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Dancing in the City - Dubai's daring dance duos to learn ballroom etiquette - debutants to master intricacies of Waltz and Cha-Cha in just 8 weeks.

The search is over to find 10 brave couples who will perform at this year's premier Dubai Can Dance, a competition loosely modeled on TV shows Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars. With no formal dance experience, the dance duos will learn the grace and elegance of the Waltz, together with the up-tempo Cha-Cha, an offshoot of the famous Latin Mambo.

Training has recently started with four hours of general classes and private lessons each week for the competing couples, as well as plenty of practice at home. Choosing competitors from many different nationalities and professions, all are tremendously excited about being coached by professionally-trained dance instructors Jackie Sweed and Simon Zoghbi from Dubai-based Step By Step Dance School.

Jackie is teaching the competitors the Waltz. She has been teaching Ballroom and Latin American Dancing for nearly 20 years and was a competitor as a teenager. Says Kim Webb, Director, Step by Step Dance School: "This is a very elegant dance and competitors will all learn the same routine to compete on the night. Jackie is a great teacher and has patience and strength; her choreography for ballroom is divine."

Simon is a renowned Latin American and Ballroom teacher and an accredited judge. Says Kim: "Simon has been teaching for many years and at Step by Step we are excited and thrilled that he is part of the team for Dubai Can Dance. He is going to be choreographing and teaching 10 separate Cha-Cha routines, which I am sure will be show stoppers.

Kim adds: "We are very proud of all the couples that have signed up and taken this competition seriously. Dancesport in Dubai and the UAE is relatively new and we hope to show everyone that it is achievable and enjoyable for everyone."

One of the competitors is Dave Battiston, 36, Chief Executive Officer Air Miles Middle East, who refers to himself as "dancing like a frozen leg of lamb!" He credits his wife Aidy for convincing him to join the competition, admitting that although his wife hasn't danced before: "She's the one with the rhythm."

Commenting on the commitment shown by Step By Step Dance School, British Sales and Marketing Manager of Table 4 Six, Eleanor Starr said: "Jackie and Simon are so full of energy they both have the patience of a saint and, of course, are amazing dancers. To be honest, I feel nervous already as there is so much to learn in 8 weeks it is daunting."

The Dubai Can Dance competition - which will take place at the Crowne Plaza Dubai on Friday May 23 at a spectacular formal black tie dinner and entertainment gala night - has been devised by the Transguard Group, the company responsible for the highly successful White Collar Boxing events in Dubai.

While the women contestants were quickly up for the challenge, the men took a little more persuading. British General Manager of Grass Roots Middle East Mark Spicer, 34, was encouraged to take part by his dance partner Emma Thompson. He says: "Someone told me my life would not be worth living if I didn't do this. I was on a flight back to the UK and bumped into a friend - she asked me to be her dance partner. With the aircraft doors firmly locked shut and at 35,000 feet, I was not given a chance to say no."

Already keen amateur dancers, Indian Rahul Rajesh Sequeira, 38, an Aircraft Technician and his wife Preethi, a 31-year-old Secretary, couldn't wait to get involved. Says Rajesh: "Dance for us is something we do without a second thought. We enjoy it as much as is our interest to learn and excel in all types of modern dance."

Dubai Can Dance organiser Mark Povey says: "With the training well underway, we are looking forward to a night full of fun and glamour. We have Dubai's top dance trainers with Step by Step and one of Dubai's top stylists Sinead Bridgett from Emerald Events, who will make sure all the contestants look stunning on the night with makeovers and specially-commissioned dancewear from the UK.

"An experienced panel of judges will be commenting and voting on the dancer's performance during the night, but the main deciders will be the audience themselves at the gala dinner, through a special electronic voting system from Satellite. The performance of Anton du Beke and Erin Roag from UK TV's Strictly Come Dancing will complete what promises to be a magical evening."

Sponsors for the event include: Emerald Events, Hertz, Macair, Bareface, Aftershock, Reiss, Koton, Air Miles, Mouchel, Satellite and DSI.

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Date:Apr 13, 2008
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