When people ask me which event marked the beginning of my career as a dancer I cannot go without mentioning my first trip to what was called the “Temple of the Ballroom Dancing”: Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
It was the year 1996 when my teacher at the time, Ermes Baricchi, the father of Luca Bariccchi who was a multiple World Champion in standard dances, asked me if I wanted to see the European Championship in Blackpool. I was so excited when I ran home that my parents didn’t have the heart to say no.
A few months later, I took my first plane ride and flew to Blackpool. The experience was interesting from the start as I was staying in a house together with other dancers. I could see what sacrifices I should make if I want to achieve the highest level.
The day of the European Championship came but what contributed most to my final decision to become a dancer was seeing the then best couples − Luca Baricchi and Lorraine Berry, Augusto Schiavo and Caterina Arzenton, Marcus and Karen Hilton, Jens Werner and Morena Colagreco − dancing to live music I’d never heard before. Thousands of people applauded them and I had goose bumps all over.
Luca and Lorraine Baricchi
This competition was one of the most beautiful competitions I can remember. I watched as these champions were dancing on and off the dancefloor. I was wondering how the adjudicators could even see any mistakes in the dancing of couples who were so great and how they could possibly decide who the first or the second was. Nevertheless, I was especially dreaming with my eyes wide open and I could see young couples like me among the dancers who also aspired to become champions.
Today I can only thank Ermes for letting me experience this and my parents who have spared no expense for my happiness, and allowed me to see through my own eyes what my life could look like.