BEFORE they were 22, Force Fong Chun-kuen and Dominic Wong Dick-man had not had professional dance training. Fong, now 27, opted to study architecture instead, while 25-year-old Wong once 'hated dance'. Less than five years later, however, the two have been rated top of the class and received the Asian Cultural Council grant awards to attend the celebrated American Dance Forum (ADF) in North Carolina. The dramatic turn in personal commitment happened when dance beckoned the two and they went to study modern dance at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. The American institution made an influential artistic impact on Wong and Fong. Wong, who will be an Advanced Diploma graduate in June, said the Hong Kong academy was as different from the American one 'as designer Jean Paul Gaultier is from Issey Miyake'. 'During the six weeks in America, Force and I pushed ourselves to the limit, experimenting with all the dance elements we learnt in class until three or four in the morning.' Their time in America gave the duo to 'a far wider idea about dance' through experts from seven countries, who impressed them with their alternative notions of 'contact improvisation' and partnering. Fong's greatest delight was taking in a never-ending supply of performance tapes at the ADF library. Wong put on an improvised performance for a Japanese choreographer in the intuitive 'Butoh' dance, which required him to paint his body white. The pair finished with a visit to New York where they got their fill of culture from Broadway shows, the Museum of Modern Art and a US$10 (HK$77.30) dance lesson. Believing Hong Kong is still begging a dance culture, Wong wants to become a performer-choreographer. Fong said: 'I want to brighten up the life of mentally-handicapped children by teaching them how to communicate through body movements. Unfortunately, the local education system only treats dance as a separate subject in special schools, otherwise I hope to also train normal school students.'