How It Works

Five Easy Steps to Have a Blast!

Step 1: Register!

Registration closes October 16, 2020.

Step 2: Film yourself dancing!

Step 2: Film yourself dancing! Film yourself and/or your partner dancing and upload your videos between October 15, 2020, and October 26, 2020.
Record each dance as a separate video and upload your videos to Youtube. Each dance will need to be uploaded as a separate video. You can record your dancing as many times as you like, so upload your favorite version for the judges to critique. After uploading, please ensure video permissions are set to “unlisted” or “public” so the judges can view your dancing.
Dancers will receive personalized Video Upload Competitor Entry Forms via email. A generic version of this form is available here in case you need it. Confirm that the registration information in the form is accurate.
Suggested music can be found in this Spotify playlist. You are not required to dance to these songs, but we think they’re pretty fun and our DJ made sure they have accurate tempos.

Step 3: Judges watch your videos!

You will receive valuable written feedback from three judges for each video submission. Upgrade your registration by purchasing a ticket for a thorough review by the judge of your choice, or sign up for a virtual private lesson with one of our experienced ballroom professionals.

Our team will contact you to connect you with the judge you selected.

Step 4: Receive your feedback!

Critiques will be sent to you on October 31, 2020, via email. Our judges will take their time with their thorough reviews, and those will be available in early November.

Step 5: Free. Seminars. All. Day. Long.

Join us for over six hours of free seminars on October 31, 2020. No registration required. See what the judges were talking about in your critiques. Ask questions through chat. Brush up on your technique with ballroom friends!

Since social distancing protocols also prevent our annual Halloween Ball this year, participants and spectators are invited to participate in our costume contest on Instagram! Follow @upartnerdance on Instagram and use #ballroomblast when you post a picture or video of yourself dancing in your costume. The entry with the most likes will receive a prize! We can't wait to see your Halloween spirit!

For day-of status updates, visit us on Facebook. For technical support during the seminars, reach out through chat or email us at

Seminar Schedule

10:00-10:45 Kate Bratt Foxtrot
11:00-11:45 Forest Vance Rumba Rumba
11:45-12:30 Forest Vance Rumba Posture and Turns
12:45-1:30 Mariusz Olszewski Arm Styling
1:45-2:45 Gene and Elena Bersten Cha Cha
3:00-3:45 Woodrow Wills and Neli Petkova Waltz
3:45-4:30 Woodrow Wills and Neli Petkova Tango

Our Panel of Judges

Elena Bersten

At the age of ten, Elena Bersten learned rhythmic gymnastics and became a Russian gymnastics champion in 1995. At the age of 12, Elena started learning ballroom/Latin dance. In the summer of 1998, Elena and her mother (a former champion of Russia) opened the dance studio “21 century”. At the age of 16, Elena went to school for choreography. In her dancing career, Elena won numerous awards for her dancing abilities and won many prestigious Russian championships and titles. At the age of 18, Elena won the Russian formation team competition.

In 2000-2005, Elena attended the University Culture of Arts in Orel, Russia, and received a special certificate as a ballroom instructor. Elena also attended the Russian university for choreography. In 2003-2006, Elena was invited as a dancer for European renowned “Moscow’s Starlight Dancers.” Elena toured in Finland, Sweden, Monte Carlo, and Cyprus.

Elena also performed with many celebrities including Lou Bega, Patricia Kass, Boney M, Touch and Go, and many others. Elena performed on some of the most prestigious stages in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In 2006, Elena created her own dance show “21 century dance,” and in 2008-2010, Elena and her partner were invited to perform with "Burn the Floor" as the star couple.

Elena is the co/owner of the DanceSport competition “Trophy Mayor.” Elena is a recognized official judge of Russian Federation DanceSport, and USTA/NDCA certified as a highly qualified “Member” adjudicator in American Rhythm and Smooth as well as International Ballroom and Latin. Elena trained many of the junior and youth champions of Russia in her Ballroom/Latin club “21 vek” in Orel, Russia.

Now Elena, currently dancing with her husband Gene, is the co/owner and director of Dance With Us America, which is considered one of the best Ballroom and Latin dance studios in the Midwest. She is also the choreographer of “Dance With Love,” creating dance shows here in Minnesota and all over America, such as the show, “Behind The Mask.” Elena grows in her dancing every day by continuing her education, performing, and adding to the dance community with her wonderful performances, dancing, teaching, and passion.

Gene Bersten

Born in Belarus and raised in Minnesota, Gene Bersten's dance partner is his wife, Elena. He has been complimented on numerous occasions on his wonderful and strong partnering skills, his work ethic, his determination, and his passion for dancing and performing. Gene dances from his heart and always delivers a meaningful performance full of passion. Gene has won multiple United States titles in Latin dance championships. He has also been featured in a dance company called "Dance with Love," which has been featured nationwide.

Gene owns one of the strongest and most well-known dance studios in the Midwest, Dance with Us America. He taught at Magic Ballroom and worked and taught at the Center for Youth Development for many years, sharing his love for dance. His aspirations include enhancing his love for dancing and performing by learning and growing his talent each and every day. He comes from a Russian background and has one sister and one brother. His motto is "Take one day at a time and always give 111% in everything you do." He hopes to expand his list of dancing opportunities while adding new experiences to his book of life.

Kate Bratt

It is often said that you will hear Kate Bratt long before you see her. Kate's fun-loving personality, animated gestures, attention to detail, and copious supply of knowledge make her the ideal instructor for both new and experienced dancers.

