Hosted by Daryl Somers
with co-host Sonia Kruger
and musical director Chong Lim
The glitz and glamour of the ballroom is back with the fourth series of the smash hit variety show DANCING WITH THE STARS returning to Seven on Tuesday February 21 at 7.30pm.
This time the celebrities were queuing up to strut their stuff in the live ballroom dancing competition and among the final line-up there are a few with a sporting chance, some golden oldies and a couple who just want to impress their kids.
Who do you think has got what it takes to get through this demanding competition and escape elimination by the judges and the viewers week after week to become the DANCING WITH THE STARS champion of series four?
Ian “Molly” Meldrum
Hosted by Daryl Somers and co-host Sonia Kruger, the show is telecast live every Tuesday from Channel Seven's Melbourne studios. Each week one couple will be voted off by a combination of votes from viewers and the judges.
Produced by Granada Productions, the show is based on a popular BBC format which has now been licensed to countries all around the world, including Israel, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Austria, Belgium, Russia, South Africa, Germany, Brazil, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Argentina and Turkey. The show is also a huge hit in the US, where they are screening a second series.
DANCING WITH THE STARS returns to the Seven Network at 7.30pm on Tuesday February 21
Noeline Brown – actress
After a showbiz career spanning more than 40 years, Noeline Brown is the undisputed comedy queen of Australian theatre, TV and radio. Yet she is probably still best known and loved for the TV character she created back in 1964 - Mavis Bramston. The Mavis Bramston Show, on the Seven Network, made her a household name along with contemporaries the late Gordon Chater and Barry Creyton. She went on to appear in hundreds of stage and TV shows including; My Name's McGooley, What's Yours?, The Naked Vicar Show, and Graham Kennedy's Blankety Blanks. Growing up in Sydney's 1950s bohemian society saw her develop a love for theatre early, performing at the New Theatre and Sydenham's Pocket Playhouse where she was discovered. The TV exposure just two years later launched her into a lifetime of acting. Always politically aware, Noeline was an active campaigner against the Vietnam War and later appeared in the Australian Labor Party's It's Time campaign that brought Gough Whitlam to power in 1972. She joined the Labor Party after the defeat of the Keating Government in the early 1990s and has twice stood (1999 & 2003) as an ALP candidate in NSW state elections. In 1976, she married Tony Sattler, one of the writers/producers on the Naked Vicar Show. They run Wintergreen Productions from their home in the NSW southern highlands. In 2002, Mike Munro surprised her with his red book of memories on This Is Your Life. Noeline toured Australia in 2004 in the comedy ballroom dancing stage show Wallflowering – choreographed by Tony Bartuccio. Sadly, in May 2005, she read the eulogy at her friend Graham Kennedy's funeral. Earlier this year she released an autobiography Noeline; Longterm Memoirs. Her website is www.noelinebrown.com.au.
Jennifer Hawkins – Miss Universe 2004
Winning the Miss Universe competition in June 2004 changed Jennifer Hawkins' life forever. The model and former NRL Newcastle Knights' cheerleader was catapulted to international fame. Men and women alike adore her girl-next-door looks and carefree attitude. Tripping down stairs during a fashion shoot and accidentally revealing her bottom in a red G-string on the catwalk only made her more endearing. She even missed her own 21st birthday party last year – stuck on a delayed plane enroute to Los Angeles – but made up for it with a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive. Her year-long reign as Miss Universe took her around the globe as an ambassador for; YouthAIDS, The Global Health Council, amfAR, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and God's Love We Deliver – increasing awareness about AIDS and promoting research to find a cure. After handing over the beauty crown, she joined Seven's travel show The Great Outdoors as a presenter. The girl from Newcastle recently co-hosted Carols in the Domain with Andrew Daddo. When she's not working as a presenter, she loves surfing and wakeboarding, especially on the Gold Coast. The youngest of four children, Jennifer, 22, is the face of Lux in Australia and New Zealand. Her boyfriend is carpenter turned model Jake Wall.
Kate Langbroek – broadcaster, writer & actor
Born to a Dutch father and an American mother, Katherine Elizabeth Wilhelmina Beuving Langbroek had a strict Jehovah's Witness' upbringing in Queensland and at missionaries in New Guinea. She socialised only within the family, never celebrating birthdays or Christmas. Kate finally left the religious group in her late teens, to the horror of her parents. Ostracised, she started building a new life in Brisbane, studying - Journalism at the Queensland University of Technology. She left Brisbane for Melbourne to pursue drama and studied at the Victorian College of the Arts. Kate worked mainly in theatre but also on TV shows Neighbours, Chances and feature film Father. Her writing credits include; TV Shows Medivac, Neighbours, Shark Bay, All Together Now, and The Col'n Carpenter Show and regular columns for the Melbourne City Weekly and Sunday Age. She fell into radio, and ended up co-presenting 3RRR's The Breakfasters for five years - where she was spotted by the Working Dog team who were about to launch a panel based talk show on Network Ten.
