Monday, September 28, 2009

Magical Merengue Moments

It's been quite a while since I last danced the Merengue so when Eric Tan of Classic Dancesport said that he was starting a Merengue class at the Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association (KLDA) on Friday evenings, I took the opportunity to join the class as a sort of refresher and also for the fun of it. The Merengue is a happy and lively dance and is one of the easiest social dances to learn. Because of its simple rhythmic structure, the Merengue is a dance you can dance immediately the first time you learn it. It is the national dance of both the Dominican Republic and Haiti and is very popular in the Caribbean and South America. Dominican immigrants to the United States in the early twentieth century also helped to spread the popularity of the dance in the USA.

The commonly used time signature for the Meringue is 4/4, meaning there are 4 beats in a bar of music. The tempo can be very fast, up to 40 bars per minute but it is normally played at 29 - 32 bars per minute. Depending on the figures, the Merengue can be danced in closed position with the man's right leg in between the lady's legs, or in open position. A dance step is taken on each beat of music. Although the tempo may be fast, the upper body is kept upright and stately and figures are usually danced to four-beat counts. Partners may walk sideways, forward & back or circle each other in small steps. Variations include body drops, underarm turns, alternate underarm turns and the more advanced and intricate moves like the double-hand turns & pretzels.

The main characteristic of the Merengue is the Merengue action which is a movement of the hips due to the weight change from one foot to the other when stepping on alternate feet. Often described as being seductively attractive, the Merengue action should however be natural and not appear exaggerated. The Merengue action is also used in some figures in the Latin American dances, like for example in the Chicken Walks in the Jive and the Plait in the Samba. In both these figures the man walks back with a Merengue action while the lady does the Chicken Walks or Plait moving forward. The next time you organize a social event, remember to play some Merengue music and listen to the squeals of delight as the couples Merengue on the dance floor!

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> Eric Tan See Meng And His Passion For Dancing

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Discourse On The Foxtrot By Aleksandr And Irina

On August 31 2009, which was the 52nd National Day of Malaysia, some fifteen dance enthusiasts gathered at the Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association (KLDA) in Wisma OCM at Jalan Hang Jebat, KL to attend a dance workshop conducted by Aleksandr Zhiratkov and Irina Novozhilova of Russia. Aleksandr and Irina who were semi-finalists in the Ballroom Professional event at the Blackpool Dance Festival 2009; had on the evening before, won the Ballroom Professional title at the 7th Crystal Dancesport Championships 2009 held at the Shangri-la Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. There at this championship they swept aside the competition and mesmerized the audience with their dance artistry, dazzling power and fantastic floorcraft.

Aleksandr introduced us to the beauty of the Foxtrot and started off by discussing the character of the Foxtrot and contrasting it with the character of the other ballroom dances. He said the Foxtrot is an exquisite dance and has a happy and carefree character. As a comparison, Aleksandr likened the Foxtrot to a Rolls Royce - a car par excellence. He then mentioned the timing of the Foxtrot. Although the 'standard' timing for the Foxtrot is 1 2 3 4, Aleksandr said he preferred the 2 3 4 1 timing as it gives the dance a better rhythmic interpretation. (I'll have to agree with Aleksandr that the 2 3 4 1 timing gives a more rhythmic expression and I believe many advance dancers use the 2 3 4 1 timing when dancing the foxtrot).

The Feather Step, Reverse Turn and Three Step were demonstrated by Aleksandr. For the Feather Step, the first step on the right foot is taken on count 2. Aleksandr also mentioned the left side lead when taking the second and third steps and when and how to 'square' the body when preparing to dance the next figure. Irina demonstrated to the ladies the footwork of the Feather Step and Three Step. She emphasised the there should be a toe release and that the heel should be 'dragged' along the dance floor when moving back. Irina revealed that a common problem among lady dancers is that they tend to 'fall back' when doing the Three Step. She then proceeded to teach the ladies how to overcome this problem.