Winning regional and state competitions in elite gymnastics led Kate to search for a new competitive outlet after she got "too old" for gymnastics, which naturally led her to ballroom dancing. While consistently making finals through her career in pro-am, am-am, and professional competitions is fun, seeing her students succeed on the social and competitive dance floor keeps her motivated.

Kate's professional achievements include:

  • Rhythm and Smooth finalist for over ten years at Twin Cities Open
  • Rhythm and Smooth finalist at Wisconsin State DanceSport Championships, Indiana State, Harvest Moon Ball DanceSport Championships, Cleveland DanceSport, Northcoast DanceSport, Southeastern States, Colorado Star Ball, and Holiday Classic
  • SnowBall Smooth Champion
  • Ohio Star Ball Rising Star Smooth finalist

Student achievements include:
  • USADance national champions in 3 styles
  • Championship and Scholarship winners at United States DanceSport Championships, Ohio Star Ball, Emerald Ball, Twin Cities Open, and Harvest Moon Ball DanceSport Championships, among others

Ballroom dancing has afforded Kate creative opportunities, such as performing with Michael Johns (American Idol) and Gene Simmons (KISS), working on a national campaign for LensCrafters, and performing in the Minnesota Fringe Festival. In her spare time, Kate enjoys cooking, gardening, and having dance parties with her entourage of handsome husband, four lovely daughters, and two awesome sons. Kate also composes content for *Dance Comp Review*, *Sheer Dance*, and her blog, *Riot and Frolic*, to keep sleeping hours to a minimum.

Mariusz Olszewski

Mariusz Olszewski is a ballroom artist, coach, and choreographer, whose work has been presented at the biggest ballroom venues, dance festivals, and television studios around the world. He choreographed for the World, American, Polish, and Ohio Star Ball Champions, and other top ranking ballroom couples, including Blackpool Dance Festival American Smooth finalists.

Mariusz moved to Minneapolis in 1996 to join Jazzdance! by Danny Buraczeski and danced with the company for 5 years, performing at the most prominent stages and dance festivals, such as the Kennedy Center, The Joyce Theater, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and Bates Festival, among others. Prior to Jazzdance!, Mariusz was a lead dancer and assistant to the artistic director of The Silesian Dance Theater, the first professional modern dance company in his native country of Poland. For his roles created in that company, he received Silesia’s President’s Award for Outstanding Artist in 1995.

Mariusz is a founding member of Beyond Ballroom Dance Company, and served as its Artistic Co-Director. Mariusz’s work is driven from his modern, jazz, ballroom dance, and theater experience. He has choreographed and collaborated with Minneapolis's prime dance companies, such as Zenon Dance Company, Minnesota Dance Theater, and James Sewell Ballet. He was a guest choreographer on the popular television show "Dancing With the Stars," and a featured choreographer for 8 seasons on "So You Think You Can Dance" in Poland, creating a record number of 35 routines in contemporary, jazz, and ballroom dance styles. In 2016, he was invited to choreograph two ballroom shows for Hong Kong’s biggest Dream Cruise Line.

Mariusz Olszewski is a recipient of the 2005 McKnight Artists Fellowship for Dancers. He graduated from The Institute of Culture Theater Department in Opole, Poland.

Neli Petkova

Neli is a professional ballroom dancer currently holding the title of Canadan Vice Champion in International Ballroom. Growing up in Bulgaria, she started dancing Latin and Ballroom at age ten, and she has been a passionate competitor ever since. Now, Neli also applies her knowledge and training towards her goals of cultivating the dance community and sharing her joy of dance with others.

Forrest Vance

All Levels of Certification and Examinations in American and International Styles F.A.D.S. | N.D.C.A. | AMI | NADTA A+B+C+T
Career in dancing began in 1979. Former Specialist, Advanced Teacher, Dance Director, Supervisor, Co-Manager and Co-Owner of a studio. This expertise gave a personal wisdom with coaching, staff training and certification. Traveling worldwide as a Adjudicator, Consultant, Choreographer and Coach for top professionals and both Pro-Am and amateur couples
Accomplishments – Personal Dance Career:
5 Time Undefeated USA American Rhythm Champion | 2 Time U.S. Rising Star USA Latin Champion | 15 Time USA Ballroom Championship Top Teacher | Fred Astaire 7 Time American Rhythm Champion & 2 Time International Latin Champion | 4 Time Canadian American Rhythm Champion | 3 Time Triple Crown Champion | 3 Time Ohio State Ball Champion | 5 Time Texas Challenge Champion 2010 Winner of the Hanlon Ford Award | 2011 Dancesport Series Top Teacher 2012 Professional Hall of Fame Award
Personal Accomplishments:
Producer – “Not Strictly Ballroom” – Instructional Dance Videos in Ballroom, Latin & Country Dancing
Organizer & Host – The People’s Choice Dancesport Competition

Organization Memberships:
N.D.C.A. | N.A.D.T.A. | F.A.D.S. | A.M.I. | World Adjudicator | World Show Dance Adjudicator

Woodrow Wills

Woodrow Wills is a professional ballroom dancer who is the current Canadian Vice Champion in International Ballroom. In 2015, Woodrow represented Canada at the world championships in Lithuania. Besides training, he enjoys spending time teaching and sharing his knowledge of dance with others.

Minnesota Ballroom Blast is

low-stress, feedback-based, and designed to:

  • Provide social dancers and competitors alike with meaningful feedback from professionals they might not otherwise have access to
  • Introduce beginners to the general format of a competition in a low-chaos environment
  • Provide a preparatory event for those looking to compete
  • Allow couples to experiment with new choreography and costuming