Canada’s only team in the standard dance style, Paul Lafleur and Blake Proudfoot from Ottawa, showcased their footwork and sophisticated bootyshaking Jul 31 at the Pierre-Charbonneau Centre.
“When people think of ballroom, they think it’s for the old hearts,” says Lafleur in a phone interview after the event. He and his dance partner, Blake Proudfoot, placed sixth out of 23 couples in the D level in the 40+ category. They are still awaiting their Aug 2 results, but Lafleur admits that they didn’t do well.
More than 400 dancers, from 30 countries, competed in the Outgames’ dancesport.
Dressed in matching black pants and red long-sleeved shirts, Lafleur and Proudfoot danced the slow waltz, tango and quickstep as part of the requirements in the D category — the beginners level. The A level is for participants with extensive competitive experience.
“It’s a high level competition,” says Bronwyn Winter, spokesperson for the dancesport competition. A dancer herself, Winter says the event is as serious as those in the straight competitions in which some of the Outgames competitors also participate.
Sensuality and fun blended as competitors smiled away and 20 judges looked at their footwork and their ability to work together despite the intense competition.
Competitors at each level are expected to dance a certain number of dances — three in the D level and five in the A level.
There is one additional criterion for the event: men must wear pants only, whereas women have the option of wearing pants or skirts.
“This is to stop the over-the-top performance that might turn out to be a comedy event rather than a serious event,” says Winter.
People cheered the competitions and waved colourful pompoms.
Women competitors sashayed on the dance floor amidst a sea of glittering skirts. Men had their arms firmly held together and raised proudly.
Limited space provides a footwork challenge for many couples on the 24.4-metre by 12.2-metre dancefloor. This becomes even more evident at A level competitions. The heart can skip a heartbeat because of the risk of knocking another team. Heads get bumped or a team stops in the hopes of not colliding with another.
But that’s all part of the challenge, says Lafleur. Because both he and Proudfoot switch between the lead and the follower, it makes them better dancers and gets them additional points.
Lafleur wonders why they’re the only Canadian couple to dance in the standard style. Another Canadian team, from Montreal, won a silver medal in the Latin style that includes Cha-Cha-Cha, Rumba, Jive, Samba and Paso Doble.
Most teams were from Europe.
Is luck an important element in dance?
“No really,” says Lafleur. “There are so many judges. They know if you make mistakes. They see your capabilities.”
Lafleur and Proudfoot are hoping to take part in next year’s First North American Outgames in Calgary.