Ballroom Blitz: Student shines in dance competition

The duet shows off their stunning maneuvers in their performance of The Tengo.

by Andrew Reichmeier

Staff Reporter

Whether it was the Waltz or Foxtrot, student Kendra Michaels stayed alert and on her toes at the Heart of America DanceSport Championship on Aug. 12 — and her placement gave her plenty of reason to leap for joy.

Related: Student finds passion in ballroom


The competition took place at the Westin Crown Center hotel downtown, concluding Saturday, Aug. 15. Michaels and her dance partner, Johnny Francoviglia, participated in all pro-am closed bronze American smooth events. They had a banner day, earning three second-place finishes, six third-place finishes, and second place in the scholarship round, which came with a cash prize. The accomplishment, Michaels noted, is even more notable considering she was the second youngest dancer in her division.

Michaels stayed loose in the early rounds with an open-minded approach.

“My number-one goal here is to have fun and enjoy my dances and dance my best,” she said. “If I win, that’s wonderful. If I don’t, [I will take pride in knowing] I did my best.”

Francoviglia and Michaels worked hard leading up to event, and their long hours of preparation paid off.

“We would normally have two hours a week of practice, choreographing sequences [for dances such as the] tango and foxtrot,” Francoviglia said.

Mark Walters, an organizer for the Heart of America DanceSport Championship, referred to this event as the “grand finale” of a group of 10 competitions called the Dancer’s Cup tour.

The competition has been in Kansas City for 42 years now, and this won’t be the last.

“[The Heart of America DanceSport Championship] has turned out to be the perfect event for a student like Michaels who is new to the ballroom dance scene,” Francoviglia said. “It’s welcoming. It’s friendly.”

For more information on the competition, including this year’s scores, visit

Photography by Lance Martin, Photo Editor. 

Last week’s Heart of America DanceSport Championships featured an abundance of dance styles:



  • Developed in Brazil
  • Gained popularity in the U.S. in the 1920s thanks to the Broadway play “Street Carnival.”
  • Lively dance that progresses counterclockwise across the ballroom floor

West Coast Swing

  • Born a decade after the Samba
  • Beat patterns can vary. Often possesses the qualities of other dances, giving a large amount of versatility.


  • One of the most popular dances of the 1970s.
  • Designed to show glamor and power. Music consists of funk and disco tunes, which also trended in the 1970s.


  • Spread across the Dominican Republic during Raul Trujillo’s regime.
  • Slow, relaxed dance.
  • Nightclub styles and Ballroom styles can cause variation in the dance.


  • Originated in Cuba and Puerto Rico.
  • Is currently one of the most popular dances in the U.S. Is also gaining popularity in Europe.
  • Can be danced with anyone due to the lack of choreographed steps.

Nightclub Two-Step

  • Created in 1965
  • Simple, romantic dance. Usually played with a soft rock rhythm.

Argentine Tango

  • Developed in Buenos Aires throughout the 20th century.
  • Very improvisational dance that establishes a deep connection between performers.
  • Uses a variety of musical genres and has many variations.

The following websites were utilized as resources in this article:

Contribution by J.T. Buchheit, News Editor. 




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