Pizzino back helping dancers find their feet

It's been 25 years since acclaimed dancer *Carmelo Pizzino *left *Perth * and he admits a lot has changed since then.

The *Morley *-raised performer has won a world No.1 title and danced his way around the globe as part of Burn the Floor. And for the past eight years he has been one of the most recognisable professional partners on Dancing with the Stars, having teamed up with *Kerri-Anne Kennerley *, right, *Kylie Gillies *and *Lara Bingle *in recent series.

But the chaotic pace of life in the spotlight left Pizzino eager for a break and he says returning to *WA * from his long-time Sydney base for an extended visit over the past few months has been a "grounding" experience.

"I left Perth when I was 14 and I haven't really been back ever since," the star explains to _Access All Areas _.

"It has changed so much, and I think being away from Perth for so long . . . I never really got to connect with family.

"It got to the point where, being in Sydney and having worked non-stop for the past eight years, I realised that my grandmother was getting old and I feel like I hadn't spent any time with her."

But it hasn't all been a holiday for Pizzino since he has been back.

He has been lending his support to the students at the *Australian Performing Arts Network *, choreographing routines for an upcoming concert and mentoring the teens on how to make it in the entertainment industry.

"I am very lucky at my age that I am still working but I have been telling them how hard it is," Pizzino says. "You get a million 'Nos' before you get your first 'Yes' and, even now, I still have to fight for them."

For Pizzino, it was Dancing with the Stars that rejuvenated his passion for dance after going through a dark period when he returned from the competitive circuit in London a decade ago.

He says it is the lifelong friendships he has forged with his celebrity partners from the Seven show that have made the gig particularly special.

"I think I have spoken to Kerri-Anne nearly every single day and if we don't speak, we text. Even now, she is in New Zealand and I still get my text in the morning," Pizzino laughs.

"When you do a show like Dancing with the Stars you really have to have that trust with each other."

Before he heads back to Sydney next month, Pizzino is joining more than 250 students from APAN for Musicals in Concert with *Rachael Beck *this Sunday at the *Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre *. Tickets are available via ticketek.com.au.


The West Australian

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