Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Music as Touch

Radiolab communicated this thought. (I listen to a lot of NPR.)
Starting with babies, whose mothers talk in a special universal cadence, sound goes into our bodies with the vibration against the eardrum and affects parts of our brains as intimately as any touch.
Music is our lifelong partner, having begun to affect us long before we could even dance alone, much less with a partner.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Listening to a radio show while driving to my mother's house before Christmas, an occupational therapist talked about creativity, deeply satisfying, because we do not know what is going to happen. In much of our lives we know or need to know, but when engaged in creative acts, it is better if we don't know.
Following in ballroom dance can be like that quickly. Leading that way takes longer.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


The man has a repertory that's amazing. I had never heard him do any of the songs he sang and performed last night at Grumpy's. A good crowd, some dancers, many dancing fans - at one point there were 20 women and 7 men in the dance area. Couples with any moves had to take the fringes.
Tonight - BLIZZARD - stay home!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Winter Break

Like many a course of study, the dance world takes a winter break. The truly addicted have to work on their own. Those who just play with the activity get opportunities at holiday parties. Sometimes the two intersect, if the workers provide holiday parties. Not me this year, anyway.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Season's over

The talented, charismatic Russell Ferguson will bring $250,000 back to Boston. I read he will buy a car. Then try to start a company. Here and I was wondering what kind of house he could afford with that money.
Interesting to feel, like the sports people do, that there's an end to the contest.
Most of my interests are ongoing. One book can replace the last. Another dance style to study.
The winter break is on. No DWTS. No SYTYCD. No classes.
I'll keep my Ballroom Dancing by Alex Moore close by.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


50 years of history in 3 minutes

(Author said we could dance to it.)

Monday, December 14, 2009


The Nigerian musician who combined Afro-pop, American Funk and protest songs is the subject of a new musical on Broadway (big bucks). When I first heard his music, I thought we could dance Samba to it, except it's called ITT, protesting the international company.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

eclectic dance

For my birthday, my son bought a book called Eclectic Dance which speaks to the trend of blending dance styles. I personally love the effect, but body training and muscle memory can interfere with learning a new style.
Watching the young people on SYTYCD, I marvel at their talent and hard work. I'm happy they have taken their ballet training and applied it to the dances I want to watch. Often it enriches their ballroom performances - though not always.
i see it in my own students such as ex-ballerinas needing to relax their arms.
As the judges say, we can see what they are used to doing can keep them from the full expression of a dance that has evolved differently.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Camera Work

I never said how disappointed I was in the film footage from the Mary French Memorial Dance.
I begin to appreciate professional camera work, work that I took for granted or felt free to criticize, work that disappears if done properly.
More planning is a first step because it doesn't just happen, especially if you can't do it yourself.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Close up is the person dancing, one self.
The camera pulls back, and we see a partner.
And the dance floor has other couples.
Outside the floor are the band and people watching.
The building encloses the party.
The community supports the group.
All are dancing in time, in a season, within the year.
The holiday season is a time to reflect on how we work together to make the dance.
(I think this is a draft of a poem.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TV Dance

Last night I was switching back and forth with two dance shows at the same time. Ed Simon did a good job with teaching foxtrot to the talented young people on SYTYCD.
The ballroom costumes are the nicest ones. I didn't see why the girl being a blackbird should wear a bikini. I also find the empire waistline on a shortie nightgown distracts from the body movement rather than adding to it, but that seems to be a favorite look. Who picks their costumes anyway?

Meanwhile, they finally figured out the send off on DWTS, a favorite performance for the eliminated star, and I hope Joanna Krupa enjoyed doing her waltz again. It had very high production levels - drapes of shiny light blue silk to accent the celestial music of "Alleluia". I suppose they might even have told her ahead of time. They had to tell the stage manager.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Physics of Dance

Physics is there, constrained by our bodies'limitations, but part of the celebration of our joy at being here, and if the physics teacher can relate to action and reaction through the Sugar Push, great.
Meanwhile, I go into how the body works, still studying through classes in body conditioning, Pilates being the best grounded that I have found.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Big weekend

We had not just the once a year event, Swing dancers descending on Cape for 3 days, but also Johnny Hoy at the Landfall and a Dance Teachers Club of Boston meeting.

