Thursday, January 31, 2008


Good news: the PBS hosts seem to have finally learned how to talk on camera.
The dancers were beautiful, and it is nice to see how they look when they really know what they're doing. There are rules to follow that conform to a history of what the best dancers have looked like over the years. A certain gravity to the judging enriches the decisions.
The judges make their decisions quietly, too, so it's a nice change from all the reality shows.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Singing War

I think Bruno made a mistake eliminating Lacey. She had a really nice country feel, plus she was the only blond girl. Neither seemed to deliver in the "Sing for your life" segment. I was thinking voice lessons might be fun, but I don't know if I'm inspired or discouraged.
Tonight: PBS Dance Wars

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

website for studio

On trial now, hopefully soon to be up as,
Faithful readers, please have a look and tell me if it loads up easily and well. It's not done, and I will be soliciting testimonials.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Tons of snow, but so far, all my electronic servants (like this computer) are working. Tonight is not crucial like Wednesday will be when PBS broadcasts the Ohio Star Ball, calling it America's Ballroom Challenge. There will be way too much chatting by amateur speakers. I'll look for the young couple who wowed us in September at Betsy's Ballroom for National Ballroom Dance Week. Mary French says Allen Rudman could go the distance, if he keeps continues to dance. The youth are usually featured for showcases.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kids costume

One of the 5th grade boys suggested suspenders, so I went for a swing dance image search, and there it is. A tie, too, why not? Decent skirt for the girls and a pink top. The boy is Jamaican, but I suppose he's used to the ubiquitous skin color. Hopefully the extremely thin body shape of the girl doesn't discourage my overweight one because she's a good dancer.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Steps with Style

How much do you want to blend in? You could learn a hundred steps and no one would bother to look at you because they were all mechanical and all looked the same. Champion Donnie Burns used to go out on the competition floor and do only basics, with style, to win the top marks from the judges.
If you don't want people to look at you, by all means go on learning steps. Line dancing is a great place for that.
People watch dancers to recognize how their own bodies feel, not mechanical, but expressive. We dance teachers try to give students the tools to recognize their own bodies. Ballroom dance teachers go on to work with the connection between two people, the possibility of love that makes the world go round, rooted in the love of life and music and the moment.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Modern Dance

The discipline practiced by Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp and others has gone into some very useful studies of human movement. Rudolf Laban, who tackled choreographic notation, gave us images to start from. The body in one dimension, as a line, he described as a "Pin" to have a dancer start from a very straight, centered place. I like the little head on the top. As we ballroom dancers connect to each other, the two dimensional plane of our bodies can be thought of as a "Wall." It sounds very stiff, but that's just to have a starting place. The movements he uses are free flowing, and relate very well to the smooth dances, Waltz, Foxtrot, Quickstep and Viennese.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Pacino's Tango

That's Al Pacino in "Scent of a Woman". I still get guys saying they want to dance like that Academy Award performance. Argentine Tango, of course, where he can do whatever he wants as long as he keeps the style. Strength, decision, and a deep connection to the music. One side step in particular seemed to connect him to his partner perfectly.
The beautiful young woman then had to leave with her fiance, and we all wondered if she'd made the right choice with a guy who just says, "Oh, you finally found someone to dance the tango with you!"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dance & Dress Up

ABC dot com was way late posting the new episode. But I had plenty to do, getting together for the 5th grade.
Some will do "teamed solos," as I am calling just one boy and girl dancing together.
They are most concerned about the costumes. Suspenders?
As for Dance War, Bruno's first dance had those ugly, ungraceful, overly sexy costumes. Net stockings with garters. Carrie Ann's first dance had colorful gym clothes, which were better.
My girls going to get knee length swirly skirts. For the guys, vests can add a bit of color easily.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Thanks, Mike! I wanted to see Torvill and Dean's ice dancing Rumba again ever since I saw it watching the Olympics. Through the miracle of Youtube, there they were. The Ravel Bolero came up first as the most popular, I guess. It speeds up but they stayed as smooth as oil. I kept watching, naturally. The Viennese. The Tango as a modern ice dance. And then poorly reproduced selections. And people's compilations. I guess I have other things to do.

