Although he had an idea that offering scholarships for dance lessons would likely work, Ken Yung was shocked at just how well it did so.
With a remarkably strong showing at the Fantasy Ball dance event in Nanaimo last weekend, the owner of Forever Yung Dance Studio in Parksville has to admit he has a hit on his hands.
“Last September we offered 12 scholarships to kids to encourage them to compete — six to boys and six to girls — and they’ve been training for the Fantasy Ball ever since,” Yung said. “We offered ballroom dance classes every Thursday night starting in September and it has been really popular. More than 20 kids attended, talked to their friends about it and brought in new friends every week.”
Although Yung had originally been concerned about having too few boys between the ages of 12 to 16 taking part in the program, he was surprised to find more boys than girls signed up.
“One boy was dancing with two different partners because there weren’t quite enough girls,” he said. “Leading up to the next competition in June, it looks like we will be short on girl partners, so if there are girls out there who want to do this and are worried there will be no boys to dance with, there will be.”
This strong response stands in stark contrast to last year’s ball, where only one couple was on hand to represent the entire mid-Island area.
“I’m really pleased and proud,” Yung said. “We went from having one couple last year to seven couples this time.”
The program’s success however, isn’t just about numbers. The young hoofers hit the floor dancing at the Fantasy Ball, the largest ballroom dance competition in the province, and when the dust settled, they found they had cleaned up on hardware.
“They did really well,” Yung said. “In every event they entered they either came in first, second or third.”
Now, Yung plans to expand it to include younger dance students, aged between 7 and 11 years.
“They wouldn’t be ready for the next event in June, but they would be able to prepare for the next big event, which is on the November 11 weekend at the Grand Ballroom in Richmond,” he said. “They would be ready for that.”
Yung stressed participants don’t have to be a budding Fred Astair or Ginger Rogers in order to take part. What is needed, he said, isn’t necessarily raw talent, but rather, determination.
“If the kids really have the desire to be really good, that’s what dance sport is all about,” he said. “It’s about technique and artistry, so if they are really dedicated to dance really well at a high level, they can do it. They just need the determination and work ethic. They need to practice, because this is a sport where attention to detail is very, very important. It’s different from social dancing.”
Yung credits the scholarships, which defrayed the cost of the dance lessons, for building the program to what it has become.
“This has grown from nothing into something substantial because of these scholarships,” he said. “We offered them in the hopes the kids would respond and they have. Not only that, they’ve all done really well. They all placed and in some events they swept the top three places.”
For more information contact Forever Yung Dance Studio at 250-240-0533.