UCI Latin Dance Revives Ballroom
Of the many dance organizations on the UC Irvine campus, modern dance has been one of the more crowd-friendly sources of participation. Groups like KabaModern and Chinese Association Dance Crew are well-known for their use of the latest popular music and unique hip-hop choreography.
However, the numerous groups dedicated to this form of dance fail to tap into other resources here at UCI. The newly-created Latin Dance Team was formed, in part, to give students a different cultural experience, while challenging them at the same time.
The team was founded by second-year UCI medical student Long Duong and fourth-year dance major Asuka Kondoh, who are also the men’s and women’s team captains, respectively.
The success of the club is largely due to the dedicated student leadership, highly qualified team coaches Monika Dubvoska and Jiri Kosydar, and supportive team advisor, James Eisman.
The two coaches and dancing partners, Dubvoska and Kosydar, who are originally from the Czech Republic, have won numerous championships in ballroom dancing.
When asked why a club was made specifically for Latin dance rather than general ballroom dancing, Duong explained that this type of club was not in existence locally and they wanted to provide others with the opportunity to explore Latin dancing to its full potential.
‘There’s no other club like it in the whole county. I decided the only way to give the opportunity for myself and others like me was to form it,’ Duong said. ‘So we’re bringing the UCI students forms of dancing that they would probably never be able to see or get training for.’
As their Web site explains, there are two general categories of ballroom dancing, which includes international and American. The international category is divided further into two sub-categories: Latin and standard. The Latin Dance Team, as one might guess, competes in the Latin category, which includes cha-cha, rumba, samba, jive and paso doble.
Another club on campus, DanceSport, formerly offered competitive opportunities in ballroom dancing. However, a restructuring of the club is currently underway, making it a recreational club and allowing the Latin Dance Team to compete professionally.
In addition, the Latin Dance Team itself offers recreational workshops in which beginners are welcome to learn this form of dance. These beginner workshops are held each Thursday at 10:30 p.m. in the Physical Forum room at the Anteater Recreation Center.
The team welcomes any students interested, even if they have no prior experience.
‘Actually we prefer to train beginners so there are no bad habits we have to break,’ Kondoh said. ‘We just look to see if they have rhythm and potential.’
While recruitment for this club proved to be a challenge in the first few months of formation, interest picked up considerably once school was back in session for fall quarter. One of the most important sources of advertisement, in fact, was the groups’ performances themselves.
‘The best publicity we had were the performances. We had so many people e-mailing us, asking what we were about so we realized we’d have to hold auditions,’ Kondoh said.
However, attracting interested male students is still a difficulty for the team.
‘There are a lot of really good guys out there, but they have a misconception that it’s not a masculine thing,’ Duong explained. ‘We try to explain to them that this form of dancing specializes in masculinity