They move in unison. Elegant, sensual, intensely passionate and deeply connected, telling tales of romance to the rhythm of Latin American sounds.
Ryno van den Berg was destined to be a Springbok. Growing up in the Free State, he was a real ‘man’s man’ playing first team rugby, cricket and water polo and claiming Northern Natal Craven Week Colours for Rugby in 1988.
After matric, he joined the Air Force marching band and was told to give dancing a go. “I thought this would be a great way to meet girls, so I agreed. Three months later, the dance studio asked me to start teaching,” says Ryno, who lives in Salt Rock with his leading lady, both on and off the dance floor, Elena.
After only two years, he knew he would become a professional Latin American and Ballroom dancer. “I chose this style of dance for one reason – it’s so sexy. When you look at an Argentinian couple dancing, all you see are the lady’s legs, the hold, the passion and the total chemistry. You see the romance, the playful teasing and flirting, the protecting, leading, following . . . these are all elements that we come across in daily life and relationships.”
Back home, however, Ryno had to keep his new-found passion a secret.
“My former teachers and schoolmates all wanted to know how rugby was going, because I had planned on playing for the Springboks. Now, this strong, mean, ferocious rugby player is dancing! I could not tell the truth because, at that stage, dancing was not considered a manly sport. I lied about what I was doing for nearly five years.”
Meanwhile, he started winning competitions and danced his way to the top.
“Some of my proudest moments include my first international professional title win in Hong Kong, competing in my first World Show dance competition in France and winning the Summit TV Series in SA.”
His biggest highlight was meeting his wife, Elena – also a professional dancer who trained and lived in Hong Kong. “We officially met for the first time at LAX Airport and I think we both very quietly fell in love with each other at that moment. We knew this was the journey we had both been waiting for.”
They have conquered international dance floors, performed on world stages such as Las Vegas and travel the world while working on cruise liners.
“We compete, teach and judge internationally and spend one to two months onboard cruise liners. We are truly lucky to live a lifestyle of entertaining guests while travelling.”
They have found their home base on the North Coast after getting married on the beach at Salt Rock Hotel last year. “We were drawn here by the beach and the more chilled lifestyle,” says Ryno, who recently opened a dance studio, Passion for Dance, at the Salt Rock Country Club.
“Dancing brings people together. It teaches guys to take responsibility, think ahead, learn to protect and understand women, to lead yet be gentle and most importantly, how to make a woman look and feel like a million dollars. Women gain confidence in dancing and learn to feel sexy. It is great for couples who have been together for a long time, because through dance, emotions are awakened again and it reminds couples why they love each other. It’s magic.”
Ryno and Elena will be showing off their skills and turning up the heat at the Salt Rock Valentines Ball Dinner & Dance evening on Valentine’s Day from 6pm at the Salt Rock Country Club. Enjoy dancing at its best with their Latin Cabaret Dance Show and try your luck on the dance floor after the show. Tickets cost R250 per person.
Details: 079 188 5768 or [email protected]
Text: ELANA WAGNER