Dance For the Love of It
Ballroom dancers Andres Guelzow and Julie Marseu took the Northern Lights Classic competition by storm
Monday, Apr 06, 2015 06:00 am
“I guess I’ve got a competitive personality,” says Andreas Guelzow. “I’ve always competed in something.” Guelzow started social dancing when he was 19 years old, but stopped for several years. The 56-year-old mathematics professor picked up dancing again about 12 years ago when he joined the University of Alberta Dance Club. “U of A had in-house competitions, but I wanted to try out a real competition,” he says.
That’s what led him to the Northern Lights Classic Competition, a ballroom and Latin dance event organized by DanceSport Alberta Association. In February the NLCC held its 11th annual event at the Central Lions Senior Recreation Centre; 45 couples competed. Dancers were categorized by age, ranging from juvenile to senior categories, dance style (ballroom or Latin) and ability, in newcomer, bronze, silver, gold, pre-championship and championship skill levels. Whenn Guelzow started in the competition at the newcomer level, “I had fun doing that and got hooked!”
Ballroom dancing keeps Guelzow’s partner Julie Marseu in shape, she says. “It keeps my mind agile because I’m constantly learning something new. Personally, I think more people should try it. They would look and feel years younger. I certainly do.” Marseu says she didn’t take to it right away. “When Andreas first asked me to be his partner 18 months ago, I turned him down flat because I had never competed before. I was afraid of making a mistake in competition and looking stupid.” Marseu says she eventually realized it was the opportunity of a lifetime. “So I gathered my courage and jumped in with both feet. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that we would look as great as we did during our last competition,” she says.
This year the couple was among 90 people competing in three gold-level categories, Senior I, II and III, and two pre-championship categories, Senior I and II. In the Senior III category, one partner must be 55 or older and the other partner must be 50 or older. In the Senior I and II categories, Guelzow and Marseu were up against competitors in their 30s and 40s. But the couple have worked hard; they have three coaches, they start creating new routines in summer and train for hours every day, year round. “When I saw the video, and how much we have progressed in such a short time, all the lessons, all the early morning practices, all the challenges along the way, it was all worth it,” says Marseu. “I can’t wait to see what we look like next year when we have all pre-championship level routines.” The couple performed four dances in each category: the waltz, tango, fox trot and quick step, and came out winners. They placed 1st in Senior III, 2nd in Senior II and 3rd in Senior I. At the pre-championship level they placed 1st in Senior II and 4th in Senior 1. “You have to do what you love,” says Marseu. “That’s what makes life worth living.”