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Michael and Joanna retire after historic win at Blackpool

Posted on May 29, 2015

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20150527-it6 7926Following their historic eighth consecutive win of the Professional Latin Championship at Blackpool Dance Festival, Latin superstars Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis (pictured) announced, through chairman of adjudicators Marcus Hilton, their decision to retire from competitive dance.

Theirs was the fourth Professional Latin retirement of the evening, which saw Rachid Malki and Anna Suprun announce in the programme that this Blackpool was to be their last competition.

The next two retirements were announced after the final jive, with Marcus Hilton reading out two goodbye letters from Jurij and Jagoda Batagelj and Andrej Skufca and Melinda Torokgyorgy.

In Michael and Joanna’s goodbye letter, now posted on their website, they wrote: “Dear dance family. Let’s NOT say goodbye. We shall not retire. We shall not live off our pension plan. Dancing is like poetry for us. And each movement is a word. We are addicted to it. Yes, we will surely miss the competition but… we have a taste for something new.”

In a letter that thanked their parents; their “British team”, Alan and Hazel, Mick and Lorna, Lorraine, Graham, Paul, Richard, DSI, Supadance and Vesa Design; Dutch “tulips”, Peter and Max; and, singling out for particular thanks, Ruud Vermeij, Michael and Joanna wrote: “Tonight we realise more than ever that time really flies. Some 15 years ago we both won our first titles in this ballroom.It feels that those moments were only yesterday. Tonight is a happy time for us. We are happy to have danced our final competition here. In the most elegant ballroom of all.”

The reading of the letter was followed by a beautiful honour dance: a goodbye rumba.

Look out for further coverage of Michael and Joanna’s retirement in forthcoming issues of Dance Today and, in the meantime, we wish them all the very best.


Photograph: Fredric Frennessen

Nicola Rayner was editor of Dance Today from 2010 to 2015. She has written for a number of publications including The Guardian, The Independent and Time Out Buenos Aires, where she cut her teeth as a dance journalist working on the tango section. Today she continues to dance everything from ballroom to breakdance, with varying degrees of success. Her debut novel, The Girl Before You, was published last year in paperback, ebook and audiobook.

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