Roster / About Us

DanceSport in Ohio 2015

We are an athletic and performance competitive dance company in the NMSU Department of Kinesiology & Dance.

Our Vision

  • Inviting the World to Dance!

Our Mission

  • To develop highly trained collegiate DanceSport athletes and globally competitive DanceSport alumni
  • To foster a thriving local and regional dance community
  • To build and maintain a worldwide center of excellence in partner dance training and teacher education

The Rise of DanceSport at NMSU

DanceSport has flourished and grown at New Mexico State University from a few elective classes to thriving degree emphasis Bachelors and Masters programs.

In the 1940s and 50s, the earliest dance courses were taught through the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation’s “Basic Instruction Program.” Students were required to take several classes from the program of one credit hour courses in sports skills, fitness development, and dance for undergraduate matriculation.

By the late 1960s, these general education courses were changed to an elective-only program with most dance instructors as part-time employees. The dance classes consisted of beginning modern dance, jazz, ballet, and social (partner) dancing. As may be expected due to NMSU’s demographics and location, the most popular social dance class was Country and Western.

Gaining speed, the early 1990s saw a significant increase in popularity for the dance component of the “Basic Instruction Program,” and the university realized there was a need for full-time, dedicated dance faculty. By the mid-90s, the department name had already been changed to Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance. In 1998, a tenure-track position for dance was awarded to the department, through extensive communication between Dr. Rick Powell, Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, and Dr. Barbara Simmons, dean of the College of Education. The following year Ms. Helen Meyers was hired to develop a dance degree program. Although the early focus for the curriculum was centered around modern, jazz, and ballet, Ms. Elizabeth Burgess taught and expanded the elective courses in social dance to include Ballroom and Latin classes.

In 1999, former Dean of the College of Business, Dr. Curtis Graham, contacted Dr. Powell with the ambition of starting a ballroom dance club. Dr. Graham was a recreational dancer, as well as a member of the U.S. Amateur Ballroom Dance Association (now USA Dance) in El Paso. Dr. Powell, Dr. Graham, and Ms. Burgess took hold of Dr. Powell’s vision and worked with interested students to establish an ASNMSU sanctioned ballroom dance club.

With the guidance of Ms. Burgess and the commitment of four pioneering couples, the club quickly evolved into a team performance group, and the dance program’s annual spring show in 2000 saw the debut performance of the club’s Latin medley. It was enthusiastically received, student interest exploded, and DanceSport at NMSU was born.

The following year, Ms. Burgess continued building the young program as DanceSport director, fostering growth in both performance and competition. NMSU participated in several intercollegiate DanceSport competitions on the West coast, both as individual couples and as a team.

In 2004, Ms. Burgess took an overseas position, and former DanceSport member Eric Fierro took leadership of the team. Mr. Fierro greatly contributed to the expansion of the NMSU DanceSport program and stepped down in 2011 to pursue a professional competitive ballroom dance career. Ms. Burgess, assisted by Ms. Alicia Ruiz, a graduating dance major, took responsibility for the team once again.

The team’s performances and entertainment events gained popularity both within NMSU and throughout the Las Cruces community, and the need for a tenure-track position dedicated to DanceSport became apparent. Dr. Debra Knapp requested the position as well as a degree specialization in ballroom dance. The department was awarded both, and Ms. Hannah Cole was hired in 2012 as the DanceSport program director.

Ms. Cole took this blossoming program and developed it into a full degree granting program with the emphasis in DanceSport – only the second of its kind in the United States today.

With a continuing and growing interest in DanceSport, the program has a bright future with a great vision for future expansion, success, and fun! The DanceSport community at New Mexico State University is inviting the world to dance one step at a time.


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