Recently I visited www.istd.org, the website of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) to browse through the results of the Dance Teacher Examinations for 2009. I was interested to know the number of successful candidates from Asia in the Ballroom and Latin American dance styles. Last year, the three largest number of successful candidates from Asia in these dance styles came from Hong Kong, South Korea and China. The ISTD Dance Teacher Examinations seem to be getting very popular in Hong Kong, a former British colony and now a Special Administrative Region of China.
In status-conscious Hong Kong, dancing is a much sought after social skill. Hong Kongers are willing to pay good money to engage the services of top dancers to coach them and take part with them in Pro-Am events in dance competitions. A few years ago it was reported in the media that a female banker there had in 2004 agreed to pay a former world Latin champion and her husband a whopping HK $120 million for ten years of unlimited dance lessons and competitions. Apparently they had a falling out in 2006 and the banker then sued for the return of HK $62 million in advance payment.
Among the dance maestros who had teaching stints in Hong Kong are Gaynor Fairweather, who together with her previous partner Donnie Burns were 14-times winners of the Professional World Latin Championships, which is a world record and former 9-times Professional World Latin Champions Bryan Watson & Carmen Vincelj. The other recent notables include 2009 Blackpool Professional Ballroom semi-finalists Aleksandr Zhiratkov & Irina Novozhilova and Professional Latin American quarter-finalists Ilia Borovski & Veronika Klyushina. Both couples are now based in and dancing for Hong Kong.
Many VIPs in Hong Kong are well known for their prowess on the dance floor. One such personality is taipan Stanley Ho Hung Sun who is as famous for his moves in the boardroom as he is for his moves in the ballroom. An accomplished dancer and patron of the arts, Ho had in the past often been called upon to perform dances, especially the Argentine Tango at society events to help raise funds for charity. Ho met his fourth wife Angela Leong On Kei who was then a dance instructor in Macau and love blossomed for them on the dance floor. You could say he swept her off her feet, literally speaking!