At Swingin' New England, it was nice to see Blake Hobbie back and competing again. She used to be a Kindergarten teacher and is now the mother of a two year old, so she's gone through some changes - good ones I expect. She was wondering what had possessed her to dye her hair red and cut it shorter than most men. I'd like to see the old video of her dancing with Bill Cameron. I remember it as magical, while her piece with Michael Kielbasa this year was not the winning number. Arjay, violinist in a previous life, was just the best.

The Landfall in Woods Hole closes soon, so they seem to be interested in involving the community. No cover with that great band was a nice surprise.

DTCB featured Tibor Karalekas, Hungarian champion turned owner of Supershag in Waltham, teacher of the year at the Yankee classic, bringing in the most competitors, his ladies, none of whom said they wanted to compete when they started.
"Keep them calm by talking to them," he advised. Many teachers really like to talk - he certainly does.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Memories and trends

Entertainment places come and go. The Sons of Italy has not been a dance hall forever. Before they took up ballroom dancing, Mary French used to hold parties at her studio. In the late 80s she decided to let the hall take over that work.
The other Italians in town, Frank and Mary Christiani at the Rof-Mar Diplomat Club in Sandwich resented the newcomers, but eventually they worked it out to Fridays at the Sons of Italy, and Saturdays at the Rof-Mar. Then the Rof-Mar property was bought out to become luxury condos on the lake with a clubhouse.
We wonder what will become of the property on Route 28. Luxury condos are a glut on the market. Perhaps we will learn tonight at the Last Dance!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Good Choice

Cotuit Center for the Arts did a very nice job for their Thrilla night, except for the band, and for once, it didn't spoil the evening. They took a good long break and the DJ gave us Michael Jackson hits, very danceable. A group had learned his Thriller piece and looked great, all in costume. Costumes were terrific, original, well thought out mostly. My first wig ever needed adjusting way too much. I expect if I'd paid more than $6, it would have worked better, but 10 minute hustle dancing is pretty athletic and full of turns.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween on Saturday

Lots of choices this year, as you would expect with the Party Event date falling on a weekend. Choices I considered are: Friday, Sons of Italy with Dave Burbank $10, Thrilla! at Cotuit Center for the Arts $10, Splash of Blues at the Cultural Center of Cape Cod $10, Harpoon Halloween Costume Party at The Beach House Restaurant with Commonwealth $22, and a "Chairity Ball" at the Artists' Guild (no dancing)$45. Saturday, Betsy Ballroom party $10, Cultural Center of Cape Cod Swing Party with Stage Door Canteen $20. Private parties round out the mix.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Beny More'

More' pronounced Moray, but I never figured out how to place an accent.
Romantic Cuban music from the 50s is so smooth, I hope one of the songs has a beat consistent enough for teaching. Beny More's voice is like Ibrahim Ferrer's on Buena Vista Social Club, the tone described by Ry Cooder as "an empty room".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fridays and Saturdays

I'm getting more calls for weekend classes. As part-time as my job as dance teacher is, as small as the window is for some people to take classes, I still need to keep part of the weekend for my husband.
That said, Friday's class with the the teens was great. Last night, Saturday, I taught another small group of Cape weekend residents, a variation on the summer residents - their house in the country is an hour or so away from their professional life in the city. One or both do the commute or stay over.
Then, out for a drink with Joe, he started talking tennis, so I drifted over to see who those former students were. Turned out they were from the last regular Friday class and talked about coming back. She claimed not to know about the First Saturdays. He had always been oblivious, happy to be back-led, letting her take charge. My version of how couples dancing works doesn't work so well with that dynamic.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Waltz Legs

Wow! If you dance slow waltz with style for over an hour, you can end up really working your legs. Quads and hamstrings are protesting this morning on both legs. I consider this a good thing.
The set of terrific teens was also a good thing. A group from Falmouth Academy organized themselves. We got six young men including a former ballet dancer and a Czech. Seven young women, so I led happily. With the changing partners, now I know the girls' names.
I hope they do this again, maybe next month. Swing would be a smart choice. Some of them know the FA pretzel which has been expanded to include a dip since I learned it with another group 5 years ago.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Finally (DWTS)

