Tue, Dec 09, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Dancing legend dies at 83

LATE BLOOMER After Sung Yu-heng took up dancing at the age of 76, she didn’t look back, offering the elderly an example of how to stay healthy and happy after retirement

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Sung Yu-heng, right, performs a ballroom dance on Oct. 4.

PHOTO: CNA

Sung Yu-heng (宋羽亨), who became a local legend for ballroom dancing into her 80s, died on Monday following a fall. She was 83.

Her family said that Sung — who was invited to show off her ballroom dancing skills as a special guest at the 2008 Professional Dance Championships Asian Tour Taipei Open in February — fell unconscious after she tripped on the stairs at her home in Taipei County’s Yonghe City (永和) while trying to take her garbage out.

Sung, who was in excellent health, never woke up following last week’s fall, her daughter Chen Shao-chia said.

Although doctors declared her brain-dead shortly after she was rushed to a nearby hospital, Sung’s other organs remained healthy and she had a normal heartbeat and strong lungs.

Sung’s dance coach, Shih Ta-chien (施達乾), played DVDs of her performances in Sung’s hospital room in the hope that it would revive her, but Sung was pronounced dead on Monday.

Sung danced like a pro, even though she only began dancing at the age of 76 for exercise.

Shih said that Sung had a good physique with muscles and bones that were much younger than her age.

Sung and Shih, who was also her dance partner, had appeared and danced on many of the nation’s TV variety shows and had been invited to appear on educational programs as well.

Local TV hosts called her a role model for retirees seeking to stay healthy and spend their later years happily.

Sung said in an interview with CNA in September that she had become healthier and happier than she was seven years before taking up dancing.

“You expect more and more of yourself. It’s something like an addictive feeling,” she said.

She and Shih had been invited to show off their dance moves in Southeast Asia and Sung even danced in early September in Shanghai with Zhou Jitian (周吉天) — one of the top dancesport athletes in China. Zhou and his partner won the championship in the tango competition in the 2005 East Asian Games and the title for New Stars in the tango category in the 2006 World International Standard Dance Championship in Germany.

Before her death, Sung said that she dreamed of taking part in international standard dance competitions abroad — including, if possible, in Blackpool, England, the mecca of professional ballroom dancers from around the world.

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