A Connecticut couple could become the new world champions in ballroom dancing.
Renée and Tom Malinowski of Newington have been selected to represent the USA in the 2016 World DanceSport Federation World Championships. The pair were one of two amateur couples from the United States chosen to compete in the senior division. The competition will be held in July in Rimini, Italy.
“We were surprised and honored to be asked,” Renée said.
The pair, who placed fifth during an American championship in Baltimore, were asked to compete in the competition after couples ranked ahead of them couldn't attend.
The Malinowskis compete in the International Standard style of ballroom dancing. This consists of waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, fox trot, and quickstep. Although they are competitive dancers now, they initially wanted to learn for fun.
“We started 12 years ago. The intention was to learn social dance,” Renee said. The pair participated in social dance for six years. “During that time we became aware of a different style of dance that was more competitive: the international style of dance.”
While the Malinowskis may be relatively new to dance, they’ve had years-worth of experience in athletics.
Tom coached baseball at Central Connecticut State University and Renée coached cheerleading at the University of Hartford. Tom currently teaches technical education at New Britain High School; but in his spare time, he serves as the advisor to the school’s Ballroom Dancing Club.
They refer to themselves as ‘former athletes and continuing athletes’, stating that dance is equally as competitive of a sport. The couple takes lessons in New York City and practices five nights a week, stating that they “train as if it was any sport.”
Dance differs from their previous athletic endeavors. For Renee and Tom, dance is more than just a fun competitive activity.
“It’s a lifelong skill,” Renee said.
Ballroom dancing teaches coordination and cooperation between the couple. During the competition, competitors have to think on their feet and go with the flow, they said.
“When we step on the floor, we don’t know which music they’re actually using,” Tom said. “We have to be able to take that music and dance to that song.”
Renee said that besides the valuable lessons in dance, she and her husband enjoy the art itself.
“It’s a lovely, very elegant sport to be a part of. You do it for the love of dance.”
The couple will be able to share their love for dance with couples from across the globe in Rimini, Italy, on July 10. When not competing, the Malinowskis hope to explore the country with relatives.
“I happen to have family in Italy in that area, then we’re going to go to London for a few days,” said Renee.
The 2016 World DanceSport Federation World Championships will provide the Malinowskis an experience of a lifetime – cultural exploration, a chance at becoming world champions in dance, and most importantly, the opportunity to perform together as a couple.