Thursday, February 26, 2009

Carnival In Rio Draws To A Close With Spectacular Samba Parade

The Brazilian Carnival (Carnaval in Portuguese) is an annual festival held four days before Ash Wednesday, the day of fasting and penance that marks the beginning of Lent. It is held in February every year and starts officially on a Saturday and ends on Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Billed as "The Greatest Show On Earth" the celebrations began on February 21 this year. In Rio De Janeiro, which is regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World, the festivities began with the crowning of the Carnival King (Rei Momo) and who was also presented with a giant key by the city's mayor, Eduardo Paes. Then it was party time all over the place and which culminated in the Carnival Parade also known as the Samba Parade.

The Samba Parade began in the 1930s in the streets of Rio. In 1984 it found a permanent home at the Sambadrome stadium. The top 12 samba schools which are actually social clubs, parade in the Sambadrome over Sunday and Monday nights to compete for the champion's crown. Each school features up to 6000 drummers, dancers and other participants as well as beautifully decorated floats. Leading the drums corps of each school is a rainha or queen who is usually dressed in little more than a huge plumed headdress and high-heeled shoes. The schools put up various performances with different themes and specially composed samba songs.

Almost all of the music played during the Carnival is samba. It is a uniquely Brazilian music and a dance form that was invented by African slaves during the 18th century. The modern-day Carnival samba dancers often compete with each other to see who can wear the most fabulous, colorful and enormous headdresses which can make all but the most basic foot movements impossible. The Carnival samba is very different from the more stylized Latin American version (sometimes known also as ballroom samba) which we are more accustomed to watching and dancing. How is the Brazilian Carnival samba different from the Latin American samba?

In Rio, the samba is danced solo while the Latin American samba is a dance for couples. The Carnival dancers perform fast three-step weight changes with a slight knee lift, the sections of which are led with alternate feet to a "Quick, Quick, Slow, &" rhythm. The women are adept at showing off their hip movements while the men's action is less exaggerated. The ladies meanwhile also have to keep their heads poised and balanced in order to avoid toppling their magnificent headdresses. There is less bounce action in Brazilian samba compared to the Latin American version. The samba as a social dance is also enjoyed in Brazil and a slower version called the pagode is popular there.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Sadie of USA To Perform At 2009 Malaysia 2nd World Belly Dance Day Charity Event

World renowned belly dancer, Sadie (pic) of the USA will be the VIP performer at the 2009 Malaysia 2nd World Belly Dance Day Charity Event organized by The Zero Fitness Dance Studio of Penang. The details of the fundraising event is as follows:-

Date: May 16 2009, Saturday

Time: 7.30 pm

Place: Bayview Beach Resort, Penang

Dinner tickets are available at RM1500 per VIP table, or RM1200 per table. You can get an early bird price of RM1000 per table or RM100 per person if you purchase your tickets before March 31.

The World Belly Dance Day is an event for belly dancers to celebrate the beauty of the dance and at the same time raise funds for charity. There will also be performances by other well known belly dancers at this charity function. The proceeds from this fundraiser will be channeled to Sam Cheng Everloving Care Welfare Society for poor children's education.

Belly dance workshops will also be conducted by Sadie at The Zero Fitness Dance Studio at West Wing, 3rd Floor, Gembira Parade, 18 Lorong Delima Satu, Greenlane, Penang.

Workshop 1 - Pops, Locks & Shimmies

Date/Time: May 17 - 2.30 pm to 5 pm

Fees: RM150

This workshop follows the teaching format developed exclusively by Sadie & Kaya. You will be introduced to several concepts that will unleash your potential to execute sharper, cleaner, stronger movements and isolations. Available only through Tandem Training Methods.

Workshop 2 - Drum Solo Choreography

Date/Time: May 18 - 6.30 pm to 9.00 pm

Fees: RM150

Experience the full potential of a drum solo. Sadie does not skip a beat. Learn how to apply the drum solo secrets in one of Sadie's stellar drum solo choreographies. Several choreographies in workshop format to choose from.

Workshop 3 - Belly Dance Boot Camp

Date/Time: May 19 - 7.00 pm to 10.00 pm

Fees: RM150

The name says it all. This class really allows the dancer to really delve into technique and polish her dance vocabulary through a series of intense drills and combinations. Foot patterns and exciting layers will also be incorporated. Get ready to be the best you can be! Recommended with the Tandem Training Method.

