Monday, August 31, 2009

A Serendipitous Encounter With Felicia

I started this blog in May 2008 partly to promote dancing in Malaysia and partly because I enjoy dancing and blogging. This blog has enabled me to make acquaintances with many dance enthusiasts from around the world. About sixty five percent of the visitors to my blog are from Malaysia and the remaining thirty five percent from overseas, mainly North America, Europe, Australia and South East Asia. Among the regular visitors from overseas are some Malaysians who are working or studying abroad. A few of them have informed me that they follow my blog to keep abreast of the dance scene in Malaysia. Through my blog I had the pleasure of getting to know Dr Felicia Yap, originally from Kuala Lumpur and now domiciled in England.

Felicia, who is a lecturer in history at Wolfson College in the University of Cambridge is an avid ballroom dancer. Sometime last year, Felicia emailed me to inform that she would be back in Malaysia for a holiday in December and enquired about the places in Kuala Lumpur she could go to for some ballroom dancing. I recommended her the Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association (KLDA) which has a big dance hall at the Wisma OCM in Jalan Hang Jebat. Unfortunately I was unable to meet up with her at the KLDA then due to some pressing matters I had to attend to. After returning to England, Felicia emailed me to let me know me she had a great time dancing at the KLDA with her partner, Alexander Plekhanov, an economist with a European bank in London.

Sometime in July of this year, Felicia informed me that Alexander and she will be arriving in Kuala Lumpur on August 15 for a holiday and also to compete in the 7th Crystal Dancesport Championship 2009 to be held at the Shangrila Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on August 3oth. She said they will be going to the KLDA on August 16 for a practice session and whether I would be free to meet up with them that day. I did meet up with them this time and we had a cordial tete-a-tete. Felicia and Alexander (image) come across as a tall, matching and attractive dance couple. I kept them posted about the local dance scene, the activities organized by the KLDA, etc. whilst they told me about the dance happenings in the UK, the Blackpool Dance Festival and so on.

Felicia and Alexander have been dancing together since 2004 and they compete regularly in the UK and USA. Both were in the Cambridge Dancesport Team and which recently defeated the Oxford Dancesport Team in the universities' annual dance competition. Felicia and Alexander who were also voted the best couple in the competition are thinking of competing in the Amateur Ballroom event in the Blackpool Dance Festival next year. We at the KLDA were delighted when they performed for us a waltz followed by a foxtrot. We wish Felicia and Alexander all the best and hope they will visit us more often at the KLDA and compete in local dance competitions whenever they are back in Malaysia for a holiday.

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> Spectacular Showdance Performances At KLDA Gala Ball 2009

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Aleksandr Zhiratkov & Irina Novozhilova To Conduct Workshop In Kuala Lumpur

Aleksandr Zhiratkov and Irina Novozhilova of Russia will be in Malaysia to conduct a workshop on ballroom dancing. Further information is as follows:-

Date: August 31 2009 (Monday)

Time: 3.30 to 5.30 pm (2 hours)

Venue: Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association (KLDA)
Level 2, Indoor Sports Complex,
Wisma OCM,
Jalan Hang Jebat
50450 Kuala Lumpur

Tickets: RM150 (inclusive of refreshments) can be obtained at the

For more details, please contact Janet Lim at 012-3233839

Aleksandr Zhiratkov and Irina Novozhilova have been dancing together in the Ballroom Professional category since 2008 and are registered as a couple in Hong Kong where they are ranked as number 1. They were semi-finalists in the Ballroom Professional event at the Blackpool Dance Festival held in England in May 2009. According to, they are currently ranked number 15 in the world. Their best mark in their database is getting into number 2 in the Professional Rising Star Ballroom event in the 2009 Blackpool Dance Festival.

Best Wishes As Usual,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Sunday, August 23, 2009

16th Penang International Ballroom Dancing Championship 2009

Malaysia Dancers Association (MDA) is organizing the 16th Penang International Ballroom Dancing Championship 2009. Further details are as follows:-

Date: November 28 2009 (Saturday)

Venue: Bayview Beach Resort, Batu Ferringhi, Penang

Events: Ballroom - Standard & Latin ~ Open Professional (ADC Ranking), Asian Professional Rising Star, Open Amateur, Pre-Amateur, Novice, Senior Over 50, Senior Over 40, Ladies Event, Junior Under 16, Juvenile Under 12, Beginners, Open Pro-Amateur A, Open Pro-Amateur B, Medley Under 16, Salsa, Belly

