Thursday, January 29, 2009

Cuban Rumba And Latin American Rumba - Dances Of Love And Seduction!

The second season of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), USA which is presently being shown here on TV8 every Sundays at 11.15 pm introduced audiences to many different styles of dances. During the "Top 18" show which was telecast on January 4 2009, audiences got to watch the krump and the American jive. The krump is a relatively new urban street dance form born (circa 2001) in the streets of South Central Los Angeles, USA and is a fusion of several dance styles including, hip hop, breakdancing and clowning. The American jive is similar yet slightly dissimilar from the Latin jive which most of us are more familiar with.

At the "Top 16" show of SYTYCD which was aired on January 18 2009, a group of six dancers called "Step, Hop and A Jump" performed an American swing dance, the lindy hop before the competition began. It was entertaining and fun to watch. During this episode, audiences also got to watch one pair of competitors dance the Cuban rumba, which is totally different from the Latin American rumba which we are so used to watching or dancing. The Latin American rumba is a slow, sensuous and romantic dance characterized by the the use of strong hip actions. The Cuban rumba on the other hand is a fast-paced, energetic dance with little emphasis on hip actions.

The Cuban rumba was performed by couple number 2, Ryan Rankine and Heidi Groskreutz (pic). Heidi, a trained Latin American dancer who thought she had it easy was surprised to learn that the Cuban rumba is so different from what she had expected. Alex Da Silva who choreographed the routine said that the feature of the dance is of a man trying to seduce a woman, and of the woman resisting his advances. The dance is often considered risque, even vulgar at times. Ryan and Heidi however put on a splendid performance which won praises and applause from the judges Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Olisa Thompson and Cicely Bradley.

The Cuban rumba is believed to have derived directly from the dancing of African slaves from around the West Indies and the Caribbean during the late 19th century. The dance moves require a high degree of athleticism and frequently includes acrobatic moves like handstands, flips and cartwheels usually performed by the man. The refined and elegant Latin American rumba or sometimes known also as the ballroom rumba is a variation of the Cuban rumba. It has a much slower tempo and is meant to feature the female teasing and seducing her partner culminating in the two becoming as one. If dance be the food of love, carry on!

Good Luck,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Monday, January 26, 2009

Lions Prowl The Streets During Chinese New Year

Today, the Chinese community and those of Chinese ancestry throughout the world will be celebrating the Chinese New Year. This year is the Year Of The Ox according to the Chinese zodiac. Known also as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, this festival is celebrated as well in Vietnam (where it is known as Tet), Mongolia, North Korea and South Korea. The Lunar New Year used to be celebrated in Japan but after the Second World War, the Japanese discontinued celebrating the Lunar New Year in favour of the Gregorian New Year which falls on January 1 every year. I would like to wish those celebrating this festival A Happy And Prosperous New Year. Gong Xi Fa Cai! (meaning "May You Be Prosperous" in Chinese.)

During the Chinese New Year festive season, lion dance troupes will be putting up performances at dwellings and business establishments. How did the lion dance come to be associated with China when the lion is not native to China? According to Chinese historians, about 2000 years ago during the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD), the Shah of Persia (present day Iran) through his emissaries presented the Emperor of China with a pair of young lions. The Chinese had never seen lions before and became fascinated with these magnificent beasts. It was from watching and mimicking the movements and playful antics of the lions that the lion dance was created and evolved to what it is today.

Chinese lion dances can be categorised into 2 styles - the Northern (China) and the Southern (China). The northern lion has a large head, is shaggy in appearance with red, orange and yellow fur (sometimes with green fur for the female lion). The northern lion dance is mainly acrobatic and is performed as an entertainment with the lion usually seen balancing on a giant ball. The southern lion has a distinctive head and lively facial movements. It has big eyes, eyelids that can flutter, ears that can move and a mouth that can open and close. It comes in a wide variety of colours and is performed to usher in good luck and drive sway evil spirits. The southern lion dance is boisterous and is accompanied by the loud beating of a drum, the hitting of gongs and the clashing of cymbals.

Lion dance competitions of the Southern style featuring daring acrobatic stunts on poles are often held in Malaysia and this is one dance where Malaysia has excelled. At the 8th Genting World Lion Dance Championship 2008 which was held in Genting Highlands, Malaysia; the Kun Seng Keng Lion Dance Troupe from Malaysia once again emerged champions. Twenty-six teams from Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, Australia, Mauritius, Great Britain and America took part in this competition. The Kun Seng Keng Lion Dance Troupe from the town of Muar in Johor have won numerous lion dance competitions worldwide and are often acclaimed as the "World Lion King!"

