RIP ballroom dancer Ron Montez and ballet dancer Patrick Dupond

 RIP ballroom dancer Ron Montez and ballet dancer Patrick Dupond

The year gone by was sad and depressing for many, lot of people lost money and jobs not just that many lost their dear ones too. The world of dance witnessed the loss of National award-winning choreographer the legendary Saroj Khan, king of contemporary dance Padma Shri Astad Deboo, renowned dance critic and historian Padma Shri Sunil Kothari and many more. We all were recovering from this great loss and were hoping that 2021 will bring in a great fresh start with positive news but guess that does not hold true.

The year did bring with it new hopes and the corona vaccine but it also got the second wave of Covid-19 and due to which the world of dance lost two legendary artistes who, with their dance, brought a new meaning and totally a new outlook towards Western classical dances: Ballroom and Ballet. The world lost Latin and Ballroom icon Ron Montez in the United States of America and international Ballet legend Patrick Dupond in France.

I’m blessed that I had the fortune of meeting both these icons in my life. I met Ron Montez in 1984 over a private dinner after he won the World Latin Championship in USA and Patrick Dupond in 2013 while I was choreographing the Louis Vuitton television commercial in Paris. Both Ron and Patric were humble and extremely down to earth and so warm and welcoming individuals who loved India and Indian culture. I remember the warm hug of Montez and his words, “Sandip, mark my words you will be the next Ballroom star of India.”

When Dupond met me at Louis Vuitton luggage bag shooting, he said, “You are making the Louis Vuitton suitcases dance. Boy, you are a magician.” These words keep ringing in my ears even now. Those of you who do not know these two legends, here is who they are and how they mattered a lot to the world of International classical dance forms.



Ron Montez was a professional Ballroom dance champion and choreographer who started learning dance at Arthur Murray Dance Studio and then went on to win the professional Latin division of The United States Dancesport Championships for seven consecutive years from 1979 to 1985. He was a dancer par excellence who brought in new changes and introduced new dance moves in Latin ballroom dances. He was the master of American style smooth dances too and was one of the first dance teachers who started the trend of teaching through dance videos. Dance Vision and Divida produced many of his instructional videos which dancer all over the world follow till date. For a long time he stayed away from television show and then finally he was seen as a jury of So You Think You Can Dance (Season 3) and America’s Ballroom Challenge. He died of Covid-19 on January 24, 2021.

In the 1980s and 1990s, most young teenagers had pop stars on their bedroom walls. But dance crazy dancers were different, they admired two icon dancers Ron Montez and Donnie Burns. Ron’s passing has been devastating to all dancers past and present. Covid indeed has taken a rare talent.

Dear friend of Montez legendary dancer Donnie Burns who has also been honoured with the title of Member of British empire said, “Never ever miss the chance to tell someone you love or value them. I cannot believe this but it is true Corona Virus has taken the life of the person I admired the most in the world. Ron Montez was a true dance legend, a superstar, a part of my past and one of my heroes. We prayed with Domenico every single night.”



Patrick Dupond was a French ballet dancer and artistic director. He made a name for himself in 1976 when he won the gold medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition in Bulgaria. A virtuoso dancer, he was named danseur étoile (Star Dancer) of the Paris Opera Ballet in 1980 and met with considerable success in France, which did not prevent him from having an international career. He worked with eminent dancers such as Rudolf NureyevMaurice Béjart and Alvin Ailey, and in 1990 he became dance director of the Paris Opera Ballet. Subsequently, he appeared on various occasions on television shows from 1978 to 2021 as a contestant and then as a jury for numerous shows, the most popular being Danse avec les stars (French version of British Television show Strictly Come Dancing) and La France a un incroyable talent (French version of America’s got Talent) while continuing to perform on stage.

Renowned choreographers such as John NeumeierRoland PetitYury GrigorovichAlwin Nikolais and Twyla Tharp gave him leading roles for various dance ballets where he was a soloist ballet dancer. He also acted and danced in several award winning films such as Dancing Machine, by Gilles Béhat, and Les Grandes Bouches by Bernie Bonvoisin. Dupond also wrote an autobiography titled Étoile and published by Fayard in 2000. He was one of the most highly awarded dancers of France he was honored with Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, Ordre national du Mérite and Legion of Honour to name a few. He died on March 5, 2021, a few days before his 62nd birthday, as a result of a “devastating illness”, according to those close to him.

Artistic director of Battery Dance Company and festival, the renowned American choreographer Jonathan Hollander who was a dear friend of Dupond said, “I am devastated, we have lost a unique spirit, Patrick was a 20th century greatest dancer and one of the most humble and generous of men. He is one person who will never be forgotten.” He further added, “A talent like Patrick comes once in a generation, he was extremely modest and was as courteous to a token clerk in the metro as to the President of France.”

Sudden death of both these dancing legends has left a void in the world of dance. Inspiration of Ballroom and Ballet Dancer all over the world will surely be missed. We are lucky that in these modern times lots of videos and photographs are available even after a person is no more and through them, they remain a part of our lives. From now Ron Montez and Patrick Dupond might not be physically present but they both will remain in our hearts and will still be remembered each time we will step on stage that was blessed with their presence. Let us all stand up and bow down to the highly creative souls.

Sandip Soparrkar is a World Book of Record holder, a well-known Ballroom dancer and a Bollywood choreographer who has been honoured with three National Excellence awards and one National Achievement Award by the Govt of India. He is also the recipient of Rabindranath Tagore Prize for Social Achievement. He can be contacted on [email protected]


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