Blackpool History – Professional Latin

The Latin style was introduced at the Blackpool Dance Festival in 1961, with a Latin Tournament for Amateurs only and then a Professional Tournament taking place in 1962.  It was in 1964 that both the Amateur and Professional events were upgraded to Championship status with the first Professional winners being Walter & Marianne Kaiser from Switzerland.  Australia and New Zealand have never won this title however, we have seen many great results over the years. 

BARRY & CHERYL WRIGHTSON

Australia’s first finalists that we are aware of are West Australians, Barry & the late Cheryl Wrightson who jumped from the top 48 couples in 1966 on their first attempt, to making the semi final in 1967, and then the final and being placed an amazing 4th the following year in 1968, what an amazingly quick rise to the final and one they must have been over the moon about.  The couples above them in this final were the Trautz (Germany), Bill & Bobbie Irvine (UK) and Wolfgang & Evelyn Opitz (Germany) who are all legendary names today in the dancing world.  Barry & Cheryl returned to Australia to dance in the Australian championship in 1968 and finished as runners up to new Professionals of the time, Neil & Jenny Rosenfeld .  They then relocated and took up contract with Arthur Murray in the USA until the mid 1970’s when they returned to Perth to teach the up and coming dancers of Australia.

ROBERT & HELEN RICHEY

Our next finalists came in Robert & Helen Richey who in 1971 placed in the top 24 in all dances.  In 1972 they made the semi final in the Samba only, then in 1973 made 3 dances in the semi final.   In 1974 they reached the semi final in all 4 dances and placed 6th in the final in Cha Cha and in 1975 were 5th in Rumba.  They were 7 times finalists, 5 times in all 5 dances from 1974 right through to the year they retired in 1980, with their highest placing being tied for 3rd in 1978 but placing 4th overall making them the highest placed Australian couple in this event.  1976 was also the year that the Jive was introduced to the event and the first year that the same 6 couples made the final in all dances.   

Interesting to note that in 1978 when Robert & Helen were placed 4th, only 4 couples were called back to the final in all 5 dances, those couples being Peter Maxwell & Lyn Harman and Alan & Hazel Fletcher, both from the UK, Espen & Kirsten Salberg (Norway) and Robert & Helen from Australia, it must have been the smallest final ever in the history of the Professional Latin.  In 1980, Robert & Helen announced their retirement from competitive dancing and received a spontaneous, and at the time, a very rare standing ovation from the knowledgeable Blackpool audience.  Word has it that Helen was known as the best female Latin dancer in the world during that time and many say their results never truly reflected their performances.

GREG SMITH & MARION ALLEYNE

1979 witnessed a new Australian Professional couple in Greg Smith & Marion Alleyne who in their 2nd year as Professionals jumped straight in to the Latin final placing 6th, just behind Robert & Helen Richey.  In 1980 Alex & Julie Schembri from New South Wales just missed out on the Professional Latin final placing 7th overall, this was the same year they won the Professional Rising Star Ballroom.   Australia’s next finalists was seen in 1984 and only in the Rumba with Victorians Larry & Kerry Clarke, they were semi finalists in the other 4 dances.  Larry & Kerry featured in the semi final round of the Professional Latin every year from 1982 to 1987.

LARRY & KERRY CLARKE

In 1990 we see two couples in the semi final round, Jason Gilkison & Peta Roby and Dan Buric & Joanne Boden who both featured in the Rising Star final which Jason & Peta had won and Dan & Joanne were placed 5th.  Jason & Peta went on to be finalists 5 times between 1991 and 1997 with their highest placing being 4th in 1995 making them equal Robert & Helen Richey’s highest placing from 1978 and Barry & Cheryl Wrightson’s 4th in 1968. In 1997 Australia had 3 couples in the top 12, Jason & Peta who finished in 5th place, Paul Green & Karren Rufus and Jason Roditis & Tonia Kosovich who were both semi finalists plus, former Aussies John Byrnes and partner Jane Lyttleton and Paul Richardson & partner Lorna Dawson (both couples dancing for the UK) featured in that semi final also.  A great year for Australia indeed. 

1998 witnessed our last Australian couple to make the final and that was Paul Green & Karren Rufus who placed 7th overall, the New Zealand champions featured in the semi finals in both 2002 and 2003 with Brendan Cole & Camilla Dallerup.  Former South Australian Joanne Wilkinson also made the final in 2006 placing 5th with her then partner Riccardo Cocchi and represented Italy. 

