Friday, August 29, 2008

Swing, American Smooth And American Rhythm Dances

The terms swing dance and swing dance era are very often mentioned in the lexicon of American dance history. The swing dance era refers to the period from the 1920s to the 1940s. When talking about the swing dance era, the song "In The Mood" composed by by Glenn Miller in 1939 comes to mind. "In The Mood" has remained one of the most popular and iconic songs of the swing dance era. The term swing dance can however mean different things depending on whether you are referring to American swing dance or International (ballroom) swing dance.

When you talk of the International swing dances you are referring to the ballroom dances where there is a sway (and therefore swing) action. The 4 ballroom swing dances are the waltz, Viennese waltz, foxtrot and quickstep. Tango is not considered a swing dance as there is no sway in Tango. I have always wondered why the ballroom swing dances are not called the sway dances instead.

The American Swing dances generally refer to dances that are danced to a swing rhythm. They include the lindy hop, jitterbug, east coast swing and west coast swing. These dances are more similar to rock & roll and jive and which are sometimes also broadly categorised as swing dances.

In the United States there is a style of dances known as the American Smooth dances. These are the waltz, Viennese waltz, foxtrot and tango. Unlike the International (ballroom) dances which are danced in closed body positions, the American Smooth dances can be danced in closed hold, open hold and shadow positions. Variations like underarm turns and lifts are also permitted.

There is also another style known as the American Rhythm dances which are the cha cha cha, rumba, mambo, east coast swing and bolero. The bolero is a slow, sensuous and romantic dance combining the rhythms of rumba and the rise and fall techniques of the waltz.

The various classifications of the dances can be confusing sometimes. We should however not be overly concerned with the different genres of dancing. What is most important is for us to get on to the dance floor, enjoy ourselves and have a swinging good time. Happy dancing!

Related Posts

> Can't Stop The Lindy Hop - A Tribute To Lindy Hop Legend Frankie Manning

> Jive And American Swing Dances - The Similarities And Differences

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Clorets Dark Secret Amateur Pole Dance Competition 2008 Grand Finals To Be Held At Zouk Club, KL on September 5

The Clorets Amateur Pole Dance Competition Grand Finals will be held at Zouk Club, Kuala Lumpur from 6.30 pm onwards on September 5, 2008.

Fifteen finalists have been chosen to take part in the grand finals. The 15 finalists - 13 girls and 2 guys, were shortlisted from among 75 entries based on the clarity, technical and artistic value of video clips submitted.The 75 participants had each submitted a video of themselves performing one of six pre-choreographed pole dance routines as shown on the web site

Singer songwriter Hannah Tan and Mix FM deejay Pietro Felix have accepted the challenge of performing a pole dance routine at the grand finals.

The grand finalists stand a chance to win the following attractive prizes:-

First prize: RM5000 cash and Celebrity Fitness 1-year gym membership

Second prize: RM3000 cash and Celebrity Fitness 9-months gym membership

Third prize: RM2000 cash and Celebrity Fitness 6-months gym membership.

Pole dancing is a form of dancing/gymnastics that takes muscular endurance and co-ordination as well as sensuality, involving movements with a vertical pole, acrobatic feats of strength, with the polish of a performer. Pole dancing is regarded by many as a performing art. Celebrities who pole dance include Madonna, Paris Hilton, Jolin Tsai, The Pussycat Dolls and The Spice Girls.

Entry to the finals of the Clorets Pole Dance Amateur Competition is open to anyone over the age of 18. Just flash a pack of Clorets Mini Mints at the entrance to gain free admission.

Related Posts

> Pole Dance Workshop "The Asian Pole Summit 2008" To Be Held In Malaysia On December 6 & 7

> Dance Instructor Lilli Ussaraporn Kosin Wins Clorests Amateur Pole Dance Competition 2008

Monday, August 25, 2008

Michael Phelps The Greatest Olympian, Donnie Burns The Greatest Dancer?

Michael Phelps of the USA created Olympic history by becoming the first athlete in the world to win 8 gold medals in one Games. He has altogether amassed a total of 16 Olympic medals, 14 of them gold. Phelps is clearly ahead of 4 other Olympians who have won 9 gold medals each. One of them is fellow countryman swimmer, Mark Spitz who won 7 golds in 1972 to add to 2 from 1968. Another is American sprinter and long jumper Carl Lewis, who collected his medals at four Games between 1988 and 1996.

