UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 01 | Jan.
Dancers take to parking lots
When the ballroom's booked, the dancers take to the streets and hallways
by Daria Wojnarski, staff writer
A group of UBC dancers is training for international competitions in
the unlikeliest of places -- UBC parking lots.
The UBC Latin DanceSport Formation Team, ranked 15th in the
been able to use the ballroom in the Student Union Building and a
room at International
House, but not as often as it would like. Access to the facilities is shared
among the more than 220 student clubs on campus.
The team, made up of 18 men and women, is unable to afford more
practice time indoors.
"We practise in parking lots with running shoes on instead of high heels
whenever we need to," says Faye Hung, a member of the dance team. "It can be as
often as once a week, even in the cold. We've also practiced in the plaza
outside Koerner Library and in hallways of various buildings."
Costumes, coaching and shoes make competition an expensive undertaking, says
Like others involved in amateur competitions worldwide, the team has received
some sponsorship money, but both women say it's difficult to find funding.
"When we approach corporate sponsors they're interested in mass media exposure
and when we approach the government they don't have funds for amateur athletes,
even those representing their country internationally," says Mariannina Cusano,
the team captain.
Team members paid their own way to Austria for the International DanceSport
Federation World Formation Team Championships last November. It was the first
DanceSport formation team in 12 years to officially represent
Canada at a world championship.
"It's very exciting after so much hard work to make it there and do our thing.
There's a sense of pride to be able to represent your country, but there's an
even greater sense of accomplishment when you think of all the work and
dedication we put into the sport," says Hung. She credits the team's coach,
Viktor Yasel, with their success.
The UBC DanceSport team practised six days a week for one month prior to
leaving for Austria.
It is now preparing for its next competition, the Snowball Classic 2001, which
takes place in Vancouver Feb. 2-4.
"We learned so much from watching the other world-class teams compete," says
During competitions, the eight couples in the team dance the same steps at the
same time in intricate geometrical formations.
"It's like synchronized swimming," says Hung.
The music is a medley of the five Latin dances -- samba, cha-cha, rumba, paso
doble and jive. Each routine lasts about six minutes.
"It's like doing a 200-metre sprint several times. It's hard work," Hung
The dance team is seeking rehearsal space and is also willing to perform for an
honorarium. E-mail Hung at firstname.lastname@example.org or Cusano at
email@example.com or call the UBC Dance Club at 604-822-3248.
For more information visit the team's Web site at ubcft.tripod.com.