Local ballroom dancing partners Belinda Bischa from Forest Lake and Lester Skorka from Sinnamon Park recently competed in the international Blackpool Dance Festival in the United Kingdom, where they placed 17th out of 70 couples in the over 50’s division in May this year.
Upon returning to Australia, they competed at the 2022 Wollongong National DanceSport Championships in June, where they placed 1st in all three events in the over 35’s division.
The Blackpool Dance Festival is the world’s most prestigious international ballroom dancing competition. It was first held in 1920 in the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
This year was the third time Belinda and Lester had competed at the Blackpool Dance Festival since they became dance partners in 2008.
The competition runs for 14 days and features four styles of ballroom dancing including waltz, tango, foxtrot and quick-step.
“The Blackpool Festival is basically the epitome of any dancer,” Lester said.
“It’s where every competitive ballroom dancer wants to go and compete,” Belinda said.
The Wollongong National DanceSport Championships competition, which was held this year on June 25, is the second-largest competitive ballroom dancing event in Australia.
“We competed in three separate events … the first one was ballroom, which has got the waltz, tango, viennese waltz, foxtrot and tango,” Lester said.
The second event they competed in was ‘New Vogue’, and the third was a style called ‘Eight-Dance’. They placed first in all three events.
The dancing duo have known each other through ballroom dancing and family connections since they were children.
“Both of us have been in this sport for quite a long time,” Lester said.
“We both stopped for family … we had breaks from dancing and got the bug again, and now we’re competing,” Belinda said.
Belinda and Lester also run a social dance studio located at DFO in Jindalee called BeLeste Dance.
Every Sunday night from 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm, people of all ages and abilities come from all over the region to participate in the social dances, which also includes a teaching component.
Social classes cost just $15 per session, and a deal for new members is available for $55 for 6 sessions.
They also run regular special event nights based on various themes including Easter, Christmas, Oktoberfest, Halloween, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Gatsby nights and more.
“We teach people how to dance socially … we get lots of couples, singles, young families with kids, teenagers – people of all ages,” Belinda said.
Lester said ballroom dancing was great for promoting exercise, memory, and quick-thinking.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to dance – just come along,” he said.
“It’s a good sport – it keeps you healthy and fit, makes you feel happy, and helps you meet new people,” Belinda said.