I was just saying to a student last week that the stars were not very interesting this season on Dancing With the Stars, and lo and behold, this week, they finally improved. That's what makes them interesting - watching the progress they make. It's a process I get to watch as a teacher that makes my job so rewarding.
Anyway, this week the stars got into their dances. Donnie Osmond, whom I had not expected to like, went beyond his usual charm to get so far into the character of Argentine Tango that he seemed in a daze at the end. Michael Erwin enjoyed himself with Paso Doble. The one who went home, the swimmer, was still holding back, not pouring herself into the movement.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


The double hung windows that served the mary French Studio for so many years are being given a new face life. In fact, the only windows in right now are the storms, so it's a whole new look. Personally, I'd have done new lights and a good ceiling with sound absorption. Hopefully that's next.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CCBD Newsletter

Time to see what happened in the ballroom dance scene on Cape Cod the past 6 weeks - tons! has a new set of photos. Look for yourself!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Saturday, October 17, 2009


My granddaughter is very busy.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Still working on the memorial dance. The write up is supposed to include photos. I have to make the new camcorder work with the new computer and get some still photos of the performances - I Hope!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Running a Fundraiser

There are professionals who run fundraisers, and they may be worth the money, but for the Mary French Memorial, we went with amateurs and a lot of good will. Humor helped us over the rough patches.
We raised a good sum of money for a ballroom dance scholarship. that will be interesting, and I'm glad Ghislaine is interested in administering it. There should be some theatrical boy on Cape somewhere with the sense to realize ballroom dance has a lot going for it.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Yay Comcast service

It was a case of the guy walks in the door and the thing works for him (doncha hate that).
But he didn't say, "It must be your fault." which it could be since computers and routers are fussy items. And he said what to do if it happened again! And it made sense!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

body work

Injuries in my students and on the TV dancers - to me that means being more aware of our bodies. I am offering foot warm up, an extended stretch, and some flexibility afterwards. When I'm teaching now, my awareness of their shoulders is constant throughout. I'm afraid knee work might take too much time, so I'll try to get them to do it on their own or in a stretch class.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


How important are decorations to a dance?
Festive atmosphere vs What a bother!
Homemade vs professional
Food vs floral

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I realized why West Coast teachers never say Push & Pull, even though it seems like that's what you're doing. Leverage and compression are a bit mechanical. Stretch and sink are more poetic. Soften the arms and lead through the body is what we're after.
Dance from your center, which is why Pilates is so great. Centering is what it's all about. My body is of one piece once I finish with Lori's class. I will add more ab work for my ladies though they will protest.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Beach House

On the way back from dinner with Joe's mother, we stopped to see who was at the Beach House. Some band was setting up at 10:30, and an entire wedding party was just showing up. I knew we weren't wedding crashers, but there were sure a lot of them, gorgeous bride, mother in black with rhinestones, many black dresses, bridesmaids in cream needing their bows re-tried. They must have hired their hall until 10:00 and then not felt the party was over, though many of the women had switched to their flip-flops. I felt like the wedding crashed the Beach House.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Early night

The Last Jamaican Night of 2009 wasn't over until 8:40, four encores, and the dance floor was still very full - of adults, just a few children mostly in arms. Even the too cool teen was moving to the beat in a corner, just his shoulders, just because the girls wanted to.
I wonder how late the tourist parties in Jamaica go. Not like the tropical parties that usually start after midnight. The tourists have AC. We had natural AC.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

TV blitz

3 dance programs and a class to teach. I can watch ABC on the internet, so I just had to decide between recording SYTYCD, Boston, or Belly dance Superstars at the Folies Bergere on WGBH. If this keeps up, I might hook up the TIVO.
Meanwhile, in between day chores, I read Dancer, a novel of Rudolf Nureyev's life. Brutal childhood in late Stalinist Soviet Union, escape through and into the world of ballet, defection and the guilt of leaving his people behind, and the wild life he led in the West.
Must go shovel out chicken coop. The world has caught up to me. Backyard chickens are the latest thing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A dance pun came my way: A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.
But seriously now folks.
Big dance day for me - 5 hours with Ed Simon, former champion, at Dance Teachers Club of Boston, my hour with Ron Gursky, and the Mary French Memorial formation team. Put it all together to make the best show possible.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Cape Cod Mall

