Making The Difference: Interview with Christine Heitmann.

Text: Kerstin Lange       Photography: Helmut Römhild


We went to Iran Khadjeh-Nouri for Latin training. It took us only one hour to learn our lesson: We are Ballroom dancers.

Talking to Christine Heitmann it doesn’t take long to find out what is important to her. It is all about understanding, realizing what is going on, about making decisions.

Because if the dancer wants to stay in control, wants to really push the limit, he or she needs a clear view of what is happening.

Christine Heitmann is a professional dancer, she has been earning her living in dancesport since 1996.
Christine Heitmann is a coach, in other words a trainer who goes beyond the technical aspects of dancing, who’s advice helps dancers to cope with all the dimensions of their career.


What kind of person is a good coach?

Christine doesn’t have to think long:
Her S-level trainer William Hsu, an outstanding dancer with a trackrecord as amateur and as professional – he is the model coach for her: “William Hsu has style, he is an advisor in the sense of the word, a friend”.

A dancer’s performance depends on various things,

competition is merciless: To focus the training on technical aspects alone is not the answer.
So what are the basics of modern training?

“Two to three times training per week, each session about one to one and a half hours.
It is better to take away some time here and to use it to cover other important dimensions:
learning to relax, learning how to cope with stage-fright, seeing the physiotherapist, nutritionist and fitness trainer and to implement their advice.”


Christine Heitmann

German Champion S-level Ballroom,
Winner UK Rising-Star,
Finalist in several European and Worldchampionships.

Christine helps her dancers to comprehend competition as a complex situation and to stay in control of many details.

She simulates the finals and also solo performances thus creating an environment in which the dancer learns to handle stress.

In seperate lessons she provides – through mental training – what is necessary for the dancer’s self-control, a successful relationship with the partner and the ability to command the skills exactly when they are needed.

She makes floorcraft part of her training, using this important ingredient of the English Style to make the dancer fit for real life:
her dancers understand that they are not alone on the floor that competition means cooperation,

that fair play on the crowded floor is the mark of a true champion.

Christine spends many weekends to travel with her dancers

so they can rely on the coach during the contest – one of the main factors for success in modern competition dancing.

When she was competing things were different.
“Our trainers didn’t join us when we went to events. We had to cope on our own with setbacks and frustration.”

Throughout Christine’s career the advice of experts was hard to get,

the non-technical aspects of dancing were more or less neglected. Sports and exercise science had not much to say regarding dancesport.
Christine - together with her husband Thomas - made her way, was accepted into the cadres of Germany’s Dancing Association (DTV), first B then A, becoming part of Germany’s dancing elite, now getting DTV support for their career.

“Two times a year we were offered to participate in a training course. We would have gladly done more than that but had to be content with those opportunities.
Only once we met a personal fitness consultant in Munich. But a short while afterwards we had forgotten most of what we had heard.”

Nevertheless Christine made the six levels from E to S in only two years,

paying for that sort of success with three to four times training per week. But even that was not sufficient to compete on the level of world championships. Up there, on top, only one standard counted: the English Style.

“The English Style is simply different, always in tune, flexible, elegant. We Germans sometimes seemed to be, well, reliable and functional.”

Before they became professionals Christine and her husband travelled to Great Britain every two months to train in clubs like the Starlight Academy in London.
But expenses were huge and training in Great Britain had to end:

“You pay for everthing with your own money: hotel, lessons, workshops, the ferry. That amounts to quite a sum.”

In 1996 Christine and her husband became professional dancers.

“What a challenge,” tells Christine. “There are less competions – only four in Germany –  but we were competing with a totally different breed of top dancers. Plus: We had to somehow earn our money as professionals.”

In 1997 the highlight: The ‘German Open Professionals Rising Star’ contest ended with Christine and her husband Thomas on the second place.

In the same year Christine made her last decision as an active competition dancer: forced by her declining health she ended her dancesport career.

What were the greatest acchievements in Christine’s career?

“Second place in the German Championship, of course. And making 13th place in Blackpool where we competed with the world’s top dancers!”

Christine and the English Style – still some sort of love affair? Christine laughs:
“In 2009 I will again be in Blackpool to watch the competitions – a must for a dancer like me.”

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Aktualisiert: 15.12.2008