Dancing with Aussie stars
The Trafalgar Centre will host all ages and levels of dancers at Nelson DanceSport's championships this weekend, but it's the coup of attracting Australian dance champion and two-time Dancing With the Stars winner Stefano Olivieri and partner Natalie Beck that has organisers particularly excited. DanceSport Nelson president Sandra Maxfield says attracting the top couple would be a special treat for Nelson audiences. "He's very entertaining and we're looking forward to a fantastic show," she says. "Stefano loves coming to Nelson."
It's certainly a sport of spectacle; the TV series Dancing With the Stars and the Britain's Strictly Come Dancing have been responsible for a boost in membership. "When people see it they want to do it," she says. "It's the music, the whole dressing up – it's just moving in time to music and just performing, really. I see many people go on the floor and they just change completely. It's a very keen passion for people. It's inspiring to dance."
But of course it's a sport, she says emphatically. "You're competing against other couples, so it's got to be. When you see the way the top dancers train it is a sport, totally." She compares it to running a sprint – dancers are on the floor for about a minute and a half. "You're flat out around the floor and then you stop, and do the next one. It's very athletic."
DanceSport New Zealand is petitioning to have it included in the Olympics. It's in a similar category to gymnastics and ice-skating, Mrs Maxfield says, but it's been a struggle getting that recognised. "Other countries in Europe are more recognised than we are."
A sport, then. Yet come Saturday night, the Trafalgar Centre will look like a ballroom, decked out with full catering, tables, seating, decorations, lighting, and plenty of colour.
Nelson Regional DanceSport and Easter Champs, April 7-8, 10am to 10.30pm. Tickets adult $15 day, $25 evening; conc/child $10 day, $20 evening, on sale at Profile, Nelson, and Richmond Mall information centre, and at the door.