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July 2015 issue

Posted on July 6, 2015

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july-cover-squarePractise makes perfect… This month, we explore the art of preparation and celebrate the 90th Blackpool Dance Festival, at which our cover stars, Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis, stepped down from competition – though not, they have explained, from dancing…


Celebrating 90 years of dance

blackpool-grabIn our 12-page report on the 90th Blackpool Dance Festival, Alison Gallagher-Hughes singles out highlights and talking points, while Martin Cutler focuses on the technical side of the four majors…

“It was a glorious win with Michael and Joanna on top form and the crowd appreciating their every move. They ran on to the floor to take the applause. In their embrace, Michael said something to Joanna. And then Marcus Hilton said those fateful words: ‘I have a letter’. There was an audible groan from the audience. We knew what was coming next: Michael and Joanna would be stepping down from competition.

“Tears were shed not only by Joanna but by many in the audience and then they performed a rumba honour dance… a bittersweet moment that ended with a kiss…”

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Practice makes perfect

practice-grabMarianka Swain seeks advice on mastering the art of practising…

“‘My general rule is five hours’ homework to every one hour of teaching,’ say s coach Melissa Elliot. ‘There’s no point coming back next session and just repeating everything – that’s a waste of everyone’s time and money. Learning to dance is a process, and practising is a key part. Even pro dancers need to work on absorbing new information, physically and mentally…’”

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Living and breathing dance

dance-cystic-fibrosis-grabJournalist Jo Willacy, who has cystic fibrosis (CF), explains how ballroom and Latin dance lessons are helping maintain her health…

“Exercise – however gentle – makes me cough. Not a polite tickle or a raspy dry cough… A cough that can look uncontrollable and sounds alarming. It’s also a cough that leaves me breathless and unable to respond when worried faces ask, ‘Are you all right?’ I didn’t feel it fair to impose this on any unsuspecting men in the class, had I started alone. People with CF can look very well – it’s known as an ‘invisible’ disease – and it’s not the first thing I choose to tell people about. That’s why I wanted to learn with [husband] Gavin – he knows not to panic when I cough but he also knows when it’s a particularly bad attack.

“Gavin finally agreed to try it. Once. Six years on and we’re still dancing…”

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Also in the July issue…

Lee Knights explores porro, the Colombian ballroom dance that combines elegant line and pulsing rhythms

The naked truth: Marianka Swain on skimpy dance costumes and flashing flesh

Tips on technique: James Whitehead looks at muscle memory and the best ways for dancers to absorb information

Ballroom tango: our dance doctor Phil Meacham on staccato action in ballroom tango, and how to get that “sticky toffee” look to your footwork

Simon Selmon considers choreographed routines and social dance in lindy hop

Jack Reavely considers the influence of the US on the ballroom world

Stepping out: Marianka Swain reports on the German Open Championships in Düsseldorf


Plus news, reports on the Carl Alan Awards, the Galaxy Imperial Championships and a masterclass with Erin Boag, reviews of Puttin’ on the Ritz, Dance Without Stress and two new albums from Maestro Records, Variations and sequence scripts, our fabulous listings pages and more!

Buy now

The July issue is now in shops (including larger branches of WHSmith), or you can buy your print copy here, or buy your digital copy from all good app stores



Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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