The idea of The ‘International Championships’ was conceived by Elsa Wells and her husband Lavy Baktsansky, in 1953 and presented that year for the first time at The Royal Albert Hall in London, one of the World’s finest exclusive venues. 

Below a photo of Elsa Wells. 

The Championships, in the first year, comprised of two Professional competitions, two Amateur competitions and the Juvenile Ballroom Trophy ( which also included Junior competitors at that time).The Junior Ballroom started in 1962, achieving Championships status in 1975. 

The ‘International’ has been held annually thereafter and continues until this day. After 18 years of both organising and presenting the Championship herself and following the death of her husband, Lavy, in 1971, Elsa appointed Albert Rudge as her organiser and he remained in this post for some seven years. 

At the end of the 1976 event at The Royal Albert Hall, Bobby Short ( one of the judges on duty) was a announced, by Elsa, as the new organiser with effect from the 1977 presentation. 

Bobby was tremendously proud to be organising such an eminent and prestigious Championship which then had a pedigree of some 24 years annual presentation. He diligently applied his entrepreneurial skills which saw a staggering growth over the next twenty six years. In 1978 the programme changes began with the introduction of the Juvenile and the Junior Latin American Championships, together with the Senior Ballroom and Senior Latin American Championships. 

Below are photo’s of Bobby Short and Linda Short. 


The daytime session at The Royal Albert Hall was so popular, it meant The Championships had to start at 09.00am in the morning. The entry numbers continued to expand so Bobby took the decision to extend The International to three days i.e. 

One day at The Brentwood International Centre that was completely devoted to Latin, one day at The Brentwood International Centre completely devoted to Ballroom, culminating in the evening session on the next day at The Royal Albert Hall. By doing this it was possible to include the Professional Rising Star competitions in both Ballroom and Latin from 1992. This was followed seventeen years ago by the introduction of the Under 14 Ballroom, the Under 14 latin and the Over 50’s. Ballroom competitions. Throughout Bobby’s 26 year stewardship the event moved from strength to strength and is recognised worldwide as one of THE major championships to attend. 

From 2003, Linda Short together with John and Arlene Leach have organised and presented The International Championships with an abundance of success. Originally through their company Dance News Special Projects LTD, and more recently Dance News LTD, they gave permission to the World Dance Council (WDC) to use the two Professional Championship results to be incorporated in the WDC World Series charts. 

Below are photos of John and Arlene Leach. 


Linda, John and Arlene have worked tirelessly for dance and the promotion of The International. Through their hard work, entries in all events have increased significantly, requiring for the necessity to extend The International Championships to four days. The planned extra day, advertised in 2019 was scheduled to commence in 2020, moving the Under 21 Latin Championship to the Monday and adding four new exciting competitions. The Amateur Rising Star Ballroom and Latin, The Junior Rising Star Ballroom and Latin. Due to exceptional circumstances forcing the majority of spectator events to be cancelled throughout the year, The International Championships 2020 was postponed to 2021. 

In July 2020, it was announced by Dance News in edition 2672 that Robin Short and Christopher Short through their business Cre8tive Producions were now proud organisers and presenters of The International Championships and The United Kingdom Championships. 

Robin Short and Christopher Short are pictured above. 

Robin and Christopher, the son and grandson of Bobby Short are exceptionally proud and excited to continue organising The International Championships in the family name. Following the success of the International in 2021 and 2022. Where in difficult times further events were added with effort to include as many dancers as possible. This including events for Amateur Rising Star,  Under 21 Rising Star, Junior Rising Star, Under 10, Over 60, as well different styles with Smooth being introduced to the event. From 2023 the International Championships is now housed under the event, the International Dance Festival

Enclosed is a photo of the  logo of the International Dance Festival 

The International Dance Festival has in 2023 already taken place. Expanding to four days, with further added events included and for the first time hosting solo categories.

The blueprint, history and tradition of the International Dance Festival remains the same. The Worlds best dancers in Ballroom and Latin categories compete at qualification,  in Medway Park, Gillingham to qualify to perform at the Royal Albert Hall. The only event in the world to feature all four major Competitive Ballroom and Latin Championships in one night. 

The International Dance Festival 2023 is thought to have been the most successful International to date, returning back to usual and welcoming dancers from all over the world. The highest number of entries from a particular country was again from dancers in China. The International Dance Festival 2024 will further expand to five days, including four days at qualification and the finals to be held at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Cre8tive Productions Ltd, Robin Short and Christopher Short are proud owners of the International Dance Festival and the United Kingdom Open Dance Festival. Events that feature by kind permission of the BDC the International Dance Championships and the United Kingdom Open Dance Championships, both of which have been in the Short family name since 1976, almost fifty years.  

Robin and Christopher continue to be respectful to Bobby, Linda, John and Arlene, and the hard work and success that Dance News has achieved. Robin and Christopher have done and will continue to do the utmost to maintain and develop the prestige and history of the International Dance Festival.