From the UK's Mail on Sunday - article by Paul Killick

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by dave_aw, May 25, 2004.

  1. dave_aw

    dave_aw New Member

    Two girls were banned after s*x in a Jacuzzi

    As ballroom dancers waltz back on to our TVs, one star tells how their sedate image conceals a life of casual s*x, drugs, cruelty and cat fights

    By Paul Killick

    The lovers were lying entwined on the beach near St Tropez on a warm summer’s night. Not far away, the lights from their hotel could be seen gleaming in the darkness.
    As they grew more intimate, they failed to see a woman approaching them across the sand. Suddenly, she was upon them, screaming in anger.
    She dragged the woman off the man and threw a powerful left hook which hit her between the eyes. ‘Let’s see how good you look tomorrow on the rostrum!’ she screamed before launching an attack on the man.
    It sounds like a scene from Footballers’ Wives but it isn’t. It occurred during a ballroom dancing contest and contains all the ingredients of our extraordinary world: s*x, jealousy, intrigue, competition and, in some cases, outright violence. The attacker was the man’s dancing, and s*xual, partner. Her comment was typical – even when faced with infidelity one’s first thought is always about dancing. She knew that the best way to hurt the woman would be to damage her appearance and harm her chances of winning the competition the next day.
    It’s very different from the world of ballroom dancing people see on TV shows such as Come Dancing and its new revival Strictly Come Dancing, in which I, and others, teach celebrities the tricks of our trade. As couples sweep across the floor, immaculately dressed, smiles plastered on their faces, it conjures up a world of elegance and glamour. Which it is, but only in the confines of the dance floor.
    While most people don’t like attracting attention, ballroom dancers are the opposite. We do everything we can to make ourselves stand out, to be the most outrageous, the most creative. We invented the fashion for sequins, fake tans and over-the-top glamour.
    If we go unnoticed we haven’t a hope of winning, and winning is everything. Dancers are judged not just by their dancing but by their appearance. We dress lavishly and painstakingly, no matter what the cost. Most girls superglue their earrings or hair ornaments into place.
    One dancer had a nip-and-tuck before a competition only to start bleeding half-way through the paso doble. With no hesitation she pulled a tube of superglue from her sleeve and applied some to her cheekbone. To this day her cheek is held together by adhesive.
    Plastic surgery is the norm. Most dabble in liposuction or collagen and silicon implants, as in any industry where people are judged so stringently on their appearance.
    The pressure for men to look good is also intense. Our features must be distinct and our bodies sculpted. But it is harder on the women, whose careers are usually over by the time they are 35. As a result the b*tching and backstabbing can be quite phenomenal. A favourite trick is to administer a few carefully chosen comments about a rival’s weight or looks before a big competition.
    I once overheard two beautiful, statuesque girls talking sweetly to each other before a show. Suddenly one turned to the other and whispered: ‘Darling, you are wonderful going out in a skirt that short so soon after giving birth. Don’t worry, though, my friend’s ankles swelled up horribly as well.’
    Any last remnant of colour drained from the other girl’s exquisite, porcelain skin as her knees buckled. The poor woman’s concentration was obliterated; she practically had to be carried off-stage. Less subtle tricks
    are widespread. A favourite is to place a rotting fish in your competitor’s costume.
    One poor girl’s dress was sabotaged by a jealous rival. She was in the middle of a salsa when the straps broke and her entire dress fell to the ground. Like so many of the women dancers, she was wearing no kn1ckers and was left completely nakd, her dress in a neat little pile around her feet. All she had on were the little strips of tape she had used to hold her brests up. They glistened in the lights as she wailed and tried to cover herself with her hands. She never danced again.
    Sometimes when dancers are performing, the competitive energy is visible on their faces. It makes great viewing, but these rivalries continue off the floor. It is not uncommon for people to waltz off the dance floor and straight into a fight if one couple thinks that another crowded their space or stole their thunder.
    Once, in Japan, there was a particularly bad fight after one woman tripped another. They were dressed as wild animals and the sight of them clawing each other after such a serene performance was quite magnificent. There were stilettos and feathers everywhere.
    For those in the upper echelons, the schedules are unbelievable. We tour a lot, especially in Russia and Japan where ballroom dancing is massive. In such a multi-million-pound industry, there is fierce rivalry for sponsors. A world-class dancer can earn several hundred thousand pounds a year, but only a handful of people command these sums. Sponsorship can provide a huge financial relief. Women’s costumes cost up to £5,000, and a top-class professional will only ever wear her dresses once.
    Coca1ne, drinking and gambling are all part of the scene. It’s understandable when you consider the pressures of the job.
    There have been some amazing parties. Dancers have been barred from several top European hotels as their behaviour was just too manic. One famous dancer returned to his hotel one night to find the bar closed. He was so drunk that he smashed his way in through the glass doors and helped himself to more drinks.
    Once we wrecked a room in an expensive German hotel. Furniture was thrown out of the windows, people passed out on the floor, bottles were smashed against the walls.
    But we got our comeuppance. We had been throwing what we thought were bath salts at each other. It turned out it was a kind of bleach and some people lost clumps of their hair. In our world, that kind of thing is a catastrophe.
    Most ballroom dancing parties have one element in common: s*x. The younger dancers have a reputation for parties so wild they are virtually org1es.
    Not so long ago, a chaperone returned to his Paris hotel to find that the two 16-year-old girls he was meant to be protecting were nakd in a Jacuzzi with ten other young dancers and partaking in s*x games. That episode marked the abrupt end of two promising careers.
    Dancers are desperate to find someone with the right chemistry to make a partnership electric. A first-class dance partner is more difficult to find than a l0ver. You must complement your partner exactly, in movement and physique. Where else do couples have to agree on everything from their outfits to their career paths, working hours and business decisions? It’s not surprising that the process can be destructive.
    Even when one has found a partner, things do not always run smoothly – especially if you are also a couple romantically. If your dancing partner starts putting on weight or misses rehearsals or just isn’t up to scratch, it is completely natural to ditch them. As a professional dancer you just can’t afford to have someone holding you back.
    Once, it was de rigueur to marry your partner, but now the relationship is generally more professional. The large influx of gay men has helped a lot in this respect. Men feel more comfortable if their girlfriend’s dancing partner is gay.
    It has become more and more common for male dancers to become intimate with each other, return to their girlfriends and then to the men again.
    S*x has always been a huge factor as dancing is so physical and the movements so er0tic. Partners have been known to have s*x in the wings between shows. Once, a couple were caught in the act by an eminent judge. ‘I say,’ he said, with the casual air you might expect of someone meeting friends for a game of bridge. ‘I’d save some of the energy and passion for the show if I were you.’ He then walked back to his seat as if nothing untoward had happened.
    This sort of incident has largely died out as the shows become more demanding. But it hasn’t put a stop to s*xual activities elsewhere.
    The downside of such a s*xually charged industry is that older people are prone to take advantage of the younger ones.
    Desperate to succeed, many overawed young dancers will accept being touched in an inappropriate way, or worse. There have been two incidents in recent years of judges telling young girls that they will mark them higher in exchange for s*x.
    I like to think the best dancers always win, but that is not always the case. There are a lot of politics involved. That’s not to say that all judging is skewed, but judges often wish to promote their section of the dance world. As a Latin American dancer, I often know my chances of winning just by looking at the list of judges’ names.
    It is difficult to maintain friendships in this world as the level of competitiveness is so extreme. But there are compensations: dancers at the top of the profession are treated like demi-gods.
    When we go to Japan, Russia or Italy we are mobbed by fans fighting just to touch us. Women pass out at our feet and genuflect to us. It can be frightening, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t gratifying. I just hope the British catch on.


