Dancing with Ballarat's stars

RHETT Watts and Ashleigh Tibb are ranked in Australian ballroom dancing's top 10 couples.

And, this weekend, they brought their top-level hip-twists and triple steps to Ballarat for the 24th annual Dancesports Festival.

Held at the Ballarat Minerdome, 200 competitors from around Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales took part in the two-day event.

Organiser Shane Lawton said the Australian Dancing Society liked to hold regional events in each state to make sure all dancers could be included, with Ballarat, Shepparton and Geelong hosting Victoria's festivals.

"We've had about 500 people through the door watching and competing," Mr Lawton said.

He said the presence of a top couple, such as Rhett and Ashleigh, at a regional event also allowed younger dancers to be exposed to a high level of competition.

Mr Lawton said Ballarat was well represented at the event, with several competitors entered from local business, The Dance Studio.

Couples performed Latin American, ballroom and new vogue style dances, both in set styles and open choreography, which he said was more entertaining to watch.

He also said there had been a resurgence in ballroom dancing's popularity due to TV shows such as Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.

"Many of our top level dancers are teachers on Dancing With The Stars. There's also the whole thing of seeing top athletes, like AFL footballers or boxers, doing it and it's broken the whole stigma down a lot plus there's also a big fitness element to it."

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