The two other nine-gold medalists are Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, nicknamed the "Flying Finn" who accumulated his medals between 1920 and 1928 and ballerina turned gymnast Larysa Latynina from the former Soviet Union who garnered her medals between 1956 and 1964. If Michael Phelps is considered as the greatest Olympian ever, who then are the greatest dancers? If you use the objective measurement of Olympic achievement which is gold medals or if you go by championship titles, then Donnie Burns and Gaynor Fairweather of Scotland should clearly be acknowledged as the best dancers in the world.

Donnie Burns and Gaynor Fairweather have won the Professional Latin World Championships an incredible 14 times from 1984 to 1996 and in 1998. Their closest rivals are Bryan Watson and Carmen Vincelj of Germany who were nine-times Professional Latin World Champions from 1999 to 2007 and who have since retired from competitive dancing. For the ballroom championship title, Marcus and Karen Hilton of England were nine-times Professional Standard World Champions from 1990 to 1998. Richard and Janet Gleave, also of England won the title 8 times from 1973 to 1980.

Will the record set by Donnie Burns and Gaynor Fairweather ever be broken? I don't see that happening in the near future as Bryan Watson and Carmen Vincelj have already hung up their competition dancing shoes. Mirko Gozzoli and Alessia Betti of Italy are the Professional Standard World Champions since 2005 and it would take them one decade to equal the record set by Donnie Burns and Gaynor Fairweather. Only time will tell.

Related Posts

> Pomp, Pageantry & Pyrotechnics At Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

> The Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony March Past - Part 1

> The Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony March Past - Part 2

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony March Past - Part 2

For the Beijing Olympic Games march past, many of the athletes were dressed in their national costumes and the contingents from each country were led by a flag bearer. The team from Denmark added some fun and colour to the Games by wearing costumes of the host country. The ladies appeared in light blue cheongsams and white pants and held Chinese folding fans painted with the Danish flag while the men donned dark blue Chinese jackets. It certainly was a good public relations exercise and the Danes drew cheers from the appreciative crowd.

The flags of all the countries of the world are rectangular in shape with the notable exception of the flag of Nepal which is in the shape of a swallow tail or what is known as a pennon.With the break up of the Soviet Union and the balkanisation of Yugoslavia, many new countries have arisen from the shifting and redrawing of borders. If a "young" country had a name ending with the word "tan" like Tajikistan or Uzbekistan, you could quite safely guess that the country laid somewhere in Central Asia and which was once a Soviet republic. Montenegro which was formerly a part of Yugoslavia is competing in the Olympic Games for the first time and is the newest fully recognised nation in the world.

Many countries had similar sounding names which can be bewildering. Did you know that there are 4 countries with the name Guinea? They are Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea and Papua New Guinea. The first 3 are in Africa while Papua New Guinea lies on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea in Oceania. In the Caribbean, there is the Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Then there is Dominica which is not to be confused with the Dominican Republic. The South Pacific islands of Samoa and American Samoa are two different sovereign states and not to be mixed up.

The names of some of these countries may be confusing at times. Similarly, it is with certain dance terminology. In my posting (Article 1) titled "What Is Natural And What Is Reverse" dated May 30, I explained that the word natural means right and reverse means left (and not backwards). In another posting (Article 2) titled "Is The Double Reverse Spin Really A Double Reverse Spin?" published on June 2, I expounded that the dance figure known as the double reverse spin is a misnomer because there is no double spin, neither is it danced twice. The word swing dance may also cause confusion depending on whether you are referring to American swing dance or International (ballroom) swing dance. More about swing dances in future posts.

Best Wishes,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony March Past - Part 1

It was indeed a spectacular opening ceremony at the 29th Olympic Games opening ceremony in Beijing on 08.08.08. A record 204 countries are taking part in this Games and they will be competing in 28 sports over 302 events. Unfortunately dancesport has yet to feature as an Olympic medal event. One of the highlights at every Olympic Games opening ceremony is of course the march past by the athletes from the participating countries. As in previous Olympic Games, Greece had the honour of leading the march and China being the host country was the last to march in.

However in breaking with the tradition of having the countries march past in alphabetical order, the other 202 countries marched past in the order according to the number of strokes their names were written in simplified Chinese characters. Those with the least number of strokes in their first character got to march in first followed by the others with more strokes. The first country to march in after Greece was Guinea. The Chinese name for Guinea is Ji Ni. The word Ji in Chinese has two strokes and that is why Guinea and 4 other countries which had 2 strokes in their first character got to march in earlier.

If several countries had the same number of strokes in the first character, the second character would be compared and if they again had the same number of strokes the third character would be compared, and so on. Marching in at numbers 8, 9 & 10 were the athletes from the countries of Malta, Madagascar and Malaysia respectively. For easy explanation, I will break down the number of strokes it takes to write the characters of these countries in Chinese: Malta or Ma Er Ta (3,6,5); Madagascar or Ma Da Jia Si Jia (3,6,5,12,5) and Malaysia or Ma Lai Xi Ya (3,7,6,6). So now you should be able to understand how the system works. There you have it. The Chinese conundrum has been decoded and demystified!

