Last weekend, two Harvard students traveled to Evry, France to compete in the World Amateur 10-dance Competition. They have been partners for seven years and are the top-ranked amateur ballroom dancing team in the United States. Together they have helped the Harvard Ballroom Dance Team in its four-year undefeated streak and its number-one collegiate ranking.
All this while having to contend with sibling rivalry.
Brother and sister duo Alexander M. Fung '98 and Jennifer M. Fung '97 began dancing when they were 10 and 11 years old at the urging of their parents, both of whom are amateur ballroom enthusiasts.
In fact, Alex and Jennifer have two other siblings who are also competitive ballroom dancers.
Before college, Jennifer danced with her younger brother Victor, who is currently a sophomore at UCLA. One month after they entered into the junior national competition in Los Angeles--and won.
"We've always been competitive dancers and our training has always had a competitive focus," Jennifer says.
While they were in high school, the Fungs would often compete locally in Los Angeles.
In 1993, while still teenagers, they began competing on an adult level. That year, the two went to the national competition and took second-place.
Alex, who used to dance with his sister Tiffany in competitions, says that dancing with his sister may seem a little strange to outsiders, but it is "not uncommon" in the ballroom dancing world. Communication among partners is essential to competition and dancing with a family member helps facilitate this, he says.
But Jennifer says that dancing with her brother hasn't always been so simple.
When they were little, Jennifer was faced with the difficulty of dancing with a younger brother who only reached to her waist. But the large discrepancy in height between the two was the least of their problems.
Jennifer says she and her brother Victor would often get in "disagreements" on the style of dancing and the interpretation of music.
During one noteable spat, Jennifer slapped Victor during a rehearsal. But Jennifer says she has since seen the error of her ways in using physical force to prove her point.
"I haven't slapped him in years," she said.
Dancing at Harvard