The Honolulu Chapter hosted a Holiday Dance attended by over 150 dancers. The feature performance was a Waltz-ChaCha medley performed by 14 University of Hawaii Computer Science students.

Inspiring the Next Generation

By Ravi Narayan
Contributing Author
Photos by Blayne Shigematsu
Honolulu Chapter Welcomes University of Hawaii Students to the Dance World.
University of Hawaii students anxiously waiting on deck. Photo by Gloria Santiago.

Fourteen college students performed for the first time at the December 2022 Holiday Dance hosted by the Honolulu Chapter of USA Dance.

Many of them were Computer Science students with little to no knowledge of any dance form or performance experience.

My wife, Synthia, who has been the coordinator and instructor of our chapter’s K-12 program, and I have been looking for ideas to inspire the next generation of ballroom dancers.  This college club which has been in the drawing board for over five years finally came to life in September 2022.  

As an adjunct member of the University of Hawaii faculty, I was able to create this club offering free ballroom classes to students and faculty.  With no idea on how to market it or attract students, I made a couple of announcements in the Computer Science classes I teach.  I was surprised to see about 30 CS students for the first class.  (I suspect many of the students came out of curiosity or just disbelief that their computer instructor/nerd could actually ballroom dance.)

University of Hawaii Students Cat & Yongsung and Michelle & Eugene.

They came, they saw, they stayed!

Eight weeks later, we had a small group willing to perform an American Waltz/Cha-cha medley.  Two weeks before performance, I found out that many of them had not even mentioned their ballroom classes or the performance to their family.  After some coaxing, I was able to get them to reluctantly invite family and friends to watch them perform.  The emotion of the students was probably best captured by one student – “I can’t believe that I am actually going to dance!”

We had over 150 attendees at the event, both seasoned social dancers as well as family and friends who had never been to a ballroom dance event.  The nervous energy was palpable before the performance, but the students came through admirably and the crowd was visibly enthusiastic.  The feedback from the seasoned ballroom audience, as well as family members, was overwhelmingly positive!

After the performance – Ravi and Synthia with students from the Ballroom Dance Club at the University of Hawaii.

The highlight of the event happened after the performance, during the general dancing and line dances.  We saw some students teaching their parents how to dance.  It was quite a sight to see two generations of dancers separated by 50 years sharing the dance floor and doing their own variations of the Cupid Shuffle and Electric Slide.  Having two generations, who would otherwise have little in common, engage in a shared activity for three hours that did not involve an electronic device was absolutely heartwarming.  We hope this is only the beginning of a new era of ballroom dancing in Hawaii and hope this event will inspire other chapters to spread the joy of ballroom dance to the next generation.

If you plan to visit Honolulu, email us at usadancehonolulu@gmail.com for information on our future events.

Photo by Ryan Kenner.

Ravi Narayan is the President of the USA Dance Honolulu Chapter. His wife and partner, Synthia Sumukti, is the coordinator and instructor for the Honolulu Chapter’s K-12 Program.  This fabulous couple also dances competitively in all four dance styles.  

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