Dancers step on Aussie toes

22:40, Jul 23 2013
WINNING TEAM: Hilton Libeau, Jane Dowdeswell, Rachel Grant, Josh Wyatt, Brooke Wyatt and Neil Kulkarni defeated the Aussies at their own competition during the National Capital Dancesport Championships in July.

Four couples from an East Tamaki dance studio have come home with unexpected results after a dance-off of more than 500 ballroom dancers.

The National Capital Dancesport Championship was held in Canberra, Australia, on June 29 and 30 and involved hundreds of events in ballroom, Latin American ballroom and new vogue.

It was the first international competition for junior couple Neil Kulkarni, 14, and Brooke Wyatt, 13, who won five out of the six events they entered, including the top event for their level, the Junior Open Ballroom 13-15 years.

YOUNG CHAMPS: Brooke Wyatt, 13, and Neil Kulkarni, 14, were one of a team of New Zealand dance couples who wowed the judges on the dance floor in Canberra, Australia, at the National Capital Dancesport Championships this month.

Brooke says she didn't expect to win so many events.

"We were both really surprised as it was our first international competition. Our goal was to make the finals of all events so to win five out of six was completely unexpected," the Carmel College student says.

Sancta Maria College student Neil says he expected some good results after so many hours practising and it felt good to have the hard work pay off.


"Winning in Australia was absolutely amazing and it feels great to take home some Aussie trophies."

Masters ages 35 and up dancers Hilton Libeau and Jane Dowdeswell won two events and placed in the top three for three others.

It was also their first international competition and Mr Libeau says he enjoyed the different dancing environment.

"It was good to be dancing with different competitors and to have the opportunity to compete with a lot more people than here," he says.

For Sandy Chang and Alex Prykhno, the event was their second international competition this year. They competed in May at the world's largest and most famous annual ballroom dance competition, the Blackpool Dance Festival.

The couple placed sixth in the Adult ages 16 to 35 Level 3 Ballroom event at the National Capital Dancesport Championship. Alex says while this is their best international placing so far, it's not just about trying to beat the competition.

"We try to dance for each other as well and not just for the results," he says.

Rachel Grant and Josh Wyatt, both 16, danced in Youth ages 16 to 20 and Adult Level 2 events, also winning five out of the six events they entered.

Teachers Min Fang and Gene Song are really proud of their students but Ms Fang says she wasn't surprised at how well they did.

"I absolutely expected them to do well," she says.

The hard work isn't over though and Ms Fang encourages her students to keep looking forward and not get caught up in how they did in one competition. "No-one is perfect and there's still a lot of work to be done," she says.

The next big competition for these Just Dance Studio dancers is the New Zealand Open Dancesport Championship in Christchurch on October 26 and 27.

Tao Lin is a Fairfax Media journalism intern

Eastern Courier