Kate first appeared on The Panel in 1998, instantly creating controversy about her hair, fashion and opinions. She has appeared regularly on the program ever since. Since 2001, Kate has co-hosted Melbourne's top-rating weekday NovaFM 100 breaky show Hughesy, Kate and Dave with Dave O'Neil & Dave Hughes. She has also co-hosted the tonight show The Big Schmooze on thecomedychannel with Matthew Hardy and Dave O'Neil. Kate first bared her breasts on national TV in a topless scene as Severity de Sade on the adult soapie Chances in 1991 but it went largely unnoticed. However, discreetly breastfeeding her crying baby son on The Panel, in September 2003, made newspaper headlines. Close friends credit her sheltered religious upbringing for her childlike excitement of life. Kate and husband Peter Lewis, have a two-year-old son Lewis, and an eight-month-old daughter Sunday.
Alicia Molik – professional tennis player
The pin-up girl of Australian tennis, Alicia Molik, 25, secured a WTA number eight world ranking after beating Venus Williams to qualify for the quarter finals at the 2005 Australian Open. She had just won her previous 18 matches, including the Adidas International in Sydney. She lost the quarter final in three sets to Lindsay Davenport, but undeterred headed overseas with coach David Taylor to play in American tournaments – hoping to break into the world top five. Growing up in the Adelaide suburb of Kidman, Alicia, was always a tomboy, playing with older brother Richard and joining the school soccer, football and cricket teams. She was strong and competitive even then. Her mum enrolled Alicia and Richard in a tennis camp one school holidays and her talent became evident. She joined Seaside Tennis Club near Henley Beach and met a young Lleyton Hewitt. Alicia was teamed up with Lleyton in the South Australian junior squads and years later was again paired with him for the mixed doubles representing Australia in the Hopman Cup. She has travelled the world playing tennis on the ITF circuit since she was 16. She boasts 13 career singles and eight doubles titles. She has been a key player in the Australian Federation Cup Team since 1998. Alicia represented Australia at the 2000 Sydney and the 2004 Athens Olympics, winning a bronze medal. Sadly, in March 2005 in Miami, she picked up a debilitating inner ear viral infection that affects her balance, vision and energy levels. Between April and October, she played nine tournaments, losing in the first round eight times. In October, the illness forced her to withdraw from the Zurich Open while defending her title. Alicia's world ranking is now 28. While recuperating in Melbourne, she joined Seven's commentary team at the Australian Open Tennis in January 2006.
Simone Warne - mother of three
The closest little Simone Callahan ever came to dancing was practicing calisthenics growing up in Keilor, on the outskirts of Melbourne. She left school in form four to start a hairdressing apprenticeship. Four years into her career, she began promotional and modeling work. At 22, she met Shane Warne, a budding cricket player, at a golfing event. He proposed while rowing on the Thames in late 1993 and they were married at the historical homestead Como House in South Yarra in September 1995. Simone travelled the world with her husband on cricket tours to England, Sri Lanka, Bermuda and India. Their first child, Brooke, was born in 1997, followed by Jackson in 1999, and a second daughter, Summer, in 2001. Simone, now 36, loves being a stay-at-home mum. “Raising three children is harder than I ever imagined and like nothing you can ever prepare yourself for. But seeing them grow and develop into their own little souls is my greatest enjoyment in life.” She lives by the motto; “Don't take life too seriously. We live in a crazy world now, so different to when I grew up. Enjoy every moment as much as you can because you never know what will happen tomorrow.” Simone and Shane separated in mid 2005, although he stays with the family at their Brighton home whenever in Melbourne. She has gone on to forge her own media career, competing in Channel Seven's The Great Celebrity Spelling Bee – War of the Words, and commentating at the Spring Racing Carnival in late 2005.
Toby Allen – singer Human Nature
In high school, Toby Allen and three mates started a band called 4 Trax. They changed their name to Human Nature and released their first single with Sony in March 1996. Sixteen years later Human Nature – with the same four singers - has released five multi-platinum albums spawning 16 Top 40 hits. The group has sold more than 750,000 albums - in three continents - and toured with superstars such as Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Celine Dion and John Farnham. In 1999, Human Nature performed together in the Australian tour of Happy Days - The Musical and appeared in TV soap Neighbours. Highlights for the group include receiving the 1999 People's Choice Award for the Favourite Band, working with legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin on a Beatles tribute show in 1999, and performing the national anthem at the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. During its 2002 national tour, the band played in Newcastle one night, then at the Sydney Mardi Gras, and 14 hours later before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth at CHOGM. Toby began his solo career in musical theatre in August 2002 with the role of the multisexual Emcee in the hit musical Cabaret alongside Lisa McCune and Judy Conelli. He achieved instant acclaim and was honoured with the 2003 Helpmann Award for Best Male Actor in a Musical for his outlandish and wildly celebrated portrayal of the Kit Kat Club host. He was also presented with successive Mo Awards for Male Musical Theatre Performer of the Year in both 2003 and 2004 for the same role. In April 2004, Human Nature released its fifth album, Walk The Tightrope, producing another two hit singles and a sold-out national tour. In May 2005, Toby, now 32, returned to the stage in the role of Kenickie in Grease – The Arena Spectacular with Magda Szubanski and John Farnham. In November 2005, Human Nature released its sixth album, a motown tribute called Reach Out - The Motown Record which debuted at number six, and hit number one just before Christmas. The album has since gone triple platinum.
