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Christine McDonald

See also: Categories: Dancers, Adjudicators, Organizers, NDCA, WDC, Ballroom, Standard

Born: July 18, 1947
Hometown: Glasgow,Scotland
Current location: California, USA
Current status:

Christine McDonald is a former Professional ballroom dancer, specializing in International Style Standard. With husband Brian McDonald, she is a former 3-time Scottish National Amateur Champion, a 3-time European Professional Standard finalist, a European Professional Standard runner-up, as well as a 4-time United States National Professional Standard Champion. Christine has also been one of the organizers of the Embassy Ballroom Championships (Embassy Ball) since 1980 and has been inducted into the Millennium DanceSport Championships Hall of Fame in 2012.

Overview

Christine McDonald, or Kristi as she is known by most, grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, and was introduced to ballroom dancing by her parents. They sent her to dance school where her first teacher was Jim Graham. She enjoyed it so much, she decided to try competing. Her first partner in the Amateur field was Jim Oliver, and by 1965, they came 7th in the British Open Amateur Latin Championship. Kristi was 18 at the time. They stopped dancing in 1966, and Kristi found herself looking for a new partner.

In 1968, Kristi met Brian McDonald at the British Open in Blackpool, England, and they decided to tryout. It felt promising, so Brian left Sheila Downton, his current partner, to dance with Kristi, sensing that she would be the one for him, and not only for dancing! Within six weeks, they were in the top six in the Scottish Amateur Championship and became Scottish Champions in 1969, 1970, and 1971. During all of this, both their parents had supported them and their dancing aspirations, but now it was time to make this their profession. They turned pro in 1971.

Brian's first and only teacher until he turned professional was Mary Buchannon, who had also taught his parents. She was a former Scottish Champion and examiner for the Scottish Dance Teachers' Alliance. When Brian and Kristi made the final in the British Open Professional Championships in 1976, they felt it was time to get more teachers and more exposure. They started to commute to London, a seven hour drive, to work with Benny Tolmeijer and Bill and Bobbie Irvine as their core coaches. They also had some lessons with Anthony Hurley and Peter Eggleton.

As Scottish representatives, they made the final of the European Standard Championship three times, and in 1977 when Richard and Janet Gleave took a one year hiatus, Brian and Kristi came second. Richard and Janet had won the European six times.

The 1977 finalists in the order of placement were:

That same year, Brian and Kristi went to the U.S. and "fell in love".

"At that European Championship in Germany, Byron Charleton, fellow competitor, and second in the British Championship with his wife Dorothy, asked what we were doing the next couple of weeks. He wanted us to fill in for him in a show at the Telemark Ball in Washington D. C. So we gave our pre-arranged lecture for the Scottish Dance Teachers' Alliance, and then flew to Washington. We loved the whole experience and on our flight back, we decided to come back on a tour. We had been invited by John Morton, a Los Angeles promoter, to do some shows."

Brian McDonald

Before they went back to the U.S. though, Brian and Kristi joined the ranks of their peers as finalists in the World Professional Championship in Tokyo in 1977, and in 1978 in London.

In 1978, the finalists in order of placement were:

In 1978, they went back to the U.S. on a tour of shows they had organized. This took them from coast to coast, and they knew for sure that this was where they wanted to live.

"One of our students in Great Britain came from Oklahoma City and suggested we come there and open a dance school. So we did, and it was a nightclub/dance school, much like today’s Salsa clubs, that we called it Kristi’s. We would teach in the morning and have the club going at night. Occasionally, we got people like Vernon Brock in to coach. We hired bands like Buddy Rich and Woody Herman and also had our own band.”

Brian McDonald

Running a club and teaching was very stressful for Brian and Kristi. They were up until 3:00 a.m. at the club, got up early the following day to clean and set up again, and then teach. It isn’t surprising that they decided to give the club up.

“We took our two boys, Gary and Jason, and drove to California and that’s where we stayed. We started teaching there, and in 1979, I became a delegate to the National Council of Dance Teachers Organization, (NCDTO), today's National Dance Council of America (NDCA).”

Brian McDonald

Brian never missed a meeting despite the fact that he and Kristi were still competing. From 1979 to 1982, Brian and Kristi were U.S National Professional Standard Champions.

In 1980, Brian and Kristi started to organize their own competition in California, the Embassy Ball, with John Kimmins and Sam Sodano as co-organizers since 2005. Over the years, it has become one of the biggest international events in the U.S.

Gary McDonald, Brian and Kristi’s son, followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and became a competitor and studio owner. With his partner, Diana McDonald, he became a 10-time undefeated U.S National 10 Dance Champion, and in 1997, the World 10 Dance Champion.

Lifetime Achievement Awards

In January of 2008, the National Dance Council of America (NDCA) proudly inducted Brian and Kristi McDonald into the United States DanceSport Hall of Fame. This life achievement award was given in recognition of their outstanding contribution, devotion and dedication to ballroom dancing in the United States and worldwide. Their leadership and commitment to excellence in the field of ballroom dancing and DanceSport is an inspiration to all as they have helped in preparation for the successes enjoyed today in the U.S..

2012 also paved the way for husband and wife to receive another Lifetime Achievement Award as they were inducted into the Millennium DanceSport Championships Hall of Fame. They were also the 2016 Honorees of the DBDC - A Legendary Celebration.

Accomplishments

Dance Partners

Instructors

Entrepreneurship


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