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Couples dance as one

Charlie Owen
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily
ALL |

VAIL, Colorado ” Ballroom dancing is that perfect mixture of naughty and nice.

Couples moving closely and quickly to music relying on their muscles, reflexes and artistic abilities like two halves of a well-oiled machine; it’s part escapist fantasy and part athletic event. And one reason why Iveta Lukosiute enjoys ballroom dancing so much is the partner aspect of it.

“I like that ballroom dancing is in couples so it shows how unbelievably two people can dance as one and the relationship between women and men, so it makes it much more interesting and intimate than just solo dancing,” said Lukosiute, half of one dance couple that will perform at the Ballroom’s Best show tonight in Vail.



“The meaning of life is basically male and female, yin-yang, so (ballroom dancing) is a combination of this,” said her partner, Gherman Mustuc.

This marks the third return of Ballroom’s Best at the Vail International Dance Festival and the event has become one of the biggest crowd drawers since its debut.



“It’s definitely grown in popularity,” said Sarah Dixon, marketing director for the Vail Valley Foundation. “It’s been a huge success every year.”

‘The beauty of dancing’

A long way from its origins as social dancing for society’s upper class, ballroom dancing has since evolved into a more competitive and entertaining form of expression. Depending on the style of ballroom dancing, that expression can be sexy, innocent or anything in between.



“It’s a sport and art at the same time,” Lukosiute said. “It’s competitive so you can have a goal which you are trying to achieve and at the same time it’s a very artistic form that you can get creative to and show the beauty of dancing.”

Anyone can see the recent fascination America has with ballroom dancing as entertainment and competition just by turning on the television. Shows like “Dancing With The Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance” have cluttered the airwaves for years with decent ratings.

“I think dancing itself is already very entertaining,” said Hanna Karttunen, who is developed the elements of the Ballroom’s Best show. Seeing the struggle and drama of what the dancers actually have to go through to achieve a professional level is what Karttunen believes makes these shows so popular. And she would know. Karttunen took second place with her celebrity partner, Christopher Parker, on the first season of “Strictly Come Dancing,” the British predecessor to “Dancing With The Stars.”

A long way from its origins as social dancing for society’s upper class, ballroom dancing has since evolved into a more competitive and entertaining form of expression. Depending on the style of ballroom dancing, that expression can be sexy, innocent or anything in between.

“It’s a sport and art at the same time,” Lukosiute said. “It’s competitive so you can have a goal which you are trying to achieve and at the same time it’s a very artistic form that you can get creative to and show the beauty of dancing.”

Anyone can see the recent fascination America has with ballroom dancing as entertainment and competition just by turning on the television. Shows like “Dancing With The Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance” and “Your Mama Don’t Dance” have cluttered the airwaves for years with decent ratings.

“I think dancing itself is already very entertaining,” said Hanna Karttunen, who is developed the elements of the Ballroom’s Best show. Seeing the struggle and drama of what the dancers actually have to go through to achieve a professional level is what Karttunen believes makes these shows so popular. And she would know.

Karttunen took second place with her celebrity partner, Christopher Parker, on the first season of “Strictly Come Dancing,” the British predecessor to “Dancing With The Stars.”

Karttunen, who began ballroom dancing at the age of 11, will perform in Vail tonight as well. She started out as a ballerina but once she tried ballroom dancing she said she was hooked.

“It’s a lifestyle actually, it’s a way of living. It’s not really something I do, everything in life revolves around the dancing,” Karttunen said.

Ballroom’s Best will feature five couples, each performing a different style of dance on the stage of the Ford Amphitheater: Latin, ballroom, American smooth, American rhythm and exhibition. Karttunen said she is trying to make the spectacle as exciting as possible by infusing the routines with more emotion and moves than usual.

“In ballroom dancing you always have to show yourself, your personality, your character, your style … you get to be yourself, you get to find yourself, you get to find who you are and you show that to people,” Lukosiute said.

High Life writer Charlie Owen can be reached at 970-748-2939 or cowen@vaildaily.com.


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