Gong Xi Fa Cai,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Thursday, January 22, 2009

US President Barack Obama And First Lady Michelle Have Ball Of A Time

Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th and the first black president of the United States of America at noon on January 20 2009 in a glittering ceremony which was telecast live all over the world. Hundreds of thousands of people erupted in roars of approval on the broad National Malls ground in Washington DC as they watched Obama stand with one hand raised, one hand on a Bible used to swear in Abraham Lincoln in 1861, and repeat the brief oath to become the President and succeed George W. Bush. In his inaugural speech shortly after taking the oath of office, Obama spoke of the many and serious challenges facing America but said they will be met.

In the evening, President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle were the star attraction at the Neighborhood Ball, the first of 10 inauguration celebrations they planned to attend. For the inaugural dance, the President and the First Lady did a slow and dignified two-step while Beyonce sang the Etta James classic "At Last". The President turned the First Lady once in an underarm turn. They then quicken the pace a few minutes later as Shakira, Mary J. Blidge, Faith Hill and Mariah Carey sang along Stevie Wonder to his "Signed, Sealed and Delivered". This song had been played at nearly every one of Obama's rallies during the election campaign.

At their second ball, the President and the First Lady were all lovey-dovey while dancing. "I hope all of you will remember what this campaign and hopefully what this presidency is all about" Obama said. "It's about you pitching in, working together, working past our differences in order to create the kind of world we want to pass on to our children and America." At the Commander-In-Chief Ball, Vice President Joe Biden paid tribute to the nation's military personnel and then said he wasn't looking forward to his moment in the spotlight - the dancing that is. " The thing that frightens me the most (is) I'm going to have to stand in that circle and dance in a minute" he remarked.

The other balls that took place that evening included the Western Ball, Eastern States Ball, Biden Home States Ball, Midwestern Ball, Western States Ball and the Heroes Red White & Bull Ball where country artists Keni Thomas and Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey of Peter, Paul and Mary performed. Guests attending the balls had to pay anything from $75 to thousands more for a package deal. Despite the formal attire and celebrity entertainment, balls aren't overly fancy affairs. Lines often are long to get in, go to the bathroom or check your coat, and the food is sometimes not up to your expectations. To President Barack Obama of the USA - Congratulations!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jazzercise Your Way To Health And Fitness

Judi Sheppard Misset, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness programme in 1969. Jazzercise, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, stretch, and kick boxing movements, has positively affected millions of people around the world through a host network of 7500 instructors teaching more than 32,000 classes weekly in 32 countries. Jazzercise Inc. presently has its headquarters in Carlsbad, California, USA.

Each 60-minute Jazzercise workout class blends dance and muscle toning movements choreographed to the latest music, including the Top 40, jazz, country, funk, and classics. Every class includes a gentle warm-up, 30 minutes aerobics workout, muscle toning and strengthening segment with weights and Xertubes and a stretch finale. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility as well as an overall "feel good" factor.

Jazzercise Malaysia recently showcased its fitness programme at the Youth '09 Carnival which was held at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) in Kuala Lumpur from January 9 to 11. The crew put on an hour of non-stop performances which depicted a typical Jazzercise class and challenged the youths present to complete it. Everybody had a great time and the youths were surprised that they actually enjoyed a fitness program that is 40 years old!

Jazzercise classes are currently being conducted at the Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association (KLDA) at Level 2, Wisma OCM, Jalan Hang Jebat, 50150 Kuala Lumpur (diagonally opposite Stadium Negara) every Wednesdays from 8.00 pm to 9.00 pm. The fees are RM60 per month or RM20 for individual walk-in classes. To learn more about Jazzercise, please contact Grace Chan at 012-3255380, Janet Camillus at 019-3873193, email: or visit

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Mama Mia! - Thank You for The Music And The Memories

Mama Mia! The Smash Hit Musical which had a successful run from December 17 2008 to January 4 2009 at the Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur will certainly be remembered as one of the most entertaining musicals to hit our shores. The musical played to wildly enthusiastic audiences at all its sold-out performances. Among those who watched the musical were royalty, dignitaries and the glitterati. Their Royal Highnesses, the King and Queen of Malaysia attended one of the shows. So did our prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah. Our deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were also there as were several other VIPs.

Mama Mia! The Musical has been seen by more than 30 million people in 160 cities in 8 languages around the world. Audiences all over the world have fallen in love with the characters, story and the songs of ABBA that have made Mama Mia! such a hit. In fact due to the overwhelming response to the musical in Malaysia, 4 extra shows had to be added. For about 3 weeks, some 33,000 Malaysians (and others) got to experience the charm and magic of Mama Mia! Malaysians, who are generally a reserved lot, discarded their inhibitions and stood up to sing, clap and dance during the shows. Way to go! It felt good to see so many people really enjoying themselves and having fun. To the cast of Mama Mia! - thank you for the music, thank you for the memories!

