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   Inside Out - South: Monday February 21, 2005

STRICTLY BALLROOM

Ballroom dancers
Dancing shoes - two young dancers go through their paces

Ballroom dancing mania is hitting new heights hot on the heels of successful television programmes like Strictly Come Dancing.

The sport is finally shaking off its dowdy image and stepping out with a new sassy style. Inside Out puts on its dancing shoes, dons its tuxedo and tails and takes to the floor to tango.

"It's a fantastic sport for confidence. You need absolute confidence to be able to go and perform."
Dancer Camilla Dallerup.

In case you hadn't noticed, Britain is in the throws of a romance with ballroom dancing.

In the last few months the number of people going to classes has more than doubled.

Everyone loves ballroom dancing, from celebrities and soap stars to teenagers and disco dancers.

Inside Out South quicksteps off to Bournemouth to meet the stars of the future - a brother and sister team who are taking ballroom by storm.

From sequins to sport

Ballroom dancing used to be something of an anachronism with its sequins, voluminous dresses, ridiculous hairstyles and stuffy suits.

Ballroom dancing in 1976
Out with the old - the dated image of ballroom dancing is out

But the old image of outrageous costumes and staid dinner dances is out - ballroom dancing has been reborn.

Ballroom has been rechristened with a new trendy name, dancesport, and it's now being approached in the same way as football or gymnastics.

Serious dancers don't just have to know their steps, they also have to have a high level of fitness.

For young people like dancers Courtney and Tyler from Bournemouth, it's a great way to keep fit, relax, and have fun.

Dance dreams

Courtney is 13-years-old whilst brother Tyler is 10 - they've been dancing together for three years.

"It's brilliant," says Courtney enthusiastically.

Jill Halfpenny and partner
Fame game - young dancers hope to copy the stars

"You don't want to stop. As soon as you're on it's like 'wow!', that's where you belong.

"You don't want to come off the floor or stop dancing. You just want to do it all the time."

Tyler is equally smitten, "It feels powerful and really comfortable dancing. It's just something like football... something where you can just relax, meet friends and have fun".

The pair are currently practicing for a ballroom competition in Blackpool - it will be the biggest test of their lives.

They'll be up against some of the best talent in the country in the Champions of Tomorrow contest.

Quickstep to success?

Courtney and Tyler couldn't have been born in a better place - Bournemouth is the mecca of ballroom in southern England.

Although both started young, they're not from a dancing family, and one of the hardest things is dealing with people at school.

Courtney and Tyler at school
Positive attitude - dancers need to step out with confidence

The girls and boys in Courtney's class are gobsmacked seeing their thirteen-year-old classmate in a sexy dress.

But a girl dancing is accepted as "normal". Seeing a boy doing the Samba isn't every classmate's idea of cool.

And while there's no bullying, the thought of boys in sequins and spandex still gets a nervous reaction from the lads.

Tyler has a supportive family who've instilled in him a great confidence in what he's doing, as his dad Glen explains:

"He's got a good attitude. He've very grounded and if anyone does take the mickey, he can confront them in a logical way and explain the reasons why he's doing what he's doing."

Smart moves

Convincing their school mates was one thing… convincing the judges in Blackpool will be quite another.

The tango is Courtney and Tyler's strongest dance for Blackpool, and it's time for a quick lesson with dancers Ian Waite and Camilla Dallerup to brush up their steps.

Dancers and tutors
Ready to rumba - the dancers get set for Blackpool

Camilla sharpens up the couple's moves, their posture and their look.

Body language can be as important as movement with the tango:

"I know the tango is a serious dance, but it's in the eyes," she advises.

Ballroom dancing is about confidence and how dancers hold themselves - it's also about downright hard work and dedication, as Camilla explains:

"You need absolute confidence... there's another dynamic as in their application to what they're doing.

"Everything in life, you've got to give it 100%. It's a good lesson to learn even as a child you only get out what you put in."

Armed with her advice the dancers are ready for their assault on Blackpool - and it's time to bring on the full-on glamour.

Stepping out

Competitors come to Blackpool from all over the world. Some are as young as six-years-old, and all age groups are highly competitive.

Once contestants hit 12-years-old, the stakes are raised and they're allowed to wear full-on ballroom costumes.

Courtney and Tyler must do a waltz, a paso doble, the cha cha cha and, their least favourite, the quickstep.

They then move on to the Latin section - the tango, samba, rumba and bosa nova.

