Pacific Ballroom Dance’s studio location has gone dark. Like so many non-profits and small businesses, COVID-19 has meant an overnight transformation from a busy, bustling hub of social life and community, to a place of disquieting stillness. The turnaround was especially dramatic set against the backdrop of the US National Amateur Dancesport Championship in Provo, Utah where 112 members of PBD formation ballroom dance teams had traveled to compete. “When we left Auburn on Tuesday, (March 10th) we were worried about the virus, but we focused on taking care of our dancers, keeping them healthy, and making the final preparations for the competition pieces we had worked on for months,” said preteen coach Beth Dolan. “When we came home three days later, life seemed unrecognizable. Schools were canceled, social gatherings were banned. When we said goodbye at the airport to our kids and our staff, we didn’t know when we would see each other again. There were a lot of tears.”
The competition was canceled in the middle of the second day of events and by 2 am that night, after a six-hour wait time with Delta’s customer service, Executive Director Heather Longhurst had booked flights home for everyone the next day. “Although incredibly sad and disappointing to come home so quickly, it was an easy choice to make,” she said. “We needed to get those kids home to their families.” The Preteen Latin Formation Medley won first place at Nationals on March 12th, the last day that groups larger than 250 were allowed to gather in both Washington and Utah, where the competition was held. The Youth Latin Formation medley won second place at Nationals. Unable to compete in the final rounds of their division, the high school dancers were rated and placed based on the scores of the preliminary round.
PBD returned victorious from Utah having achieved top placements in the formation ballroom dance events that were held, including first place in Preteen Latin, second place in Youth Latin, and second place in Junior Ballroom. The young dancers had mixed emotions, learning their team placements within a few hours of the announcement that they would be going home early. “We were able to bond as a team, laugh together, bring that energy into our dancing and we also shared tears together,” said junior dancer Brynn Bennion, “but that is what brought us closer together.”