Grant Denyer – Sunrise weatherman & racing car driver
Rev head Grant Denyer lives and breathes motor racing. He started driving at the age of seven on the family farm in the Riverina and began racing go carts at 15. His passion for speed saw him go on to race Formula Vee, GT Production, V8 utes, and touring cars. Nicknamed “Mad Dog”, Grant has been lucky to combine his work and hobby. He broke into journalism at Prime TV in Wagga Wagga as a news reporter. In 1991, at 21, he moved to Network Ten, where his racing experience secured him the role of a pit reporter on the V8 Supercar coverage. His own first touring car race was about this time in the GTP three hour race at Mount Panorama in a Mazda 6. He finished second in his class. Grant joined the Seven Network's breaky program Sunrise as a weather presenter and roving reporter at the start of 2003. Work commitments made it difficult for Grant, now 28, to compete in a full season of racing. Determination, however, saw him become one of Australia's top drivers in the V8 ute series. In 2001, he was the series' Rookie of the Year, and in 2002, won four rounds and notched up two lap records. He also slipped in performances at the Bathurst 24 hour Endurance Event - in a Nissan 200SX in 2002, and in a Porsche GT3 in 2003. In 2004, Grant raced in the V8 Brute Championships summer series – six races at two events in Tasmania and Sydney supporting the V8 Supercars. He won three races, recording the fastest lap and winning his first series title; the Dunlop Championship trophy. This performance caught the eye of Dick Johnson Racing and Grant switched to racing a V8 Supercar in 2005 – competing the entire development series across Australia; Eastern Creek, Queensland Raceway, Bathurst, Mallala, Wakefield Park and Phillip Island in car number 81. In 2005, the Supercar rookie was nominated for the CAMS Motor Sport Personality of the Year award.
Ian “Molly” Meldrum – music guru
Music guru Ian “Molly” Meldrum has been putting Australian music on the world map for nearly 40 years, as a record producer, music writer, interviewer, TV host and mentor. Different generations know Molly – and his trademark cowboy hat - as host of Countdown, rock reviewer on Hey, Hey It's Saturday, and Popstars' judge. The same day, his first record production Hush by Somebody's Image made number one on the Melbourne charts.
He first met his idols; Paul McCartney and John Lennon, from The Beatles on this trip. He fainted at the shock of seeing John face to face, and fell over a waitress who spilt a drink on the pop star. In May 1968, he returned home for his mother's funeral. Molly produced records for Ronnie Burns, Zoot, and Masters Apprentices. In Dec 1969, back in London, Lennon gave Molly his first world exclusive interview, revealing The Beatles were breaking up! Other exclusives included a Madonna interview in 1986 for MTV America, and with Michael Jackson for 60 Minutes in 1987. Molly was a co-creator and host of the music program Countdown in 1974, which ran on the ABC for 13 years. He later presented the segment Molly's Melodrama on the Nine Network's Hey, Hey It's Saturday for 12 years from 1988. He has been the King of Moomba in Melbourne, and - through Bob Geldof - the Australian Chairman of Live Aid. Molly has received an Order of Australia (1986) for services to music and charities, and a Special Achievement Award by ARIA (1992) for services to the industry. His first record label, Melodian, enjoyed success with Peter Andre, Jo Beth Taylor, Indecent Obsession and Roxus. He is a self confessed Egyptologist, since his first visit to Cairo in 1969, and has returned about 30 times. He adores St Kilda Football Club, as detailed in his biography Molly. The boy from Quambatook, once a member of Mensa, is a regular on Seven's breaky show Sunrise.
Luke Ricketson – retired rugby league player
From humble beginnings in the country town of Foster in NSW, the Ricketson family moved to Bondi when Luke was just one. He grew up kicking the footy in the backyard with his dad. At seven, Luke joined his dad's team - the Roosters - as a junior. His dad was a former Roosters country team member who played in, and won, the 1960 Grand Final. Luke played his first State of Origin game at 14 and, by 18, he was playing first grade rugby league for the Roosters. He has also represented Australia in a tour of the UK. The 1993 NRL campaign Simply The Best saw Tina Turner hand pick Luke for the camera. Since then he has appeared in glossy magazines as a model and ambassador for many causes. In 2004-2005, he was ambassador for Samsung's Digital Hope charity. Last year the NSW Government chose him to head up its School & Fitness initiative. At the end of the 2005 NRL season – after a 301 game career - Luke, 33, retired from the NRL as captain of the Sydney Roosters. His final game was the grand final, defeating The Bulldogs 32-12.
Kostya Tszyu – world champion boxer
Like many kids growing up in the Soviet Union, Kostya Tszyu spent the first 13 years sharing an apartment with another family. His family's bedroom was just 16m square – smaller than the bathroom in his current palatial Sydney home. His father took six-year-old Kostya to his first boxing match in their mining town of Serov in the mid seventies. Weighing just 25kgs at age nine, he was intimidated by the bigger, stronger boys. By 11, however, he began winning fights and won his first national amateur title at 15. He travelled overseas for the first time shortly after this and discovered the outside world. Being an elite athlete, the Soviet Government gave Kostya his own home – a three bedroom apartment - at 19. As an amateur boxer in the USSR, he won 259 fights, and was defeated only 11 times. In 1992, aged 22, Kostya moved to Australia and made his professional debut in Melbourne in March, knocking out his opponent in round one. In 1995 he became an Australian citizen and has since won the WBC, the WBA, and the IBF Junior Welterweight Titles - making him the undisputed super lightweight world champion from November 2001 to 2004, and possibly the greatest Junior Welterweight boxer ever. Kostya says he has no special physical talent – just the mental ability to ignore pain. He advised actor Russell Crowe, now a personal friend, on a fighter's psychological preparation for the filming of Cinderella Man. He has lost just two fights in his professional career; in May 1997 against American Vince Phillips and in June 2005 against Brit Ricky Hatton. He has yet to announce whether he will fight professionally again. He and Russian-born wife Natasha have three children. Kostya, 36, is the author of the health book and DVD Fighting Fit, pictorial book Kostya; From Russia with Gloves, and has also put out a DVD Destiny detailing his three world title wins.
