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The leg spinners - quick, quick, slow

It's all legs before wickets here.

THERE'S always some clown at the footy who spits out his tonsils yelling something like: ''Carn, Shaaane.''

You hear the same thing at the Australian DanceSport Championships, where glitzy elegance steps away from the ballroom and into the coliseum of Hisense Arena. On the floor, the dancers are all poise, while the crowd is increasingly rowdy.

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''Push it, push it!'' a young man screams, urging on a couple of 11-year-olds doing the Junior Foxtrot.

Occasionally, there's a bit of accidental biffo among the leggy contestants. The problem is, the dancers have different routines, and they don't know what music is being played. So they might start out looking like butterflies in formation, only to end up in clusters or running over the top of one another.

Yesterday, Maria Adriani took a punch to the ear. Her earring was pulled off and went flying but Maria - as Paul Hogan's Luigi would have beseeched her - kept on dancing and smiling: ''It really hurt.''

She also took some hefty kicks, but they were from the inside. Maria, 35, is nearly seven months pregnant. This was her third Australian Championship, and she was pregnant during the first one too.


Says her dance partner, David Tasker, 44: ''You can feel the baby sometimes during the dance. In the quickstep it was jumping up and down. I could feel all the movements.''

David Tasker danced as a youngster and then gave it up. Three years ago he met Maria at a social and they immediately teamed up.

They have been training three or four times a week ever since. On Thursday, they won their grade in the Modern style and took out second place in New Vogue.

''It was 38 degrees that day but Maria was a dynamo,'' says David.

Maria, of course, has splendid things to say about David, such is the necessity of mutual admiration among dance partners - and something like telepathic communication.

Says Aubry Ma, 11: ''If I see someone we're going to crash into I give a signal or just stop, and then he stops. You're not really allowed to talk.''

Her partner is Ryan Lay, 12. Ryan and Aubry have come from Auckland for their first Australian Championship, and talk about ''staying focused'' and ''being prepared'' with the same matter-of-factness as the seniors.

Ryan followed his sisters into dancing, reluctantly until he saw other boys involved. ''I enjoyed it right away,'' he says. ''Now it's what I want to do. I want to dance professionally.''

Antony Mizzi, 11, and Julia Florencia, 10, are from Western Australia. They avoid collisions by sidestepping and ''dodging around the other dancers.''

Antony is a chatty fellow who was first partnered with his sister. ''She was, like, two feet taller than me,'' he says. ''So I used to dance under everybody else's elbows and we never ran into anybody.''

Antony was inspired by the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. He took up jazz ballet when he was eight but got bored. ''All you did was run around the room. Then I discovered ballroom. It's more interesting.''

Today the World DanceSport Championship Standard (lot of waltzing) is held at Hisense Arena in Swan Street. Finals start at 7.30pm.