Participation: Open To The World

The closing date for entries is October 20 2009

Tickets (inclusive of dinner): RM500, RM350, RM300, RM200

The Penang International Ballroom Dancing Championship which was inaugurated in 1994 is now into its 16th year of competition. It is one of the most looked-forward to events in the Malaysian dance calendar and attracts top dancers from all over the world. Last year's event drew some 600 competitors from 22 countries. The Ballroom Standard Open Professional title was won by the English couple of Warren Boyce and Christi Boyce. Lu Ning and Zhang Ding Fang from China took the Ballroom Latin Open Professional title. For more information regarding this competition, kindly contact Malaysian Dancers' Association (MDA) at telephone numbers: 6012-4713266, 604-2619547, fax numbers: 604-2619547, 604-2263807, or email: You can also check out their website at

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

"The Merchants Of Bollywood" Enchants

The Merchants of Bollywood - The Musical which premiered on July 14 2009 at the Istana Budaya (National Theatre) in Kuala Lumpur and which ran to packed houses for two weeks, held its last performance on July 26. Those who attended the finale included Her Majesty the Queen of Malaysia Tuanku Nur Zahirah, the Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen, Domestic Trade & Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Agriculture & Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Noh Omar and many other dignitaries.

The Merchants of Bollywood is produced by Mark Brady, directed by Toby Gough, with music by AR Rahman and choreographed by leading Bollywood choreographer, Vaibhavi Merchant. Known as the Queen of Romance in the industry, Vaibhavi is from the dynastic family around which the legend of The Merchants of Bollywood is woven. The show has been performed more than 600 times over the past 4 years to rave reviews in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, South Africa and Australia. This is the first time the musical is being staged in Asia. Besides Malaysians, the show also attracted tourists from Europe and the Middle East.

With a storyline revolving around the Merchant family, ambition, sacrifice and love, the musical showcased dances which ranged from Bollywood, Indian traditional, disco, hip hop, street and funk. The cast danced their way into the hearts of the audience with their eclectic routines, colourful costumes and enchanting performances. The audience were caught up with the music and many were seen dancing at their seats and in the aisles to the tunes of It's Time To Disco and Shava Shava just before the curtains came down. After the show, Datin Seri Rosmah went on stage to meet the cast and present bouquets to the lead members as a token of appreciation.

Namaste & Jai Ho,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thriller Fever Sweeps The World!

Fans of Michael Jackson all over the world plan to celebrate what would have been his 51st birthday on Aug 29 by organizing Thriller dance performances as a tribute to the King of Pop. The fans will be doing the zombie dance and recreate the moves from his 1983 mega hit Thriller. Starting in Mexico, the performances will be held in Mexico City at the Zocalo, the city's main square which can reportedly hold up to 100,000 people. The organizers of this event in Mexico City hope to break the official Guiness World Record for simultaneous Thriller dancing set in May 2008 by 242 students in Virginia, USA. Celebrations in honour of Michael Jackson are expected to continue around the world and culminate in a Thrill The World 2009 event to be held on October 25. It would be frightful if this event were to be held on October 31, which is Halloween's Day, instead!

The Thrill The World 2009 event is set to begin at 0030 GMT on October 25 in several countries including Canada, USA, England, Israel , Singapore and Malaysia. This dance festival was started in 2006 by Ines Markeljevic of Canada, a dance choreographer and diehard fan of Michael Jackson. The first event which was held in Toronto attracted 62 dancing zombies and set a Guiness World Record for Thriller dancing. The following year, the event drew 1722 participants in 52 cities from around the world. Last year's event attracted 4179 dancers from 72 locations in 10 countries, namely Canada, USA, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia! However, according to the organizers, it is not recognized as the the largest by Guiness as it did not adhere to specific guidelines laid down by Guiness.

The organizers of Thrill The World 2009 hopes to unite the world through the joy of zombie dancing. Participants are encouraged to turn their local Thrill The World gatherings into fund-raising or charity events. already lists 74 registered dance locations for this year's event and are hoping to set a new Guiness World Record by drawing an astounding 270,000 dancing zombies worldwide! The Thrill The World 2009 event is set to begin at 8.30 am local time on October 25 in Malaysia and Singapore. Please however reconfirm the time and locations with the organizers. Speaking of world records, do you know what is the record for the world's largest simultaneous dancing? The current Guiness World Record is 197,569 elementary school students dancing the hokey-pokey in 681 locations across Canada on March 22 2002!

