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'Dancing With the Stars' coach, wife put down roots in Tampa, warm up competitors for big event

Since meeting at a dance competition in London in 1993, Luca and Loraine Baricchi have fox-trotted, tangoed and waltzed their way to the top of the international competitive dancing world. The world champs have won the titles of just about every competition known around the world and are two-time winners of the Professional World Ballroom Dance Championship.

In 2001, the pair retired from competitive dancing and became full-time teachers. Luca Baricchi was recently a guest instructor on an episode of this season's Dancing With the Stars on ABC.

When the Baricchis aren't traveling the world to coach dancers, they help manage the Arthur Murray Dance Studio on S MacDill Avenue.

They sat down with the Times this week to talk about their love of dance, motorcycles and the Millennium Dancesport Championships, which start today at the Marriott Waterside Hotel.

Who do you train here in Tampa?

Luca: We work with a lot of visiting couples who are coming here to develop their dancing to become the next world champions. They travel from all over the world to come train with us.

Dancing can be a workout. Is there special training that you all have to do to prepare for a competition?

Luca: For a competitor or a performer, they are constantly required to stay trained. … We did yoga and Pilates to help us find a center, but the strength came from the hours spent dancing. I feel that the best thing is dancing.

Luca, what was it like to be a professional coach on Dancing With the Stars?

I dealt with it the same way I deal with performances: I got comfortable and forgot about the cameras and said, "This is my thing, and this is what I do," and I lost myself in my teaching. I tried to approach it in the best way for them to relate to it. … The overall experience was great for me. I gave them very clear and basic information, which I would give to the ones who are training to become world champions.

You moved to Tampa in 2008. What brought you here?

Luca: For many years, even when we lived in London, we would travel for maybe two or three months and then come back (to London). I never really felt at home. When we moved to Italy, I never really felt at home either. When we started to travel here, more and more, it felt like home. Tampa is just a beautiful place to live. The dancing world in the U.S. is very great, and there is a harmony which you don't find in other countries.

I cannot stop looking at your Ducati outside. How long have you been riding?

Luca: Since 2002. I've always loved motorcycles, but of course, when you're competing, you can destroy your career in a moment. I almost got in a car accident just three days before one of the major competitions. That would have changed our entire career.

Loraine: I have a Harley Sportster SuperLow, and I also have a Ducati Monster. When you look at me, you would not think that I'm a biker. Yet when you live with someone who has this great passion for bikes, you want to share that passion with them. … We like to balance life. We like to work hard and then play as well.

What can the public expect when they come to the competition this weekend?

Loraine: First of all, it's not just your older generation dancing. It goes from children and up. There is a lot of professional and amateur. … You've got such an array of talent and professionalism. It's just an amazing event, and that's why they had to move it from St. Pete to Tampa. It really is great that here in Tampa we have such a prestigious event.

Jonathon Milton can be reached at hillsnews@sptimes.com.

. If You Go:

Millennium Dancesport Championships

Amateur and professional dancers from all over the world will compete for more than $125,000 in cash and prizes this weekend.

Where: Marriott Waterside Hotel, 700 S Florida Ave., Tampa.

When: 8 to midnight tonight and Saturday. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Saturday.

Cost: $70 to $150 per evening session, $25 per day.

Information: m2dance.com or (863) 668-9668.

Want lessons?

The Arthur Murray Dance Studio is at 3217 S MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Call (813) 835-1111.

'Dancing With the Stars' coach, wife put down roots in Tampa, warm up competitors for big event 06/23/11 [Last modified: Thursday, June 23, 2011 3:29pm]

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