Host Daryl Somers
Born in Melbourne in 1951, Daryl Somers first appeared on TV as a contestant on the talent show New Faces in 1968, aged just 17. The teenage drummer sang with the band he'd formed at high school. They made the final but came second to now famous singer John Williamson. Undeterred, Daryl continued voice lessons with Diane Dubarry and Evie Hayes. Two years later, in 1970, the nineteen-year-old won the New Faces final as a solo vocalist.
Daryl made his professional TV debut as the host of the afternoon kids' show Cartoon Corner on July 14, 1971. Each weekday for the next six and a half years he entertained school kids, who would become his biggest fans as adults.
October 9, 1971 saw the birth of Hey, Hey It's Saturday, which Daryl co-hosted with Collingwood footballer Peter McKenna. Eight weeks in, McKenna was replaced with a stuffed pink ostrich named Ossie, giving birth to one of the most famous partnerships in Australian TV history. Over the next 28 years, Daryl and Ossie became household names. The program gradually evolved from an early morning kid's cartoon show to an adult's evening variety show. The duo released LPs, graced magazine covers, won a multitude of Logies and even had toys marketed in their form.
In 1976, Daryl, who played with his band Somerset, hosted the revived music program Bandstand. The exposure quickly made him a teen idol. He hosted the King of Pop Awards in 1976 and 1977, and was himself a regular singer on the Graham Kennedy, Don Lane and Mike Walsh shows in the seventies.
The eighties were frenetic. In 1980, Daryl replaced Tony Barber on quiz show Family Feud, hosting the program for the next three years – and 713 episodes! In June 1982, he was given his own night time TV variety show – minus Ossie – aptly named The Daryl Somers Show, which ran for 18 months. The hard work paid off with Daryl winning his first Gold Logie Award for Most Popular Personality on Australian TV in 1983 and also being crowned King of Moomba – a Melbourne festival. The Daryl Somers Show had exposed him to an older audience, and - in February 1984 - TV executives moved Hey Hey to 9.30pm where it gained a new adult following. The following year, in June 1985, it was moved to 6.30pm where it stayed for the next 14 years.
No longer hosting Family Feud and with The Daryl Somers Show finished, 1985 saw Daryl free for a new challenge – the revived Blankety Blanks. Hosting the early evening quiz show each weeknight put him back in the popularity stakes, with Daryl winning his second Gold Logie in 1986. In 1987, he sang Waltzing Matilda and Advance Australia Fair at the then VFL Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground – performing to 120 million people worldwide, his biggest audience ever! He also sang at the 1996 AFL Grand Final.
In 1988 he hosted the TV Week Logie Awards for the first of five times. He was invited back in 1991, 1996, 1997 & 1998. His third Gold Logie came in 1989, marking his place in Australian showbiz history. Ironically, New Faces – the very show he appeared on in 1968 – returned to TV in 1989 with Daryl as host and producer!
Over the years, Daryl has continued to play drums, often thrilling Hey Hey audiences with impromptu jamming sessions with guest pop stars including Stevie Wonder and John Farnham. He sang in many pantomimes in the seventies and, in 1988, played Sancho Panza in the Melbourne and Brisbane run of the George Fairfax/Graeme Murphy production Man of La Mancha. The following year he appeared as the Billiard Marker in Mike Batt's The Hunting of the Snark.
An astute businessman, Daryl grew from musician to TV presenter and then producer, forming his own company with Ernie Carroll – the voice of Ossie Ostrich. Somers Carroll Pty Ltd went on to own and produce Hey Hey as well many Hey Hey specials and later the comedy series The Russell Gilbert Show and Gonged But Not Forgotten. November 21, 1999, marked the final episode of Hey, Hey It's Saturday which won a record amount of Logies; 12 awards in the comedy/light entertainment category, and Daryl's 17 other individual awards - including the three prestigious Gold.
He is a patron of many worthy causes including; Camp Quality, The Lost Dogs' Home, the West Australia Youth Jazz Orchestra (WAYJO), Generations in Jazz, Kids Under Cover, and Yarrabah Special School. From 1994- 1999, he fronted the Northern Territory's tourism campaign with the memorable catch cry “You'll never, never know if you never, never go.” In 2000, he was appointed deputy chair of the Council of ScreenSound Australia, the national screen and sound archive. He is also chair of the Federal Government's Contemporary Music Touring Program. In 2002, he was appointed the #1 ticket holder at his beloved Geelong Football Club. He returned to the stage in July 2003, playing Harry MacAfee in the 1960s musical Bye Bye Birdie.
