Friday, February 29, 2008

PBS & me

Terrific show from the Ohio Star Ball through Aida Moreno, Ron Montez, Jasmine Guy and all. I believe the American Smooth is settling into a nicer, less frantic looking line - not too much arm work. But the International Standard is so much more disciplined that the judges can't help but be impressed. I still like American Rhythm better than International Latin, but Jose Descamps has only just come up into the top ranks, and Andre and Elena were very impressive. They won before. Usually we like new winners.
I'm going to have to put in my two cents to the producer because I thought Ron Montez talked too much through the dancing.
AND the Massachusetts showcase was the young couple we had seen live! at Betsy's Ballroom last fall. My TV show has footage of Allen Rudman and Michelle Tuzman.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Florida #3

Easiest, most casual was South Florida Swing Dance Productions. Last year, we did a Zumba class there, and now I see Belly Dance is offered, so they're open and welcoming.
This year, Salsa has two nights, but we missed Wednesday visiting relatives. Friday, several of the group from Crystal Ballroom (AKA Club Dance) were there too for an interesting figure that used his elbow to lead. Next came a lead to her open arm that they called Karate chop. Takes a bit of space for that second. Then she should pull in to a narrower profile, if you were to try it at a Salsa club especially.
Saturday, we forewent Crystal Ballroom's married couples night for the Swing night with the kids. South Florida Swing Dance Productions is the name because the owners specialize in Lindy with high school students. Two years ago, the place was crowded with a very active group who also put on shows, often for the military, Colonels perhaps associated with Cape Canaveral, just an hour north of Jensen.
But then they graduated. High school groups do that, running with their age group exclusively, which means that the studio is periodically pretty empty.
We loved it. Many of their choices for Lindy were gorgeous Foxtrots to our ears.
The young men led well using some great stuff that felt quite new to me. Fellow dancers from Sandwich, Rick and Ellen Moran, showed up by chance, so that was fun too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Falmouth & Florida

Before I left, I finished the yearly TV show. It airs starting this week. Tomorrow (Thursday, February 28) 3:55 & 8:30 PM. Saturday 7 AM, and 1:30 and 8 PM. Sunday 9:05 AM.
Our second Jensen Beach dance opportunity was Thursday, Pizza Party night at Crystal Ballroom, a piece of a strip mall in the village of Rio (pronounced Rye-o). This is what I would call a regular ballroom studio, except that they don't do group classes. Private lessons and dance parties fill their week. $10 for the dance which included a glass of wine and a piece of pizza. Two Waltz mixers, and I got to dance with the owner's grown sons among others. Newcomer special is 2 (half-hour) privates and a party for $49.00.
One of the partners is expanding to another Jensen location which will have group lessons and a club membership. He offered me a job, but I said I was already employed.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Jensen Beach

Joe didn't know about all the dance in Jensen Beach when he started going there years ago. Windsurfing was the draw. The first place we found was the Copacabana on the barrier island, the other side of the Indian River, the half salt intra-coastal waterway famous for citrus. although it has changed hands five times in as many years, the basic format - dance floor and stage next to big window in strip mall - is the same and attracts a late Saturday night Latino crowd. DJ and a guy with maracas come on after the rock 'n' roll band for the early crowd. It means the DJ is on the dance floor since the band got the stage and are still packing up when the changeover happens. The bar is in the way of the view, and the men are mostly short, but I brought my own partner. A crowded, sweaty place, but fun.

Monday, February 25, 2008


I'm back! My time on the internet was spent on the websites of and My time dancing was spread over a number of congenial places. Jensen Beach has more dance than you'd expect. The Crystal Ballroom, a small studio also called Club Dance, has social dances twice a week and private lessons the rest of the time. South Florida Swing Dance Productions concentrates on a program for high school students that includes formation team shows, but they welcome other dancers.
Copacabana is where the Latinos gather on Saturday night. And the Ramada has a great group and a smaller dance floor on Thursdays.
Each venue deserves at least a paragraph, so I'll do more tomorrow.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


My next posting could be from Florida, if the timing works out with a shared computer and internet access at the breakfast place.
Flow Yoga, AKA Dancekinetics? is at the studio this morning. I'll try to check it out.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dance in schools

My philosopher of dance from England goes on to advocate ballroom dance as an alternative to casual sexual encounters and concludes his article with a push for dance in the schools. "Dance, properly taught, will contribute to physical fitness. it will also do many other things for us, as individuals and as a community, which sport cannot do. The nub is that what passes for dance in many schools is precisely that sort of free expressive movement which will teach neither the virtues made possible by set dance forms nor develop the sense of community and entry into a tradition which they necessarily bring."

