Dance team making all the right moves

Under bright lights and in front of large audiences, the Pacific Ballroom Dance Team is accustomed to dancing with the stars.

Brandon Hudson and Jody Baughman

Pacific Ballroom lineup earning national recognition

Under bright lights and in front of large audiences, the Pacific Ballroom Dance Team is accustomed to dancing with the stars.

Their very own stars.

“And we already have taken first place,” said a smiling Lori Hudson, executive director of the Auburn and Federal Way-based team that represents 100 top-flight boy and girl dancers from throughout the local area. “The biggest thing we look for in a dancer is attitude. And because we work as a team, attitude is the biggest thing next to work ethic.”

Hudson’s production takes center stage for its biggest show of the season with two performances today at the Auburn Performing Arts Center. Her dancers will showcase their award-winning Latin and standard or traditional steps in “Feelin’ Good” – a fast-moving 90-minute program.

The nationally-recognized youth dance team returns to Auburn after a busy and rewarding season, capped by stout performances at the U.S. Dance Sports Championships in Provo, Utah. PBD finished third in youth Latin and fifth in national youth standard competition.

The team’s performance also caught the attention of Ashly DelGrosso Costa, a professional dancer for the “Dancing with the Stars” TV show, who spent two weekends visiting and personally coaching the team.

Pacific Ballroom Dance, a non-profit organization, is the only youth formation ballroom dance company in the Pacific Northwest. With PBD, youths between the ages of 10 and 19 have the opportunity to learn and perform ballroom maneuvers – from the more formal standard dances such as waltz and foxtrot, to fiery Latin dances such as samba and cha cha.

“It’s an entertaining and diverse program,” said Hudson, who has three dancers of her own on the team – Colten, Brandon and Ashley. “(Today’s program) has the gamut of all the different styles and (dancer) levels.”

As few as three and as many as a dozen couples will take to the stage in formation for specific numbers in today’s program. The show will display the talents of three teams based on ability – beginner, intermediate and advanced.

There are plans to add a fourth team next season, with first auditions for 30-40 openings scheduled for June 7.

The year-round program begins with team practices in September, with performances sprinkled throughout the school season until June.

The dance team offers a summer program for individual work and other preparation.

For the dancers, it requires long hard hours of practice and repetition. For the more experienced dancers, it might require 20 hours of weekly practice during the months of intense competition.

“It could mean up to six hours on a Saturday,” said Brandon Hudson, 16, a junior at Federal Way’s Todd Beamer High School and a third-year dancer. “Not too many people know too much about ballroom dancing or the quality of dancers we have.”

For Hudson, the moves can be challenging and complex, requiring his 160-pound body to remain fit and sharp.

PBD carries a staff of about 10 paid personnel, but relies on the dedication of many volunteer parents and supporters.

“It takes a lot of preparation, hundreds and hundreds of hours,” said Matt Longhurst, PBD’s artistic director.

All of which makes for a good show, such as today’s program, filled with rhythmic Latin numbers, energetic Lindy hops, soft waltzes and romantic rumbas.

“The audience can expect a very entertaining show with a wide variety of numbers,” Longhurst said. “It’s a highlight of the year for the students and for the audience.”

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