Daryl became an ambassador for the Alice Springs Masters Games in 2002 and, in 2004, hopes to compete in several events. He is married to Julie da Costa, a former senior artist with the Australian Ballet. They have performed together twice – in the 2002 and 2003 Australian Ballet School production of The Nutcracker at Melbourne's Myer Music Bowl as Clara's parents. Earlier this year, Daryl was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia on Australia Day.
Hosting series one of Dancing with the Stars in late 2004 for the Seven Network marked his return to television after a five year absence. Daryl hosted series 2 & 3 in 2005, regularly attracting more than 2 million viewers each week. In November 2005, he released a CD Songlines with SonyBMG. In 2006, Daryl is hosting a fourth series of Dancing.
Co-host Sonia Kruger
Sonia Kruger is the entertainment reporter for Seven's current affairs program Today Tonight, a regular on Sunrise and also an accomplished actress, dancer and entertainer.
She has been entertaining people from the age of four, when she began dancing lessons in Brisbane. Specialising in Ballroom and Latin American dancing, Sonia represented Australia at the Amateur British Ballroom Championships and was the Amateur Australian Ballroom, Latin & New Vogue Professional Champion.
Her incredible talent helped to land her the acting role of the bitchy Tina Sparkle in the 1992 smash hit Australian movie Strictly Ballroom. Her best memory is of the final scene, dancing the Paso Doble. “We shot it live at the Victorian Championships so the atmosphere was electric.” On set, Sonia actually taught other cast members how to dance. Her skill as an instructor has also been utilised by Sydney's acting school NIDA where Sonia taught dance for more than four years.
Following the Strictly Ballroom hype, she became a reporter on Channel Nine's revamped kids show Wonder World and made several appearances in the ABC-TV's Three Men and a Baby Grand.
After completing an Arts degree at Sydney's University of Technology, she joined the long running current affairs program 11AM in 1997 as its entertainment reporter. Highlights of her job over the following two years included interviews with Garbage, Matchbox 20, Gerri Halliwell and Vonda Shepard. She also got to dance with Irish Riverdance sensation Michael Flatley and the Flamenco troupe in Paco Pena.
Two years later she moved to the prime time program Today Tonight where she has interviewed many famous names from Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Bruce Willis and Mike Myers to Glenn Close, Sandra Bullock, Jodie Foster, Kate Hudson, Beyonce Knowles and Kylie Minogue. She has also hosted several prime time specials including Surprise Wedding and John Farnham – The Last Time.
Sonia still fuels her love of dancing with the annual DanceSport Championships held in Melbourne each December. The three day competition comprises a TV special, hosted by Sonia, screened by the Seven Network on Christmas Day. Her favourite dance is the Samba. “I love the music and the feeling of celebration it conveys.”
In January 2003 she married partner James, whom she's still trying to teach to dance. “Let's just say he's got his own special style!” They enjoy seeing movies at the cinema, going to theatrical productions and dining-out with friends. She's a huge football and tennis fan and is fast becoming the Wallaby's most vocal supporter.
Sonia mingles with the celebrities and their dance partners backstage on Dancing with the Stars as they receive their critique and scores from the judges, providing viewers with an insight into the ballroom dancing world.
Dancing with the Ladies
Sergey Bolgarskiy- dancing with Jennifer Hawkins
Born in Hungary, Sergey Bolgarskiy moved with his military farther and mother to Moldavia, at five. His dancing career began shortly after with ballet lessons for 12 months. But Sergey found his true passion after trying ballroom dancing. He enjoyed his first major success at just 14, finishing in the top three couples in Junior Latin and Standard at a competition in Paris. At 16, he finished in the top 24 couples in Open at the World Latin Competition in Manghem, Germany. From 1996 to 1998, Sergey enjoyed high placings at competitions in the Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Romania, Poland, Switzerland, and Germany. In 1997 and 1998, his dance team - Codreanca - won first place in World Formation Standard, first place in Europe Formation Standard, and came third in World Cup Formation Latin. He worked as a dance teacher in Hungary for two years, before becoming a teacher and performer on cruise ships, such as the Star Princess, from 2002 to 2005. Sergey, 26, speaks three languages; Russian, Romanian and English. He arrived in Australia in October, 2005, to visit his girlfriend. He works out regularly and cycles to keep fit. His favourite dance style is Latin.
