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For the Dutch Dance Sport Federation (NADB), October cannot come soon enough.
Like all sports federations in the Netherlands and around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic forced DanceSport to shut down its activities, but now the NADB are in a position to begin planning tournaments.
The Dutch government stopped all sport activities in mid-March, with the public advised to stay at home, not go into the office and maintain social-distancing measures when they could.
Since 1 July, dance clubs and schools were given permission to open, and such has been its success that come the first weekend of October the Dutch Championships will mark the restart of tournaments in the Netherlands.
“Individual dancers, couples and teams need a clear outlook, they need to know where they have to work for to keep motivated,” NADB President Jeffrey van Meerkerk explained.
“It is hard to keep practising and to stay fit and ready if you have no dates marked in your calendar for competitions. We therefore will organise our National Championships for Standard and Latin in the weekend of 3 to 4 October.
“Then on 23 to 25 October, our Federation will organise our yearly WDSF Holland Masters competition. All international WDSF couples are welcome to compete in Youth, U21, Adult and all Senior categories. We will also run the WDSF Open European Championship Senior 1 Latin on 23 October, the WDSF Open European Championship Senior 2 Standard and several National Closed title events.
“The event will be organised in Rotterdam in a venue which has enough space, the required air ventilation system, and seating to organise it safely, all the while respecting all social-distancing regulations.
“We believe it is important to continue to organise international DanceSport events. The NADB want to contribute to our international DanceSport community and to the WDSF.”
Throughout the pandemic the NADB has been in regular contact with the Dutch Olympic Committee (NOC), which has been closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19, while an NADB board member joined a working group that that collaborated on a pathway through the crisis.
For four months, dancers and instructors were unable to carry out their work, though they did receive funding from the government.
They also worked as part of a DanceSport-sector collaboration that represented over 1,500 DanceSport-sector businesses and employees to ensure that they were protected financially and could work together to find solutions to the wide range of issues that arose.
“The whole COVID-19 crisis has a tremendous impact on DanceSports,” said van Meerkerk, who is also a WDSF adjudicator. “Couples were not allowed to dance, trainers were not allowed to teach, dancing schools, clubs and studios were forced to close down.
“Dancing schools, trainers, clubs, coaches and judges all faced an abrupt and significant drop of income.
“During March to June, we had almost daily meetings with the NOC to discuss safety measures, how to deal with infections in sports clubs, and how to open the sector safely and responsibly.
“Since the central government re-opened the sports sector on 1 July, we have connected on a weekly basis, and the crisis team, led by our NOC, is still in place.”
As is often the case in challenging times, Dutch dancers have been innovative in finding ways to practice.
Technology helped bring dancers and instructors together from across the Netherlands, as well as from abroad.
It meant that measures were in place for when dancers were allowed to return to training together, and now that there are competitions coming soon there is a buzz of excitement around Dutch DanceSport, that everyone involved with the sport has been missing terribly since March.
“For the couples it was extremely difficult to practice during the shutdown,” van Meerkerk said. “Some were creative. Many of them followed online courses and even participated in online competitions.
“Technology comes in handy during times of crisis. Learning from WDSF, our sports commission developed an online course for all our members to keep them active and focused on their personal development.
“The Federation has put so much energy into organising the tournaments and they have been very well received.
“We are optimistic that the COVID situation will remain stable as many couples from in and outside the country have contacted us about them. People have been asking us about the safety measures, which is good.
“They want to compete and for many it will be their first international event in six months, as it will be for WDSF adjudicators, trainers, and coaches. It is important that competitions restart as everyone is looking forward to attending.”