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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 01 | Jan. 11, 2001

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 world, has 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 Hung.

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 Cusano.

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 says.

The dance team is seeking rehearsal space and is also willing to perform for an honorarium. E-mail Hung at fayeh22@yahoo.com or Cusano at ubc_formation_team@hotmail.com or call the UBC Dance Club at 604-822-3248.

For more information visit the team's Web site at ubcft.tripod.com.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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