There is a darling couple making all the right moves and bringing a little grace and glory to Morristown.
On most any regular Tuesday evening, you can find them quietly, patiently, and humbly teaching a handful of lucky ballroom dance students in a small room at Rose Center Council for the Arts.
They wear ready smiles, are generous with easy laughs, and leave me feeling somewhat envious of the plain and simple satisfaction they have found together.
They are David and Rhonda McNish, and they are amazingly regular folks, who have achieved a world-class status in Smooth Ballroom Dance.
They are currently ranked in the top 200 couples in the entire world, coming in at No. 159 by the World Dance Sport Federation.
For those of us who are unfamiliar with the competitive world of ballroom dance, there are two basic forms of ballroom dance competition—Smooth and Standard.
Standard style requires couples to stay together throughout the dance, highlighting technical mastery and perfect synchronicity of steps.
On the other hand, Smooth style is known for flourish with couples dancing separately from each other in dramatic fashion during their routine. Both styles require dedication, precision, and a tremendous amount of practice.
Routines are finely tuned and perfected by hours of work, with the goal being to make it look effortless, seamless, and graceful.
There are only 10 couples in the United States who rank in the top two-hundred.
Plus, David and Rhonda are the very first couple from Tennessee to achieve a ranking within the top two-hundred couples in the world.
They compete in the Senior 1 (35 and up) group, and will be looking to improve their numbers coming up in Atlanta, Georgia this fall.
For the first time ever, The World Smooth Dance Competition is being hosted in the United States, and David and Rhonda will be among the competitors.
David and Rhonda McNish began dancing in 2011 under the instruction of Maria Connely, at Rose Center.
According to Rhonda, “We started dancing as a cure for empty nest syndrome. We suddenly had all this time on our hands, and we wanted to find something we could do together.”
David and Rhonda have been married for forty-two years. They started simply enough—they wanted to learn to Polka for a planned visit to an October Fest celebration.
So, they took a class and really enjoyed it.
They stuck with it, and were invited to participate in their very first competition in Knoxville, and they did well. They didn’t win any prizes, but they really enjoyed the community of friends and co-competitors they encountered.
“I met them when they kept coming in to rent rooms for dance practice,” says Rose Center staff member, Candy Durman. “They are both so very nice, and so super easy to work with”, she continues. Durman also adds, “I think their dance success is so very cool. When we asked them to teach ballroom at Rose Center, we didn’t know they were such accomplished professionals.
“We knew they loved ballroom dance, we knew they had mastered the basic six ballroom dances, and we also knew their enthusiasm for the sport/artform was truly infectious. And, we just happened to need a new ballroom dance instructor—it just worked out—like magic. We are so very proud of them and will be rooting for them in Atlanta this February.”
Of their achievement, David and Rhonda are humble, and simply value the validation that comes with the ranking. “For us, it just feels good that we have learned the dances correctly,” says Rhonda.
However, I tend to think that knowing all the steps, does not necessarily mean that anyone can be world class competitors.
David and Rhonda have that special something that sets them apart from other couples, and the world is taking note.”
The WDSF World Smooth Dance Competition will be held on February 1st, 2020 in Atlanta Georgia. Best of Luck, David & Rhonda! David and Rhonda teach ballroom dance at Rose Center on Tuesday evenings from 7 – 8 p.m.
If you would like to learn ballroom dance, please contact the Rose Center business office Monday – Friday, 9 – 5.