Competition Instructions

2024 Desert Challenge

Date: Friday, April 26 (5-10PM) and Saturday, April 27 (9AM-10PM)
Location: UNLV campus – Paul McDermott Physical Education Complex; 4505 S Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154
Deadline: Sunday, April 14, 2024, 11:59PM PDT; Post-deadline submissions will require a $10 late fee (unless stated otherwise) plus the entry fee.

This is the 30th Annual Desert Challenge. As an intercollegiate event, we expect that all of the competitors will be students of a university, state college, community college or technical academy. Please contact the organizer with any questions. We look forward to seeing you in April!

Syllabus level

The single dance American and International events are closed syllabus events. The material should be based on an NDCA or USA Dance recognized syllabus. International is restricted to ISTD syllabus. No continuity styling is allowed at the American Bronze level. Also, no open work is allowed in the syllabus-level events; events will be invigilated. Coaches, please ensure your students adhere to this.

For this competition, Newcomer is defined as someone who has never competed and has been dancing for less than twelve (12) months. Both members of the partnership must meet these guidelines.

Competitors may compete in two consecutive levels. American Smooth, American Rhythm, International Standard, and International Latin are all considered separate syllabi; therefore, dancers may be at different levels for each.


Note: Same-sex partners are allowed in the syllabus events. The Open Events are open to everyone, regardless of your dance level. The organizers reserve the right to cancel events with fewer than four (4) couples entered.

Couple (Similar proficiency)

Dancers may register for one of each event:

  • Syllabus event (two consecutive levels):
    • Newcomer/Bronze
    • Bronze/Silver
    • Silver/Gold
  • Multi-dance event (one level):
    • Novice
    • Pre-champion
    • Champion

Individuals may have more than one partner; however, you may not dance “down” in order to partner with someone at a lower level.

The Cabaret event is open to all competitors, which may be up to three (3) couples. The dance must be a ballroom-related style with lifts. Music selection is your choice. The time limit is four (4) minutes.

Rookie/Veteran (Mixed proficiency)

This level is also called the “Mixed proficiency” as being similar to a Pro/Am event, but with an experienced Amateur instead of a Pro.

The rules:

  1. One partner (the Rookie) must be a Newcomer or Bronze level dancer, and the other partner (the Veteran) must be a Silver level dancer or higher.
  2. Both partners must be amateur dancers.
  3. The dance patterns are strictly restricted to Bronze syllabus only.
  4. Only the Rookie dancer will be judged.
  5. There are no costume restrictions.
  6. The events will be held after the Gold level events in each style.
  7. The events will be all single dance events (no multi-dance).

Formation team

Schools may choose to present either a single dance or a medley. The time limit will be six (6) minutes, including entrance and exit. Timing will begin when the first team member steps onto the floor and will end when the last team member steps off the floor. Note: Coaches, the time restraints will be strictly enforced. Please adhere to them. If the dance goes over the time limit, competitors will be penalized.

NDCA and USA Dance rules regarding lifts will be followed. No lifts are allowed in the body of the routine only at the entrance, exit, or both. The single dance routines will be judged independently of the medleys. Please include a list of your team members with your entry.

Schools may compete with multiple teams provided the following guidelines are adhered to:

  1. These teams must be separate and distinct.
  2. They must perform separate and distinct routines.
  3. There must be no duplication of members between the teams.

If a school wants to showcase an exhibition routine, please fill out another form (i.e., exhibition) and pay an additional $40 entry fee.

Teams may have ten (10) minutes to mark their routines in the ballroom during registration or dinner break. Schools will be accommodated on a first-come, first-serve basis. To request your time, please contact the organizer.

Team match

Two Team Matches will be offered at no charge: American and International styles. These teams may be integrated for additional fun! Please be prepared.

Donna M Medrano Memorial Teach Match

This event is open to all schools attending. Entry is limited to one per school, costing $20 per team. Compete for a chance to win a $200 scholarship! For more information, please visit the Memorial Team Match.


Competitors must provide the music on a flash drive or CD. Please be sure to have a backup copy of it in case of problems.

For Formation Teams and Cabaret competitors, you must submit your music to the DJ before the end of the dinner break.


Costumes are encouraged and optional except for the following:

  • No costumes in the Newcomer events.
  • No costumes for the Team Matches.
  • Costumes will be allowed for the Donna M Medrano Memorial Team Match.


Below is the tentative schedule, which is subject to change. Coaches will be informed ASAP of any changes.


Registration (4:00PM – 5:00PM)

Competition – Open events (5:00PM – 10:00PM)

  • American Smooth
  • West Coast Swing
  • Salsa
  • Open Merengue


Registration (8:00AM – 9:00AM)

Competition – Open events (9:00AM – 4:30PM)

  • International Standard
  • American Rhythm
  • International Latin
  • Hustle
  • Argentine Tango
  • Lindy

Dinner break (4:30PM – 6:00PM)

Competition (6:00PM – 10:00PM)

  • Multi-dance events
  • Team events
  • Cabaret events


All results will be posted at the event and on this website.


Admission ticket fees: Friday ($5) and Saturday ($10)

Spectators can purchase admission tickets at the door with cash or credit card payments. Unfortunately, advanced ticket purchases aren’t available at this time except for competitors.

Free admission for both days will be for one (1) coach per school entry. For ticket purchases, please contact the organizer. The advanced ticket purchase will be held at Will Call for pick up.

Also, admission is free for volunteers who work a two-hour shift for that day. If you’re interested, please visit the Volunteers page.

Collegiate competitor* (18+): $50 (includes admission); The late fee is waived for Rookie/Veteran entry.
Youth competitor (under 18): $20 (includes admission); The late fee is waived.
Formation Team**: $40; The late fee is waived.
Team Match**: $0; The late fee is waived.
Memorial Team Match**: $20; The late fee is waived.

* A collegiate competitor is considered 18 years old and over. Also, the student must take at least one course this semester at a college, university, or trade school.

** Students participating only in the Formation Team, Team Match, or both competitions will be required to purchase an admission ticket (e.g., Friday $5, Saturday $10, or both).

Late fee: $10 (unless stated otherwise)

A submitted entry will be processed after payment is received online or in the mail.

Deadline and postmark date: Sunday, April 9, 2023, 11:59PM PDT

Payable name: Desert Challenge
Note: Add “School name – Couple / Rookie/Veteran / Formation Team / Team Match / Memorial Team Match” and payment breakdown (if multiple entries)

Zelle/PayPal payment:

Check/money order payment:
2024 Desert Challenge
c/o Gail Michel-Parsons
6524 Roy Rogers Dr
Las Vegas, NV 89108

Late entries

Entries must be submitted online and paid for by Sunday, April 14, 2024, 11:59PM PDT. If you like to enter after the deadline, the entry fee and a $10 late fee (unless stated otherwise) will be due before your entry can be processed. There is no guarantee that competitor names will be part of the program.

Any changes to the entry information must be finalized by Friday, April 26, 2024, 5PM PDT.


Refunds will be considered on a case-by-case basis, only with a 48-hour advance cancellation notice.


Organizer: Gail M Michel-Parsons

Mailing address:
Desert Challenge 2023
c/o Gail M Michel-Parsons
6524 Roy Rogers Dr
Las Vegas, Nv 89108

Dance key

B = Bolero
C = Cha Cha
F = Foxtrot
J = Jive
M = Mambo
Me = Merengue
P = Paso Doble
Q = Quickstep
R = Rumba
S = Samba
SW = East Coast Swing
T = Tango
VW = Viennese Waltz
W = Waltz