A total of RM1.2 million was raised from the Charity Night and contributions from Star Foundation and Capitaland. In spite of the economic downturn, many caring Malaysians dug deep into their pockets to donate for a worthy cause. Which proves that Malaysians are generous and really do have a heart of gold. The money collected was channelled to 10 charitable organizations, amongst them the National Heart Institue Foundation, Hospis Malaysia, The Befrienders Kuala Lumpur and HOPE Worldwide Malaysia.

Best Wishes As Usual,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Krump - A New Dance Style Set To Rock The World?

Those who watched the second round (Top 18) of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) America - Season 2 on 8TV on January 4 2009 would have noticed contestants Travis Wall and Martha Nichols doing a krump dance routine to the song Clap Back by Ja Rule. The routine was choreographed by Lil' C, a world renowned krumper. I guess for many of us (it certainly was for me) this would be the first time that we are watching a krump dance performance. The dance was entertaining, fun to watch and Travis and Martha really gave a polished performance. It was thumbs up from all the judges.

Krumping is a relatively new urban street dance form that was born circa 2001 in the streets of South Central Los Angeles, USA. It is a fusion of several dance styles popular in the LA area. In addition to hip hop and breakdancing moves, krumping also involves another unique LA style of dancing known as clowning, pioneered by Tommy The Clown. The popularity of krumping has spread to places like Europe, Brazil, Australia and Japan. A krump dance competition was held recently in Japan with the first prize being an offer to battle against Lil' C and Miss Prissy in the USA.

Through the annals of history, we find that new genres of dances have always been continually "invented". While some dances have remained popular in their present or variation forms, many have faded into oblivion and are quickly forgotten. Dances which have challenged and will stand the test of time are the folk, contemporary and national dances. Many fad dances just come and go like the wind and are soon consigned to the history books. Dances like the locomotion, mashed potato, the jerk, the fly, the monkey (and a whole list with ridiculous names) which were the craze in the 1960s are all but barely mentioned nowadays.

The social dances which have remained popular in Malaysia include the ballroom and Latin American dances. Other "newer" entrants are the hip hop, salsa and line dance. There has been a resurgence of interest in other styles like the American swing dances (lindy hop, east coast swing, west coast swing, etc), Argentine tango and belly dance. You can still get to dance the twist, off-beat cha cha, YMCA, disco, and macarena at some social functions. Will the krump retain its allure or will it just become another dance fad and slowly fade away. Only time can tell. In the meantime, happy krumping!

Warmest Regards,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Have A Smashing Time At SMASH Dance Workshops

SMASH (School of Martial Arts, Skilled dance and Health) of 2-3A Jalan PJU 5/11, Dataran Sunway, Kota Damansara, 47810 Petaling Jaya will be organizing free dance workshops this Saturday and Sunday at the PWTC Youth '09 Festival in Kuala Lumpur. The workshops are a prelude to the "Best Dance Crew Street Dance" workshops which will be held from March 16 to March 21 2009 during the school holidays. The details of the free workshops are as follows:-

Venue: Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), Kuala Lumpur

Date: January 10, Saturday

11.30 am to 12.00 noon - New Jazz by Zoey

4.00 pm to 4.30 pm - Locking by ECX (Elecoldxhot)

6.30 pm to 7.00 pm - Break Dancing by Azim

Date: January 11, Sunday

2.00 pm to 2.30 pm - Popping by ECX (Elecoldxhot)

7.30 pm to 8.00 pm - Hip Hop by ECX (Elecoldxhot)

SMASH, which was established in October 2007, promotes itself as a hybrid studio offering a fusion of classic and urban performing and physical arts to people from all walks of life who want to enhance their lifestyle in a world of growing concern of physical fitness. SMASH offers about 20 different types of dance and physical arts classes including, hip hop, new jazz, street dance, break dance, tap dance, line dance, belly dance, social dance, salsa, yoga, pilates, capoeira, taekwondo and aikido.

