inclined to step inside are likely to find a sleek young couple gliding
lightly across the vast hardwood floor, moving apart and back together again
in tight spins and dazzling twirls—in some ways symbolic of the twists of
circumstance and chance that brought them together in the first place.
met at dancing school,” explained the woman. “Our coach introduced
us,” added her male partner.
this duo had to cross oceans to find each other nearly half-a-world away.
Jang is a 28-year-old native of Seoul, South Korea, and his 22-year-old
dance partner Ewelina Basak is originally from Poland.
As a team they have achieved huge success in the competitive dance
world; more remarkable, perhaps, this award-winning tandem of international
origin trains in Little Neck.
Best In Queens And The World
At the Manhattan dance school where they met, as well as the several other studios where Basak and Jang developed early on, the two dancers learned to waltz, foxtrot, tango and quickstep—forms they have now mastered together.
Dancers Sehyoung Jang and Ewelina Basak make a great team both on and off the dance floor. They’ve won several amateur dance competitions and are
engaged to be married.
competitions call for different steps, and the pair claims to have no
right now we like cha-cha the best, we practice it the most.
But it all changes all the time,” Basak said.
“We love dancing in general.”
and Jang practice at the Tri-State Hall at the intersection of Northern
Boulevard and 254th Street because the hall’s owner, Sue Kim of Manhasset,
helps support and sponsor their competitive efforts, which take the two
dancers all over the world.
the Tribune spoke to Jang and Basak, they were nearing the end of a
competitive hiatus that followed their first place showing at the Korean
International Championships and third place honors in the Latin Dance and
Standard Dance divisions of the U.S. National competition.
achievements place Basak and Jang at the very top of the ranks of amateur
competitive ballroom dancers, both in New York and the world. “We are at
the highest level there is just before turning professional,” explained
Basak. The couple has definite plans to turn professional soon, but only
after racking up a few more titles at the amateur level.
Dancing To America
Sehyoung Jang started dancing at age 11 in Seoul and eventually entered a university program that included dance education. “I graduated with a Recreational major from college. I did like singing and dancing,” Jang said. In the course of his studies Jang was introduced to ballroom dance, and his pursuit of ballroom dance brought him to the U.S. “I came from Korea for the first time with my college professor. There is better dance education in America,” he said. Jang moved here permanently in 1997.
added, “I just did it for dance, I did it for dance and nothing else.”
Basak came to New York almost 10 years ago— when she was 13-years-old
—and first lived in Rockaway.
journey from Poland was motivated not by dance, but by her family. “I
moved because of my mom, and I wasn’t sure that I would be dancing when I
moved here,” she said.
“Once I moved here, I went to dancing schools and started dancing
again and that was just it,” Basak explained.
Basak started dancing in Poland at age eight.
immigrant experience was a challenge for Basak, but her love of dance helped
her overcome the hardship. She said, “It was difficult at the beginning, I
wanted to move back to Poland, but after three or four years I was pretty
glad I live here now and I want to represent the U.S. in the World
Championships and stuff like that.”
asked about the greatest advantage to their lives in America, Basak answered
quickly, “Meeting each other.”
Jang smiled his agreement.
Immigrant Dancers In A Borough Of Immigrants
and Jang have found great support from the community in Queens and Nassau
explained, “We are being sponsored by our families, we have sponsors that
give us our dresses and shoes and stuff like that.” Their patrons include
Sue Kim, the owner of Tri-State Hall. “The lady who is sponsoring us, she
opened this studio. She wanted to have a dancing school. So she is a teacher
now. We kind of help her out with publicity,” Basak said.
that two world-class ballroom dancers practice nearby spread through the
community, said Jang, and the attention has lead to increased interest in
ballroom dance. Jang explained, “I didn’t advertise a lot about this
hall because it is brand new, but everybody knew about this hall and came to
they primarily train for competitions, the dancers also teach classes at
Tri-State, which helps satisfy Jang’s desire to use his educational
training. “The first time I came I wanted to learn dance and go back to
Korea and teach dance. But I decided to stay, to work with the Korean
community in the United States,” Jang said.
Jang finds that dance helps bring together the many communities living in
Queens. “We dance together,
the Korean Community and the American Community, in this hall,” he said.
Dancers In Love
it was only after further inquiry by the Tribune that Jang revealed
that they are more than just dance partners. “We got engaged last year,”
a year of dancing together, the dancers became romantically involved and
decided to get married after a year of dating. Basak explained, “[The
transition] wasn’t difficult actually, because we spend so much time
together. We just, like, clicked after a while.”
asked if their romantic relationship has affected their dance relationship,
both dancers just smiled and laughed. “It is also a difficult part,”
Jang admitted happily.
future holds big things for Basak and Jang. Besides their impending wedding,
the dancers will participate in the American Star dance competition next
month in New Jersey.