A troupe of twinkle-toed ballroom dancers are preparing to sashay their way into Abu Dhabi for a Strictly Come Dancing-style soiree.
Pearl Ball will have 90 couples from around the world cha-cha their way into the capital on February 4 and 5 for Abu Dhabi’s first ProAm dance tournament, pairing professional dancers with amateur partners in the style of beloved British and US TV shows Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars.
Just like its prime-time equivalents, Pearl Ball will feature glitz, glamour and a panel of straight-talking judges to put contestants through their paces, in a whirlwind of sequins and Swarovski.
The competition is organised by Abu Dhabi dance school Capital Dance Centre and advertising platform BallroomPages from the US, and one couple will make history as the first Pearl Ball champions during the event at Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas.
“The ProAm community is incredibly popular around the world and we’re thrilled to be bringing the first-ever tournament to Abu Dhabi,” says Artem Golega, founder and managing director of Capital Dance Centre.
“We have couples from 13 countries flying into the capital to take part, from as far as Russia, the UK, Austria and Germany, so we’re expecting to see some amazing talent.”
Competitors were selected from ProAm dance schools globally and the event will be open to a live audience, with tickets expected to go on sale in January.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to show the world what Abu Dhabi has to offer,” says Golega, a professional dancer for more than 20 years and former national champion. “We want the city to become a dance capital in the Middle East and we hope dancers will come here and have an unforgettable experience.
“The goal is to expose ballroom dancing to the Abu Dhabi population. It’s hugely popular in Russia, Ukraine and the UK, but it hasn’t yet reached its peak in the Middle East and we want to change that.”
Dance styles at the event will include the Argentine tango, salsa, the merengue and the cha-cha among others and competitors will go head-to-head in the waltz to the top.
“Thanks to shows like Strictly Come Dancing, this method of teaching has become hugely popular and we want to create a similar concept with Pearl Ball,” says Golega. “Each of our amateur dancers is treated like a star and it’s going to be extremely glamorous and sophisticated. The atmosphere of these tournaments makes you feel like you’re in another world entirely.
“There’ll be elaborate makeup, specific hairstyles, special dresses and Swarovski diamonds everywhere.”
The judging panel features big names in the ballroom dancing world, including world champion Oxana Lebedew, three times Belarusian national champion Pavel Yartsev and former Italian Dancing with the Stars winner Simone Di Pasquale.
Named in a nod to the UAE’s rich pearl-diving past, Golega has plans to take the competition around the world after the Abu Dhabi inauguration.
“Dancing really unites people from all walks of life and the dancing community in particular is like one happy family,” says Golega. “Even though it’s a competition, everyone gets behind each other and the event feels like a celebration of the world opening up and dancing together again.
“There’s literally no better way to express joy and we want to take ballroom dancing across the globe.”