Aleksandr and Irina then showed us the posture, hold, shaping and the connection between the partners. They also touched on the topic of lead and follow. Both stressed that the man always leads and the lady always follows. Even in the Reverse Wave (which is basically a Three Step and Feather Step) where the lady moves forward and the man back, it is still the man who does the leading, they emphasised. The above were some of the pointers and gems of wisdom that Aleksandr and Irina imparted to us during the two-hour workshop. As a finale we were treated to a superb performance of the foxtrot by Aleksandr and Irina. It was an afternoon well spent for we learned so much about the foxtrot at this workshop.

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> Dancing The Foxtrot - Mastering the Feather Step And Three Step

Monday, September 14, 2009

2nd Muar Rising Star Dancesport Championships 2009

SBW Dancesport Centre of 48-39A Jalan Sakeh Baru 1/2, 84000 Muar, Johor, is organizing the 2nd Muar Rising Star Dancesport Championships 2009. The Amateur Closed event in this competition will be used as the national ranking for the 16th Asian Games to be held in Guangzhou, China in 2010. Further information regarding this competition is as follows:-

Date: November 15 2009 (Sunday)

Venue: SKT Banquet Hall, 68 Jalan Sungai Abong, 84000 Muar

Events: Ballroom Standard & Latin ~ Amateur Open, Amateur Closed (National Ranking), Rising Star, Pre-Amateur, Novice, Senior Over 50, Beginners Senior Over 40, Junior Under 16, Juvenile Under 12, Beginners Juvenile Under 12, Beginners, Ladies Event

Participation: Open To Asian Countries

Closing Date For Entries: October 15 2009

Tickets (inclusive of dinner): RM300, RM180, RM150

For more information kindly contact Siow Boon Wah at tel nos. 019-7745871, 012-6232377, fax: 06-9511069 or email:

Last year's inaugural championships saw the participation of some 200 competitors from Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand competing in 22 events. This year, the organizer hopes to attract more than 300 competitors from the Asian countries. Dancesport seems to be catching on in the state of Johor as can be seen from the number of competitions organized in the various towns in the state.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fun Days At The KLDA Potluck Sundays

The Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association (KLDA) organizes a potluck at its premises in Wisma OCM at Jalan Hang Jebat, KL on the last Sunday of every month. The aim of this event which is open to members and non-members is to promote a sense of camaraderie among fellow dancers. These events are well attended by many who come to join in the merriment, partake of the smorgasbord of culinary delights and enjoy themselves on the dance floor. At these afternoon gatherings there will also be dance demonstrations by members and guest performers. The guests who had performed at these gatherings included some well known dance instructors from among the many dance schools in the Klang Valley.

Ming Pang and her group of swingers from KL Swing! introduced us to the American swing dances by showcasing the lindy hop and shim sham at one potluck this year. Timothy Low and his associates from SACAsia Sdn Bhd performed a salsa and promoted their "Salsa Cruise Asia 2009" during one recent event. Last month, we were entertained to bachatango and zouk performances by Jenni Tan and her team from New Star Studio. At this coming potluck on September 27, Sai Mun and his crew from SMASH Studio will be putting up a new jazz dance routine. For those who are interested to perform at the monthly potluck events, please contact C C Lai, the president of the KLDA at 012-2029991.

And talking of performances, the showtime at the "KLDA Gala Ball 2009" which was held at the KLDA on August 8 is the talk of the town amongst the dance fraternity. Due to repeated requests for an encore from those who missed the show, there will be a repeat of the show on September 26 at the same venue. The performances will basically be the same except for a couple of minor changes. This time it will be a no-frills event in which finger food will be served, with free flow of mineral water. As usual, there will be general dancing from 7.00 pm till 12.00 midnight. Tickets priced at RM40 each are available from the KLDA or at the door. For more information kindly call 012-2029991, 016-3226168 or 012-3061051.

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Eric Tan See Meng And His Passion For Dancing

Eric Tan See Meng, AISTD BB (shown on the winner's rostrum in image) may come across as an affable and easy going guy, but behind the unassuming demeanour and 163 cm stature lies a person with a deep passion for dancing and a strong determination to succeed, first as a dancer and later as an instructor. Eric took up and fell in love with ballroom and Latin American dancing in Kuala Lumpur about 20 years ago. He was soon hooked on dancing and began to compete in dancesport competitions locally and internationally. His love for dancing has taken him to Austria, China, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Australia to compete and perform or to learn from the masters there.

