Ballroom Brits

28th October 2005 at 01:00
Lorraine Drolet (pictured) has won ballroom dancing titles all over the world, but she says the 18 months she spent working in schools in the London borough of Westminster was "the best thing I've ever done". From November 2003 until last March, Ms Drolet, now retired from competitive dancing and working as a full-time dance teacher, went into 10 primary schools every week where she coached around 350 mainly Year 5 children in ballroom and Latin American dancing.

She was taking part in Westminster's Champion 2012 scheme, which aims to introduce children in the borough to five unusual sports and identify potential Olympians for the London games. The dance programme proved immensely popular and culminated in a grand final at the Moberly sports centre, Kilburn, where more than 150 children - half of them boys - performed the tango, samba and waltz in front of 400 spectators and Anton Dubecke, one of the judges from the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing show.

"The whole thing was fantastic, I can't explain it," says Ms Drolet. "I've seen kids change from rowdy rascals into little gentlemen. It was just like in Mad Hot Ballroom: the dancing transformed the children."

The similarities with the film don't end there. In the late Sixties, Lorraine Drolet attended a dance school in Birmingham, where she grew up, with a boy who later moved to the US and changed his name to... Pierre Dulaine. The pair haven't met in the intervening years, but Ms Drolet hopes they will make contact in the run-up to the release of Mad Hot Ballroom in the UK. She is also hopeful that Westminster council can find funding to resume the dance scheme (the first programme was sponsored by the City-based Mercers' Company).

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