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> A Legend Passes Away But Lives On In Our Hearts - Tribute To Michael Jackson

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spectacular Showdance Performances At KLDA Gala Ball 2009

More than 350 people turned up at the Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association (KLDA) Gala Ball 2009 which was held at its premises at Wisma OCM in Kuala Lumpur on August 8. Among those who were present that evening were Datuk Sieh Kok Chi the Honorary Secretary of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, Datuk Cheong Siew Kai the patron of the KLDA, Barry Winters renowned ballroom dancer from England, and several well known dance teachers from among the many dance schools in Malaysia. While having their dinner at the Fame Hall, the guests were entertained to Chinese traditional music by the Dunhuang Ensemble. After dinner, the guests proceeded to the Superstar Hall for general dancing to ballroom, Latin American, salsa, merengue and bachata music.

In his welcome speech, C C Lai, the president of the KLDA thanked the guests for their patronage and continuous support. He said that the money collected from this event will be channeled to the KLDA Scholarship Project which was set up to assist young talented dancers who are members of the KLDA by way of subsidizing their dance lesson fees. With this intiative it is hoped that more youth would be encouraged to join the KLDA. After the speech, it was time for the show to begin. The show started with a Malay traditional dance by C K Lee and his wife Elayne. Dancing an inang to the tune of Inang Cina, the couple incorporated elements of ballroom and Latin American styles in their routine, in a dance meant to symbolize unity in diversity.

The next event was a wonderful Viennese waltz performance by Samuel Sum & Chew Su Fen. Samuel and Su Fen were one of five couples in the Viennese Ball 2008 Kuala Lumpur chosen to attend the Vienna Opera Ball in Austria in February 2009. Rising stars Johnston Lim & Nicole Tan then glided onto the dance floor to fascinate the audience with their foxtrot. It was then time for a ballroom formation dance. The five couples calling themselves "Happy Feet" performed a simple yet lovely medley of the waltz and tango with choreography by Eric Tan See Meng. The following two Latin American dances, a rumba by Alfred Choo & Carmen Choo and the jive by Vernon Choo & Cheah Yen Thing had by then raised the temperature in the dance hall by a few degrees!

Japanese expatriates, Mr and Mrs Osamu Sakai then mesmerized the audience with their beautiful waltz and tango performance. Lim Sae Min next took to the floor to sing Edleweiss while his partner Nathalee Owyang did a ballet routine and handed out roses to the ladies. Sae Min and Nathalee (image above) then executed a potpourri of dances such as the waltz, quickstep, Viennese waltz and polka to songs from The Sound of Music. Alfred, Carmen, Vernon and Yen Thing returned to sizzle the dance floor with a paso doble. Samuel & Su Fen also came back to delight the audience with a quickstep. This was followed by two line dance performances: one by the Dance Habitat Dancers led by the emcee Bronya Bishorek, and a solo by Sae Min.

David Chieng brought the house down with his slick impersonation of Michael Jackson. Dancing to Michael's hit Dangerous, David thrilled the crowd with the moves MJ was famous for: the slides, fast multiple swivels and of course the moonwalk. The finale to the show was an explosive Latin formation dance performance by five young couples known as the "KLDA Idols". The high energy routine which was choreographed by Dean Craig Kim of South Korea was an interesting mix of the cha cha cha, rumba, jive, samba and jazz. What an awesome show it was! One guest who enjoyed it so much suggested that the Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association rebrand the show as "KLDA - The Musical" and stage it at the Istana Budaya (National Theatre)!

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Mason Wins "So You Think You Can Dance Season 5" Competition

The finale of So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD) America Season 5 was telecast live from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles on August 5 & 6. The host for the show was the bubbly Cat Deeley, and judges were Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, Mia Michaels, Tyce Dioro, Adam Shankman, Debbie Allen and Lil' C. Competiting in the finale were the top 4 finalists, namely, Jeanine Mason, Brandon Bryant, Evan Kasprzak and Kayla Radomski.

Jeanine Mason, a 18 year old contemporary dancer from Pinecrest, Florida was voted as the winner of So You Think You Can Dance America Season 5. With that she also won the title of America's Favorite Dancer as well as a cash prize of US$250,000. During the finale, Jeanine performed two jazz routines, a contemporary dance, the paso doble and a solo in her own style. The runner up was Brandon with Evan and Kayla coming in third and fourth respectively.

The dances that were performed during Season 5 of So You Think You Can Dance America included ballroom (waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, tango & Viennese waltz), Latin American (cha cha cha, rumba, jive, samba & paso doble), hip hop, contemporary, Broadway, jazz, disco, Argentine tango, Bollywood, pas de deux and Russian folk dance. This is the second time the Bollywood dance and pas de deux are making an appearance in this TV reality dance competition.

