylaws, it must first provide advance written notice and provide full opportunity for a proper response. Since that process was not followed with regard to the action brought against USA Dance, the vague and indefinite suspension period established and the possible ramifications of the actions that may flow from that suspension, USA Dance believes that it would be prudent for the NDCA to immediately rescind the suspension.
We are aware of the growing animosity which the NDCA holds toward the WDSF, and find it is most unfortunate that USA Dance has been caught in the middle of a battle it did not create and which it believes can and should be avoided. Whereas less than a year ago, the WDSF Adjudicators’ Congress was held annually at the Embassy Ball, an NDCA-sanctioned event, and judges were able to attend freely and to judge WDSF competitions as well as all USA Dance competitions without fear of reprisal, now there are growing restrictions on judges, organizers and other officials and a growing attempt by the NDCA to restrict the ability of USA Dance to conduct the activities for which it was founded.
This is not in the best interest of DanceSport in the United States, and we sincerely hope that the NDCA will reconsider its strategy and pursue a more positive path that will help and not hinder the growth and further development of DanceSport in America.
USA Dance, Inc.
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