3RD PLACE

  • 1976 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC)

4TH PLACE

  • 1968 – Barry & Cheryl Wrightson (WA)
  • 1978 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC)
  • 1995 – Jason Gilkison & Peta Roby (WA)

5TH PLACE

  • 1977 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC)
  • 1979 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC)
  • 1980 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC)
  • 1991 – Jason Gilkison & Peta Roby (WA)
  • 1997 – Jason Gilkison & Peta Roby (WA)
  • 2006 – Riccardo Cocchi & Joanne Wilkinson (Italy)

6TH PLACE

  • 1994 – Jason Gilkison & Peta Roby (WA)
  • 1996 – Jason Gilkison & Peta Roby (WA)

SEMI FINAL

  • 1967 – Barry & Cheryl Wrightson (WA)
  • 1968 – Neil & Jenny Rosenfeld (VIC)
  • 1972 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC)
  • 1973 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC)
  • 1974 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC) Final in Cha Cha, 6th place
  • 1975 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC) Final in Rumba, 5th place
  • 1979 – Greg Smith & Marion Alleyne (NSW) Final in Paso Doble, 6th
  • 1980 – Alex & Julie Schembri (NSW) – 7th place
  • 1981 – Alex & Julie Schembri (NSW)
  • 1982 – Larry & Kerry Clarke (VIC)
  • 1983 – Larry & Kerry Clarke (VIC)
  • 1984 – Larry & Kerry Clarke (VIC) Final in Rumba
  • 1985 – Larry & Kerry Clarke (VIC)
  • 1985 – Tony Gauci & Tania McGuiness (NSW)
  • 1985 – Peter Townsend & Candy Lane (New Zealand)
  • 1986 – Larry & Kerry Clarke (VIC)
  • 1987 – Larry & Kerry Clarke (VIC)
  • 1990 – Dan Buric & Joanne Boden (QLD) 9th place
  • 1990 – Jason Gilkison & Peta Roby (WA)
  • 1992 – Jason Gilkison & Peta Roby (WA)
  • 1993 – Jason Gilkison & Peta Roby (WA)
  • 1997 – Paul Green & Karren Rufus (NSW)
  • 1997 – Jason Roditis & Tonia Kosovich (NSW)
  • 1997 – John Byrnes & Jane Lyttleton (UK)
  • 1997 – Paul Richardson & Lorna Dawson (UK)
  • 1998 – Paul Green & Karren Rufus (NSW) Final PD 7th & Jive 5th
  • 1998 – Paul Richardson & Lorna Dawson (UK) Final PD 8th
  • 1998 – John Byrnes & Jane Lyttleton (UK)
  • 1999 – Paul Richardson & Lorna Dawson (UK)
  • 1999 – Jason Roditis & Tonia Kosovich (NSW)
  • 2000 – Jason Roditis & Tonia Kosovich (NSW)
  • 2000 – John Byrnes & Jane Lyttleton (UK)
  • 2001 – John Byrnes & Jane Lyttleton (UK)
  • 2002 – Paul Green & Aleksander Gisher (USA)
  • 2002 – Brendan Cole & Camilla Dallerup (New Zealand)
  • 2003 – Paul Green & Aleksander Gisher (USA) 8th place
  • 2003 – Brendan Cole & Camilla Dallerup (New Zealand) 11th place
  • 2004 – Paul Richardson & Olga Rodianova (USA) 8th place
  • 2004 – Paul Green & Aleksander Gisher (USA) 9th place
  • 2005 – Paul Richardson & Olga Rodionova (USA) 9th place
  • 2006 – Paul Richardson & Olga Rodionova (UK) 8th place
  • 2007 – Paul Richardson & Olga Rodionova (UK)
  • 2011 – Joshua Keefe & Sara Magnanelli (WA) 9th place
  • 2012 – Joshua Keefe & Sara Magnanelli (WA) 11th place
  • 2016 – Arkady Bakenov & Rosa Filippello (UK) 14th place

QUARTER FINAL TOP 24

  • 1971 – Robert & Helen Richey (VIC)
  • 1999 – John Byrnes & Jane Lyttleton (UK) Semi Final Paso Doble
  • 2000 – Brendan Cole & Camilla Dallerup (New Zealand)
  • 2000 – Paul Richardson & Jasna Koselj (UK)
  • 2001 – Brendan Cole & Camilla Dallerup (New Zealand)
  • 2001 – Paul Richardson & Milana Pliner (USA)
  • 2002 – John Byrnes & Jane Lyttleton (UK) Semi Final PD
  • 2002 – Paul Richardson & Milana Pliner (USA)
  • 2003 – Paul Richardson & Milana Pliner (USA) Equal 15th place
  • 2003 – Adam & Karen Reeve (Iceland) Equal 24th
  • 2008 – Julian Manderson & Melanie Hooper (QLD) 15th place
  • 2010 – Joshua Keefe & Sara Magnanelli (WA) 18th place
  • 2019 – Sigurdur Sigurdsson & Annalisa Zoanetti (Iceland) 22nd place

