Competitive ballroom dancing is a sport in which the participants strive to look as good when they finish as they did when they started. The dancers retain their poise and grace while trying to hide their sweat and exhaustion. Professional instructors Prageeth Hettiarachchi and Debora Zaglul of Kentucky DanceSport proved my point as they danced near my table on Saturday night. I suppose that figure skating is the only other sport that requires costumes and makeup.
Academy Ballroom owners Emily Loyless and Jeremy Norris invited my wife and me to watch the final session of the third annual Rocky Top Dance Challenge at the Knoxville Marriott Downtown. I had a good time last year and happily accepted their invitation. After the pro-am events, we saw pro couples compete in four heats.
When we arrived, Emily gave us cowbells and a plastic megaphone. The organizers want the audience to make noise after each performance and as the award winners are announced. We sat at a table that had been cleared, except for a package of GU Energy Gel. It took me a moment to realize that it is something the performers eat, not something they rub on their sore muscles.
The capper for the evening was a performance by the Atlanta Ballroom Dance Theater and featured pro teams. They performed in a dramatically lit ballroom while wearing masquerade masks. Emily introduced me to one of the dancers whose day job is on the radio. Wendy Adams is a member of The Bert Show, which is based in Atlanta. The costume for her chair dance explains why she asked her Twitter followers, “Anyone know where I can get some black hot pants?”