Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 25th 2014 Contents MELISSA DOUGHTY
The floor shone. The soft light
radiating from the chandelier
added to the feel of romance,
joy and excitement. The open
ballroom conjured images of
stilettos, and hands and feet moving rapidly
Mary Chen s face lit up as she talked about
the art of ballroom dancing. For Chen, there
are many benefits: not only is it healthy but
she firmly believes it can assist in curbing
the escalating crime rate.
According to a WebMD feature article,
"Dance is a weight-bearing activity, which
builds bones. It s also wonderful for your
upper body and strength...Would-be dancers
should consult their doctors first, especially
if they have any health problems," it said,
quoting exercise physiologist Catherine Cram,
MS, of Comprehensive Fitness Consulting in
Tucked away next to Kam Po Restaurant
(also owned by Chen and partner, Michael
Chen), the ballroom lies near to many of its
clients: Chen and her partner train 500 stu-
dents, who attend classes on Tuesdays and
Thursdays. Chen trains the students in Latin
dance and proudly said she was responsible
for adding the Dominican Republic-inspired
bachata to the dance repertoire.
Is the art of ballroom dance dying? Chen
said there was definitely an increase in the
Latin ballroom dance; she could not speak
directly to the foxtrot, waltz or other tradi-
tional dance froms.
In parties thrown at the restaurant, Chen
said that often about 200 to 300 new faces
show up at the parties, which, she said, sug-
gests "the art form is growing." She attributed
the growth of Latin dance to popular TV
shows such as So You Think You Can Dance
and Dancing With The Stars, among others.
Shortage of male partners
Respondents, mainly female, said that while
many enjoyed dancing and did not feel that
it was solely the domain of older people,
more could be done to revamp the art form.
Jermelia Young said, "I don t think it s a
dying art, I think it s revolutionising. Some
are trying to revamp what people assume it
to be, to change their perception of it. I enjoy
it, so I relate to it. It moves me and makes
me feel alive and grateful that I could dance."
One respondent believed it should be intro-
duced into schools. "Yes, I do believe that
ballroom and Latin dance is a dying art in
Trinidad, at least. I am under 35, but I do
not think this form of dance is exclusive to
my parents alone because I really enjoy ball-
room and Latin dance more than any other
form of dance. I have danced and followed
up on dance for approximately five years and
have noticed, unfortunately, that mostly older
people are involved.
I would really like to see ballroom and Latin
dance being introduced as an extra-curricular
activity in schools nationwide, because it is
an excellent form of exercise as well as great
for social interaction.
The most disappointing thing, for me, is
the lack of interest in dance among men ...
the best way to solve that problem is if every-
one who attends a dance class brings their
significant other along with them."
Another respondent, Paula Lindo, agreed
with this: she said while she enjoyed ballroom
dancing, a major problem was the lack of
male partners in the class.
Dance as youth therapy
Chen, however, disagreed with the notion
that males don t learn ballroom dance,
because she said she saw the male dance
population growing. Chen, however, felt that
there could be higher purpose to the art of
She said, "Dance can save a lot of that
younger generation. A lot of the younger ones
are turning to crime."
Chen said she would have hated to see
what her 21-year-old daughter would have
become in life, if it had not been for dance.
Dance, she said, instills discipline and devel-
ops good practice, such as being aware of
one s hygiene.
Salsa competition in T&T
Chen said she hopes to inspire the growth
of Latin-inspired dance in T&T through her
weekend of workshops and competitions
from May 29 to June 1. The series of work-
shops and competitions will feature dance
genres such as salsa, cha cha cha, bachata,
Latin hustle, hip hop and kizomba.
The event, she said, would also feature an
open salsa competition judged by international
judges such as Nelson Flores and Veronica
Castilla, Marchant and Davina Birth, Tito
Ortos and Tamara Livosli, Uriel Garcia and
Vera Rowe and David Ayala and Pauline Dagio.
Groups from St Vincent, St Lucia, Barbados
and Grenada are also expected to attend, said
The event, in its sixth year, is also expected
to see international judges and performers
at Cascadia Hotel and Conference Centre, St
Ann s, Port-of-Spain.
Top Indian Bhojpuri singer to
perform at Divali Nagar ---Page B7
dancers, are also
Salsa Fiesta T&T.
...salsa, bachata, hip hop
On the dance floor
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