“It’s all started with the success of the movie Urban Cowboy in 1980” remembers Kelly Gellette, NTA’s current President. At the same time, C.W. Parker put the National Teacher Association together, as a nonprofit organization which promotes Country Western dancing. C.W. Parker became the President, Dave Getty VP, Mike Haley Treasurer, and Kelly Gellette was Secretary & newsletter editor. As the movie was taking off; every single bar in the USA had a dance instructor teaching a few line dances & Two Step. Quickly the founding members realized that very few of these teachers were knowledgeable and so…came the NTA and the Rules.

Later on, Dave Getty and Mike Haley, split from the NTA organization, and reworked their own version of those rules, which became the “Western Rules” to differentiate from the NTA rules that were used more in the East side of the USA. What happened next was the foundation of the United Country Western Dance Council® (UCWDC®) as we know it today: “In November 1989, when twenty-one independent event directors met in Grantville, Pennsylvania to form the United Country Western Dance Council and agreed to unite competitive country dance events under one set of competition rules dance standards.”

Back to the NTA, during the 80’s the success was considerable and Country Dance expanded very quickly to cover the entire territory. The NTA grew at the similar path structuring its organization and focusing on training teachers. In 1990, Kelly Gellette became the President of the organization and transformed it by opening it to the public and brought the NTA outside the US borders, in Canada but mainly into Europe which was discovering Line Dance at that time. The NTA’s mission statement also evolved to become: “NTA is the Dancer Organization” as it teaches social dance technique to all levels and for all types of dances. One need not be an instructor to be a member of the NTA or to take their technique courses. The NTA’s main emphasis is on DANCE! Under Kelly’s leadership a new set of tools (Accreditation Program and Music License for the US members) as well as a new pedagogy was set up and remain in use still today.

In 1991, the NTA and the UCWDC linked back together, and Kelly Gellette became a permanent UCWDC director. Since then, the NTA has a permanent seat at the council. While the UCWDC is focusing on developing a Dance circuit with high standard Competition Events, Rules, developing Judge Certification programs; the NTA continues on its mission to teach social dance technique. Like both side of the same coins, both organizations are working side by side to develop the Country Dance across the Globe. There is an abundance of proof of the symbiotic relationship; numerous UCWDC event directors are/were NTA directors – especially in Europe; and the NTA, via its President is a member of the UCWDC Judge Certification Committee, a Master Level duel certified judge, and one of the select few who teach and test judges in the Judge Certification program.

Today, both structures provide slightly different leveled material but the roots remain the same; and thanks to close links between the two leadership’s teams, there are regular exchanges and mutual enrichment between the two. This partnership has led to the advancement of an Education Committee within the UCWDC and in continued cooperation with the NTA, will establish a level of recognized teacher training and teacher methodology that will complement both organizational structures.

So next time you see an NTA workshop at the Country Dance World Championships®, at any local UCWDC event close to your area, do not hesitate and sign in, there is always something to learn about country dance.

For more information on the National Teacher Association, please visit: www.ntadance.com

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