Internationally acclaimed ballroom dancer, Pierre Dulaine, reveals just how far one can possibly go by taking that extra step forward. Read how his life story inspired the upcoming dance movie, "Take the Lead", starring Antonio Banderas.
Congratulations on all of your success, Pierre! Could you please share with your dance fans how your life story inspired the movie "Take The Lead"?
The movie is about my work with the New York City Public School kids. It is about 16 year old High School students in Harlem.
I was contacted by the producer, Diane Nabatoff, who saw the CBS telecast on Sunday Morning News in the year 2000. She was so impressed with the after school program that she signed me up and went out to sell the idea to major film studios.
MGM picked up the film, which was then sold to New Line Cinema. The screen writer, Dianne Houston, came to visit me in New York and followed me around to a few schools to see what we had going on, in order to write the script.
Who will be playing you in the movie?
John Travolta was the first star to be offered the role, but when he declined, Antonio Banderas took on the role.
How similar is the on-screen character that Banderas will be playing to your real life personality?
The only similarity is that the on-screen character is called Pierre Dulaine.
Are you involved in any aspects of the movie production?
I will be coming to Toronto for all of the rehearsals and for part of the filming process to serve as a consultant as well as a choreographer for the Ballroom segment, but I will not be involved in anything else.
NEW YORK CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL PROGRAM
What inspired you to initiate your public school program, "Dancing Classrooms"?
It was initiated because I felt that Ballroom dancing was a great way to develop confidence and self esteem in children at this young age. I used to be very shy myself and Ballroom dancing classes/lessons helped greatly in this way.
What does the public school program involve?
My program is going very strongly. We have 33 teachers working and going out to 67 schools in all the boroughs of New York City as well as one school in New Jersey. We teach at least 7500 children twice a week each week. It is a very BIG program!
Many children seemed to have a lot of great comments to make about you after running this program. Does working with children come naturally to you?
I certainly enjoy it tremendously.
I am very caring, both as a teacher and as a partner. My style involves listening well to my students and taking it from there.
LOOKING BACK ON A LIFE OF DANCE
When was your first time dancing, and what sparked your passion for dance?
I started dancing at the age of 14 in Birmingham, England.
What was one of your most memorable and rewarding dance experiences to date?
Winning the Duel of the Giants at London Royal Albert Hall twice and four times in Blackpool, England.
What was one of your most embarrassing experiences as a dancer?
That would have to be when I lost my front direction at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan in front of 17,000 people.
You are now a role model for so many people in the dance industry, do you have any role models?
My role model is my teacher in England, John Del Roy. He was such a strong and caring partner.
What are some of your goals right now as a dancer? Do you feel like you are living your dream, or are there other goals or parts of your dream that you would still like to accomplish?
I do not have any more goals as a dancer, however I am looking forward to going to live in my house in the South of France - sooner than later I hope.
What do you predict the future will look like for Ballroom Dancing?
I have no idea. I think not too many other people seem to know the answer either.
THE PARTNER PROFILE: YVONNE AND PIERRE
When did you meet your dance partner, Yvonne Marceau?
We met at a dance studio in 1974 and started dancing together in January 1976.
What is one of the hardest parts about maintaining a dance relationship?
There was never any hard part to our dancing relationship because we always talked and discussed everything. We hardly ever argued! I think that if one remembers to communicate at all times, then all will remain well.
We thought of our partnership as a business - we both needed each other to succeed.
What do you love most about having Yvonne as your partner?
All of it! All of the training that went in years and years ago, as well as the professionalism.
Favourite Quote: Shake what your mama gave you!
Favourite Place to Visit: France
Favourite Time of Day: Both day and night
If you could only have one of your senses - taste, touch, smell, sound, sight - which would you choose: TOUCH - because of my caring side!
Words of Advice to Dancers: Stick to your dreams, never give up and most importantly, believe in yourself!
Laura is a former dancer, specializing in Ballet, Hip Hop and Break Dancing. She was Dance Coordinator at the McMaster University Dance Centre, where she founded the Break Dancing Club.View all articles by Laura Davies