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130 couples gather, ready for ballroom dance competition

Date Posted: 2009-12-11

International ballroom dancing returns to Okinawa for the 22nd Santopia Okinawa, the 14th dance festival competition, on Sunday.

The largest ballroom dance competition in Okinawa, Sunday’s action brings 60 couples from other Japanese prefectures who will join 70 Okinawa couples for the daylong event. Competition is in two categories: International Standard and International Latin.

A Santopia Okinawa organizer says ballroom dancing requires a partnership, much like a marriage, where being a good dancer means knowing, respecting, and encouraging the partner. He says neither dancer in the couple can be selfish, and must understand the roles in the relationship, where the man leads the woman with a gentle manner. He explains ballroom dance is not only body movement by two individuals; it is an expression by the couple as a single entity.

Sunday’s competition begins at 10 a.m., following 9:30 a.m. opening ceremonies at the Ryukyu University Gymnasium. International Latin competition, including the Samba, ChaChaCha, Rumba, Paso Doble and Jive leads the festival. The International Standard competition starts at 1:10 p.m., with dancers working through waltzes, tangos, Viennese, Foxtrots and Quickstep maneuvers.

A Children’s Dance Exercise takes place a day earlier, with participation free. The children’s dance runs 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ryukyu Martial Arts Gymnasium. Mr. Kobayashi of Hokkaido, the leader of a children’s dance school, will visit Okinawa to teach youngsters how to dance, moving the body with rhythm. He says kids wanting to participate in the free classes should wear comfortable clothes.

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