Experts trip the light fantastic

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 12:00am

Dancesport is competitive and expressive, and to do it well you need to be confident, poised and powerful.

The mainland's top exponents Cao Jun, Liu Hon-mei, Zhang Jin and Luo Wen-qing were in Hong Kong on Monday, dazzling more than 600 students with their thoroughly practised ballroom dancing skills.

The demonstration and workshop was organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and held at Po Kong Village Road School.

The mainland stars were joined by youth team members and local dance champions who lead the students through the basic steps of standard (sometimes known as modern) and the Latin forms of dancesport - the official name for ballroom dancing, or social dance.

Creative streaks can be indulged in this sport for all ages which is contested in major tournaments around the world. The competitions are often held in grand hotel ballrooms, halls or exhibition centres.

Contestants are judged and ranked according to subjective criteria which include posture, timing, bodyline, coherence, energy and expression.

There are three categories of dancesport - standard, Latin and 10-dance.

In standard, five dances are judged - the waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, tango and Viennese Waltz. In Latin, the five are rumba, cha-cha, samba, jive and paso doble.

Ten-dance is a tough combination of standard and latin where competitors are judged on both the five standard and five Latin dances.

According to the Hong Kong Dancesport Association Web site 'the 10 styles require not only virtuosity and artistry, but also vigorous training and physical stamina'.

The athleticism involved meant dancesport was recognised as an official sport by the International Committee of the Olympic Games (IOC) in 1980.

The sport is hugely popular in the UK, which has produced a number of world champions.

The International Championships are a major event held every October at the Royal Albert Hall, London.

Top dancers from around the world vie for the honours in seven categories, in both the standard and latin formats.

In this year's event English dancers took the top honours. Chris Hawkins and Hazel Newberry were the Professional Standard champions and Paul Killick and Hanna Karttunen were the best in Professional Latin.

In August the South East Asia Championships were held at Hong Kong Park Indoor Games Hall.