So beautiful and grand with the carousel for the right touch of fun.
I'm afraid I didn't do enough shopping to make it worth their while, though I did say I did on the questionnaire.
The showcases had a nice assortment of dancers. The newbie Fred Astaire owners, the local formation, the young man with his partner in training and then his real partner, all working hard to show us what was up.
How could I have forgotten my video camera?

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Those gay guys were a shoo in with the choreography they were given. International Latin? Their bread and butter!
And they were so grateful!
They won't make it to the top 20. America's favorite they wouldn't be.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Burn the Floor

There was a "Burn the Floor" TV special some ten years ago that I enjoyed. Several of the Canadian pros shone in the swing/jive section.
While I was on break from the blog, I went to see the show in Boston and was bored. I wondered whether it was just me having seen so much more of our dances as entertainment lately.
Now in New York, the show is getting terrible reviews.
Mary French used to deplore what they were doing to the Latin.
The NY Times guy, Alastair Macaulay, says, "Dancers at pro levels have been larding so much dazzle onto the rumba, in particular, that there's no real rumba left in it."
He concludes with, "What makes me wretched is that these stunts, acrobatics, point-scoring and flashy displays of sexual availability are what matter. Musicality, phrasing, intimacy, and actual sensuousness are what don't."
The Australian director says ballroom now has "street cred".

Sunday, September 13, 2009


My flamenco teacher came back to town for workshops - great fun.
Two new phrases: "Support your head" and "Big hands"
I have big hands, so that was nice to get the indirect validation. She meant for everyone to emphasize the movement.
Head placement is crucial all around, and "Support your head" seems like a good encouraging phrase.
As I looked around at the Sons of Italy on Friday, that was the one thing I wanted to fix. Not to the point of the Russians, a couple with a lady trained to extend her head back. It was supported, so it worked, but it looked like it was too difficult for her to be able to smile.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Music & Animals

WE are animals, of course, but the other animals don't go to the lengths we do to put together sounds that connect to our emotions. So somebody decided to do that. NPR radio just did a segment on music composed for monkeys, based on their own vocalizations. The Fear and Loathing segment, based on the arrival of the vet, played on a cello and boosted up 3 octaves, upset them. The Lullaby, based on a mother's cooing, soothed them. Is it music? Sure. Did I love it? No.
I went to the website and there was another piece about parrots that dance to our music. No wonder they make better pets than monkeys.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Choreography Project

Eveline's summer show featured local professionals and summer residents - college students majoring in dance, so there were some excellent dancers, and since nobody did any ballet, I enjoyed the modern dance in the easy going atmosphere.
Two rows of chairs lined two walls of the beautiful studio space. In front of me, a little girl looked at everything. I counted 10 to one ratio of women to men, about the same as the dancers. A comment by an audience member highlighted the trend, "It's so nice to see some Men dncing!"
The men were good, especially the one who studies at the Merce Cunningham school, but I get to see men dance all the time. The nature of my dance form is that they do, and here on Cape Cod, we have such a small singles population that we don't get crowds of women like they do at the studios in the cities.

Friday, August 21, 2009


I'm talking circular wind generating machines.
My Pilates teacher doesn't like AC, so we asked for fans, but they're worse in her belief, as they mess with your Chi.
So we got AC.
I am ready for studio AC.
All those years with Mary French, I was fine with her decision, but if it's my decision, the humidity is killing my students.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Baby Rhythm

I don't see my 14 month granddaughter moving to the beat when she dances.
Her conversation is wonderful, though it is all babble.
Perhaps she will develop vocabulary at the same time as rhythm.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Wedding Youtube

Another video for to study. Father/daughter this time. They break into line dances these days. The White Wedding one had a very talented bride showing off and the father going along happily.
Keep up with the latest trends!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Dancing family

The good news is that our son has moved out of NYC, taking a job in Taunton at the Regional Voke. Our daughter-in-law, the dancer, has a job as guest choreographer at Salve Regina. The beautiful active granddaughter, age 14 months, may have a walk-in part at a modern dance festival in NYC in September. To see her role go to Youtube
We think it's very funny.
Ali wonders if it will be self-indulgent.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I often hate air conditioning, but it can be a great tool, if applied well. Not too cold, not that different from the world outside, not blowing directly on me, but consistent and inobstrusive. like last night, an ambient cool and removal of humidity.

