The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on January 21, 1996 · Page 40
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 40

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, January 21, 1996
Page 40
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WE E K E N D PURSU IT S BY ANN JAPENQA Two left feet? Get it right. As ballroom dancing booms on campus, two young champs lead you through the motions T O MASTER THE facial expression that tops off your Valentine's Day tango, take a cue from ballroom dance champion Victor Fung, 18: Think about how your sister has ticked you off. That's how Fung conjures up a wicked glare when he and his sister Jennifer, 20, smoke up the floor. That, and fancy footwork, have won them the U.S. amateur ballroom dance trophy twice in a row. In November, they also graced the world amateur championship event in Holland, placing higher than any other U.S. couple—ever. But the Fung Dynasty, as they call it, doesn't stop with Victor, a UCLA freshman, and Jennifer,, a junior at Harvard. The other waltzing Fungs^of Laguna Hills, Calif., are Harvard sophomore Alex, 19; and Laguna Hills 'High freshman Tiffany, 14. Mom Jeannie and dad Anthony do a mean weave themselves, ,'* .~ X H ! That's^ all great ( for family^ solidarity, but you'd thinklhe.J kids must endure lots of Fred- and-Ginger "cracks. Not so. Ballroom dance is shedding its "old geezer" image, particularly on campuses. At Har- ' vard, where Jennifer presides , over the ballroom dance club, about 300 students compete.;,! And it's true competition.' When the Ivy League schools."', match footwork, the bleachers i resound with partisan cheers. * The sport is getting more,^ respect as the public realizes'-, ballroom dancers are strong; ' fast and graceful — like gymnasts or basketball players, Tb> stay fit, Victor runs an,hptupa!* dajrand lifts weights, tj^vi^ And how does he polish his romantic vision and impecca- " ble bearing? Aw, he's just like anybody else, he insists^TmL' pretty much a noqnarguy.>I; I live in a dorm. I play computer -' games. And I listen to Madonna or Hootie & the BlowfishX & - OK,butisn'titweirddbinga ; ^ throwaway-oversway withyqur '1 sister? Victor Fung sighs. "If is* weird." E3 • CHA-CHA BOOM. Ten years ago, the U.S. Amateur Ballroom Dancers Association claimed 2,000 members. Today's membership: 16,000. OLYMPICS. Ballroom dancing has received provisional recognition from the International Olympic Committee. Don't look for the Fungs in Atlanta, though. It can take years for a sport to be admitted to the Games. • TWO STEPS. Ballroom dancers compete in two categories. Standard (the Fungs' division) includes the fox trot, quickstep, tango, waltz and Viennese waltz. The Latin division includes the cha-cha, rumba, samba, jive and pasodoble. • GLAD RAGS. Men compete in black tails; suits cost $600-$900. Women's competitive gowns sell for $300$2,500. a«o:1 loved the STEP BY STEP So you want to dance on Valentine's Day. Not to worry — Victor and Jennifer Fung can explain it all. • In the nood: "Dancing is very natural," Jennifer says. "You're basically just walking forward and backward with another person." Think of it as a getting-to-know- you conversation, standing up. Talk a little. Listen a little. Walk a little. "And breathe," Jennifer says. "Definitely breathe." • Hands up: The first hurdle is figuring out how to position your arms. Man: Hold your left arm slightly aloft, elbow bent at about a 90-degree angle. Then, with your right hand, gently cup your partner's shoulder blade. Woman: Match your right hand to his left, your left hand resting on his arm or shoulder. • Footwork: Stepping on your partner's feet is the second-most embarrassing thing you can do while dancing (the first is to fall over). So, guys, pretend you are piloting a shopping cart. As Victor points out, you don't kick the cart or lunge into it with your feet; you simply nudge it in the direc- tion you wish to go. Gently. • Steering: You're waltzing along so fluidly when you careen directly into another couple. What now? Don't try to forge ahead or you'll get into more of a pickle. "If you need to, you can just stop," Jennifer says. "Or you can go backwards. It's not a problem to go backwards." • The look: Facial expression is everything. Unless you're doing the tango, "try to look happy and smile," Victor says. If you find you aren't faking it, so much the better. "The thing that will make you really look great is enjoying yourself." 8 USA WEEKEND • Jan. 19-21, 1W6

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