There will be an early bird package of RM400 for all 3 workshops for those who make payments before March 31. A certificate of attendance will be awarded to those who successfully attend the workshops. For more information regarding the charity event or the workshops, please contact Conny Lim of Zero Fitness at 04-6580046 or email You can also check out their website at

Warmest Regards,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Experience Street Dance Culture At Urban Dance Festival 2009

SMASH Dance Studio of Kota Damansara in Petaling Jaya, Selangor will be co-organizing the Urban Dance Festival 2009 to be held this weekend, February 21 & 22. There will be free workshops and performances by some of the best dance crews, including the champion and finalists of the recent Astro Battleground Finals 2009. A street dance competition will also be held. Further information regarding this event is as follows:-

Venue: Cineleisure Damansara, Mutiara Damansara, Petaling Jaya

February 21 2009 - Workshops and Performances.

Join in the free workshops and watch exciting performances:-

LA Hip Hop Workshop by Elecoldxhot, ECX

Reggae Workshop by Twister Genies

House Dance Workshop by Rythmusic, Fei

Punking Workshop by DT4

February 22 2009 - Competition

Showcase your best street dance routine and win the following prizes :-

3 X Champion Crew - Cash RM500 plus medals and trophy

3 X Outstanding Crew - Cash RM300 plus medals and trophy

4 X Consolation Prize - Cash RM100 plus medals

Rules: Limited to 22 teams only

Registration: RM20 per team

To register for this street dance competition, kindly contact Chan Wan Hoong at 017-3342411, email, or Lee Hun Keong at 012-3376037. For more information regarding the Urban Dance Festival 2009, please check out or

Street dance is a generic term used to describe dance styles that have evolved outside of the dance studios and onto open spaces such as streets, parks, school courtyards, etc. They are often social in nature and involves improvisations and interactions with other dancers and the spectators. Generally, a street dance is based on a unique style or feel that is expressed through the dance, usually tied to a certain music genre. The street dances include hip hop, popping, locking, breakdance, krumping, punking, reggae, jazz and house dance. Street dance competitions are getting increasingly popular and several international events are held around the world every year. These competitions focus not only on judged battles but also on choreographed shows as well.

Best Regards,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Monday, February 16, 2009

Joshua Malone And Kimberly Jones Win Inaugural Baby Ballroom Championship Title

Baby Ballroom: The Championship is a dance reality show produced by ITV, UK and premiered there on July 28 2007. Twelve pairs of juvenile dancers aged between six and eleven competed for the title of Baby Ballroom Champions. The panel of judges comprised of Raymond Quinn of X Factor, "Dancing On Ice" star Bonnie Langford and renowned dance teacher Pierre Dulaine. Dulaine, hailed as a "dancer and teacher extraordinaire" by the New York Times was the inspiration for the movie Take The Lead starring Antonio Banderas as Dulaine. Take The Lead is a real story of a dance teacher (Dulaine) who believed in the talents of a group of problem kids.

Seven couples competed in the first heat of Baby Ballroom: The Championship, from which three couples were chosen by the judges for the finals. The remaining four couples were then required to dance a paso doble to win public votes for one more place in the finals. At the second heat, seven more couples took part, and three couples were similarly chosen by the judges. The remaining four couples likewise had to dance a paso doble to garner public votes for one more slot in the finals. In the finals held on August 11 2007, in which 12 couples competed, Joshua Malone and Kimberly Jones put on a smashing performance to win the title of Baby Ballroom Champions.

All the Ballroom and Latin American dances were showcased in this competition. The dancers were really talented and showed great promise. It was such a pleasure to see them dancing so well and really enjoying themselves. Even for those competitors who had to perform the so called "difficult" ballroom dance - the foxtrot; their timing and footwork were excellent. I won't be surprised to see future Blackpool and World dance champions coming from this bunch of adorable tots. The judges were simply bowled over by their charm and dancing skills. Dulaine gave a good critique of their performances, highlighting their strengths as well as pointing out their weaknesses.

