Y. hosts international competition

More than 130 dancers, including an LDS couple, converged on the Brigham Young University campus March 25-27 to participate in the World Amateur Standard Dancesport Championships, the first time the contest has been held in the United States.

Lyle and Carolyn Klippel, members of the Olympus 3rd Ward, Salt Lake Olympus Stake, placed 40th out of 66 couples competing from 41 countries. The Klippels were one of two couples selected to represent the United States at the competition, which is a showcase for the world's best amateur ballroom dancers."We were really pleased with our finish. We were happy just to be in the top 48," Sister Klippel remarked.

While ballroom dance is a growing program in the United States, it is well-established in European countries and European couples tend to dominate competitions. A couple from Italy was named the 1993 World Amateur Standard Dancesport champion following the BYU competition.

Dancers came from such countries as Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, England, France, Japan, Latvia, Norway and South Africa.

Some of the dancers visited Temple Square and attended a Tabernacle Choir broadcast during their visit.

World amateur championships are usually held in Europe in town halls and sports halls, said Peter Pover, president of the United States Dancesport Council, a division of the United States Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association. When dance competitions are held in the United States, they are usually held in hotels.

More than 8,700 people attended the championship competition, held in the Marriott Center.

"This was one of the largest crowds ever to watch ballroom dancing in the United States, and probably one of the largest crowds ever anywhere," Pover said. "We have had some of the finest amateur dancers in the world come here. And the venue is magnificent."

Lee Wakefield, director of the BYU ballroom dance division, said: "I think BYU has developed a good sound reputation through the last 15 years or so in the dance world. I believe we are viewed in a real positive way, and of course being associated with the Church also has some positive benefits."

The Klippels, BYU graduates and former members of the BYU Ballroom Dance Company, were selected to compete in the World Amateur championships after placing second at the 1992 United States Standard Championships. This is the first world championship in which they have participated.

Their biggest challenge in competing has been to balance everything and keep priorities in perspective, Brother Klippel remarked.

"As we look at other couples who devote themselves 100 percent to dance, you see a void there. Everything they have is wrapped up in one area, and when things don't go right in dance, it ruins everything else they are doing at the time.

"When we started dancing together, we decided that dance was not the most important thing in life. Our marriage, family and the things we are doing in Church are the most important things. If dance takes away from that, then it is time to stop dancing. The gospel has given us priorities. Dance is a good part of life as long as it benefits the higher priorities we have."

Sister Klippel added: "We have been able to achieve a tremendous amount with very little time devoted. We feel like our talent has been greatly enhanced because we have kept things in balance. We have had a lot of blessings come that way that have led up to the point of being able to represent the United States."

The Klippels, parents of 13-month-old Kirstin, plan to make this recent competition their last amateur contest. They plan to turn professional and start teaching and coaching.

The World Amateur Standard Dancesport Championship was held in conjunction with the 1993 International Ball and Dance Championships held annually at BYU.

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