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 World's best ballroom dancers in Lombok

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Gemma
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PostSubject: World's best ballroom dancers in Lombok   Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:16 pm

World's best ballroom dancers in Lombok

Trisha Sertori , Contributor , Bali | Sat, 06/13/2009 1:17 PM | Lifestyle

Couples around the world are buffing their dancing shoes, shaking out their tulles, straightening their neckties and jumping on planes to get to Lombok in Indonesia's West Nusa Tenggara province.

They are headed for the tropical island in droves to take part in the fifth annual Lombok International (Ballroom Dancing) Championships 2009, sanctioned by the World Dance Council Competition, the Indonesian Ballroom Dance Council and the Indonesian sports ministry.

According to event organizer Marcel De Rijk, champion dancers from 15 countries have registered for the event, which will be held in the Grand Ballroom of the Santosa Resort in Senggigi, on Sunday, June 21.

De Rijk is vice president of the World Dance Council and a world champion ballroom dancer. Born into a professional ballroom dance family in Holland a little over six decades ago, he is well placed to host an event of this standing, and international-level competitors, both amateur and professional, are keen to journey half way around the world to compete in the championships.

"The event started out 10 years ago as an annual dance party for students of my Lombok dance studio, Lombok International Dance Studio. Each year we would invite an international level dance couple from Europe to perform," De Rijk said.

"Then in 2005, we held the first international competition with a friendly team competition with couples from Hong Kong, Surabaya, Lombok and Jakarta competing. That has now grown to include international-level competitors from 15 different countries."

Competitors include the current amateur world champions, Eldar and Anna Dzhafarov from Azerbaijan, Russia's beautiful couple Evgeny Ryupin and Yana Prokovskaysa, and runners-up at the Mecca of ballroom dance, the Blackpool Dance Festival in England, Aleksander and Irina Zhiratkov, Hong Kong's professional champions.

Ballroom dance is currently taking Asia by storm, according to De Rijk, and Lombok, despite its relative isolation, is becoming one of the hubs of this dance sport that dates back to England prior to the Second World War.

"Ballroom is growing rapidly, particularly in Asia. In Britain and Europe it is a long tradition to learn ballroom dance - that goes back to the 1030's. In Asia, ballroom dance started much later. Asians love ballroom and Latin music and to dance," said De Rijk of the surging popularity of ballroom and Latin dance seen across Asia over the past decade.

That popularity is expected to help boost Lombok's burgeoning tourist industry, according to head of the Lombok Tourism and Culture Office, Lalu Gita Ariadi.

"We hope this event will help promote Lombok and Sumbawa around the world. There are couples coming from many different countries and we believe this can only benefit tourism in Lombok," Ariadi said.

He pointed out that with greater numbers of tourists, including from dance tourism, traveling to Lombok, there could be a spillover effect on Sumbawa, bringing much-needed tourists dollar to the remote island.

"We feel that as people come to Lombok they will continue their journey in NTB and head to Sumbawa. That is certainly our hope as additional tourism to Sumbawa will help build the local economy," Ariadi said.

He added the formerly contentious Lombok international airport was nearing completion and would open in 2010, further improving the province's access to the tourism industry.

"It's all clear and clean for the *local* people. Disputes have been resolved and the local people are well on board now and committed to developing tourism. This is in line with our *local administration's* priorities of tourism and agriculture," said Ariadi, adding Lombok's international events - the ballroom dance competition, the annual triathlon and the surfing carnival - would promote Lombok positively to the world.
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