Why choose one style of ballroom dancing, when you can have two? That is what Casey and Kayci Treu, the United States National 10 Dance Champions, have decided to do. Casey, who grew up in Utah doing ballroom dancing met Kayci, who grew up in Maryland doing ballet at the United States National Championship held at Brigham Young University (BYU) where they both attended school. It was there that Casey asked Kayci for an audition.
“I didn’t start ballroom until I came to school. I was taking classes at Brigham Young University, BYU is the acronym, and I was taking classes there. Casey and I met there and he was looking for a dance partner, and we had an audition. We had the same goals and ideas and dreams and ta-da.”
It was there at Brigham Young University where the two also participated on the ballroom formation team, where they came in first with the BYU team in the latin formation division at the world-famous Blackpool Dance Festival. Casey shared
“The formation team actually has a lot of opportunities to do performances, specifically on a stage or in some sort of setting where you can control the environment. We like to do show dances a lot so it’s almost like being on the formation team helped us progress as performers not just competitors. Some people are great competitors but are not great at doing shows, and some people are really great at doing shows but not good competitors, so the formation experience helped prepare us for that.”
They also credit the formation team with helping create a more well-rounded understanding of the mechanics behind the ballroom world. Instead of being solely competitors, they also have a deep understanding of how to choreograph group numbers for local formation teams in Utah as well as competitive routines for couples. This past Spring shortly after the United States National Championships they managed to put on a show of their own where they showcased each of their 10 dances. “We did a whole 10 dance show with 10 numbers for the first time right after the national championships this last year. Due to our experience on the touring company, we were able to see how to put together a show. You know, how you figure out your costume changes, how you figure out the lights, how you pick which numbers are going to happen when, and how you take the audience on a journey or some sort of ark where they are going to experience something dramatic, beautiful, sad, funny, then something just entertaining or with high energy. It was really fun to be in a formation group because it taught us how to build a show.” The 10 dance path was an easy decision for them to make. Casey grew up doing 10 dance and was a youth 10 dance champion at the U.S. Championship earlier in his career but took a two year break, where he solely focused on latin. However, after he met Kayci and the two decided to dance together, the two decided to do 10 dance.
Kayci states “I think for us, the thought of trying to choose one style would be almost like cutting your heart in half and trying to decide which one you get to hold on to. They both feed me in different ways. I think for ourselves we really like having the opportunity to grow and develop from both and let the two styles feed each other. I think that they have a lot to offer cross-training wise.” Due to their experience training in both styles, they are able to incorporate one into the other. Casey explained “We try to choose strategies or choreography that can be used in both areas. We can play off our strengths as 10 dancers. Like maybe some latin dancer might avoid pivots in their Samba, but of course we’re going to have pivots in our Samba and we’re going to execute the same kind of technique as in our swing dances in ballroom.” When it comes to which dance style is their favorite, it’s hard to say. However, what is easy to recognize is that Casey really enjoys one dance above all the rest.
“It’s really hard to say which one I like better, which I guess is one of the reasons we do both.” Kayci followed up with “Personally, my favorite dance changes everyday,” to which Casey chimed in “I can tell you my favorite dance, it’s a latin dance. My favorite dance is Samba.” Kayci then echoed the statement saying “He loves Samba. He’s always been a latin boy. I kind of alternate. I love waltz and I love Paso Doble. Those are two very different dances.”
It is also clear that for Casey and Kayci, it is not about the destination but rather about the journey that gets them there. For them, one of the great things of value regarding 10 dance is that they get to have more than one journey with one another. “We just love the journey. We love learning about both styles. We love developing in both styles and the music of both styles. What is not to love about 10 dance?” Their preparation for competitions, does not vary whether it is latin or standard, except when it comes to things like costuming, which dances they are warming up with and hair & make-up. They approach both styles with the same mentality since they have an equal love for both and are serious about both. Kayci says “We want to perform our best and we’re always constantly seeking to improve the dancing for both.” Casey also chimed in that “It’s definitely unique during a 10 dance competition because you have to warm up both styles. That’s always interesting to have the body be ready to do a waltz but also do a cha-cha. It’s interesting.” They also both believe that the best way to manage their 10 dance schedule as well as keep in shape for dancing is to dance and compete. They do use a trainer to work on their muscles.
“Because it requires so much time to do just one style of 5 dances, if we spend that time in the gym than it’s actually time away from practicing the other style.We like to do exercises that activate the muscles, like the core and the feet. We have exercises that work well for us, so we like to stick to those. We do those to warm up and then practice. We like to make sure that we’re trying to manage both styles pretty equally.”
Besides being dance partners, Casey and Kayci are also married. Outside of dancing, they enjoy spending time with their families with game nights, watch movies or do something together outdoors. Family is very important to them both since Kayci is the oldest of 7 kids and Casey is the 3rd of 4th. They feel very blessed to have their families only 10 minutes away instead of a state or a country away.
Their key to a long and successful partnership? Communication, the same mindset when it comes to goals and a respect for the other person as a human being. Kayci began by saying,
“A lot of the same things that you need in a relationship, are also important in keeping a partnership, like mutual respect and open communication. Just thinking about the other person, trying to be thoughtful and kind. What is unique about a dance partnership is that you want to make sure that you have goals that are compatible and that you work well together, but also realize that there will be times where you won’t always see eye to eye, and so you have to learn how to navigate through those times. You need to realize that both of you want what’s best for the partnership and for each other. You have to have that trust.”
Casey added in “It’s something that you have to work at. It’s not something that is going to come natural, ever. You’re not going to find someone that perfectly fits your mold and you’re going to be able to have that happily ever after. I don’t think that genuinely exists. I think what exists is people that have good relationships are people that actively work at it. I think the success of a dance partnership is working at it. You learn to communicate, you change your communication style if it’s something that bothers the other person or you’re willing to receive criticism or feedback or gather inventory on what you can do better as a partner. The hard thing is to actually sit down, open up and say ‘ok, what am I doing that is bothering you’ but that’s an important skill because if you can do that you can figure out what you need to fix, it will help the partnership run better.”
You can see a sampling of one of their 10 dance show numbers here: