People Staff
April 24, 2006 12:00 PM

I’m not a good dancer,” says Antonio Banderas humbly. But for his role in the just-released Take the Lead, the Spanish actor had a most elegant role model. Based on a true story, the movie chronicles the campaign of real-life champion ballroom dancer Pierre Dulaine to bring the art—with all its grace and discipline—to the children of New York City’s public schools. “Dancing is about manners and respect,” says Dulaine, 61, who, with his dance partner of nearly 30 years, Yvonne Marceau, is a four-time winner of Britain’s top ballroom dancing title. Begun 12 years ago, Dulaine’s 10-week program today thrives in 125 of the city’s public schools, instructing 12,000 kids in the intricacies of the rumba and tango. With the publicity brought on by the Hollywood movie (as well as an acclaimed documentary, Mad Hot Ballroom, that played in theaters last summer), Banderas predicts new triumphs for Dulaine, whose selfless commitment to his kids Banderas came to admire. “It’s rare in our day for people to do things without expecting anything in return, like money or power,” he says. But enough of this polite pas de deux: Who’s the better dancer? “He’s a master at his craft,” concedes Dulaine—before adding confidently, “but I’m a master at mine.”

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