The Twin Wars, or Where Might a Career in Ballroom Dancing Lead?

By Daniel Calloway

Editor’s note: At NCDC each year we make a point to host ‘cookies with the pros’, a Q&A session for competitors and spectators to ask any questions they like of our all-star judging panel. Since we weren’t able to have our ‘cookies with the pros’ this year, we’ve decided to share some stories every now and then. A huge thank you to Daniel Calloway for taking the time to share this great story!

When I began competing professionally in the early ‘80’s, I competed against my identical twin, Darryl. Unfortunately for the judges, our medium-height, dark-haired partners were also apparently identical in their competition hair, make-up and costumes. The chair of judges always needed to hold a brief judges’ meeting before the professional events to warn the judges about the two matching couples: “If you think you’ve already marked this couple, check the number again.”

Darryl and I had balanced our cooperation and competition with each other well all our lives. We even shared ballroom coaches with each other even though we lived in different states at the time. My partner, Sharon, and I dominated in the Twin Wars until Darryl got a chance to trade up and dance with former champion, Sandra Fortuna, immediately reversing the usual results. That decided it for Sharon. She realized she preferred show dancing to competitive dancing and moved to New York City. There she met and taught Oscar-winner, Robert Duval, in a dance studio where his passion for tango and Sharon led to marriage. They established a tango studio together at his Virginia horse farm.

Sandra retired a year or so later and Darryl met and married his next partner, Lucia, still the love of his life. They left competition to perform on cruise ships around the world for the next eight years. That lead to a love of geography and history that became Darryl’s passion in teaching school until his retirement this month.

I retired from competing in 2001 (forced out by a skateboarding ankle injury), but love dancing way too much to leave it. I have danced professionally, coached and judged non-stop for 44 years. My 20-Year “Ankleversary” is this January 1st!

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