FRIDAY FEATURE: Ballroom dancing craze in Israel

Friday, March 24, 2006 | 
The International 2006 World Cup Championship of Ballroom and Latin dance took place last weekend in Tel Aviv, hosted in Israel for the first time, underscoring a burgeoning interest in dance in Israel.

More than 200 couples competed in the championship, at least half of them under 19 years old.

Televised dance show competitions, a growing number of dance studios and amateur salsa and ballroom dance classes at local clubs have taken Israel by storm. And its no longer just the Russian immigrants to Israel who brought the art and culture of dance with them and take home most of the medals.

“The young dancers here, both Russian and Israeli, are doing well in the worldwide scheme of things,” says Harold Drenth, a judge from Holland. “Israel is a young dancing country, but it has taken a huge step forward in a very short time, and I expect Israeli dancers to keep getting better and better.”

At the dancing competition in Tel Aviv, the youth were divided into four age groups and each pair performed a combination involving dances such as the tango, the cha-cha, the samba, the quick step or the English waltz.

Natali Aviv, a 14-year-old older dancer from Rehovot told the Jerusalem Post she started dancing when she was six.

“It's hard to put so much energy into something and then not win first place,” she said. “But I still want to be the world champion and represent Israel one day.”

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