Benjamin Soencksen / Board Member 2008 to Present
Hailing originally from Germany, I come from a family of competitors and judges in the world of DanceSport. In 2003, my father received the second highest civil honor by the German government for his contribution to the sport, and my brother and nephew still actively compete.
For approximately 30 years, I have competed in International Style Latin and Standard throughout the world, and in same-sex dance competitions, since the Gay Games in Amsterdam 1998, culminating in 4th Place for 10-Dance at the Gay Games in Sydney 2002. As the Business Manager of Stepping Out Studios, where I have worked for the past 19 years and which is the only Studio in NYC to have a same-sex dance program called OUTdancing for the past 18 years, I have been actively involved in the same-sex dance partner scene for a long time.
After retiring from actively competing and dancing due to health problems, I started coaching same-sex couples and judging at same-sex competitions in the US and Europe (Eurogames 2004 in Munich; Pink Jukebox 2005 in London; Philadelphia Liberty Dance Challenge 2006, 2008, 2009 & 2010; 5-Boro-Dance Challenge, NYC 2007 & 2008; April Follies, Oakland, CA, 2010; Gay Games 2010 in Cologne). For the past three years, I have been Secretary on the Board of Directors of NASSPDA (North American Same-Sex Partner Dance Association) and instrumental in writing NASSPDA’s Competition Rules. As the delegate from NASSPDA to the FGG (Federation of Gay Games), I am a member of the FGG’s Sports Committee, and we are actively working with that committee on planning the DanceSport competition at the Gay Games 2014 in Cleveland.
As part of my decades of experience as a dancer, I studied all styles of partnership dancing and its history. During that time, I also trained as a costume designer at the Academy of Arts in Cologne, Germany, and built a costume design business during my first four years in New York City. During this time I collected credits (including The Lincoln Center Library and The NY Times) in theatre, cabaret, television, ice-skating, and partner dancing.
As a former apartment co-owner in New York City, I served on a Co-op Board as President and Vice-President for five years. I am now living happily with my partner Reinaldo -- a non-dancer who nevertheless accompanies me to all dance-related activities -- in a rent-controlled apartment for the past 11 years.
In addition to my current position as Business Manager of Stepping Out Studios (www.steppingoutstudios.com), I have managed other studios and departments within dance studios in New York and New Jersey since 1987. Currently, I also serve as Secretary of the Board of Directors of Reverb Dance, a not-for-profit corporation of which I am a founding member. It focuses on helping fresh, new talent in the contemporary dance community showcase its work in New York City.
My passion is my continued involvement with the world of same-sex partner dance. To that end, in 2007 I started DAGE (Dancesport Alliance for Gender Equality), a network of social and competitive same-sex dancers in the Tri-State area (New York, New Jersey, & Connecticut) communicating with each other via a yahoo group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dageonline/).