Dance Partners: Antonio Banderas and Pierre Dulaine

Photo: Kerry Hayes/Courtesy of New Line Productions

This week, Antonio Banderas hot-trots his way into cinemas in Take the Lead, playing real-life ballroom-dancing legend Pierre Dulaine, who teaches inner-city teenagers the joys of waltzing—and coached Banderas for the film. Sara Cardace spoke with them.

So, Pierre, was Antonio a good student?
Of course he’s not a professional dancer, and I don’t know what difficulty he underwent in his own mind, but he is so light on his bloody feet that it’s really fantastic. The tango he did in the film was like Dancing With the Stars.
Banderas: Thank you, Pierre.
Dulaine: I really do mean that, Antonio.

Oh, you two. Now, Antonio, you’ve waltzed with Madonna and tangoed with Chita Rivera. But what’s your most embarrassing dance memory?
Banderas: I remember throwing a girl to the ground, big-time, in a disco many years ago. She landed hard. Hard hard. She didn’t ever look at me the same! I also remember one day when I was dancing on Broadway with Chita Rivera. She was wearing a very slippery, silky dress, and I was blindfolded. And we had one movement that was very close to the first row, and I almost lost her. The whole theater gasped. I am very happy that I did not throw Chita Rivera into the orchestra.
Dulaine: My most embarrassing memory is from when I was 14 in Birmingham, England. We had a party, and if the music stopped and you were standing under the mistletoe, you had to kiss your partner or leave the floor. I refused to kiss my partner. I was so shy, and I couldn’t kiss a bloody girl.
Banderas: And here you have one of the big differences between Pierre Dulaine and Antonio Banderas.

How did all the hip-hop dancers in the film take to ballroom dance?
Dulaine: They really are amazing. They’re sponges. Hip-hop dancing is one of the hardest forms to learn because it’s about coordinating all the parts of your body. Whereas ballroom dancing, as long as you’re standing straight, you move your left foot with your right foot—it’s much, much simpler.

Ballroom dancing is also big on manners. Do you think there’s an etiquette crisis among today’s youth?
Dulaine: There’s a lack of civility in life. We are so insulated from each other. So many kids have cell phones, BlackBerrys; we are no longer hugging each other in life. The hold in ballroom dancing is called the embrace hold, and if we learn through ballroom dancing how to treat each other with respect, I think this is an incredible message.

I have one last question that might be a bit uncivil. Antonio, you played Puss in Boots in Shrek 2. Can you give me a line in that voice?
Banderas: Oh, my God. I hate that cat. Ever since he appeared in my life he’s more important than me. Now women always say, “Oh, I love that cat. He’s so cute.” Before, it was, “I loved you in Zorro.” And sometimes you think is she saying that because she has some other … intention? But no. They love the cat, and they hate me.

Dance Partners: Antonio Banderas and Pierre Dulaine