Friday, July 24, 2009

America's favorite dancer

VCR, Tivo or simply plunking down in front of the TV, I got to watch an entire episode of SYTYCD including Nigel's self congratulatory remarks, Mary's Botox accounting for her need to express herself through screaming.
Finals next week, and I think it might be the turn for a female to win.
Not the ballerina because she's already had a career. Too bad the Cuban American had to go. I guess the dark haired beauty instead of the transcendently blonde one.
For men we have the charming soft-shoe specialist representing the white American male, the darkest skinned African-American who is incredibly strong, and the superbly trained small African-American.
I know many dancers are short. Turns are easier, but it really shows when the hostess is as tall as Cat Deeley.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Body Conditioning

The psychology of teaching fitness is rolling around my head with a new class at the local paper. Mainly the people are there because they were there anyway and it's cheaper which is because it's a spare room vs. a studio. So I have to sell the concept. They aren't pre-selected to be ready for a real work out, the kind I have come to enjoy.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Core Strength

Lately I've been getting more core strength, and it seems to translate to easier movement all around. The turns in particular hold together. As well, the knee aches are fading without anything new except the super core class on the special pillow support. It's a sweaty but very useful process.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


After 2 weeks of Vague Chance of Recoding, I have another device to try out. My brother-in-law bought Tivo for my parents, but they wouldn't learn. Maybe I'll see So You Think You Can Dance this week!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Went to the College Light Opera Company's production of the Gershwins' musical, "Lady Be Good" last night. "Fascinatin' Rhythm" is a feature tune, cleverly done with echoes from the chorus. The dance number was "I'd Rather Charleston". Ballroomer just use the one Charleston move in Swing, but we could expand.
Sadly, the lead dancer's suit didn't fit right, too baggy. The women's costumes looked fine, but if you're going to dance in a suit, it should fit right. I'll remember to appreciate a well-cut suit.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Rhodes in August

At the gorgeous ballroom, once again, the Providence Federation of Musicians are holding what seems like a Swing Jam for $10 on Tuesday, August 18, 6:30 - 10:30.
I've got Tuesdays free. Maybe I can get a group together.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Arranging space

Without food or drink in the dance room, the space around where we dance at the Conservatory has to be organized. I think I did better with a separate table for the food and drink, and a bench for the video viewing seemed to make the PBS show more accessible. I fussed for an hour in the afternoon.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

African Dance

African Dance night at the Cape Cod Dance Center Thursday was an hour and a half for $16 with live drummers and a Tanzanian man to teach us. Tara Murphy, the usual teacher, was out of town, so it was even more vigorous than usual, they said.
I love drums, but do not distinguish the rhythms all that well, so I really missed the hearing the other instruments.
Almost everyone was younger than me, and that one lady was my age, I think, but not as strong as I am. My ab work through Pilates pulled me through. At the end, during the bowing down to the musicians, my knees worked quite slowly and ached by the morning hours.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Monique & Tom

Here they are at Highfield Hall, dancing to the band that learned their song, "You Are My Angel" - all 4 minutes of it. Darn it all, they were supposed to stop after 2 minutes! but it gave the photographer plenty of time to capture the moment before she rolled into the cuddle.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