Eric was a former ten-times Malaysian Ballroom Amateur champion, and his competition partners included Yokiko Hori, Jasmine Wang and Ivy Por. After "retiring" from competitive dancing, Eric established Classic Dancesport Studio in 1999 to coach students and to impart his knowledge and skills. Eric presently is based at the Kuala Lumpur Dancers' Association (KLDA) at Level 2, Indoor Sports Complex, Wisma OCM in Jalan Hang Jebat, 50150 Kuala Lumpur where he teaches, ballroom, Latin American, salsa, merengue and bachata. Other than the KLDA, Eric also teaches at the Royal Selangor Club, Royal Lake Club, Royal Selangor Golf Club and some other places. His classes are known to be fun and lively.

As a council member of the Malaysian Dancesport Berhad (MDSB), Eric is actively involved in helping to promote and raise the standard of dancesport in Malaysia. He is often called upon to adjudicate at dancesport competitions and also help out at charity events. Eric confessed to me that the desire to compete still burns strongly inside of him and he misses the thrill of taking part in dancesport competitions. He is presently looking for a partner to compete in the Ballroom Professional or Pro-Am events. The Pro-Am or what is known as the Professional Amateur event is one in which one of the partners is a professional (usually a teacher) whilst the other is an amateur (usually a student). Eric can be contacted at 012-3213083, email:

Best Wishes As Usual,

Dance Aficionado
Dancesport Malaysia

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Record Entries For 7th Crystal Dancesport Championships 2009

The 7th Crystal Dancesport Championships 2009 which was held on August 30 2009 at the Shangrila Hotel in Kuala Lumpur saw the participation of a record 620 competitors from 14 countries. This competition was also used as a trial to select dancers to represent Malaysia in the dancesport events at the 3rd Asian Indoor Games to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam in October 2009. For the first time in this championship, a Malaysian Amateur Ten-Dance event was introduced and the organizer hopes to have this as a permanent item in future competitions. Due to the overwhelming response to, and success of this championship, the organizer, John Lim of World Dance Academy plans to have a bigger 3-day championship cum dance festival next year whereby top coaches from around the world will be invited to come to Malaysia to conduct workshops and lectures.

The most exciting event in this competition was undoubtedly the finals of the Standard Professional Open which was won by Aleksandr Zhiratkov and Irina Novozhilova (aka Popovic) of Russia. Aleksandr and Irina swept aside the competition and mesmerized the audience with their dazzling moves, power and fantastic floorcraft. The couple who are presently dancing for Hong Kong, were semi-finalists in the Ballroom Professional and the runners up in the Ballroom Professional Rising Star events at the Blackpool Dance Festival 2009. Here are the official results of the major events of the 7th Crystal Dancesport Championships 2009. To view the results and images of the events, kindly log on to

Standard - Professional Open

1 Aleksandr Zhiratkov & Irina Novozhilova (Hong Kong)
2 Stefeno Soldati & Annalisa Longo (Italy)
3 Shui Qing & Ma Yan Yan (China)

Latin - Professional Open

1 Andy Huang & Mandy Yang (Taiwan)
2 Yoshio Hirooka & Tomoko Osanai (Japan)
3 Wei Bin & Liu Xiao Ting (China)

Standard - Amateur Open

1 Wang Chun Yen & Chiang Hsin (Taiwan)
2 Romeo Alfarius Queri & Triska Tan (Singapore)
3 Chalongrat Thienwattanachot & Arissara Sastaravaha (Thailand)

Latin - Amateur Open

1 Dorin Frecautnu & Roselina Doneva (Russia)
2 Loke Tze How & Su Li (Malaysia)
3 Wang Chun Yen & Chiang Hsin (Taiwan)

Malaysian Amateur Ten-Dance

1 Johnston Lim & Nicole Tan (Selangor)
2 Kenneth Tan & Coco Tan (Kuala Lumpur)
3 Louis Haw & Katryn Haw (Sabah)