Daniel and Tiffany met through the Ballroom Dance Club at Georgia Tech, where they were both pursuing their education. They organized their first competition together, the inaugural Helluva Dance Comp, in 2018. Once they graduated in 2021, they kept dancing together but also wanted to use their vision to bring amazing competitions to other dancers. They have been organizing high-quality competitions since 2022 and look forward to doing so for years to come!
Sami Yli-Piipari is a 15-time Finnish National Champion in Ballroom, Latin, and 10-dance in both amateur and professional categories. He is a former World & European 10-Dance Finalist, International and United Kingdom Ballroom Rising Star Finalist, and Blackpool Ballroom Semi-Finalist. Sami is a WDSF judge and Chair and has judged numerous WDSF World, Continental, and Grand Slam Championships. Sami lives in Atlanta, GA.
Yang Chen began dancing more than thirty years ago while he was attending law school. He currently sits on the Board of Dancing Classrooms, a not-for-profit organization based in New York City that helps young people enhance social and emotional learning through social dance. He served twenty years on the Board of the Greater New York Chapter of USA Dance, including as President, before being elected to serve as USA Dance National President from 2014-15. Yang has extensive experience as a Master of Ceremonies of many ballroom competitions including the Manhattan Amateur Classic, various USA Dance National Qualifying Events, the USA Dance National DanceSport Championships and many collegiate events. While on the Board of the Greater New York Chapter of USA Dance, he helped to organize the Manhattan Amateur Classic, one of the nation’s leading amateur DanceSport competitions in its three-decade history. Outside of dance, he runs the Asian American Bar Association of New York, the largest affinity bar association in New York and the United States, as Executive Director. And yes, he pronounces his first name “young.”
Joe started dancing in 1995 while attending grad school at the University of Maryland. For the first year he was purely a social dancer; until the ballroom club coaxed him into entering their inaugural DC Dancesport Inferno competition, and he was hooked. He soon gravitated to International Standard, and focused on that style for many years.
Joe was on the organizing committee for the Mid-Atlantic Championships NQE in Bethesda, MD from 2009 to 2022, doing technical setup for O2CM and acting as online registrar. In this capacity he became familiar with O2CM, scrutineering, and running Dancesport competitions. He scrutineered college competitions, and in 2014 passed the scrutineering exam.
After he and his partner qualified for and danced at the World Championships in 2015, she retired from competition. He elected to do the same, to focus on scrutineering and life off the comp floor.
Kimberly Smith has been teaching dance for 43 years and has owned and operated Dr. Dance Studio, Inc. in Birmingham, Alabama for 36 years. She has enjoyed a fulfilling career as a professional competitor, pro/am competitor and teacher and currently coaches amateur and professional couples. Kimberly holds both Memberships and Fellowships with the North American Dance Teachers Association and Licentiates with The American International Dancers Association (AIDA) formerly the United States Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. She continues to proudly serve the association on the National Committee as Treasurer. As an adjudicator, Kim holds WDSF A 3.0 AJS certification and has had the honor of judging the 2022 IWGA World Games Standard & Latin, WDSF Sr. I World Latin Championships, as well as many Open WDSF Championship events. Kim serves the WDSF as a member of the Sports Event Planning and Promotion Committee and is Co-Organizer of Christmas in Dixie Ballroom Challenge.
Stephen Hadley began his professional dance career with the Arthur Murray organization. As a professional competitor, he is a former Championship finalist in both Standard and Latin and represented the United States at the European Cup. He served as Chairman of the Southeastern Regional Dance Board and was a member of the International Dance Board for Arthur Murray, Inc. Steve holds Fellowships with the North American Dance Teachers Association in Standard, Latin, Smooth, Rhythm, and Theater Arts. He has been a proud member of AIDA and currently serves as President. Steve is a WDSF A 3.0 adjudicator and has had the honor to judge the World Youth Latin Championships in addition to many Open Championship events.
Lee Fox is originally from Georgia but now calls Ft. Lauderdale his home. He has been teaching Ballroom, Latin, and Disco since 1978, and Country/Western since 1991. He has his licentiate degrees in Standard, Latin, Rhythm, and Theater Arts with the ISTD and his master degrees in Smooth and Rhythm with the NDTA. He is the Competition Director for the International Association of Gay/Lesbian Country Western Dance Clubs (IAGLCWDC) and the treasurer of the North American Same Sex Partner Dance Association (NASSPDA). He is also a former president and a current examiner of the NDTA. He is registered to adjudicate with USA Dance and NASSPDA and has served as Chair of Judges for several mainstream and same sex competitions in the USA, Canada, and abroad. A former ballroom competitor, he has judged several competitions in the United States including the United States Dancesport Championships (USDC). He and his ballroom partner, Scott, competed in ballroom at the Gay Games in Amsterdam in 1998 and the Gay Games in Australia in 2002 making the class A finals both times. He and his country partner, Chris, were the first Championship winners in the IAGLCWDC Couples Competition in 1998 and have performed at many hoedowns and fundraisers.
