Top-ranked professional Standard champions Mirko Gozzoli and Edita Daniute, like so many top champions, love to demonstrate the beauty of basic steps in their competitive solos and honor dances.

Edita Daniute partnered with Italy’s Mirko Gozzoli to compete in professional Standard after winning the amateur world championship and having it stripped from her in a bizarre circumstance. After several years trying to get past world champions Arunas Bizokas and Katusha Demidova, she announced her decision to retire in March 2012. Fortunately their retirement was short-lived. She and Mirko continued to perform dance shows and then returned to the competitive arena under the WDSF umbrella, winning that organization’s professional World Championship in February 2013. They have now retired from competition for real, after winning the title for a third time in Nanjing, China on November 1, 2014.

I came across this video of their honor dance given after their retirement announcement. I love the video because it demonstrates how beautiful the basic steps can be, and why all dancers should strive to perform these steps as well as possible.

The couple’s honor dance begins with the most basic choreography possible:

  • 123 of Natural Turn
  • Spin Turn
  • 456 of Reverse Turn
  • 123 of Reverse Turn
  • Back Corte
  • Back Whisk
  • Wing
  • Telemark
  • Natural Turn

It’s not until they finish an Open Natural, another basic step, that they begin to dance higher level steps as they launch into a series of Pivots. The whole first part of the choreography is entirely made up of Bronze and Silver steps, the same steps we teach in our group classes. Notice how stunning these steps look when danced at such a high level of excellence. Take a look at the superb timing. Study the perfect footwork that allows them to move together so smoothly. See the way their connection breathes, remaining light and perfectly matched at all times. Note the outstanding posture and quality of swing from a central point high above so that their movement is immaculately balanced. The only thing I’m not crazy about in this performance is the (quite excessive) use of a trending new style of lady’s head movement that takes her head repeatedly into the center of the couple. I find that quite unattractive and unnecessary. Overall it’s a beautiful performance worthy of the world champions.

So often I hear from dancers that they are “bored” with basic steps. I see dancers shortcut their training to move past the Bronze steps as quickly as possible so that they can learn “fancy” steps. Unfortunately, learning more advanced steps before you master the fundamental elements of ballroom dancing doesn’t work. When couples try this, they ultimately never dance any steps well. If you have never learned the finer points of transferring your weight properly so that both members of the partnership are balanced at any point of a basic step, then how can you expect to dance a difficult step with any level of quality?

I have been dancing at the Championship level for years yet I continue to work with my coach week after week on the most basic elements of ballroom dancing. I never tire of developing more skill in leading, in transferring weight from foot to foot, in using natural forces like gravity, rotation and momentum to create bigger movement and use more space with less work. These elements are what ballroom dancing is about! It’s my hope that you’re inspired by Mirko and Edita to work hard on the basics. Never stop learning!

Author George Pytlik

Before turning pro, George achieved impressive results as an amateur competitor, holding the Senior (30+) Latin championship in BC, Canada for 7 consecutive years with his wife Wendy. The couple twice achieved a top-3 Canadian ranking in Senior Latin as well as a 3rd place Canadian ranking in 30+ Ten Dance. Today, George and Wendy are professional teachers with a vision of growing a strong dance community in Delta near Vancouver, BC.

More posts by George Pytlik

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