A Local Dance Duo Wins Top Honors
After months of preparation, Concord’s Kurt Senser and Walnut Creek’s Heather Powers take top prize at the US Open Swing Dance Championships.
With a few spins, dips, and sways of hips, two Bay Area dancers are proving the East Bay is a force to be reckoned with in the dance world. Kurt Senser of Concord and Heather Powers of Walnut Creek sashayed their way into judges’ hearts at the 30th Annual US Open Swing Dance Championships in November, earning the highest honor in the competition.
Performing a sassy, flirtatious version of “Baby Don’t Go” by Harry Manx, the two used the chemistry, technique, and pizzazz they built over months of hard work.
“We choreographed the routine ourselves over a couple of months, changing and tweaking it to fit the music and excite the audience,” Senser says. “We are always working on different aspects of the routine as far as timing, connection, presentation, storyline, musicality, balance, entrance, and exit all the way up to the day of the competition.”
Neither began their dance careers in swing. Senser’s background includes Ballroom and Country, where he earned a United Country Western Dance Council World Championship title. Powers trained as a professional ballerina, performing in both New York City and San Francisco.
The two began working together several years ago, though at first, Senser was hesitant to return to competitions. But while compiling a demo routine together, they began to receive positive feedback on their work as partners. Convinced, Senser agreed to participate in his first competition in 15 years, which was also Powers’ first swing competition.
For a country dancer and a ballerina, swing success has come fast. After only eight months of competing together, Powers and Senser have taken first place at three competitions before winning the US Open Swing Dance Championship.
In the next three months, they plan to compete the routine in Houston, San Jose, Sacramento and Washington D.C. before beginning a new routine from scratch. They’re also multi-taskers; the two are currently choreographing routines in several other dance styles as well.
For Senser, the thrill of swing extends beyond his growing collection of dance trophies.
“My favorite part about West Coast Swing is that you can get very creative with the dance and really play with the music,” he says.
But future swing dance prodigies should plan to take their time learning the basics, he says.
“I would not say there is a secret to dancing West Coast Swing, but I would say you need to have patience and give it time to learn,” he says. “Be in it for the long run and in the long run you will have more fun.”