Dance Kids

圖 Photos Eduardo Martins
Helping kids stay healthy and express their creative spirit
Dickson Zhou was once Macau’s leading man in Latin dancing, and a member of Macau’s delegation to the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou. After retiring from dancing, he started working as part-time coach with the Macau Sports Bureau training the Macau delegation of dance sports. 
He soon came to realize that dancing can keep children healthy and help them to express their artistic side, and can also stop them from spending too much time playing computer games, so he decided to shift his focus from training professional dancers to trying to popularize dance sports with the youth in the city.
He founded the Macau Youth Dance Sports Association in 2006, under which, the Macau Youth Family of Dance and Music group was founded as a dance training center in 2012. 
Last month the group celebrated its fifth anniversary by inaugurating its new dance facilities at Edifício Industrial Nam Fong.  The new venue is three times the size of the previous one. To celebrate, more than 40 students performed 19 different dances, including in pairs, group Latin dances and Ballroom dances.
At the opening ceremony, Dickson became quite emotional as he spoke to the crowd of parents and young students in attendance. 
“Today I stand here, I am so happy, we have our own place, and we have succeeded,” he said.
Just half an hour earlier, Dickson had been walking around backstage, talking to the parents and encouraging the young dancers to perform their best.  He was keen not to have any mistakes during the anniversary celebrations.
The mood backstage is cheerful and full of activity, with the children chatting and laughing, and costumes and props everywhere.
In one corner of the room is Chao Chon Wa, one of the performers in the first dance.  At 12 years of age, she has been learning Latin dance from Dickson for three years, and recently won first places in Juvenile II ~ CRJ, Tango and Quickstep at the Macau Dance Sports Open in January. 
“There aren’t many choices to learn these type of dances in Macau, and Mr. Zhou is the most professional and most responsible, and my daughter has learned very fast here,” says Nancy Cheong, Chao Chon Wa’s mother. 
Nancy explains that Dickson not only teaches the children how to dance, he also provides a very caring, family friendly environment.  Sometimes if the children are having any problems, such as not concentrating on their studies or spending too much time playing computer games, the parents will call him to ask him to talk with the kids and help solve the matter.  
Dickson also see himself as more than just a dance teacher: “Sometimes I really am a baby-sitter,” he laughs.  “Here we are a dance family. The children come here and are usually reluctant to leave, even when their parents are waiting for them downstairs.” 
Ada Wong’s 11-year-old son Dickson Lao performed the Waltz at the opening ceremony for the new centre.  Ada encouraged her son to take up ballroom dancing because she believes it is an activity people can do from a very young age to very old, and as a member of a dance team he has the opportunity to form good relationships with the other students. 
The Association provides Latin dance classes for a range of styles including  Cha-cha, Rumba, Samba, Paso Doble and Jive, as well as ballroom dance styles like the Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, Viennese Waltz, and Quickstep.   There are currently more than 80 students, but Dickson remains humble about what he has achieved.
“I am only a dance teacher, but what we have achieved now is attributable to the parents. I am pushed forward by the parents”.  Even the new training facilities were their idea.  
In January this year, at the Macau Dance Sports Open,  10 of the 16 finalist teams were from the Macau Youth Family of Dance and Music, including seven in the Junior Group, two in the Youth Group, and one in the Open Group.  Dickson’s association also hosted the 2nd Macau International Open Junior Dance Sport event and the 2016 Macau International Open Dance Sport at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf. 
Despite his progress, challenges remain. Because dance sports are not an officially recognized Olympic event, government funding is difficult to obtain.  And until recently, there have not been many affordable places to hold competitions and events.
For his next move, Dickson is considering trying to promote dance sports at local universities.  He believes that if Macau universities could successfully develop this project, then students from all over the country might want to come here to study dance, and it would be a great way to promote dance sports in Macau.