Magazine article Dance Magazine

Blackpool Dance Festival

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Blackpool Dance Festival

Article excerpt

The biggest and most prestigious event of a ballroom dancer's calendar, the British Open Championships, better known as the Blackpool Dance Festival, is a captivating experience for any kind of dancer. The sixty-ninth festival, held in this English seaside resort, proved this. It is the ballroom dance world's equivalent of the Superbowl, Wimbledon, the Oscars. If you win, your career is made, but with 2,500 participants, there are not many winners.

Sequined hopefuls come from as far away as Siberian mining towns to dance--if only for one round--alongside some of the best exponents of modern and Latin movement. Spectators are prepared to stand into the small hours to see the final round of each class, where six couples battle it out for that coveted first place. And during the last rounds of the professional modern and Latin classes, even standing room is in short supply.

British professionals Sammy Stopford and Barbara McColl came in first in the Latin with their sultry rumba, as well as in their cha cha cha, samba, and paso doble, but couldn't beat the dynamic Corky and Shirley Ballas in the jive. This couple is always breathtakingly spirited in the dance, and came in second overall.

Finnish dancers Jukka Haapalainen and Sirpa Suutari's charismatic presentation was rewarded with a well-earned third place in every dance, allowing them to beat last year's winners Johan and Nadia Eftedal of Norway, who came in fourth on the day they announced their retirement.

Bianka Schreiber and Hans-Reinhard Galke made Germany proud by coming in fifth, and Australia had unexpected glory when Jason Gilkison and Peta Roby replaced the usual finalists and snapped up sixth place. This couple has given up modern to concentrate on Latin. Specializing is the name of the game when it comes to winning trophies.

The modern section lost two more great talents, too: its 1993 Blackpool champions, John Wood and Anne Lewis, announced their retirement, a disappointment to the many ballroom enthusiasts who prefer this couple's powerful style to their close British rivals, Marcus and Karen Hilton, the world champions. …

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