The "Best Dance Crew Street Dance" workshops in March 2009 will be presented by ECX (Elecoldxhot), Twister Genies and Project Elemenz (PEZ). The workshops will focus on several topics including street jazz, reggae, popping, locking, LA hip hop and breaking. Here is your opportunity to learn New Age street dance from some of the best dance crews in Malaysia. For more information regarding SMASH, kindly contact 016-2224865/03-61416335, email or check out their website at

Best Wishes As Usual,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Monday, January 5, 2009

Elecoldxhot Wins Gatsby Styling Dance Contest With Stylish Performance

Mandom (M) Sdn Bhd, manufacturer and distributor of the Gatsby range of hair care products in Malaysia recently organized the Gatsby Styling Dance Contest. The finals which was held at Mardi Gras at I Utama Shopping Centre, Petaling Jaya on December 14 2008 pitted five finalists vying for the championship title. Last year marked the 30th anniversary of Gatsby, which is owned by Mandom Corporation of Japan. Mandom, in a press statement said that the aim of the contest is to create a new dancing genre of "style dance" in order to support creative activities of young Asians and provide a forum for cultural interaction among young people of various Asian countries and regions.

The five finalists who were chosen through online voting from 15 shortlisted entries were Hard JL, Jansen Lee, Kent Low, the duo of Elecoldxhot, and a trio calling themselves Dynamix. During the first round, the contestants got to perform a dance routine to a song of their own choice. For the second round they had to dance to a randomly selected song. While dancing, the contestants had to showcase elements of hair styling movements with the Gatsby Moving Rubber hair products. The contestants were judged on their dance techniques, originality, humour and hair styling moves.

The judges for the show were Dennis Yip, winner of the Battleground 2007 Competition, choreographer Boojae of Floor Fever, and Charisma Kantaro, a renowned dancer from Japan. The duo of Elecoldxhot who gave a stylish and electrifying performance were adjudged the winners. They walked away with a trophy and a cash prize of RM2000. Elecoldxhot will represent Malaysia in the grand finals which will be held in Tokyo, Japan on February 28 2009 where they will battle it out with six other finalists from Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore.

For this contest, the dancers had to perform routines incorporating hair styling moves. Last year, KFC Malaysia organized a Shuffle Dance competition where the participants had to shuffle while holding a KFC Hotrod (something like a kebab) in one hand. A few years ago, one dairy company held a teh tarik dance contest where the contestants had to dance while pouring tea from mug(s) to mug(s). What will they think of next? Maybe a roti canai (Indian bread) dance competition where the competitors have to dance while kneading, twirling and tossing the roti canai in the air. That would be really entertaining and great for laughs. Malaysia's got talent!

Warmest Regards,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Don't Worry, Be Happy And Carry On Dancing In The Year 2009!

Today is the first day of the New Year 2009. This year is the Year Of The Ox according to the Chinese calendar and which will officially begin on January 26. I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy And Prosperous New Year. In keeping with tradition, many people will be making New Year resolutions. Top of the list will usually be to keep fit and healthy. This time of the year will often see a surge in people going to the fitness centres, gyms and dance studios. And as has always happened in the past, we can expect to see a sharp drop in attendance come 3 months later and many will eventually drop out altogether. Talk about perseverance and tenacity!

Let us take a review of the dance happenings in 2008. Last year, several new styles of dancing were introduced to or promoted in Malaysia. Pole dancing was given a shot in the arm when Clorets organized the 1st Malaysia Amateur Pole Dance Competition. KFC Malaysia promoted the launch of its KFC Hotrods by organizing a Shuffle Dance Competition. KL Swing! introduced Malaysians to American Swing Dancing by conducting dance classes, workshops and having meet ups at a few locations in Kuala Lumpur. Several dancesport competitions were held and we also got to watch the second season of So You Think You Can Dance Malaysia; the finals of which was mired in controversy.

We were also fortunate to see a few world class performances. Bryan Watson and Carmen Vincelj, 9-times World Professional Latin American Dance champions and 7-times Blackpool Professional Latin American Dance champions gave a thrilling performance at Wisma OCM in KL on August 1. Wade Robson, dance choreographer extraordinaire of So You Think You Can Dance USA was in Malaysia to conduct a workshop for 80 privileged dancers at Celebrity Fitness in Petaling Jaya on October 18 & 19. Beto Perez, the founder of Zumba, a fitness program which is a fusion of Latin dance moves and aerobics was here in KL in March to help lay down the groundwork for starting the Zumba fitness program at California Fitness in KL.

All in all, it was a pretty exciting year where dancing was concerned. How will this year fare? Will new styles of dancing be introduced or promoted here? I am wishing that someone will bring in the American Smooth Dances and the New Vogue style from Australia. Both these styles allow for variations in ballroom dancing; for example, open body positions, shadow positions, underarm turns & lifts, and could give a breath of fresh air to the ballroom dancing scene here. Can we ever hope to see ballroom dance maestros, Marcus & Karen Hilton coming to Malaysia to perform or conduct classes? I understand that a Blackpool Ballroom Professional Grand Finalist will be coming to Malaysia in February of this year to conduct classes.Happy dancing!

Best Wishes For The New Year,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia