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Dance Contest Set for Rec Center

UCR Dancesport Team Hosts First Competition

April 3 event Open to All Amateur Ballroom and Latin Dancers

(March 19, 2004)

UC Riverside students Josh Tietjen and Heather Carmona compete at a Las Vegas competition <br />

UC Riverside students Josh Tietjen and Heather Carmona compete at a Las Vegas competition

RIVERSIDE, Calif ( -- Gotta dance? Even if the answer is no, the University of California, Riverside Dancesport Team offers the chance to observe some hot-to-trot ballroom and Latin dancing from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 3, at the UC Riverside Recreation Center.

UC Riverside is hosting its first-ever Orange Blossom Ball, a potentially thrilling dance competition featuring highly trained and eager amateur dancers from the University of Southern California, CalTech, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, San Diego State University, Rancho Verde High School, Southbay Dance Studio, Vivo Dance Studio and 5-6-7-8 Dance Studio.

Admission is $5 for UCR students with ID; $10 for non-UCR students in advance and $15 for non-UCR students at the door. Tickets can be purchased through team faculty adviser Fook Tham at (909) 787-4645 ( or through the team Web site at

The competition is open to all amateur ballroom and Latin dancers in both American and International styles, and will be followed by a Latin Showcase performed by professional competitive dancers Joe and Sara Swallow. A distinguished panel of veteran dancers will serve as judges for the competition.

The UCR Dancesport Team formed in the late ‘90s and has 20 current members. Classes are offered each quarter, including classes this year in salsa, rumba, swing, foxtrot and other styles. The team won top university honors at the 2002 Golden State Challenge, and competes regularly throughout the region. Team practices are at 9:15 p.m. every Tuesday in the Rec Center.

Some of the team members are students in the dance department, but several others have majors unrelated to dance. Faculty adviser Tham, for instance, is an associate development engineer in the chemistry department.

“We promote Dancesport as a group that provides a social atmosphere, and stress relief for students,” Tham said. “There are no skills required to start, no need for previous training. You learn at your own speed, with no pressure.”

Tham describes Dancesport as a good form of exercise that allows dancers to go beyond the usual genres of jazz, hip-hop and classical, and venture into Latin and ballroom. It also allows students to learn about both the so-called International style of dancing, where there is more improvisation, and American-style, more of a choreographed showcase.

The group seeks to spread awareness of its presence on campus, and earn a reputation among similar groups at other universities, many of which employ a full-time coach. The UCR group has a part-time coach.

“This is a sport they are talking about for the Olympics, so we know the respect and popularity is there,” Tham said. “We hope students and community members will join us for the competition event, and better understand how exciting and different this kind of dance is.”



The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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