The United States of America or Mei Guo, meaning Beautiful Country in Chinese marched in at number 140. There are 9 stokes in the character Mei. The last 2 countries to march in before China was Australia ( Ao De Li Ya) with 15 strokes and Zambia (Zan Bi Ya) with 16 strokes. China or Zhong Guo incidentally had 4 strokes. Many agreed that it was a novel idea to have the countries march past in this order. In Part 2 to be published on August 20, I will mention interesting trivia of some of the participating countries.

Best Wishes,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pomp, Pageantry & Pyrotechnics At Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

China couldn't have chosen a more auspicious date of 08.08.08 and a more propitious time of 08:08:08 pm for the Olympic Games opening ceremony. There certainly was plenty of pomp, pageantry and pyrotechnics at the opening ceremony of the XXIX Olympiad in Beijing. Held at the iconic National Stadium, more affectionately known as the Bird's Nest, the spectators numbering more than 90,000 included royalty and dignitaries such as the King & Queen of Malaysia, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, President George Bush of the United States of America and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia. A cultural tableau highlighting 5,000 years of Chinese history was presented to the spectators and to the estimated 4 billion television viewers worldwide before the start of the march past by athletes from the 204 participating countries

Greece led the march past but in breaking away from the tradition of having the countries march in alphabetical order, the countries marched in the order in which their names were written in simplified Chinese characters according to the number of strokes. This meant that the countries with the least number of strokes in their first syllable got to march first followed by those with more strokes, in ascending order. In keeping with the Olympic Games tradition, the host country; China, fielding the largest contingent of 639 athletes were the last team to march in and were greeted with thunderous applause from the crowd. The flag bearer for China was Yao Ming, China's most famous sportsman and Houston Rockets, USA basketball player.

The lighting of the Olympic flame at the cauldron was the climax to a spectacular show. The last person to receive the Olympic torch in the stadium was Li Ning, a former gymnast and 3-gold medal winner at the Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA in 1984. Hoisted by steel wires to the roof of the stadium, Li Ning "ran" round the periphery of the stadium with visuals of the Olympic torch run around the world projected onto the wall of the stadium and giving the illusion that he was running around the world. At times Li Ning looked like Spiderman traversing the wall and at times he looked like Superman flying through the air! Li Ning stopped before the cauldron which was built in the shape of a giant torch before lighting the flame which had the crowd roaring with approval.

Over the next 16 days till August 24, the 10,500 athletes will compete in 302 events covering 28 sports. I am really surprised that they have included baseball and softball as medal events in this Olympics as they are not popular sports worldwide. These games are popular only in a handful of countries particularly the USA and certain countries in South & Central America and the Caribbean. In Asia they are played mainly in Japan and Taiwan and are hardly ever played in China. Among batting games, cricket is actually more popular and has a huge following in the Indian Subcontinent and Australia. Thankfully, baseball and softball will not feature in the next Olympics in London in 2012.

The world dancing fraternity must now really push hard for dancesport to be included as an Olympic medal event. Dancesport is of course very popular in the Americas. In Europe it is well liked all the way from Great Britain to Russia. In Africa dancesport is favoured in the countries in the south. Nine-times world professional latin champion and seven-times Blackpool professional latin champion Bryan Watson was born in South Africa. Besides water sports, the Australians also love dancing. In Asia, dancesport is popular especially in China and Japan. The Chinese are really crazy about dancing and you can see them doing ballroom dancing in the parks and in the open. My wish list is for the Olympic Games to proceed smoothly, for China to top the medals tally and for dancesport to be included as a medal event in the Olympics soon.

Best Wishes,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

6th Crystal Dancesport Championship 2008

World Dance Academy of Petaling Jaya, Malaysia will be organising the 6th Crystal Dancesport Championship 2008. Details are as follows:-

Date: August 31, 2008 (Sunday)

Time: Noon Session - 9.00 am to 4.00 pm
Evening Session - 6.00 pm to 11.30 pm

Place: Grand Ballroom, Shangri-la Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Events: Standard & Latin - Professional, Pro-Amateur, Amateur, Rising Star, Seniors, Pre-Amateur, Novice, Junior 16, Juvenile 12, Beginers & Ladies events

The competition is open to countries in the Asia Pacific region only.

Tickets are priced from RM180 to RM300 for the evening session which includes a eight-course Chinese dinner.