Karita, together with her husband Sami, is a former 15-time Finnish National Champion in Standard, Latin, and 10-Dance (professional and amateur categories) and WDSF 10-Dance World Cup Vice-Champion and Europe Cup Bronze medalist. In addition, Karita is a 1997 World Games Standard Semifinalist. She is an International and United Kingdom Professional Rising Star finalist (Standard) and Blackpool (Standard) and International (Latin) Championships Rising Star Semifinalist. She has won numerous prestigious WDC and WDSF titles including North European, Universal, Finnish Open, Malesian Open, Singapore Open, King’s Cup.
Dan is a highly-qualified dance professional, with over 45 years of competition, coaching, and judging experience. He holds Chairperson certifications from USA Dance, WDSF, and WDO and is an ISTD Fellow in Standard, Smooth, Latin, and Rhythm styles. Over the course of his career, he has served as both an adjudicator and chairperson at World Championships and as a lecturer at more than 200 training camps. He continues to share his expertise with others through writing articles and columns in numerous books and other publications.
Ross learned to love music from a young age. Starting on the piano at the age of 5, singing and performing through jr. high and high school and finally leading the marching band his senior year while sitting first chair alto saxophone. In college, he was finally able to take that love of music and start learning modern dance. Soon after, while taking many styles of dance, he fell in love with ballroom and took every class he could fit into his schedule.
Ross is a: 2001 USABDA Amateur 9-Dance National Finalist, 2008 NDCA Professional 9-Dance National Finalist, 2011 UCWDC Couples Open Showcase World Champion. He has trained students all over the United States in all 4 styles of Ballroom, Theater Arts and Country dancing.
When not teaching dance, Ross is a Licensed Master Massage Practitioner, Certified Yoga Trainer, and a Reiki Master Teacher.
Katya Cooper was born in Russia, where she started her ballroom training at the age of four. She has competed and won Latin, Standard, and Ten-Dance Ballroom events.
In 2008 Katya came to the United States to further pursue her career as a ballroom instructor and competitor. Katya and her partner Anton Sidorov became Midwest Latin and Standard champions. They also won Standard at the United Dancesport Championship 2010, Orlando. They placed 4th in the Smooth at the USA National Championships 2013. In 2013, Katya and Anton auditioned for America's Got Talent and qualified to the Las Vegas round.
Katya began teaching at the age of 14 in Russia. Since 2012, her students have placed top three in the largest competitions including Nationals. In 2022 her Juvenile students became semifinalists of the most prestigious dance competition in the World Blackpool Festival. Katya is the owner of Ballroom Impact Atlanta dance studio, which she opened in 2016.
Michael has over 35 years professional dance experience across many styles. He holds Fred Astaire US Smooth and Rhythm titles, two Triple Crowns in Rhythm, along with titles in International Latin and a Professional World Title from the UCWDC. As a performer, he has appeared in music videos for a decade and has performed live at the CMA awards. In his most famous partnership, he and Wendy Johnson expanded the horizons of show dance with their own dancing and the choreography they developed for the Professional Show for their dance events in Las Vegas and in San Diego. Michael’s most treasured honor was performing as part of Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai in 2000.
Beyond his own performative prowess, Michale has had the pleasure of coaching world champions in Latin, Rhythm, and Smooth both on the traditional and same-sex dance circuits. He has also coached several Olympic figure skaters in the art of performance in Ballroom Dancing, leading to a gold medal! Now, Michael’s main focus is coaching of a different sort, as he and his husband work to raise their twin boys.
J.R. Hipsky is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, and started his professional dance career 24 years ago with Arthur Murray in Monroeville, PA, later transferring to Silver Spring, MD. After several years of teaching he moved to NYC to train and compete, where he met his dance partner and now wife, Christine Hipsky. Following 6 years of training and competing with some the best dancers in the world in NYC, they moved to Charlotte, NC and opened Dynamic Ballroom, an independent ballroom dance studio in Cornelius, NC, to offer fitness classes, workshops, parties, and social and competitive dance training to the ever-growing Charlotte, NC population.
JR continues to compete in Pro/am in both International and American styles. He holds Licentiate degrees in both Standard and Latin through the USISTD, now AIDA