Best Wishes As Usual,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Thursday, February 12, 2009

How To Get A Dress That Will Help You Dance Better - (Part 2) By Ballroom Sparkle

Slouched spine

This is mostly the problem of Standard dances as you constantly have to keep your spine right. If this is your problem then try to hide your spine with chiffon scarves attached to you neck or shoulder. You may even use several of these so that instead of frowning at your slouched spine, the judges would see nice "wings" floating behind you. For Latin dresses, simply try to avoid gowns that expose mainly your back. In this case the attention is drawn to your spine automatically and this is not what you'd wish to do.

Weak frame

Do you keep letting the hands and elbows down in Standard? Again, the trick is the same. Try to conceal this lack of technique by getting your hands covered with layers of flimsy/floating fabric or wide sleeves.

Protruding bottom

Another flaw that happens rather often in Standard dances. In an effort of balancing your upper posture, smiling at the judges and keeping in mind the dance steps, you forget about the need to strain the bottom muscles and end up with your buttocks stuck out backwards. If you are still working on this - don't choose the mermaid-like silhouettes or any skirts made from one heavy layer of fabric (like satin). Such skirts will bring attention to your bottom automatically so even a small mistake gets visible. Instead, opt for multi-layered floating skirts that would smooth your curves and conceal the problem.

And one last piece of advice. If this is your first performance and your first dress - don't leave it in the box until the day of the competition. Even if you felt great when trying the dress on and you are now afraid to strain it - test it together with your partner. You might discover that dancing feels different now that you are wearing the dress and that some steps or movements need adjustment. For your first time - don't choose skirts that are too long. If you don't have enough experience you risk stepping on your own skirt during the competition. Choose a dress that has a skirt a bit above your ankles. For Latin dresses - make sure you don't wear long fringed or ripped skirts where you could get your heel entangled during the dance.

Part 1 of this article appeared on February 5 2009. This article has been re-published with the kind permission of Ballroom Sparkle of the USA. Ballroom Sparkle is a small studio which designs and sells gowns for ballroom competitions, stage performances and dance shows. It is managed by Maria Chitul, a keen ballroom dancer herself. Maria can be contacted at +1(813) 990-0921 or email: You can also visit her website at

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Monday, February 9, 2009

So You Think You Can Be A Dance Teacher

The Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) with its headquarters at Imperial House, 22-26 Paul Street, London EC2A 4QE, England, is the leading dance examinations board in the world. It was founded on July 25 1904 at the Hotel Cecil at the Convent Garden in London and was initially known as the Imperial Society of Dance Teachers. The name was changed to the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing in 1925. The ISTD is today a registered educational charity and is the only organization that covers the full spectrum of dance examinations on a truly global scale.

Every year, about 250,000 people are examined, for which the ISTD provides grade examinations and medal tests to assess their proficiency. The many styles of dances for which students are examined include Ballet, Modern, Tap, National, Classical Greek, Disco, Ballroom and Latin American. In Malaysia, Ballroom and Latin American dance students can opt to take the ISTD medal tests starting with the Bronze and continuing with the Silver, Gold, Gold Star, etc. Those aspiring to become dance teachers will usually start with the Student Teacher examination before progressing to the Associate, Licentiate and Fellowship levels.

Recently, while browsing through their website, I chanced upon the article "Dance Issue 446" which was chronicled in the "Examinations" menu. This article highlighted the examination successes recorded at the ISTD HQ from August 5 to November 6 2008. My attention was drawn to the results of the Ballroom and Latin American exams. The number of students who passed the Ballroom Associate exams was 19, of which 6 each were from the UK and Hong Kong, 2 each from South Korea and Taiwan and 1 each from Vietnam, Germany and Finland. For the Licentiate exams, there were 7 who passed - 3 each from the UK and South Korea and 1 from Hong Kong.

In the Latin American Associate examinations, a total of 31 students were successful. Half of those or 16 who passed, were from South Korea. Eight were from Hong Kong, 4 from the UK, 2 from Vietnam and 1 from Taiwan. For the Licentiate examinations, there were 4 who made the grade. Three were from the UK while the other one was from South Korea. We can see the keen interest shown in the ISTD exams from the Asian countries, particularly South Korea and Hong Kong. This will certainly help raise the standard and auger well for the future of Ballroom and Latin American dancing in Asia.


Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Thursday, February 5, 2009

How to Get A Dress That Will Help You Dance Better - (Part 1) By Ballroom Sparkle

Like most people, you don't pose too many requirements on a normal evening gown. The only important thing is that it has to look good on you and maybe shouldn't fall off when you are walking from your car to the party and back. You're happy so long as the dress survives past one or two special occasions. You won't wear it more often than that anyway.

With a competition dress, it's completely different. You spend a large sum of money on the dress to start with. You will be taking it to every competition, putting it on and taking it off hastily, jumping, sweating and wiping your make up with it. And you will still expect to use it at least for one season and to look gorgeous in it whenever you get on the dance floor. Buying a ballroom dress is an important step and you don't want to make mistakes here.

The problem finding the right ballroom dress is that not only does it have to look good on you while you are standing in front of a mirror but it should also help you look great while you are actually dancing. It means that:-

a) The dress shouldn't impede your movements during the dance.

b) It should emphasise all your good sides - your beautiful figure, your dancing techniques and, whenever possible.

c) it should conceal your bad sides (if any) such as figure flaws or weak techniques.

Of course no dress in the world can substitute hard training. However by knowing your technique flaws you can get a dress that will partly disguise them. As a result you will improve the overall impression of your dancing performance. Try choosing the dress that does the opposite and you'll see the difference.

In this article; Maria Chitul, ballroom dress designer will try to summarise common technique flaws and offer suggestions on how to conceal them with the help of a gown.

Weak Hip Movements

Weak hip movements is one of the usual problems among dancers. This flaw can be easily solved by choosing an appropriate skirt. All you have to do is to say "no" to slinky skirts and choose fringe or flounce decorated skirts instead. An A-shaped skirt would create a nice waving impression around your hips/knees, improving the look of your hip movements. Another suggestion is to use some bright decorations on top, and thus drawing the audience's attention from your bottom. However I am not sure you can fool the judges with that! (To be continued...)

This article has been re-published with the kind permission of Ballroom Sparkle of the United States of America. Ballroom Sparkle is a small studio that designs and sells gowns for ballroom competitions, stage performances and dance shows. It is managed by Maria Chitul, a keen ballroom dancer herself. Maria can be contacted at telephone number +1 (813) 990-0921 or email: You can also check out her website at

Related Post

> How To Get A Dress That Will Help You Dance Better - Part 2

Monday, February 2, 2009

Puan Sri Chelsia Cheng To Perform Belly Dance For Charity

Socialite, Puan Sri Chelsia Cheng will be putting up a belly dance performance in aid of charity on February 8 2009 at 7.00 pm at the concourse of Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. Puan Sri Chelsia (pic, left) who has been learning belly dancing for almost two years will be dancing with her daughter Nathalie, belly dance instructor Sherlyn Koh and friend Toni Lim. Together they will be shimmying to a Chinese song named "Who Will Celebrate My Birthday With Me?" (Shui Lai Gen Wo Guo Sheng Ri?) which was composed, sung and recorded by Puan Sri Chelsia.

Born in Hong Kong where she was a popular singer and actress during the 1970s, Puan Sri Chelsia, who is the wife of magnate and CEO of The Lion Group Tan Sri William Cheng, said she hopes to turn the fundraising event into a rave party whereby those coming to attend the event can really have a good time. No seats will be provided so that guests can mingle freely and dance along to the music. There will also be a beatboxing performance. Popular TV actor from Hong Kong, Roger Kwok Chun On is expected to attend the function as well.

An auction of jade items will be held and lucky draw prizes will also be given away. Funds raised from this charity event will hopefully be used to build a new premises equipped with a swimming pool, sports facilities, physiotherapy room and music room for the Handicapped And Mentally Retarded Children Centre in the Klang Valley. Puan Sri Chelsia said the trustees have not identified a suitable location yet and would welcome the donation of a piece of land in the Klang Valley from some kind benefactors.

Tickets for the event can be obtained at the Parkson Department Store in Pavilion KL. Those who donate RM500 will receive a goodie bag with sponsored gifts and an invitation to the party, while the goodie bag can be had with a donation of RM200. For donations or invitations to the event, visit Parkson at Pavilion KL or call Magic at 012-3906118. For a sneak preview of Puan Sri Chelsia's belly dance performance, watch the video at (click "Entertainment" on the left hand side navigation bar).

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> Sadie Of USA To Perform At 2009 Malaysia 2nd World Belly Dance Day Charity Event