Courtney dancing
Bling bling - Courtney adopts the full-on glamour look in Blackpool

The competition is tough but Courtney and Tyler dance their way through to the quarter finals.

But there's bad news - they're going to have to do their least favourite dance - the quickstep.

Although the couple put their best feet forward, they make some basic errors and the jury is unforgiving.

Sadly they don't progress to the next stages of the competition, but they've done enough to acquit themselves honourably.

The couple shouldn't feel bad - they've been up against some of the best young dancers in the world. Bournemouth should be proud of them.

Besides which - there's always next year for this dynamic dancing duo.

Best foot forward

For the rest of us, there's the plenty of opportunities to strut our stuff in an amateur arena.

Ballroom dancing

Major dance styles:

Waltz - routed in a Provencal dance set to folk music called The Volta in France in the 16th Century. Much rotation and a slight swaying action.

Tango - an emotionally charged Argentinian dance with lots of clipped and staccato movements.

Foxtrot - originated by actor Harry Fox in America during a New York show in 1914. Lots of elegant lines and trotting steps.

Quickstep - a light and breezy dance with Charleston influences. Very fast paced with a lot of work on the balls of the feet.

Rumba - a sensual, stylised Latin dance. Similar to the Cha Cha but danced to a different rhythm. Lots of hip action and spot turns.

Samba - the famous dance of the Rio Carnival. Lots of bounce action, wiggly bums and rhythmical movement.

Paso Doble - Latin American dance based on the Spanish bullfight, it is very dramatic with sharp movements and artistic hand lines. Contains elements of Flamenco.

Cha Cha - Cuban dance like the Rumba but with extra beats. A "cheeky" dance with very synchronised movements and not much touching.

Getting started couldn't be easier, and these are our top tips:

Feet Look for a dance class in your area - there's plenty listed on the BBC Strictly Dancing website.

Look the part - get a decent pair of dancing shoes, but don't expect to rumba before you can walk!

Perfect your posture and poise - looking the part is crucial.

Start with a basic dance pattern, perhaps a waltz with simple footwork and steps.

It's important to learn the direction of movement on a dance floor. If in a crowd, always move counterclockwise.

If you're nervous about people watching you, stay closer to the middle of the dance floor especially if you want to move around at a slower pace.

Proper footwork is the key to good style. Take definite steps, carry your weight on more on the ball of your foot than on your heel, and take steps originating from the hip.

Ballroom dancing takes time so don't expect to perfect those Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers moves without years of practice.

And finally enjoy yourself - the new ballroom dancing is great fun, it's sexy and it's sassy.

Good luck - and take your dancing one step at a time! Who knows, you could be joining Courtney and Tyler in Blackpool this time next year.

See also ...

Inside Out: South
Pole dancing

On the rest of Inside Out
Dancing

On bbc.co.uk
BBC Strictly Come Dancing
BBC Cult - Come Dancing

On the rest of the web
Ballroom dancers
Dance TV
Dancing Times
British Competitors Dancesport Organisation
British Dance Council

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Paula
This was a good programme but may have been off putting as Blackpool is costly. I have a 6yr old daughter who competes both as a single and as part of an all girl couple. I feel it would have been better to show more grass roots competition, something that is more attainable to the everyday child. We do go to Blackpool and are due there in April for the Nationwide Medallist Finals, where she is dancing in the 6-8 age group and her partner is dancing in the 3-5 age group. The dance school they attend is part of a national Supadance league as well and we travel around the southeast with this, as well as to competitions in watford, the Rivioli Ballroom and Southampton. I feel this level should also have been reflected in the programme. Not all children have to have a £400 dress.

Becca
I've been dancing for two years now and I absolutely love it, although I am currently out of practise as I no longer have a partner. I watched all of Strictly Come Dancing and I think it's great that the sport is finally getting the exposure it deserves! There's nothing old fashioned about it at all, it is such a lively, exciting and vibrant sport and I think that everybody should at least try it to see what they think! My idols are Paul Killick and Hanna Karttunen, in my opinion they were the best Latin couple ever, and I admire them so much! I only hope that one day I can be as good as they were. I live and breathe for dancing! It is just utterly fantastic!

Alya - oxford
i am just turning 15 and i have been dancing freestyle,jazz, street and a bit of hip hop since i was 9. A couple of years ago i started ballroom and latin and came 4th in my first ever latin competion, however i have a slight problem, there arn't any guys who will dance with me. i think it is great that the brother and sister can dance together and go to blackpool, hopefully in a years time ill meet them there. GOOD LUCK.



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