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Friday, September 29, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 66, Issue 29

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Dance club offers a change of step

Group teaches students the art of dancing at $12.50 a foot

By Joshua Klein
Daily Cougar Staff

Each Sunday, students lace up their shoes and shuffle over to the Cougar Den in the University Center's lower level.

Their prime objective is to acquire the art of ballroom dancing.

These students are participants in the UH Social Dance Club, which is a little-known student-run organization that has been on campus for more than ten years.

For $25, students receive a full semester's worth of two-hour lessons and instruction.

The class of about 90 pupils is under the coaching of students who share the knowledge and inspiration of ballroom dancing.

Last Sunday, the class was introduced to the fox-trot, a social ballroom dance style traditionally accompanied by Big Band music.

Student instructor and UH student Thach Pham led the class through the fox-trot's basic slow-slow-quick-quick timing.

Pham and another tutor first gave a rendition of how the dance was supposed to be performed.

Then, Pham broke down the fox-trot to its basic movements and students grabbed partners and practice.

At first, countless toes were stepped upon, but soon -- with proper instruction from the tutors and an hour of practice -- students moved closer to understanding the art.

"Not only do we teach new methods of dancing, we (also) get our students to competition," Pham said.

Pham spoke about the students' accomplishments.

"Our students have participated in many statewide ballroom dancing events," Pham said.

At the August Dance Festival in Houston, members of the class placed first, second and third in many of the competitions, which included the fox-trot, swing, cha-cha, tango and rumba.

"I would like for us to be able to hire instructors from places like the Houston Center of Dance to come and help the instructors cultivate our abilities to help the students," Pham said.

The membership fee is used to purchase CDs, audio and video equipment for the class. Tutors and student instructors teach for free.

"A private instructor can cost upwards of $60 an hour. Here we offer the same personalized instruction," said Chamith Ragapaksa, a student tutor.

Tutors proctor the dance floor during sessions helping students understand and correct their mistakes while encouraging them to "keep at it."

The group meets every Sunday at 4 p.m. but students can attend practice sessions during the week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:30 to 10 p.m. The practice sessions are included in the semester fee.

For information about the Social Dance Club, send an e-mail to UH-dance@yahoo.com or call (713) 666-9310.
 

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