These two dances were introduced during Season 4 of SYTYCD in 2008 and were one of the most memorable dances of that season. The Russian folk dance was showcased for the first time in this season of SYTYCD. Surprisingly,the American swing dances, mambo and the krump which were shown in previous seasons and which were highly entertaining were not shown this time around. Season 6 of SYTYCD will premiere on September 16 2009.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dancing The Waltz With Style And Technique

The Waltz is a popular social dance and is the dance many beginners of ballroom dancing would usually want to learn first and which most ballroom dance instructors would start teaching to beginners anyway. The Waltz had its origins in the 18th century Austrian folk dance known as the Landler and which had evolved into the Modern Waltz as we know it today. In 1921, a conference of dance teachers was held in London, England to discuss issues affecting the Waltz which had seen a decline in popularity then. At this conference the standard "walk-side-close" technique was adopted. Because these fundamental developments of the Waltz took place in England, the Standard Waltz is sometimes also known as the English Waltz.

The time signature for the Waltz is 3/4, meaning there are three beats in a bar of music. The first beat is accented and the tempo is normally played at 30 bars a minute. Each step of the Basic Waltz equals one beat of music. The basic rhythm is counted as 1, 2, 3 and corresponds with the "walk-side-close" movements of the Basic Waltz. The Waltz is characterized by a rise and fall action of the dance. Rise and fall is the elevation and lowering which the dancer feels as he or she moves onto the toes of a foot and then relaxes through the knee, ankle and toes to end on a flat foot. The rise must be gradual and felt throughout the dance; the full extent of the rise being reached when the feet are closed on the third step.

When dancing the Waltz, it should be remembered that the first step is the strong step, meaning your whole weight should be on that foot, whether it is the right or left. Some dance teachers even mention that when dancing the first step you should feel as if you are pressing down onto the dance floor with all your strength. The first step should not be too big because if you take too big a first step you will have difficulty doing a wide second step. The closing of the feet on the third step must be controlled by keeping the inside edge of the toe on the closing foot pressed gently to the floor. It should never be lifted and allowed to close quickly. The closing of the feet should be neat, with the feet placed together and in line with each other.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Elvis Presley Remembered

Fans of Elvis Presley across the world will be pulling out all the stops at events to commemorate the 32nd anniversary of his death, come August 16. It was on this date in 1977 that Elvis passed away at the age of 42. There will of course be the candlelight vigil at Graceland in Memphis, United States of America where the King of Rock 'N' Roll was laid to rest. Thousands of fans will be flocking to Graceland for the pilgrimage that day. All over the world, Elvis impersonators will be coming out in full force to sing his songs and imitate his dance moves at many Elvis Tribute Artistes events. In the United States there is even an Elvis cruise which will sail from Tampa, Florida to Cozumel in Mexico.

Over here in Malaysia between fifteen to twenty of Malaysia's own Elvis Tribute Artistes will be gathering at the Ol Skool Bistro at 125 Jalan Gasing, Petaling Jaya, (telephone: 016-2066444) on August 16 to perform and pay homage to the greatest singer and entertainer of them all. Ol Skool Bistro, situated opposite the EPF Building is a favourite hangout and watering hole for the fans of Elvis. The tribute to Elvis has sort of become an annual event here. The festivities which will kick off at 3.00pm and continue till 3.00 am the next morning will bring together Elvis impersonators from Penang, Melaka, Seremban, Selangor and Sarawak who will be belting out the songs of Elvis from the 1950s to the 1970s.

I remembered that an Elvis Presley impersonation competition was held at the Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur a couple of months after Elvis passed on. The event attracted about a dozen Elvis wannabes. Rocky Teoh, the then reigning Elvis Presley of Malaysia, was there as a guest artiste. The contestants who took part in the competition were actually quite good. Not only did they sing like Elvis, some even looked like Elvis from afar! The competition was won by Eddie Francis who did a mean impression of the King. After Eddie won the competition, he received so many offers to perform at functions and events that he resigned from his job to become a full time Elvis impersonator.

Back then during the 1970s, there was an Elvis Presley Fan Club which had its headquarters at a bungalow at 1 Jalan Sultan Ismail in KL. I went once to this place to have a chat with William Honda Tan, the president of the club. William knew Elvis like the back of his hand and regaled me with interesting snippets about Elvis. He also showed me his collection of Elvis records. William used to organize bashes on the anniversary of Elvis's birth or death and he would often turn up at these functions in his jumpsuit complete with cape, scarve and sunglasses, a la Elvis. The bungalow at 1 Jalan Sultan Ismail is there no more. It was reported that William left the building sometime in the 1990s to join Elvis.

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