For more than a quarter century Nanaimo has been hosting the province’s second-largest ballroom dance competition, and event chairperson Vicki Linfitt said some Nanaimoites still don’t know about it.
On May 5 and 6 an estimated 120 dancers from Canada, the United States and beyond are expected to fill the dance floor and 700 spectators are anticipated to fill the seats at the Beban Park social centre for the 26th annual Island Fantasy Ball. The only larger event is the Snowball Classic in Richmond, which draws greater numbers thanks to its mainland location.
The Fantasy Ball competitors, who range in age from four to 85, are aiming to accumulate points to grant them entry to higher level events in the world of competitive ballroom. The B.C. couples are competing in a closed event, meaning they face off against other British Columbians. Linfitt said it’s a coveted title.
“We have quite a few local competitors that are here on the Island and some of them are older and some of them are younger,” Linfitt said.
“They dance at a little bit lower level but it’s their passion and they love it, so that’s really neat that we have that.”
The event’s top-rated international competitors include current U.S. Latin and 10-dance champions Errol and Ami Williamson from Denmark and Polish 10-dance champions Armand Fazulin and Klaudia Iwanska. The top Canadians include Ontario’s Nikita Babaev and Michelle Bromberg, Francis Gauthier and Anouck Fournier of Quebec, Albertans Krystian Kazanowski and Ariana Pyszniak and B.C.’s own Zika Trajkovic and Scarlet Liaifer.
Linfitt said the high-proficiency dancers in their 20s are an exciting sight, but for the past few years it’s been the 45-plus event that’s enjoyed the most popularity. The adult 2 standard dance competition includes the waltz, quickstep, slow foxtrot, tango and Viennese waltz.
The couples will be judged on how they move together as one, the quality of their hold, their musicality and how well they present themselves.
“Usually if you watch it you’ll see all of the people that are chosen as the winners, they’re vibrant and engaging to watch,” Linfitt said.
She added that there will be some social dancing thrown in, but spectators need not be familiar with the intricacies of dance to appreciate the skill on display in both the competitive and showcase performances.
This year audiences will be treated to a routine by seven-time undefeated Canadian Latin, standard and 10-dance champions Anton Belyayev and Antoaneta Popova. Linfitt said it’s exciting that Nanaimo has been able to attract so much talent for so many years.
“We’re getting these amazing international couples coming. It’s entertainment worthy of going to Vancouver and you don’t have to pay for the ferry,” she said.
“Even Victoria hasn’t been able to maintain this level of ballroom competition … and they’re a much bigger place than we are. So it’s pretty neat that we’ve been able to do that.”
WHAT’S ON … The 26th annual Island Fantasy Ball comes to the Beban Park social centre on Saturday, May 5 from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 to 11 p.m. and Sunday, May 6 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets range from $25 to $95 and are available from the Port Theatre box office. For more information visit www.islandfantasyball.com.