Let's dance the waltz


POSTED: Tuesday, August 11, 2009

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The word Waltzen (derived from the Latin Volvere), meaning to turn, roll or glide, describes the key character of this dance. Originating in Germany, it found its way to America around 1835. This dance was recognized as the “;Mother of Social Dance”; and enjoyed a great deal of popularity in the mid 1800s. It became a classic form, essential to social gathering from weddings to formal functions.


When my dad and step-mom told me that they wanted to try ballroom dancing, I laughed. Then, when my boyfriend, Kyle, jumped in and said he wouldn't mind giving it a try, my first response was, “;OMG, are you serious?! Ummm, no.”; Wasn't ballroom dancing for old people? Like, back-in-the-day-grandma-and-grandpa-old-people? If I was going to take any dance lessons I wanted to learn to move it and shake it like the Jabbawockeez or Kabba Modern. However, after some poking and prodding (and maybe a little bit of bribing) I found myself at Kapalama Elementary School, signing up for a membership and classes with the Hawaii Ballroom Dance Association, Kalihi Chapter.

Obviously, I was hesitant at first. Then I saw Eric and Gail Tiwanak, our instructors, move. They started off with the Samba, shaking their hips all across the dance floor. They looked like the contestants on “;Dancing with the Stars.”; Then they showed us the waltz—and, I admit, I was impressed. Suddenly, thoughts of Kyle and me waltzing to our wedding song danced through my head: we would glide along the floor, showing off our fancy footwork, as the crowd looked on in awe. It would be so romantic! I was sold.

But who knew it would be so hard? I have two left feet and, understandably, grace does not come easily. My feet don't want to glide across the dance floor. They just want to shuffle left, right and trip on each other. I can't complain, though (although my feet sometimes do after our Monday lessons)—it's great bonding time with Kyle, it's actually fun, and I know I'll be able to do this at our wedding one day. Now, I no longer associate ballroom with the ancient and old.

Take that, Jabbawockeez.


In June 1959, a group of around 20 ballroom dancers met at Booth Park in Pauoa Valley to form the Hawaii Dance Association. The name was later changed to Hawaii Ballroom Dance Association to distinguish the group from other types of dance organizations. Eugene Ichinose was elected as its first president, and dance director. He served as HBDA's director until his retirement in 1997 and then selected Benny Agbayani in 1998, who remains dance director today. The Ichinoses mission was to have every couple in Hawaii learn ballroom dancing at a reasonable cost.

HBDA celebrates its “;50TH Golden Anniversary”; on, Saturday, at the Sheraton Waikiki Resort Hotel. For more information on the celebration or dance classes call (808) 848-7789; hbda-hawaii.org.