For further information please contact John Lim at telephone number 6012-2120326 or Joanne Leong at telephone number 6019-2360881.

You can also login to their websites at or

Best Wishes,

Dance Aficionado

Monday, August 11, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Malaysia 2 - Review

The Grand Finals of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) Malaysia Season 2 was held on August 1 2008 in Kuala Lumpur. The title of "Malaysia's Favourite Dancer" was won by C C (real name, Yong Ling Shi). Nicknamed "Sizzling C C" by her friends, she more than cooked up a storm when she was announced the winner! There was a barrage of comments regarding her victory on the internet soon after the show. Many were of the opinion that she did not deserve to win and that any one of the other 3 competitors namely Black, Sim or Hong were more worthy contenders for the crown.

SYTYCD Malaysia is a spinoff version of the American SYTYCD television reality show and which was a big hit there in America. The preliminaries for SYTYCD Malaysia Season 2 started in May 2008 with auditions in Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. More than 1000 hopefuls attended the auditions, and eventually 20 (10 guys and 10 girls) were selected by the panel of judges comprising of Ramli Ibrahim, Pat Ibrahim and Judimar Hernandez to compete in the the Top 20 finals.

During each episode starting from the Top 20, the competitors had to dance with a partner, and two (one guy and one girl) of the weakest or least popular dancers were eliminated until the Top 4 were chosen for the Grand Finals. The competitors got to dance with their same partners and had to change partners twice during the competition; once when they were in the Top 10, and during the Grand Finals. In the Grand Finals, both the guys also had to dance with each other and likewise for the girls. All the grand finalists were also required to perform a group dance as well as dance solo.

The dances that were performed this season included hip hop, contemporary, jazz, broadway, salsa, mambo, conga, rock 'n' roll and argentine tango. The ballroom dances selected were the waltz and the Viennese waltz whilst for the latin they were the cha cha cha, samba and paso doble. Many of the performances were actually a fusion of two different genres as for example the Viennese waltz would be danced together with a contemporary number and which sometimes posed a problem for the dancers. I was disappointed that bubbly and energetic dances like the quickstep and jive were not performed by the competitors here unlike in SYTYCD America where these dances are such a joy to watch.

During each episode, the competitors were judged by a permanent panel of judges consisting of the threesome of Ramli, Pat and Judimar. A guest judge was also invited to sit in during each episode. Among the guest judges invited were well known choreographers like Yannus Sufandi and Manuela Oliviera. One excitable guest judge, Aida Redza brought much excitement during one episode with her unbridled enthusiasm and exuberance. Of all the judges, I find Ramli Ibrahim to be the most objective, candid and professional in his critique of the dancers and their performances. Trained in ballet, contemporary and Indian classical dances, Ramli is renowned for his Odissi and Bharata Natyam performances.

Ramli had a way with words and could use poetic language to describe the dancers and their performances. In one episode he remarked that the dancer captured the moment and in another, he compared one dancer to the late Hong Kong diva Anita Mui! Not one to mince his words, he could be very frank and call a spade a spade. In one episode, he called the performance of the Viennese waltz "a total flop". During the auditions, one dancer fumbled on stage and was struggling with her dance. When asked by Ramli what her problem was, she replied that she had trouble memorizing her dance steps. Ramli retorted by saying that "Dancing is not to be memorized, it is to be done!" His sermon was so philosophical; almost Zen-like. Ramli certainly knew the Tao of Dancing!

Season 2 of So You Think You Can Dance Malaysia has finally come to an end. Let us pray that the next season of So You Think You Can Dance Malaysia will be more entertaining with more exciting genres of dances instead of the usual hip hop and contemporary. I also hope that Ramli Ibrahim will once again be in the panel of judges next year. In the meantime it is my fervent wish that 8TV will broadcast the latest season of So You Think You Can Dance America. I am becoming addicted to this television dance reality show!

Best Wishes As Always,

Dance Aficionado

Monday, August 4, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance Malaysia 2 - Grand Finals

The Grand Finals of the So You Think You Can Dance Malaysia 2 which was held on Friday August 1 2008 at Ruums Bar & Club Kuala Lumpur started at 8.30 pm with a dance performance by the Top 20. Singer Zainal Abidin next gave a rendition of his hit song Senang Senang. After he had finished his performance, the Top 4 finalists stepped onto the dance floor to the applause of the crowd. The 4 top finalists were Ng Kar Fei (Black) 25, Ong Tze Hong (Hong) 27, Hoi Cheng Sim (Sim) 27 and Yong Ling Shi (C C) 21.

