No dancer myself, I nevertheless love to watch good dancers, especially if they are musical. That may seem an odd qualification to make about dancers, but it often seems to me that the rhythm of the music and the steps of the dance are on parallel tracks.
Because my dad was a keen amateur ballroom dancer, I’ve always made a point of following dance programmes, even in a shamelessly theatrical format like the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing. It’s fun and instructive to see amateurs paired with silkily expert professional dancers, and to see the amateurs improve week by week through sheer hard work. Even the glitzy format and the jokey commentary can’t disguise the real effort behind each couple’s performance.
Against this background, the guest appearance on Saturday of Michael Malitowski and Joanna Leunis, the World Latin Dance Champions, was startling and bracing. It was like being suddenly whisked to the top of an Alp after pottering about on the lower slopes. Even I could see that theirs is an order of virtuosic precision, speed and rhythmic brilliance far beyond the usual range. It suddenly opened my eyes to what more could be done in the Latin dance genre. It was as if a master violinist had wandered into a school concert and performed a flawless Paganini Caprice, leaving everyone slightly breathless.