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One of the often overlooked elements that make a great dance performance is that of surprise. Visual surprises are delightful when watching a dance. With so much emphasis today on “sport,” rather than art, this element is becoming increasingly rare.

Multi-time professional Latin World Champions Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis demonstrate just how effective the element of surprise can be in this performance from Britain’s version of Dancing With the Stars, “Strictly Come Dancing.” In this breathtaking dance, there is not just one surprise, but several wonderful, unexpected treats.

Dance choreography should always have some surprises in it. Unexpected changes of direction or movement can make the dance more interesting. In one of my championship-level routines, I have a Standing Spin that unexpectedly changes to a Left Whisk. The idea is to have the audience wondering, “how did that happen?” because it isn’t a normal ending to the Standing Spin turn. Likewise, you can have a series of slow actions that suddenly become a series of quicks, again keeping the audience engaged in your routine. In Latin dances, you can use stillness as a surprise element, then move with sudden power to convert the stillness to action. Experiment with these elements in your own dancing.

Note also the incredible connection Michael and Joanna have with each other. Although they are certainly performing and aware of the audience, they are intimately connected to each other, working as a team. They are always aware of each other. They are never so caught up in their own actions that they forget about their partner, as happens so often these days. Everything about this performance is excellent.

George Pytlik

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.

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