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    Categories: Entertainment

Couples swivel hips in competition

This weekend St. Albert resident Marc Pinco, 17, plans to burn the floor at Edmonton’s Polish Hall.

No, Pinco isn’t planning to torch it.

The Grade 12 Bellerose Composite High School student is competing in the high stakes 2011 Northern Lights Classic, the only nationally recognized ballroom and Latin dance competition in Alberta.

Although most teenage boys put ballroom dancing on the same level as the plague, Pinco slides into the artistic groove with seamless ease.

“I love it. It keeps me in shape. I love the new routines and getting to compete. And during competitions, I get to visit with friends from Calgary and Richmond,” he says.

Hosted by DanceSport, 70 couples are competing in the seventh-annual event this Saturday and Sunday. While dancers will be tapping into graceful footwork and elegant character interpretations, audiences usually cheer loudly for their favourites.

“Most people think it’s very dignified. But it’s not. There are family and friends competing and sometimes the crowd is so loud you can’t hear the music. It gets even crazier when the Latin numbers come on,” says DanceSport spokesperson Shaylen Naidoo.

Pinco and his partner Kelsie Morin of Edmonton are entered to compete both days and perform eight dances varying from the waltz, tango, foxtrot and quick step to the cha cha, rumba, samba and jive.

Pinco, who has a strong creative bent and is performing in Bellerose’s upcoming production of Annie, pours his emotions into dance.

“You can be yourself, but you play up different characters inside you. Each dance has an emotion and you play it up.”

For instance, the foxtrot requires its interpreters to be suave.

“The jive is fun, fun, fun. The tango is serious. The waltz is serious. The rumba is very passionate and the samba is big. It’s all about putting on a show. It’s a party dance.”

At the urging of girl friends, Pinco first took lessons through St. Albert Ballet Academy before transferring to Edmonton’s Elite Dance Studio. Since the move, Pinco has won gold at the 2010 Canadian Closed Championships and a silver medal at the 2010 Grand Ball Championships in Richmond, British Columbia.

The Grand Ball silver was particularly sweet. “We were challenging in a level higher than we’re used to and we came in second and third out of 22 couples.”

Upon graduation, Pinco hopes to accelerate his training in preparation for the international championships in Germany and Liverpool.

The Polish Hall is at 10960 – 104 St. A complete schedule of events and times is available online at www.northernlightsclassic.ca.

Anna Borowiecki: Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.