Hard times

With tributes by Janet Gleave and Espen Salberg
Copyright © Ballroom Icons, Photographer U.H.Mayer

This week, January 2021 we lost two of the Greats of our dance world. Doreen Freeman was one of the Icons of ballroom dancing. She danced her first British Open Professional Championship in 1947 with Victor Barrett, finishing second. She also placed first in one of the early World Championships that same year. She later partnered with Bob Burgess. In 1962 they came second in the World Championship in Australia behind Bill and Bobbie, opened a studio, (the Starlight, later owned by Bill and Bobbie) and led the typical life of professional dancers.

Tribute to Doreen Freeman by Janet Gleave 

Doreen was in inspiration to all Lady dancers. She had a beautiful graceful, her  elegant and fluid action which enabled her to be the perfect foil for partner. If she had a mantra could be “feet feet feet”. She had a passion for excellent and expressive feet, from which everything else would emanate; “good feet-good dance”. After retiring from competitions and representing the UK in many championships with great success,  Doreen became an inspirational and encouraging teacher. She travelled around the world promoting the art of ballroom dancing and became a world ranking lecturer and adjudicator, being part of of many prestigious panels of judges numerous times including World -, European, Star, UK and British Championships.

The passing of Doreen is extremely sad but she will live on in our memories and we send our deepest condolences to her daughter Wendy and the family. God Bless

Ron Montez was the United States Latin American Champion with his beautiful partner Liz Curtis. Later he went on to be a world renowned dance teacher and coach, known for his gracious way with people and his enthusiasm for helping people dance well.

Tribute to Ron Montez by Espen Salberg

It is with great sadness that I received the news of Ron Montez’s death, totally unexpected since we have received news of him recovering gradually from his COVID diagnosed illness. A dance legend has left us much too early!

I first met Ron back in the early 70s in London, where Kirsten and I had moved to live and dance as amateurs. We got to know Ron and his then wife and partner Carol they were lovely people and already then it did impress on me how kind, gentle and polite this soft-spoken man was. This wonderful aspect of Ron never changed.

Added to his very pleasing personality was a great talent for Latin American dancing, a God-given manly and handsome appearance and a charming as well as humble attitude, when in conversations.

It was towards the latter part of the 70s/early 80s that or paths crossed more frequently.

Ron had formed a partnership with Elizabeth Curtis of the USA and we were fellow competitors and friends for many years on the pro Latin circuit. Ron and Liz for major finalists and had their very personal style of dancing, which had admirers the world over. This earthy, rhythmical hunk of the Latin male, with the worlds most flexible personality-plus Latin lady brought us the house down by performing body rhythm, ripples, Cuban motion, high kicks and backbends. It was always a wonderful exciting spectacle to watch!

 I have had the pleasure to watch Ron dance on so many occasions. Images that are forever imprinted in my mind are those fabulous mambo shows that he, together with other great Latin legends from the US, more often than once enthralled audiences with as part of the US competition show circuit. As a matter of fact when I years later  in my career, back in the mid 80s was asked to prepare a lecture that was connected with mambo I called Ron and ask him to find some time for me if I came to LA? Ron of course being the friend and gentleman was willing to help!

During those talks and lessons in LA I was introduced to information’s regarding body rhythm and Latin dance actions which were such an eye-opener for me personally and which I have used daily in my teaching 30 years+ later. “Let your body rhythm actions time your legs and feet … not the other way around!” Thank you dear Ron!  

Ron will always be remembered as a legend, and as a human being. I know he had grieving moments in his life, which I am sure took their toll and yet when I had the good fortune to see him again in Arizona in September 2019 it was the same soft-spoken elegant and down-to-earth person with his wonderful smile who said: “Hi Espen how have you been? Great to see you again … it has been a long time.” 

… and now with this unbelievably unexpected passing those are the words that I will keep in my memory. A great man, a dance legend with exquisite taste, elegance, and class!

R.I.P my friend and condolences to his numerous friends and family.

Espen

Download a Dancebeat article about Ron here: https://www.dancebeat.com/m-db-articles-en/item/1903-ronmontez

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