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The irrelevance of sexuality in Ballroom and Latin | Michael Litke, Professional Dancer

Updated: Apr 2, 2021

I Dance Because is a blog series celebrating dancers from all walks of life. Dance is more than flexibility and tricks. It is expression, acceptance and authenticity. Dance is not (and should not) be elitist or reserved for a certain type of body type or life experience. Dance is for everyone. To dance is to breath.

Michael Litke | Professional Ballroom and Latin Dancer, @istddance Qualified Teacher @ballroomcourses

"#IDANCEBECAUSE moving to music is magical

I am a professional Ballroom and Latin dancer, and compete in competitions with a male partner. Last year, we became Vice Same-Sex Ballroom World Champions. It was incredible; we were praised by the audience and national press alike.

It’s important I show that same-sex couples can be on the same technical level as mixed-sex couples.

Same-sex couples are not without their critics. People think that they ‘don’t look as good’ dancing, but I think that’s old-fashioned thinking. Dance should not be about gender, or even sexuality. My last dance partner was heterosexual and I’m gay. There’s an assumption that all same-sex dance couples are gay or lesbian, but that’s not the case. Sexuality is irrelevant.

Ballroom and Latin do not need to be gender-assigned – the woman does not need to always follow, and the man does not need to always lead. I would love to see more exploration of gender roles in @bbcstrictly. There is still misogyny and toxic masculinity within the industry, but dancers are starting to challenge and refuse these stereotypes.

The dance world is constantly developing. I started dancing thirty years ago, so it’s important that I continue my thirst for knowledge. I’ve taken various ISTD qualifications, and I’m currently studying for the Fellowship exam in Ballroom.

Dancing with a partner has taught me the importance of communication – to be clear and honest with your wants and needs. It’s important to learn about the other person, and to not make assumptions about how they’re feeling. I used to have expectations that I never expressed, but I’ve learnt to assert myself.

I wish more dance newbies were brave enough to take a Ballroom class. You might think that people will be watching you, but everyone is very supportive. People come to a beginner’s class for a reason: to learn how to dance. I started from zero, we all start from zero. No one is born an amazing dancer – you get there through training.

Everything is practice."


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