Alexander Bryan - dancing with Kate Langbroek
Strictly heterosexual, Alexander Bryan made headlines last year performing with a gay mate as a same-sex couple on an ABC-TV dancing program. Alex and friend Adam Francis had already won the Mid Summer Same Sex Dancesport Championships 2005 in Latin and New Vogue, when they got through to the grand final of Strictly Dancing in November. Alex confesses he was a “computer geek” until he went to dance classes as a teenager with a girl he fancied – and fell in love with the tango! He won the 2004 Tropicana National Salsa Championship, with a female partner. Alex, originally from Brisbane, but now Melbourne based, met Adam when they were both teaching at a Melbourne dance centre and became good friends. Adam needed a new male partner and Alex decided to give same-sex dancing a go. The boys, who are as close as brothers, say they have a telepathic connection that gives their dancing an edge. Adam & Alex, 20, now have their sights set on the 2006 Gay Games
Gordan Derbogosijan - dancing with Simone Warne
Born in Yugoslavia, Gordan Derbogosijan started ballroom and Latin dancing classes at 13, in 1991 – the same year his father and brother fled the Bosnian war to start a new life in Australia. For the next seven years the family was split up. The teenager threw himself into dancing and won many junior and youth titles throughout Yugoslavia. At 15, he made the quarter finals in Latin at the World Championships in England. He performed back-up vocals for a rock band in Serbia called John Doe, which released a CD. At the end of 1996, he stopped dancing to migrate to Australia. Sadly, the paperwork took another two years to clear – during which time he never danced. He finally arrived in Melbourne with his mother in December 1998, aged 20. After three years out of dancing, Gordan returned to the floor as an instructor, while studying advertising. His goal in 2006 is to return to competitive dancing. His favourite style is still Latin. A keen astronomer, he spends many nights watching the stars. Gordan, 27, speaks Serbian, Croatian, Slovenian, Macedonian, Bosnian, English and German. He thanks his parents for their courage, persistence and love for their children, saying “It took guts to do what they did.”
John Paul Collins – dancing with Alicia Molik
John Paul's mission in life is to “achieve all I set out to do with fun and laughter in order to experience every moment to the fullest and bring joy to people that surround me”. A graduate from the New Zealand Performing Arts School in 1992, he is trained in many dance styles including Latin American, ballroom, street Latin/salsa, ballet and contemporary. He performed in the New Zealand productions; A Chorus Line in 1996, Guys and Dolls in 1997, and Singing in The Rain in 1998. In 1998-99, John played Zebulan/Apache dancer in the Australasian tour of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. He moved to Australia in 1999, and gave up his successful musical theatre career to pursue full-time teaching, becoming the General Manager of Dance Dynamics, a chain of three ballroom/Latin dance studios in Melbourne. He continued to tour, dancing with the Star Alliance Tour performing the New Zealand haka in Sydney, Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2000. He represented his new country at the world salsa congress in Los Angeles in 2002. From 2004-2005, John taught Latin at the Victoria College of the Arts. Since 1999, he has continued as GM at Dance Dynamics, where he is responsible for training and managing up to 27 ballroom/Latin instructors, as well as being a sought after male instructor, and choreographer. He has partnered students and instructors in all levels and styles.
Carmelo Pizzino - dancing with Noeline Brown
Resident teacher at the Sydney Dance Company for the past three years, Carmelo Pizzino won his first dancing award at just five years of age. Originally from Perth, in WA, Carmelo specialises in Latin American. He has won many Australian and world titles, including the prestigious British Latin Champion at Blackpool. He has also been: International Latin Champion in London; the Australian Open Latin Champion; the South Pacific Latin Champion; Australasian Latin Champion; Singapore's Lion City Champion; and has twice won the Rumba in the Jungle Latin Championship at Sun City in South Africa. Carmelo, who turned professional at 26, performed in the cabaret Moulinesque and has also choreographed music videos.
Dancing with the Gents
Leeanne Bampton - dancing with Toby Allen
Trained in classical ballet as a child, Leeanne left Adelaide for Sydney as a teenager to pursue her love of ballroom dancing. She went on to win the Australian 10 Dance Championship seven times – in 1982 at 18, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and in 1992. Yet she says her greatest dancing achievement was representing Australia, at 28, in a world final in 1992, where she came fifth overall in the ballroom and Latin dances. She has also been South Pacific, Asian Pacific, Australasian and state champion in the professional ranks. She opened her first Sydney dance studio in 1990, where she taught while continuing to travel the world to compete. Leeanne retired from competition at 40 in 2004, but still performs at exhibitions. She travels to America five times a year to coach a large club of dancers who book her for 16 lessons every day over two weeks. Her daily routine consists of a 90 minute walk with her Alaskan Malamute Elvis, an hour at the gym, up to 10 hours teaching, then another hour-long dog walk at the end of the day – six days a week. In Series 3, she partnered Ian Dickson.
Eliza Campagna - dancing with Luke Ricketson
When she's not dancing, Eliza Campagna is probably tearing around Sydney's countryside on either her road or trail bike. Ironically, she loves the speed and thrill just as much as she adores the elegance of ballroom dancing in a sequinned gown. Eliza started jazz and tap dancing as a 10-year-old, and tried ballroom for the first time at age 12 – inspired by the hit Baz Luhrmann movie Strictly Ballroom (which co-incidentally stars two Dancing judges and the show's co-host Sonia Kruger). She was hooked. Eliza went on to be the Junior Superstars Modern Open Champion, Australian Junior World Representative, came eighth in Junior British World Championships, and was the East Coast Classic Junior Champion, National Capital Junior Champion, East Coast Classic Youth Champion and the National Capital Youth Champion. A professional make-up artist with the Australian College of Make Up and Special Effects, she has worked on many TV commercials and photo shoots. She also assisted in the extra's make up for The Mask 2 - The Son of Mask movie. Eliza, 23, has two spoilt, but very cute, Pomeranians; Simba and Bella.
