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Lorraine Rohdin

I first met Lorraine in person during the Cervia Dance Festival decades ago. Peter Maxwell introduced us and since then, we've developed a beautiful friendship.

Lorraine visited my country Slovenia twice, first time nearly twenty years ago. We were filming Latin basic syllabus figures, and Lorraine made sure that the right flavor was there, instructing the demonstrating couple while giving me private lessons simultaneously.

All I've learned from her, I still use in my teaching today. Not only her mammoth knowledge, but also observing her instinctive understanding of any challenging situation and her skill to resolve it, gave me a priceless insight into what in dancing is nearly inexplicable but can be sensed and experienced. She taught me the 'touch', one far beyond physicality.

To understand Lorraine as she is, one needs to know her life story, beautifully captured in her autobiography written together with Anna Lindgren, titled "Lorraine, the One and Only." I read it twice, first when it was published in 2014 and again a few days ago.

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The book contains insights into her childhood, her competitive career with Walter Laird, and stories about how she met celebrities like Sir Laurence Olivier, Henry Fonda, The Beatles, HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Margaret, and Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth. A significant part of the book refers to her professional work, where you can find a lot of valuable information, whether you're a dancer or a coach.

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Lorraine's Biography in short

Lorraine Kathleen Reynolds was born on the 7th of April 1938 in Johannesburg, South Africa, as the fourth child following two older sisters and a brother; another brother came nine years after her. Her nicknames were Daisy, Shirley-Pearly and in later years, Lulu and Lollipops. As a child, she took ballet lessons, loved gymnastics, and later played softball.

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Her first ballroom dance partner was her brother Robert and back there in South Africa, their teacher was Mr. Andrews. When Lorraine was seventeen, her father passed away. Soon after his death, her two sisters moved to London, and two years later, her mother, two brothers, and Lorraine followed them.

After a while, she started to dance again with her brother; this time, their first London teacher was Sydney Francis. It was a New Year's Eve party at Nina Hunt's dance studio when Lorraine was noticed by Walter Laird. He approached Lorraine's mother, saying that he would be interested in working with Lorraine in cabarets. You can imagine that Lorraine's mother wasn't very supportive of this idea, as Walter was 18 years older than Lorraine.

But it happened. Walter started to train Lorraine, preparing shows with her and in 1960, they danced their first competition in Royal Albert Hall. Unfortunately, soon after, Lorraine was diagnosed with tuberculosis, spent a long time in the hospital and was off the floor for nearly a year while Walter waited for her to recover.

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Just a year later, in 1962, they won their first World Professional Latin Championship in Australia, followed by another in 1963 in England and the last one in 1964 in Germany. In those years, they also won the UK Professional Latin Championships. They retired from competitions in 1964, with Walter being 44 years old at the time and Lorraine only 26 and continued to perform shows together and lecture all around the world until 1973. So Lorraine started to teach at the age of 26 and collected 60 years of experience up to the present day.

In 1969, during the congress in Norway, she met Gunnar Rohdin, the love of her life. They married in 1973 and Lorraine moved from London to Stockholm, where she lived for 49 years. All those years, she traveled back and forth to London, where she often taught and judged major competitions.

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Back on Stage

I was attending the Blackpool Congress in 1989, where Lorraine danced together with Peter Maxwell basic routines; unforgettable. The lecture was a success, and they performed together again during the 1990 UK Open Championships. This is another huge contribution of Lorraine's to preservation of the basic characteristics and fundamental values of Latin dancing.

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Back to London

A few years ago, Lorraine's dear husband Gunnar passed away and she decided to move back to London, the city she loves, the country of the language she speaks. She still goes to the studio, teaches occasionally, but has retired from judging competitions. She loves her daily walks around beautiful parks, always observing and admiring the beauty of nature. That's why she is a great teacher; she is a very good observer.


During her career, Lorraine received numerous prestigious awards. The first Carl Alan Award Walter Laird and Lorraine Reynolds received from HRH Princess Margaret in 1964, followed by the Golden Award, the American Hall of Fame Award, the BDF Overseas Award, the Universal Hall of Fame Award and the Freedom to Dance Lifetime Achievement Award to the Grand Dame of Ballroom.

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In 2018, Lorraine traveled again to one of her favorite countries, Japan, receiving from Imperial Highness Prince Mikasa the Lifetime Achievement Award. The last on her long list is the 2022 Lifetime Achievement Carl Alan Award.

If she were a movie star, that would mean many Oscars.

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