Thursday, February 14, 2008


The same Prof. of Philosophy goes on to say, "We must be the first society in history in which the whole community does not, automatically as it seems to us, know how to dance." I think he overstates his case. Some communities are better at dancing than others, just as some people are better dancers. I just want ours to be one where everyone who wants to can dance.
There was a flowering of dance when the radio came in, but it died down and only a few of those ballrooms are left. New spaces appear and can be used for dancing with the right encouragement. I'm thinking of the Cotuit Center for the Arts, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod in Yarmouth, and my dream for 10 years, the Portuguese American Club UPSTAIRS in Falmouth.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


A professor of philosophy from England wrote lamenting the loss of community, suggesting compulsory dance in schools.
Anthony O'Near wrote, "We are first and foremost physical beings, living, breathing, moving and embodied. We naturally express ourselves in movement and gesture, and we react naturally to music and rhythm. to feel fully at one with others, whether friends neighbors or strangers, it is necessary to move with them, and to express ourselves in movement with them." (Dance Teacher, 1996)
Maybe a bit high flown and didactic, but well meant.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Group Activity

My fifth grade has hit a snag. I had my son film yesterday, and he had to film around the way the girls treated one of the boys. I had seen signs, but this time, I was dancing instead of watching for behavior problems, so they showed their tricks.
I will have to work on the weakest girl dancer, who is the cruelest. To make herself feel stronger, she picks on the boy who is regarded as "icky." I worked with him and he is capable. I have extra girls, so she will have to shape up.
Rules for dance: 1. Dance with the music. 2. Dance with the other people.
I will help her to dance with the music, and she must be kind.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Latin as line dance

I ran Latin line dances for the first time last night. No wonder Zumba works so well. It was a breeze. I had my group at the Jewish Congregation party, and I pitched the difficulty level just right. Everyone got plenty of exercise and got to listen to good music. I handed out a couple of cards, but I'll be surprised if they show up for the Conservatory.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Rock 'n' Soul Dinner Dance

I wasn't sure about the Audible Local Ledger's Charity Dinner/Dance with the Moonlighters at the Sons of Italy (La Sala Grande). I had seen the band at a much smaller place, the Courtyard, and left early. Too loud, not enough room to move, all just freestyle.
But I know the A.L.Ledger is supported by a good community, and my Friday dance class wanted a field trip. I figured they were ready to practice in a place where they wouldn't feel like they had to do steps. Swing would work, and then, after a drink or two, they could just bop around.
As it turned out, my advanced class came, too, and snuck in cha cha and mambo when the songs weren't too strongly swing. They were an inspiration to the beginners.
Sometimes the key to enjoyment lies in not expecting too much.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Ohio Star Ball

The PBS Championship Ballroom Dancing show is filmed at the Ohio Star Ball. Ron Montez, the judges, and I all agreed that Jose Descamps and his partner came in first. He has an authentic Latin look, and that is still available in the American style, while the International has gone too far into their own interpretation.
It was a surprise to see Julia Gorchakova with someone other than Bob Powers, but I never really liked him.
My prediction for the America's Top Dancing Couple when they get to the final week - Standard, the International Waltz etc.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Hopelessly Out of It

The other night the show I watched was called "Top 25 Dancers of all Time." I missed 25 to 13, but 12 was Alvin Ailey. Then there were some I hadn't heard of. Savion Glover got #7, below Beyonce and Janet Jackson. They went back to Vaudeville for the Nicolas Brothers. Number 2 was Michael Jackson. Number 1 was James Brown. Needless to say, it was Black Entertainment Television, but I think Alvin Ailey and Savion Glover, serious professional dancers, deserve to be higher up than the entertainers. Talented though they are, their dances consist of some good tricks and a limited repertoire optimized by good choreography. Plus, don't forget the annoying jumpy camera work that would cover up and cut out any missteps.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Honky Tonk, Parts 1 and 2

I was very pleased last night when my musician student asked me about a piece I had played. It was just the same mood and tempo as a song he's working on. Not "Honky Tonk" by Bill Doggett, he said, but he didn't realize I had recorded the flipside of the 45. Honky Tonk without the saxophone is Part 1.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Foot pressure

I typed in that title and thought the program would have remembered it. It seems like I always talk about foot pressure for ballroom dancers. Yesterday, a slide step mimicked the Waltz side step that produces sway through foot pressure. There must be another phrase for it since I'm not getting the results I want from students - how about - "weight in the ball of the foot as you push off, and then hold onto it." Clunky.
An exercise in front of the mirror that is internalized for part of your body language. A picture that you can see with your eyes closed. When your eyes are closed you can feel your body.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Youth in Falmouth

Recently the newspaper had an article about the Upper Cape chosen as a good place for youth. (Where was that article?) The young adults, twenty-somethings, flee our peninsula. While we have them, we can do our best for them, so I have a number of ways to reach for them.
At MCAS tutoring, we find the lowest level and coax them into their best performance.
My fifth graders are realizing, with the help of our talented young Jamaican, that dance can be treated seriously.
The easiest and most fun for me was seeing the beautiful young people at the casual dance last night.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dance filmed

As I edit the yearly Cape Cod dancing show for local access TV, I try not to interfere with our view of the dancers, especially the showcases.
Editors go wild so much, probably because of the influence of MTV, that I don't even comment anymore when they cut up and down and slow or speed up the film, but it does interfere with my enjoyment.
It seems the new movie, "How She Move", does a nice job allowing Step dancers to express emotions too powerful for words. Step dancing, according to David Denby in the New Yorker this week, is "an assertive style of talking through the body - stomping with boots, slapping one's chest, thighs, and legs, whirling and spinning. It's not social dancing; it's a way of saying, 'This is who I am. This is what I can do.'"
One of my fifth graders is from Jamaica where he had step dance groups.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Social dancers

I met a maverick last night in night school, the man from a couple who only dance on their own, and only with each other. I tried to dance with him, but I was not willing to be pulled around, especially when I had to teach a class of people who take directions very well. He will bring his wife next week, and they will go on with observation, using our patterns to supplement what they picked up from videos.
They are missing out on one of the great ways to enjoy dancing with music as a unifying force. By moving together in time to the music, we can build group feelings as well as understanding our partners better.