Monday, January 21, 2008

African America

Finally, we are openly acknowledging the contributions of the African-American culture. In my childhood, the music industry was still trying to keep music separate. Now it becomes interesting to look at the origin of various threads and how the texture of the music is colored by the weaves to enrich our society.
Recently, I watched the biopic of Arturo Sandoval, Cuban Jazz trumpeter, "For Love or Country". African drums and dance preserved in the barrios of Havana influenced Dizzy Gillespie, who helped bring our hero out into the world.
As far as Arturo Sandoval was concerned, the traditional mixture, the Mambos and Boleros that I adore, were not to his taste, so I'm not buying his music. He has a jazz club in Miami Beach that we didn't go into (for $33 per person.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dance Lessons

Sometimes you feel dumb, but there's a lot of interesting stuff that can make your dancing easier. A slice of humble pie is just the appetizer. Too bad it's not more appetizing.
I had a series of lessons with Bill Morganti at the Dance Teachers Club of Boston. He said his first 10 or 15 years of teaching were just preparation.
You'll be happy to hear I have been teaching for 15 years, so maybe I'm ready.
We did Slow Swivels in Cha cha and Mambo, American 4 step in Tango, and a bunch of Latin styling. At least I got a compliment on Latin styling since steps are still my worst thing. I hate stumbling and I usually do when I get new ones.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Last night, Vince Kraft, outgoing CCBD president, said, "Competition is good." CCBD is glad people have choices. We started our evening at the Hyannis Senior Center where a select few had a Bolero lesson with me.
Enriching the dance environment at the Sons of Italy was a newly popular band on Cape, the Dave Burbank Band, and the dance community came out to enjoy their good sounds. In fact, the Krafts were instrumental in bringing them to the Cape.
They'll be back Feruary 29.

Friday, January 18, 2008

website for Falmouth

At, local cultural events are given more visibility. A well designed newspaper ad lists my Falmouth dance, and they have connections with the TV station. However, my ballroom dance community needs to be wider than just Falmouth. The studio itself is in Bourne, so I'll just keep paying my membership to USA Dance, $50 this year, and keep the Cape-wide connections.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ice skate Ice dance

14 degrees predicted. Maybe this weekend we will be ice skating outdoors. I like it best when it first freezes solid and the whole expanse is open to traverse with music. Viennese Waltzes around the pond. A dance floor as big as anyone could dream of. Do-it-yourself free fun.
For the figure skaters on TV, I wish they would rerun Torvill and Dean whose unforgettable Rumba on skates embodied elegance.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

TV show on computer

I forgot Dance Wars, so I had to wait until yesterday afternoon to watch on Kind of a small screen, but good picture.
From where I sit, Lacey, the choir leader, may win it for Bruno. Her group of young women sang noticeably better than the others.
Carrie Ann's chose the young looking Bradley and Chris.
We'll see which type of appeal translates to telephone voting.
Perhaps it should be called Song and Dance Wars since the singing is so important.The dance move I'll be looking for is a certain type of sliding that I see in West Coast Swing.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Technical Technique

This weekend I went from free form Dance Meditation to a private lesson in ballroom dance, a subject rife with technique.
We discussed East Coast vs West Coast Swing.
In WCS, the technique is all upfront, necessary to do the dance at all. Since it's such a seductive dance, people learn it in spite of the trouble, and that helps their dancing across the board.
East Coast Swing is easy at first. You can mush through it, and it's okay, but then you need to learn technique to do the fancy stuff.

