December 14, 2009

UK: Salsa dancing grandmother, wins Spanish reality TV competition

. NEW YORK, NY / New York Daily News / Entertainment / Television / December 14, 2009 By Olivia Smith, Daily News Staff Writer You might think a man who swings a woman 40 years his senior around by a hand and a foot, her body sawing through the air, deserves to be arrested for elder abuse. That is unless she's 75-year-old salsa dancer and reality show contestant Sarah "Paddy" Jones, whose acrobatic maneuvers earned expressions of bug-eyed awe from a panel of judges on the Spanish equivalent of America's Got Talent. Sarah 'Paddy' Clarke, a British grandmother of seven, is hoisted far above the head of her salsa partner Nicko. They won a Spanish television talent competition. The British grandmother of seven, who is being compared to Susan Boyle, went on to win Spanish show Tu Si Que Vales, which translates to You Are Worth It. The reality competition is based on Britain's Got Talent, which also spawned the American version. She earned 10,000 euros (around $15,000) for her victory, and cited her win as an impressive reminder that age is just a number. "I'm living proof age is no barrier. When the music plays I just want to move," she said after her victory, as quoted by British paper the Telegraph. And move she does. A grainy YouTube clip of her performing on the show displays her straddling her partner's shoulders, facing behind him, before arching back and doing the equivalent of a back walkover as he holds her waist. Moments later, she easily slides between his legs and pops right back up, and throughout the routine she swivels her hips and executes her quick footwork like a pro a third of her age. Jones was in fact a professional dancer in her youth after training in ballet and tap from the age of 2 and a half. She took up salsa just five years ago, after having retired to Spain with her husband, who passed away after their move. Instead of returning to her native England (she's originally from Stourbridge, in the West Midlands), she remained in her adopted home of Gandia, near Valencia, where she met dancer partner Nicko, a local salsa instructor. Now they are traveling the world, participating in salsa competitions, including one in Los Angeles in May. "It's crazy — life has just turned upside down," she told the Times online of becoming an unlikely star later in life. "We're over the moon, I never really expected it. "Nicko said as long as I can keep doing it, we'll still do it. I do thank my lucky stars. If I wasn't doing this my life would be very different but now there really isn't a dull moment." [rc] © Copyright 2009