TOP 48

  • 2001 – Adam & Karen Reeve (Iceland)
  • 2002 – Adam & Karen Reeve (Iceland)
  • 2002 – Nick Kosovich & Lena Behcheva (WA)
  • 2003 – David Byrnes & Donna Juncken (VIC)
  • 2003 – Brendan Humphries & Zoe Unkovich (WA)
  • 2003 – Michael Wojcik & Liza Van Pelt (NSW)
  • 2004 – Adam & Karen Reeve (Iceland) 41st place
  • 2005 – Adam & Karen Reeve (Iceland) Equal 35th
  • 2005 – Julian Manderson & Melanie Hooper (QLD) 45th place
  • 2006 – Julian Manderson & Melanie Hooper (QLD) 46th place
  • 2007 – Julian Manderson & Melanie Hooper (QLD)
  • 2009 – David Byrnes & Karla Gerbes (VIC) Equal 45th
  • 2010 – David Byrnes & Karla Gerbes (VIC) Equal 39th
  • 2011 – David Byrnes & Karla Gerbes (VIC) 33rd place
  • 2011 – Nathan Meyers & Meagen Alderton (VIC) 34th place
  • 2011 -Igor Boev & Karina Schembri (NSW) 41st place
  • 2012 – Nathan Meyers & Meagen Alderton (VIC) 39th place
  • 2012 – David Byrnes & Karla Gerbes (VIC) 40th place
  • 2013 – Nathan Meyers & Meagen Alderton (VIC) 45th place
  • 2016 – Andrey Gorbunov & Karla Gerbes (VIC) 39th place
  • 2016 – Michael Hemera & Lauren McFarlane-Hemera (UK) 42nd place
  • 2017 – Michael Hemera & Lauren McFarlane-Hemera (UK) 31st place
  • 2017 – Sigurdur Sigurdsson & Annalisa Zoanetti (SA) Equal 37th
  • 2017 – Andrey Gorbunov & Karla Gerbes (VIC) Equal 44th
  • 2018 – Andrey Gorbunov & Karla Gerbes (VIC) Equal 35th
  • 2018 – Michael Hemera & Lauren McFarlane-Hemera (UK) 40th place
  • 2018 – Sigurdur Sigurdsson & Annalisa Zoanetti (SA) 45th plac

TOP 96

  • 2000 – Neale & Nicole Byrnes (NSW)
  • 2000 – Adam & Karen Reeve (Iceland)
  • 2001 – Christopher Beroiz & Kristy Rivers (USA)
  • 2001 – Nick Kosovich & Lena Bahcheva (WA)
  • 2003 – Adrian Seib & Linda De Nicola (NSW)
  • 2004 – Julian Manderson & Melanie Hooper (QLD) Equal 74th
  • 2004 – Brendan Humphries & Zoe Unkovich (WA) Equal 89th
  • 2004 – David Byrnes & Donna Juncken (VIC) Equal 100th
  • 2005 – Brendan Humphries & Zoe Unkovich (WA) 67th place
  • 2005 – David Byrnes & Donna Juncken (VIC) Equal 91st
  • 2006 – David Byrnes & Karla Gerbes (VIC) Equal 60th
  • 2006 – Brendan Humphries & Zoe Unkovich (WA) Equal 90th
  • 2007 – David Byrnes & Karla Gerbes (VIC) Equal 77th
  • 2008 – Stefan Green & Briony Fielding (UK) Equal 56th
  • 2008 – Adam Blakey & Zoe Unkovich (VIC) Equal 65th
  • 2008 – David Byrnes & Karla Gerbes (VIC) Equal 93rd
  • 2008 – Andrey Gorbunov & Julie Jones (VIC) Equal 98th
  • 2010 – Adnrey Strinadko & Patricia Kaniwoski (USA) Equal 56th
  • 2010 – Nathan Meyers & Meagen Alderton (VIC) Equal 62nd
  • 2010 – Igor Boev & Karina Schembri (NSW) Equal 73rd
  • 2010 – Andy Phillips & Julie Jones (VIC) Equal 81st
  • 2014 – Andrey Gorbunov & Karla Gerbes (VIC) Equal 53rd
  • 2015 – Craig Monley & Sriani Argaet (VIC) Equal 64th
  • 2015 – Andrey Gorbunov & Karla Gerbes (VIC) Equal 68th
  • 2016 – Sigurdur Sigurdsson & Annalisa Zoanetti (SA) Equal 59th
  • 2016 – Craig Monley & Sriani Argaet (VIC) Equal 71st
  • 2017 – Craig Monley & Sriani Argaet (VIC) Equal 96th
  • 2019 – Michael Hemera & Lauren McFarlane-Hemera (UK) 50th place
  • 2019 – Justin & Amy Sharrock (QLD) Equal 68th