The Olympics of Dance By Bella Brancato

Everyone knows about the Olympics, but do they know about the IDO? I didn’t think so. The International Dance Organization, or IDO, is a global federation with representation from over 90 nations that holds annual competitions for the art and sport of dance.

Some of their competition titles consist of World Championships, Continental Championships, Regional Continental Championships, World Cups, Continental Cups, and Regional Continental Cups.

One of the IDO’s biggest events is the World Tap Dance Championships held in Riesa, Germany at the Sachsen Arena. This international competition brings together dancers spanning from North America to Australia to celebrate tap dancing and compete for the title of World Champion.

It is divided into four age levels: Children (12 and under), Junior (13-16), Adult (17 and over), and Adult 2 (31 and over when applicable). Each level is broken up into the following categories: solos female, solos male, duos, trios, groups, and formations. There is also the production category, which can consists of dancers of all ages.

The competition is held at the end of November, starting on the last Monday of the month and going until the following Saturday.

Nancy Chippendale of Nancy Chippendale’s Dance Studios in North Andover, MA has been bringing dancers to Germany since 2003. In 2015, Nancy and her daughters Karen, Kelli, and Kristina Carberry founded the American Tap Company (ATC). The United States Tap Team is now composed of ATC dancers that travel to Europe annually to compete in the World Championships.

In 2016 and 2017, I had the opportunity to compete in this event with the United States Tap Team and American Tap Company. However, my first time was not exactly the perfect experience my team and I expected it to be.

The Journey to Germany

We were bringing 82 dancers from across the country to Germany to compete in the competition. We trained for months, rehearsing our numbers to perfection, until we were finally ready to take on Riesa. The weekend after Thanksgiving, we all met in North Andover, ready to fly out on Saturday the 26th. There was only one problem: all of our flights were cancelled the day before.

The airline we were traveling with, Lufthansa, cancelled hundreds of flights due to a pilot strike, including the ones that were supposed to get us to Germany.

Everyone was in a state of panic. We spent so much time and hard work for the World Championships, and now we might not ever get to go. We were reaching out to anyone we could think of that could fly almost 100 dancers plus their families to Europe: Ellen, Tom Brady, President Trump. We were desperate.

Friday night after our showcase for friends and family, all of us went to bed worried sick. My coaches, the Carberry family, were up all night trying to find some way to get us to Germany. Lucky for us, a miracle occurred. A mom of two of the dancers was able to get in touch with her friend at United Airlines. She explained to him our troubling situation, and he went to work to make accommodations for the near 200 of us.

The next morning, we got a message on Facebook to meet at the studio at 7:00 in the morning so we could get to the airport. After about an hour of waiting (which included news coverage from WBZ-TV), we were flying out of Boston in groups. Between all of us, we went through Boston, Chicago, Newark, Toronto, Amsterdam, Iceland, London, Munich, Frankfurt, and Paris.

I was in the group that ended up in Chicago for the night so that United could fly us out of from their hub at O’Hare International Airport the next day. We lost a day of touring, but we did finally make it to Germany after 48 hours.

The last group finally arriving at the hotel in Germany after 48 hours of traveling
The Competition

The fear of not being able to compete must have made us more determined, because the United States Tap Team brought home eleven medals. The bronze medal was won by Pentucket student, Kaiden Currie, for the children solo male category, as well as the the junior trio Get Down On It.

Silver was won in the children solo female category by Kayla Taylor, along with the children small group and adult trio.

The United States Tap Team earned the title of 2016 World Champion for six categories - children duo, children trio, children formation, junior formation, Cory Lunny for junior solo female, and Jillian McNamara for adult solo female.

This trip was easily the most memorable one I have ever been on. I traveled to Europe for the first time, I danced on an international stage, I made friends from all over the world, and it took two full days just to get there. I am forever grateful for the miracle United Airlines pulled off, because without them I would not have had this experience of a lifetime.

So next time you question whether or not dance is a sport, remember: it does have its own Olympics, and getting there is not exactly easy.


Created with images by MrsBrown - "sports cup trophy winner trophy trophy trophy" • Daniil Silantev - "Christmasmood @ Moscowcity!" • Fuzz - "wing plane flying airplane sky airplanes clouds" • skeeze - "airplane aircraft commercial airline jet takeoff boeing" • kikkuru0606 - "airplane narita airport united airlines united airlines" • Lance Anderson - "untitled image"

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