    (apologies for the strange censorship - has to get past my job's web filter...)
     
  2. jon

    jon Member

    Excellent! Mr. Killick clearly understands how ballroom dancing must be depicted in order to become a successful mass-media sport. All he's missing are accusations of steroid abuse, rape, and under-the-counter cash payments to "amateurs" on college teams.
     
  3. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Good article, I think. Accurate or not, it raises some good questions, I think. *shrug*
     
  4. Laura

    Laura New Member

    Woo hoo, everybody wants to be a rock star, eh? Between this and stories of what happens with pro basketball, soccer, and football players, I become very tired of big-money elite-level sports. Well, to each their own...I'm hardly a prude, even if I sound like it sometimes here. Rather, I'm just cynical.

    By the way, does anyone have a link to the original article or at least to the newspaper it was published in? I've been digging through various UK newspapers online and can't find it. In fact, the only reference I can find to the letter is on Ian & Victoria's great "Strictly Come Dancing" site, but there's no link to the original article. I'd just like to see the whole thing in its originally published state. Thanks!
     
  5. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Likewise.
     
  6. tango

    tango New Member

    As it appears above is the original published state - i think Dave was referring to the ** censoring only.
     
  7. bjp22tango

    bjp22tango Active Member

    The Mail on Sunday is online, but one of it's sections says it doesn't publish everything online that goes into the newspaper, so unless someone wants to scan a picture of the newspaper article into photos, I think we are stuck with the above version. :?
     
  8. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Oh, OK, thanks for the clarification.
     
  9. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    What does anyone think about the author's perception that he can tell his chances of winning just by seeing the list of judges' names?
     
  10. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Given who he is I'd say it is probably fairly true...
     
  11. Laura

    Laura New Member

    What Paul says about judging confirms what I've always believed: when you're at the bottom (especially an adult newcomer) then it's much much more about the dancing and initial impressions (are you neat and appropriately groomed), but the higher you go the more other things come into play. By the time you're in the top two in the world, like Paul is, every judge has seen you so many times and said so many things to you and knows so much about you on and off the floor that it's quite different -- and you've been in front of every judge so many times that you can tell what they're going to think of you even without you dancing. Heck, you don't even have to be tops in the world to notice this, you just need to have been competing in front of the same judges long enough....
     
  12. Kitty

    Kitty New Member

    Thats probably true somewhat, but I don't think it has much to do with bribing judges, I think it has to do with different schools of dancing - like Italian teachers and judges would probably have different priorities in marking couples, that American or Japanese judges and teachers.
     
  13. SDsalsaguy

    SDsalsaguy Administrator Staff Member

    Beyond even that Kitty, he's been dancing in front of many of these judges for quite some time now, so he's as familiar with their preferences/tastes as they are with his dancing/presentation.
     

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