Monday, January 14, 2008


At Morse Pond School, the ballroom dance group is down to a manageable size.
My ambition is to have them dance swing to the beat.
My hope is for an impressive stage show with costumes.
My dream is to take them on the road, all the way to Osterville's Wianno Club in June.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dance Meditation

Dunya, who grew up in Woods Hole dancing with Klara Koenig, gave a Dance Meditation class yesterday at the Mary French Studio. In the beautiful space we moved through fluid Yoga to a mind/body place that left the world behind for a while.
Her particular exercise this time was for us to move with the eyes closed and then to open them for a while to test how sight can be distracting. It felt like moving in and out of body awareness.
Now a Sufi with a Dervish Society website, Dunya trained at Juilliard, so she knows how she looks. I have just begun to wonder enough to look at myself in the mirror before closing my eyes again in order to fix the body memory to the movement.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Hey, the dance floor at the Sons of Italy is flat! We were worried last time we were there, when it was first put down, that the lumpiness was permanent. All is well, and there was a good turn out for Debbie's dance, old friends and new.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Music

A new initiative to spice up the conservatory dances: The last hour will be a set of new music, not the tried and true favorites, suitable for confident dancers.
You heard it here first!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Pairs of rules

I like Rule 21: "Do not watch your feet while you dance." And how it
goes with Rule 22: "Do not watch your partner's feet while you dance."

Rules 19 & 20: "Do not bump other people on the dance floor."
and "If you do, always apologize."

There are only two rules that I disagree with: "The feet will not leave the ground on the Rock-Step." and "No Single-Steps during slow music."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

VCR again

So I set my VCR and got another of the multiple reasons why my dance show wouldn't record, a football fan and the g-d cable box combined.
This morning, I saw the first half hour, and it was glitzier than So You Think You Can Dance, but the beautiful young people working so hard had me rooting for them. East Coast dancers and singers. Then the tape got full of men running into each other.
Last night I got home, and eventually, during an ad, Joe said, "Do you want to see your show?" So I saw the chosen ones whom I had not met, and the glitziness of the ending.
I guess I will have to banish him to the rec room TV as I did for Dancing with The Stars.

Monday, January 7, 2008


A lot of the rules are just good manners. #19, Do not bump other people on the dance floor, must be important because almost the same one appears as #14, No acrobatics on a social/crowded dance floor.
#9 is specific and seems to show that Benson Wong did a lot of swing. "During beats 4&4 of a lindy turn, the woman will walk *towards* her partner."

Sunday, January 6, 2008


New quote from Albert Einstien: "Dancers are the athletes of God."
As athletes, we dance ourselves in our own space, connecting with joy to the other person we have chosen to share the music with.
One of Benson's rules fits in there, #16 "Support your own weight."

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Social Rules

Grouping a few other rules:
#10 A man does not wear a hat in the presence of a lady.
#13 Bring a towel to wipe off sweat before dancing with the next partner.
#17 Guys will not wear shorts while social dancing.
#23 Take a mint before dancing if you had a drink.
Mints are good.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Fine points

Sometimes rules seem to contradict themselves.
Such as Rule #5: "A lead is a suggestion, not a command." A Favorite of mine. I quote it all the time.
Followed by Rule 6: "I am confident; I am decisive. I will not make a mushy lead/follow."
You have to really know what you're doing to realize if you are leading too hard. Sometimes leaders are so pleased to know even approximately what they are supposed to do that they make their moves too strong.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Benson Wong goes on to Rule 2. "Do not blame your partner for mistakes while dancing."
This applies to life.
and I like Rule 18. "Always smile because you are having fun."

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Benson's Rules of Dance

This is an old one.
Benson Wong, who started the website, wrote up 24 rules, and they're funny and true. Because it's Wednesday, the 2nd of January and I haven't a dance thought in my head, I can look at them for a quote.
He starts with #1, "Your partner is a queen/king. treat him/her like one."
#2 is about the same. "Do not blame your partner for mistakes while dancing."
Then my eye wanders and drops on "Do not take large Rock-Steps."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Country and Ballroom

At the Sons of Italy for New Year's Eve, we heard some great songs from the Country side of the musical spectrum.
However, some of our Ballroom people couldn't appreciate them.
And some of the line dancers resented the Ballroom music on the floor.
The poor DJ!
The Family Waltz mixed us up some, so that was good.
The surprise for me was the advertised "Couples Dancing" was we would call Round Dance, a circle of couples repeating the same steps in unison - a ready made formation.
La Sala Grande was beautifully decorated. Top notch balloons. A brand new floor.