A Sophisticated Spin On Ballroom Dancing

World Champion Leads Pupilsthrough Their Steps

February 12, 1992|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — Quietly conferring with the couple on the floor, the world champion ballroom dancer patiently showed them positions that appeal to judgesduring a competition.

"You want to hold your arms like this," said Peter Eggleton in his distinctive British accent as he gently lifted the woman's arms.

Eggleton, who retired from professional ballroom dancing in 1970,spent the weekend coaching 13 of Carroll's competitive couples at Dancing Made Easy, a social dancing school owned by Glenna Lambert.

A three-time world champion, Eggleton, 65, now coaches competitive dancers worldwide. He and his wife, Pamela, live in Southampton, England.

"I knew he had visited other studios in the Washington area, soI wrote a letter and invited him up," said Lambert, who had taken lessons from Eggleton about six years ago.

For Eggleton, who initially trained to dance on stage, ballroom dancing was a way to marry hislove of music and movement to his education. After competing for 11 years as an amateur, he turned professional at age 32.

"I had reached the top as an amateur, so the inevitable step was to turn professional," he said. "After you've spent so much time and money at your hobby, it only makes sense."

Winning three titles is part skill, part charisma and part luck, he said.

"The best aspect (of ballroom dancing) is that, unlike a rehearsed performance, it's never the samething twice," Eggleton said. "It's a mutual desire to express in movement the music that we hear.

"You can never guarantee what is going to happen because you are working with two people. It's necessary that both people absolutely be with it, and the chances of that happening on world championship night are rather thin."

Coaching students for competition is not much different from teaching them to dance socially, Eggleton said.

"They both have the same root of sophistication and elegance between the man and the woman," he said. "Judges are looking for a pleasant impression and elegant positions; the appearance of the man escorting the lady through the dance and enabling her to present herself well."

Ballroom dancing, which recently has become popular again, teaches values and a way to interact between the sexes that were lost in the disco era, Eggleton said.

"The basicthing of ballroom dancing is a means to socialize and encourage friendships," he said. "Dancing on your own is a lot of fun, but it doesn't do much for that.

"In modern life, it keeps alive that appearance between the man and the woman and the importance that she be givenrespect. That's not around as much as it should be."

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