Ballroom has clearly been a part of the social scene for many generations, but it moved out of the exclusive homes of the wealthy and into the lives of ordinary people when the likes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers made it accessible through the magic of the silver screen! As a hobby and, for some, a career, the ballroom dances have evolved into a worldwide sport that captivates audiences and enthusiasts and drives many to be at the top of the game.
The previously mentioned Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers have to be one of the most memorable and skilled partnerships of the last several decades. Their chemistry and effortless style was the result of intense training and the pursuit of excellence, and for many they remain the ultimate ballroom couple. Since that time, however, many amazing and dedicated dancers have formed unforgettable partnerships that have set the ballrooms alight.
Donnie Burns, who hails from Scotland, was a phenomenon who went undefeated in any ballroom competition for twenty years, earning him a spot in The Guinness Book of World Records. Burns was beloved for his sexy Latin style and with his partner, Gaynor Fairweather, went on to win eleven international Latin American Dance championships and fourteen World championships, a record that has gone unchallenged. The key to much of their success was that they were innovative in their choreography and, thus, were exciting to watch as well as being highly skilled. Gaynor, for her part, was a most sensual and graceful dancer, embodying all that the Latin elements of those dances demanded for full effect.
Slavik Kryklyvyy and his partner Karina Smirnoff danced together for five years and in that time set the world of ballroom alight with their incredible chemistry and fierce performance. Slavik, who was born in the Ukraine, was a master at interpreting the Latin dances and often had the adoring crowd on standing their feet with ovation, delight and appreciation. You may have seen the couple in the Jennifer Lopez movie “Shall We Dance” where they had feature roles. Together they won five U.S Latin championships the Asian championship and the World Trophy Championship, demonstrating the inventive choreography they became known for.
More recently, Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti were delighting the ballroom fans with their graceful style. They were World Champions for four years from 2005 to 2008. At that time, they both decided to take a break from the competitive scene to focus on family, but their fans certainly missed them. However, as with all sport, there is undoubtedly someone waiting in the wings to take your place, and the current World Champions took up that mantle from Gozzoli and Betti and have been champions since their 2009 win. Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova represent the U.S.A in championships and have held the top position through the evident talent and chemistry they are able to bring to their work.
Without a doubt, the popularity of dance has been fueled by exposure through the accessible mediums of film and television. The proliferation of the dance shows of all genres, but especially ballroom, has driven a wave of new generation wannabes, and thus we can expect to be thrilled by this dynamic sport well into the future.