Looking immaculate in a white pantsuit, the lovely host Aishah Sinclair then cooly walked onto the dance floor to welcome the audience and introduce the panel of judges. They are the indefatigable trio of Pat Ibrahim, Ramli Ibrahim and Judimar Hernandez, all of whom are renowned dancers and choreographers in Malaysia. Aishah then announced that tonight one of the Top 4 dancers will be crowned "Malaysia's Favourite Dancer" and walk home with a cash prize of RM50,000 and a scholarship from 8TV. It was then time for the battle royale to begin.

In this finals, the format was changed. The competitors had to perform 4 dances over 4 rounds. In the first round Sim and CC had to partner each other to perform a Contemporary/Jazz piece whilst Black and Hong had to dance a Contemporary/Cha Cha Cha number together. In the second round the competitors had to switch partners, with Hong and Sim first executing a Contemporary/Hip Hop fusion followed by Black and CC dancing a Contemporary/Street Jazz mix. In the third round all the dancers performed a contemporary Malay dance. In the fourth and final round, the dancers had to dance solo. The dances they had to perform were:-

1) Hong - Hip Hop

2) C C - Samba

3) Black - Hip Hop

4) Sim - Contemporary

Whilst waiting for the sms votes to come in, the Top 20 gave another excellent Hip Hop dance performance. After their performance, it was time for host Aishah to announce the winners. Before announcing the winners Aishah asked the judges who they thought would be the winner. Pat picked C C, Judimar selected Hong and Ramli chose Sim. Ramli felt that Sim was the best dancer as she was able to bring out the physical and the emotional aspects of the dances the most. Sim was also the only dancer to have sailed through to each round without ever being placed in the Bottom 4 or 6.

The winner of the title of "Malaysia's Favourite Dancer" was C C. Personally I thought that Sim was the best dancer that night and deserved to win but this is the reality in a dance reality show like SYTYCD. After all the title is "Malaysia's Favourite Dancer" and not "Malaysia's Best Dancer" and this is the reality we have to accept. With that the So You Think You Can Dance Malaysia competition, Season 2 came to a close.

Warmest Regards,

Dance Aficionado

To B(log) Or Not To B(log), That Is The Question - Part 2


.......Continued from Article 10 of July 28, 2008

The following Monday, I opened my blog during my lunch break and was pleasantly surprised to see an advertisement by Disneyland in the ad unit. "Wow, there's an advertisement by Disneyland in my blog" I announced to my colleagues. They crowded excitedly around my computer to see my blog and the advertisement. I was tempted to click my maiden advertisement to see what it really looked like. However I had to refrain from doing so as it was against AdSense program policies. I later found out that Disneyland was promoting a dance show at their theme park in Hong Kong. And if you would like to know; I earned 5 US cents from AdSense that day.

Over the following weekends, Fai and I sat down to face-lift my web site. We improved on the layout & design and linked up my site to other well known and relevant web sites. To jazz up the pages, a dance video bar and a video tutorial were added. A Google search bar and a translator were installed for the benefit of visitors who may not be so fluent in English. Mind you, the translation of the page contents is done by a computer and is not 100% accurate but it can be relied upon to give a rough translation.

Having read the AdSense Help Forum and the AdSense Team's optimization report on how to improve monetization, I decided to change the format of the ad units. Instead of having one single ad unit I decided to use the leaderboard and wide skyscraper formats. Link units were also incorporated into the web pages. I also signed up as a publisher with a local company, Nuffnang. The advertisements by Nuffnang are mainly graphic or video based ads and are colourful and eye catching. Finally to track the number of visitors, a site meter was installed.

Fai also taught me how to do inline links to link up with the relevant contents of other web pages. Linking is considered de riguere in blogs. I also learned how to add images and videos to my pages. The tasks may seem daunting at first but it becomes a piece of cake once you get the hang of it. My web site is now not only a blog, but also a vlog or video blog as I show a lot of interesting and relevant dance videos in the pages. I publish posts 3 times a week currently.

So far I have received positive comments and feedback on the articles that I have published. Some visitors said they found my articles interesting and informative. A couple of dance enthusiasts commended me for writing good reviews on the So You Think You Can Dance Malaysia 2 competition. I felt humbled when one viewer approached me to write articles for her dance magazine. My enthusiasm for and the joy of blogging seems to be infectious. Some of my friends have requested me to help them set up blogs. I tell them all about Blogger and that it's as easy as abc and as simple as 123. In fact I feel like singing to them the song ABC by the Jackson 5. It goes something like this:-

Abc, as easy as 123

Or simple as do re mi

abc, 123, do re mi

Bloggy (Baby), you and me!

Best Wishes & Happy Blogging,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia