David Key, nationally recognized figure in ballroom dancing, passed away peacefully in his partner’s company on May 14th after suffering a sudden severe seizure at home a few days earlier.
David was President of the Pan American Teachers of Dancing and last year’s recipient of the Living Legends of Dance Award. He was also an active member in his community, Blanco, Texas with the Keep Blanco Beautiful Group and was currently developing the Lamp Lighter Project to install street lights in downtown Blanco. David was also writing a lecture about the Segrada Familla Temple of Barcelona, Spain, to be presented to local church organizations.
David’s life revolved around ballroom dancing … teaching, choreographing and creating scholarship programs that encouraged people to pursue their dancing abilities.
David was born in Guthrie, Oklahoma on September 3, 1943. He attended North Texas State University with a double major in English and Psychology, then moved to Oklahoma City where he had family. After answering a newspaper ad for a training class for dance teachers, he was hooked.
His formative years were with the Arthur Murray Organization in Chicago and then Hollywood, where he studied with Sheila Webber Sloane and Nena Samaniego, who was the sister of Ramon Novarro, a legendary silent movie star. Subsequent to leaving Arthur Murray’s, he started his own dance studios in Cincinnati, Ohio and Houston, Texas. He formed the Pan American Teachers of Dancing in 1975 where he and Roy Mavor formulated the syllabus for an independent curriculum for American Style dance instruction. He was affiliated with the National Dance Council of America and served as an officer and historian. He also started the United States Dance Foundation to provide opportunities for talented people to pursue their dance education and to promote dancing in the United States.
David was the organizer of the Mid United States Tournament Championships, known as “The Must,” a precursor of later events that led to the current ballroom dancing boom across the nation and on TV.
During the 90s, David co-hosted the television series “DanceSport USA” with Victoria Regan, which was seen in the United States and other countries, particularly throughout Asia. David considered his onscreen appearances with movie legend Cyd Charisse a highlight in his career.
David’s last stage appearance was at the London Palladium in 1998 where he danced with his dear friend Marge Champion in “The Magnificent Golden Years of Musicals,” a production dedicated to the memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.
His latest accomplishment was “choreographing” the construction of Treetops, the home where he and his partner have lived for the last five years after retirement.
David is survived by his life partner Armando Pena of Spring Branch, Texas; his sister Linda Loar of Carriere, Mississippi; and his nieces Mechele Armstrong of Houston, Texas and Nancy Wray of New Orleans, Louisiana.
After a period of grieving, a memorial will be held to celebrate David’s life. Those wishing to remember David are encouraged to make a donation to the American Dancesport Organization, PO Box 13, Boca Raton, FL 33429, indicating on the check it is for the David Key Scholarship Fund.