Fancy feet set to fly at ballroom-dance blowout
By Robert Kostanczuk Post-Tribune correspondent February 21, 2013 4:38PM
Dancers strut their stuff at a ballroom-dancing event that returns to Merrillville's Radisson Hotel this week. The 20th Annual Indiana Challenge DanceSport Competition is running Thursday through Sunday. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
If you go
What: 20th Annual Indiana Challenge DanceSport Competition
Where: Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza, U.S. 30 and Interstate 65, Merrillville
When: Competition started Feb. 21 and continues through Feb. 24
Tickets: $10 to $30
More details: www.indianachallenge.com or call 742-2559, or 742-6026
Updated: March 23, 2013 6:14AM
As far as entertainment goes, ballroom dancing ranks as a spritz of fresh fun.
“It’s more popular now than it has been for years,” said Tim Bourget, who — with his wife, Sue — is presenting the 20th annual Indiana Challenge DanceSport Competition, which runs this weekend in the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza in Merrillville.
What has helped invigorate this quick-footed exercise in choreography?
“I think most of it has to do with ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ ” noted Bourget, a Schererville resident who realizes the impact of a certain ABC television show that has made sophisticated, and somewhat regimented, dancing popular and hip.
Bourget is touting the unique twist being offered at the Indiana Challenge: “It’s exciting; it’s something new to watch.”
He points out there will be “all kinds of different levels of dancers — from beginners to intermediate to advance.”
According to Bourget, dancers who triumph will be rewarded: “We give over $40,000 in prizes, money — plus we give out participation gifts.”
Also on tap is a Saturday night appearance by world professional dance champions Iveta Lukosiute and Gherman Mustuc. The duo’s website notes that they have been honored four times with the title U.S. national professional classical showdance champions.
Bourget and his wife, who are skilled dancers themselves, own Second Street Dance Studio in Schererville.
It’s a business that offers ballroom dancing instruction.
Debbie Meade, 62, has competed in the past at Indiana Challenge, and explains this dancing style drew her in gradually over time.
“I’ve always enjoyed dance; I’ve always been interested in taking lessons, but never really got around to it,” the Schererville woman said.
As she got older, there was more time and “disposable” income to play with.
Meade decided to try to learn the techniques of ballroom dancing.
“I honestly thought I would take lessons for a couple of months and be done, and it’s turned into about seven years,” she said.
Participating in the Indiana Challenge affords Meade and her partner, James Nemeth, the chance to dive into an array of steps that include rumba, waltz and fox trot.
Working in synchronization with each other results in a type of connection.
“It’s a form of communication between a man and a woman, so to speak,” said Nemeth, 64.
He and Meade are performing as an amateur tandem at this year’s Indiana Challenge, which will have folks stepping lively to rhythms stretching from salsa to country-western.
Aside from the communication aspect, ballroom dancing provides a good workout — especially with Latin-style dances, which Nemeth says have a “fast” pace.
Additionally, a good mental “escape” springs from churning out those melodic steps.
“You have to do a lot of thinking while you’re dancing,” Nemeth said.
Utilizing ballroom space at the Radisson Hotel, the Thursday-through-Sunday Indiana Challenge serves up daylong goings-on. It is showcasing hundreds of different dancers, including some preteens.
Those in the 80-and-over age range also are represented at a dance celebration that is drawing participants from across the Midwest, plus from as far away as Texas, Florida and Canada.