A person clearly from another place showed up to dance with us last night.
"Private lessons back home in NM for 1.5 yrs. and competing in national pro-am competitions for 1.5yr. (Phoenix & Las Vegas) at the advanced Bronze and pre-Silver level in American Rhythm (all 9), waltz and tango."
I wondered if she could fit into our social American tango dance class, but I don't turn down people who want to dance.
Essentially, she didn't fit in, but enjoyed her time, dancing with me unless I was busy with the other students, practicing her routine, and sometimes doing turns from the waltz in the middle of the room.
For me and for the class, it was good to see how someone like that will practice - very poised with the pronounced leftward lean, the close body contact. I think she needs to be able to move backward better, but I did not provide any corrections because I don't know what her teacher is striving for.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Tons of company. My sister-in-law who doesn't like to write got a blank writing book she passed on to me. The pages have inspirational sayings. I read them all just now and there is not one mention of dancing!
Only, from Judith Jamison, American dancer, a quote, "Learn the craft of knowing how to open your heart and to turn on your creativity, there's a light inside of you."
Creative ballroom dancing - that's what I want to teach.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


"That was a lot more fun than I thought it would be," said the latest groom. His father-in-law to be was paying for the lesson, so that made it really fun, I'd think.
Still - I guess we should be emphasizing the fun part of the activity. Mary used to say, "If it isn't fun, why bother?"

Friday, July 3, 2009

First Word?

Baby Sloane moves to the beat!
She will also demonstrate a stamping motion if asked to dance.
One of her first words to understand anyway, and she is always in motion.
Deh, deh, deh!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Another thought from the latest dance movie I saw, "Every Little Step." They said at one point that growing up dancing in front of a mirror means the dancer needs that mirror or an audience to feel as if they are in the moment.
Whereas, we social dancers focus on our partners and the group we are with.
I couldn't watch myself in the mirror for many years.
There's the social stigma of the narcissism as well as the harsh self criticism.
Now I am used to it and find the use as a teaching tool.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Ron and I went through the various Foxtrot variations.
Society Foxtrot was new to me. Fast tempo, bright feeling, small steps , crowded floor, otherwise, do whatever you can get away with. Not quickstep because that flies around. Not like One-step with the slow music, but similar for the maneuverability. Two-step tempo and mix of slows and quicks, but mostly always closed hold.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wedding dances

How nice for Susan to think of my adding a wedding picture to my website. and they are beauties. To the left is her in a spin. I'll leave that there for a while. Good advertising, though I did not coach her natural grace.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Argentine Tango

It was just like Ron said. Argentine teaches you everything.
Christopher, in Provincetown for a week, emailed that he needed a dance fix, and he came to the Sons of Italy even though he really just does West Coast Swing and Argentine Tango. He said he dreaded the Foxtrot, but since Argentine teaches you all about connection, all he had to relearn from 5 years ago was the basic step.
I spotted him as the only possible West Coast dancer, and we stayed up on the floor for a Rumba as well - great fun.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Impromptu Theater

I was requested to form a part in a Solstice Celebration as a dancer. My part was Mammi, Sumerian Mother of the Gods, so I figured, why not? A pot-luck picnic starts the evening, and that's other people making dinner and cleaning up.
In my costume trunk were two long green dresses. I picked the crinkled muu-muu type, though the snaky satin one would have done, and added scarves so I'd have something to work with on the uneven ground of the outdoor performance. Kicks, leaps, and turns were out of the question.
Sunday, the true solstice, was dismal, so it was put off, and last night felt like the beginning of summer at last. The show went off very well, and the food was good too.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


What's with African/American women? They must not be trying out for the show.
Interesting tie-in to that dance movie I just saw. Tyce did not make the final cut for "A Chorus Line" though he danced fabulously. Too much ego, they said. His comments after audition were, "I did well and that's all that counts. It's for me." Not part of the story with characters who show their vulnerability throughout.
Anyway, Tyce did 'Broadway' choreography for SYTYCD last night, so he moved on up.
Another thought about the final cuts in that movie. The 'gypsy' character went to a gorgeous African/American woman, singing "Everything's Beautiful at the Ballet," which seemed to have resonance for our times.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mary French Memorial Dance

So far, it's set up: the date=October 10, the hall=Sons of Italy, the band=Trilogy, the line dances= Family Waltz & Kenny Rogers, the silent auction, the pass through account for the scholarship money. CC Ballroom Dancers to administer the award. Showcase hopefully by Ron Gursky & (cross your fingers) Allyn Garvin, the partner he won competitions with.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Every Little Step