Amanda Garner – dancing with Grant Denyer
Currently the number three Amateur Latin American dancer in Australia, Amanda Garner and partner, brother Jeremy, were the highest placed Aussies at both the 2004 and 2005 World Latin Championships. Amanda grew up in Shepparton, country Victoria, one of six children on a farm. All siblings danced and three still compete in Latin American. She started lessons in hip hop at age seven before trying ballroom six months later. She has competed with three of her four brothers and has partnered Jeremy for the past seven years – together becoming the Queensland, Tasmanian and Victorian champions in Amateur Latin American. Amanda, 20, trains six days a week at Excell Dance Centre, in Shepparton, a dance studio owned by her parents and built for their children. She travels overseas for training and international competition regularly. Amanda works as a hair and beauty therapist, and most recently in real estate. Her boyfriend, Sebastian, also a Latin American dancer, says her quirks include a fascination with carrying people to prove her strength, a fear of velvet and hatred of buttons.
Luda Kroitor - dancing with Kostyu Tszyu
Luda Kroiter is the current World Salsa Champion after winning the title with partner Oliver Pineda in Las Vegas just before Christmas. It is the first time an event of this calibre has been won by an Australian couple. Of Russian origin, Luda began her passion for ballroom, salsa and Brazilian dance at 11. She won her first national competition, the Youth Latin Championships, in 2000, and then her first world title 2001 becoming the IDO World Salsa Champion. It was the first time Australia was represented at the world championships, and every judge gave Luda a first place. After that she toured the United States with the international show Burn the Floor and featured in NSW Tourism TVC campaign as a dancer with Csaba Szirmai. In Dancing with the Stars Series 2, Luda partnered Home and Away actor Jason Smith and singer David Campbell in Series 3. In 2006, Luda is touring with her own Stage Dance Show at suburban clubs, and working on an instructional DVD.
Alana Patience – dancing with Ian “Molly” Meldrum
A ballroom dancer from the ages of ten to 19, Alana was twice Australian Latin Champion and twice the South Pacific Latin Champion, and represented Australia at the world Latin titles. During her 16 years of training in ballroom and Latin - and six years studying jazz, tap and ballet - she was also a budding seamstress. After high school, Alana studied dressmaking at TAFE and got a job decorating ball gowns in Darlinghurst. In 2000, she moved to London to join the prestigious dancesport dressmaking company, Chrisanne Couture, where she worked as an apprentice for 18 months. Chrisanne has designed and made all the dresses for the BBC's hit show Strictly Come Dancing – on which the Australian version Dancing with the Stars in based. Alana was offered a job as a designer but was homesick and returned to Sydney in 2002. Back home she landed a role in the stage production Burn the Floor and toured America for six months. At the beginning of 2003 she decided to start acting and is now in the final year of an Advanced Diploma of Arts (Acting) at the Australian Academy of Dramatic Arts in Sydney. Alana, 25 runs her own dancesport dressmaking company from home. In 2005, she partnered Collingwood footballer Brodie Holland on Series three of Dancing with the Stars.
Actor/dancer Paul Mercurio is fondly remembered for his lead role as rebel Scott Hastings in Baz Luhrmann's hit movie Strictly Ballroom. He is also an accomplished dramatic actor, appearing in popular local shows; Blue Heelers, All Saints, Murder Call, Medivac, Water Rats and The Day of the Roses. Born in Swan Hill in country Victoria, in 1963, Paul began ballet at nine. By the age of 19, in 1982, he was Principal Dancer with the Sydney Dance Company – a position he held for 10 years. During this time, he was commissioned to choreograph six works performed by the company. He left to join the Australian Choreographic Ensemble, where he was the Director, Principal Dancer and Principal Choreographer. Paul made his film debut in Strictly Ballroom, receiving an Australian Film Institute Award nomination in 1993. His film credits have since included; Exit To Eden, Back Of Beyond, Cosi, Red Ribbon Blues, Welcome To Woop Woop, The Dark Planet, The First 9 1/2 Weeks, Kick and Sydney - Story Of A City. He also starred, wrote, choreographed, produced and directed the short film Spilt Milk. Paul made his TV debut in a documentary on his life called Life's Burning Desire in 1992. He starred in the lead role of Joseph in the Emmy award-winning US TV mini-series The Bible: Joseph, in 1995. The late nineties saw him working as a labourer on building sites and later selling computers to support his dancer wife, Andrea, and their three daughters. Today, Paul, 41, continues to dance and choreograph professionally. He was a movement consultant on the Will Smith movie I Robot, and has choreographed a USA TV campaign for Coca Cola, the Harry M Miller production of Jesus Christ Superstar and Annie Get Your Gun. In January 2004, he appeared on stage in The Full Monty. Paul is also a judge on the New Zealand version of Dancing.
