The 15th Penang Open International Ballroom Dancing Championship 2008 which was held on November 22 at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA) was a resounding success. Organized by the Malaysian Dancers Association (MDA) together with PenEvent, the competition saw some 600 dancers from 22 countries compete in Ballroom Standard & Latin, Salsa and Belly Dancing. Guests were feted to a sumptuous dinner and entertained to a stunning display of dance artistry by the various competitors. This competition is one of the most looked-forward to events in the Malaysian dancing calendar.
The Ballroom Standard Professional Open title was won by the English pair of Warren Boyce, 27 & his wife Kristi, 25. Hailing from Bournemouth, in the south coast of England, this couple are also regular competitors in the Blackpool Dance Festival and have risen very quickly up the world rankings. The other major title, the Ballroom Latin Professional Open was taken by Lu Ning and Zhang Ding Fang from China. Both Lu, 24 and Zhang, 22 are dance instructors at Guangzhou Sports University in Guangdong, China. Second place went to China's Zhao Liang & Gao Xue. Russian couple, Glad & Elena Svanchenko came in third.
China showed her prowess in ballroom dancing by taking two other major titles. The Ballroom Professional Standard Asia Closed was won by Zhang Hao & Song Xiao Rong while the Ballroom Professional Latin Asia Closed was lifted by Zhao Liang & Gao Xue. Dancers from Malaysia also put up a commendable performance. Siblings Louis Haw, 11 and Katryn, 12 from Sabah were victorious in the Juvenile Under-12 Standard and Under-12 Latin Medley categories. Louis & Katryn also came in second in the Junior Under-16 Latin Medley. Both showed great talent and have taken part in many dance competitions in Malaysia before.
We are seeing the emergence of dancing as a hugely popular pastime and sports in China. Visitors to China are often amazed to see multitudes of people practicing Chinese folk or ballroom dancing in the parks and open spaces. Chinese ballroom dancers are now considered the best in Asia and they have brought a breath of fresh air to this art. Every year, they participate in many dance competitions around the world including the prestigious Blackpool Dance Festival in England. Hopefully we may get to see the Chinese win the Blackpool Ballroom Professional Standard and Professional Latin titles in the not too distant future.