One of UVU’s most outstanding features is its incredible dance department.

The department doesn’t just help its own, it provides opportunities for students and community members alike to compete. On Feb. 18-19, UVU put on its annual Ballroom DanceSport Festival.

“This is a fun opportunity for participants to get out there and practice and perform with those on the same skill level,” said Chris Witt, UVU ballroom dance faculty member.

Many local elementary, junior high and high schools have dance programs that provide the chance for students to get involved with ballroom dance. School children can usually start dancing with their school at about fourth grade though an after school dance program.

Children wanting to start younger can work with private studios like Vibe and Center Stage for their ballroom instruction.

Many of the local junior high and high schools offer ballroom classes, as part of the students’ daily curriculum.

Whichever route students of ballroom dance take, the UVU Ballroom DanceSport Festival give them an opportunity to show off their hard work.

“We have different styles of dance people can compete in, at all different skill levels,” Witt said.

The festival has seen kids as young as 6 participate. Sometimes even the parents of the children will practice on their own time and enter to compete. The winners of each category can receive a gold, silver or bronze medal.

While the prize is not monetary, the wealth of practical practice and performance under pressure is worth the time and energy the participants put into it. For many of the younger and emerging dancers, this will become a true passion in their lives and their involvement in competitions like this will only be a benefit to them.

“It’s a really good experience, participating in this festival. It makes it easier for these kids to jump right into a college level dance program, whether it’s here at UVU or BYU or somewhere else,” Witt said.

It is always good to see who are the great dancers of today, but this festival offers the community the opportunity to see who will be the extraordinary dancers of tomorrow.

One young dance pair from a local academy who appeared to be quite young, danced across the floor as if they had been doing this from birth. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see this young couple dancing their way to stardom in no more than ten years.

As this is an annual event, if you’ve ever thought about trying your hand at ballroom dance, now is the time to start practicing, and get ready for next year’s competition.

“It is open to anyone in the community, and we have people from all walks of life participate each year,” Witt said.

So if you did miss it this year, don’t fret, just get to work, and dive in head first for next year’s Ballroom DanceSport Festival.