A former champion in ballroom and Latin, singer/dancer Todd McKenney competed internationally for more than 10 years before breaking into theatre. Todd began dancing at 3, at his mother's dancing school in Perth, training in jazz, tap, acrobatics and ballroom. He was cast in his first professional musical, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Song and Dance in 1983. Many stage shows followed including; Cats, 42nd Street, West Side Story and Crazy For You. He was cast as Nathan Starkey in Baz Luhrmann's 1992 internationally acclaimed film Strictly Ballroom, alongside both Paul Mercurio and Sonia Kruger. A career highlight, Todd did 766 performances as Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz – winning two Mo Awards, the Variety Club Heart Award, the Glugg Award, the Green Room Award, the Australian Dance Award and the Helpmann Award. He recreated Gene Kelley's original famous tap dance on stage in Singin' In The Rain - a performance that won him another Australian Dance Award. In 2002 Todd performed his one-man show around Australia and in 2003 he had sell out performances of his show at Taronga Zoo, then went home to Perth to appear in Cabaret. In March 2004, Todd starred in his own production - Todd McKenney LIVE - at Sydney's Star City for a week of sell out shows. In August 2004, he and Rachael Beck performed with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Tommy Tycho. The same month, he sang with the Western Australia Symphony Orchestra and in September 2005, presented his 'Todd McKenney Song And Dance Spectacular' on the Gold Coast. In 2005, Todd released his debut CD Just a gigolo, and toured Sydney, the Gold Coast and Melbourne in his own stage show with Pauline Hanson. In early 2006, he will tour Sydney, Canberra and SA in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks with Nancye Hayes. His website is www.toddmckenney.com.au.
A competitive dancer for more than two decades, Helen Richey retired to coach and adjudicate, and has since judged at most major world events. Australian born, she travelled to the UK with her husband Robert for dance training and international competition experience – and ended up living there for 27 years. Career highlights include coming 2nd at the UK Professional Latin Championship, and 3rd at three events; the World, the International and the British Professional Latin Championships. For seven consecutive years she and Robert were finalists in the British Professional Latin Championship. They returned to Australia in June 2000, where Helen is a highly sought-after coach and judge. Some of her protégés have won British and World Championships, and others Australian titles.
Mark Wilson was Australian Dancesport Champion five times – 4 in new vogue and 1 in modern. He has competed throughout the UK, Europe and Japan. On two occasions he came 15th in the world Dancesport Championship finals, once at Blackpool, England in 1989 and again in Tokyo, Japan, in 1990. Mark also appeared in That's Dancin', winning the professional series. He went on to adjudicate at the Australian Dancesport Championships every year since becoming a judge, and at other competitions in Asia. He now also coaches new judges and is a junior development officer for Dancesport Victoria promoting school dance programs. Mark teaches about 35 Dancesport couples at a Jamm Dance centre.
It's uncertain if the Viennese Waltz came from a French or Italian peasant dance in the 1550s, as both had similar dances performed to folk music the Volta. Both required couples to rotate as they danced and Volta is Italian for “the turn”. For couples to get from one side of their partner to the other, they had to embrace so closely many declared it immoral.
In the early 19th Century another turning dance, the "Waltzen", became popular in many parts of Germany and Austria, with local variants being called after their area. The popular step from Landl ob der Enns in upper Austria became known as the Landler. Meanwhile, a more sedate form of the fast Viennese Waltz evolved in America around 1834, known originally as the Boston. The modern waltz is said to be a combination of the Landler and the Boston derived in England about 1910.
The Modern Tango is probably a result of Spain's Flamenco dance merging with the African slave dance the Tangano, and a host of other folk dances infiltrating South America. In the Buenos Aires slums in the late 19th century, they both merged with the Habanera – a Cuban folk dance – to provide a new step; the Milonga. Originally the Milonga was a soft private dance, with emphasis on leg movements. In Paris in the 1930's, it was combined with other ballroom dances and given a staccato action, moving the emphasis to the torso and head, a characteristic which remains.
One story says it was introduced as the Castle Walk into nightclub performances of Vernon and Irene Castle, and popularised by Harry Fox in the stage show Ziegfeld Follies in New York in 1913 - and named after him. Others say it mimicked the gait of a horse, or even a fox. Regardless, the step was fashionably rebellious against 19th Century dancing, as it used parallel feet rather than turned out feet used in Victorian dances. About 1922, the trotting steps were discarded for a less energetic movement called the Saunter and by 1927 it was called the Slow Foxtrot with gliding movements.
As Ragtime music evolved into Swing through the 1920's, new dances the Charleston, the Shimmy, and the Black Bottom became popular in America. Elements of these three dances – popularised on stage by the Ziegfeld Follies - became absorbed into a faster version of the Foxtrot after a visit by Paul Whiteman's band to the UK in 1923. The Charleston step and the Scatter Chasses were introduced into the Quickstep by Wally Fryer and Vi Barnes in London in the 1940's.
The Dance of Love, the Rumba is the most sensual of Latin dances with the lady dominating the man using her womanly charms. Incorporating teasing and withdrawal, partners dance to each other not the audience.
The word Samba is supposedly derived from a West African Bantu word meaning “to pray” or invoke spirits of ancestors. It is said to be a dance that can send people into a trance. It is danced annually at Rio's Carnival.
From its start in 1927, the Jive shocked adults who tried to ban it. American GIs in World War II took it to Europe but it was danced underground due to its "corrupting influence". It's a variation of the Jitter Bug adding rock'n'roll and swing.
The Paso Doble is a Spanish gypsy dance based on the bullfight. The man represents the bullfighter, Torero, and the lady his red cape or cappa. It is danced to the characteristic march music used for the procession at the beginning of a corrida.
Cha Cha Cha
When the English dance teacher Pierre Lavelle visited Cuba in 1952, he saw the Rumba danced with
extra beats. He returned to Britain and began teaching these steps as a new dance.