New documentary movie. I was the only one there last night to see the young dancers auditioning for 8 months for the revival of "A Chorus Line".
Neurophysiology studies show parts of our brains have neurons that fire in sympathy when watching other people. Autism sufferers' brains don't. Mine sees the young people dancing so beautifully just to get a job on stage and I don't even have enough neurons to appreciate all they do.
As for the rest of their lives, we just get a brief glimpse of Jacques D'Ambroise's daughter who gets the Cassie role and the nobody from New Jersey who lands Val.
Historical footage shows how the show was written - workshop style, based on a tape of dancers pouring out their heart in a group session. "Everything's beautiful at the ballet." "Dance 10, Looks 3" has the line, "Tits and ass," describing the necessity of plastic surgery for some.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bike Path

The extension of the Shining Sea Bike Path runs through the marshes of West Falmouth now. Gorgeous. That was quite a train ride back in the day. Bikes are an improvement. Some of the folk must be contemplating fencing for their back yards, built since the trains stopped.
I am wondering about getting at least a bike lane for Brick Kiln Road so cross-town traffic can connect to that excellent route to downtown.
The project makes me proud of our town.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Town Dance 09

The Town Dance was part of Arts Alive 2009 last night. Stage Door Canteen again, with a premier sound, and the dance space was much larger.
So what if the floor was the street? Dancing in the street. The tent made it all possible, and that's expensive enough. Besides, last year's floor had its problems; the metal rims to the parquet sections would catch your heels.
I knew at least half the people, many my students and former students, and everyone enjoying the music, the clear comfortable night, and the chance to move with the sounds.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer break

Just had my last night school until October. Stupid TV/VCR wouldn't work. Light turn out on a rainy evening, but that meant we could do whatever, and they wanted cha cha. It's easy, really, once you get past the 1,2 hurdle, and the 2,3 rock step is very rewarding, musically.
It's the first summer I've been able to hold regular classes. I never wanted to compete with Mary French, so I gave students had the choice of her or a long break. This time they get to try out the studio and see if the price differential is worth it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I picked up an Employee Assistance Program newsletter at the high school last month. I'm more of a subcontractor, but I liked the writing.

"Hidden motivators for exercise: seeing it as as form of recreation, a way to apply work-life balance, and a means of achieving a goal of finding mental relaxation."

"Financial incentives to lose weight: A University of Pennsylvania study used a financial award that had 50 percent of participants losing 16 pounds in 16 weeks. Motivation might be boosted if you plan an award for yourself if you succeed or a financial penalty if you don't. The figure that worked: about $300."

The one I liked best for dancers-
"Success almost always requires stepping out of your comfort zone. Remember that it's natural to feel unfit for a task as first. Expect to fumble a bit until you get your footing. Living up to your potential doesn't include firm instructions or a 'paint-by-numbers' approach. False starts and dead ends happen. Follow this rule: You know more than you think you do, The key is applying old experiences to new situations, getting feedback, and making adjustments until you excel.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Night School

The last of the night school classes until October was a great group.
I remember Mary saying night school and studio people weren't the same. I note from her papers that she continued to teach Wellesley Recreation Department long after she opened her Wellesley studio, so the competition may be just the right amount, the kind that feeds the trend towards dancing.
I even get some crossover, and I'm really pleased. The best dancers find they need to keep going.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Papers & Memoribilia

Studio papers. I had preparation for this at my mother's house. What to keep and what to recycle.
I found programs from the competition Mary ran, a precursor to Yankee Classic. I found a program from the competition won by the lady who runs the Yankee classic, Judi Hatton. Unfortunately, none of it is very colorful, standings and black and white photos, but some can be exhibited at the Mary French Memorial.
Mostly I found notes on clever choreography. Swing Scissors, titled "Scizzors", a presentation form Tina LaFlam. Those will take me a year to go through.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Studio Papers

From the Mary French Studio papers, I now have a box of ballroom variations, some mimeographed, others printed or xeroxed. I'm hoping I like them better than videos of dance steps. Written choreography is notoriously difficult. The line dances can just get filed, separate from the country line dances that she sorted in a special alphabetical box. The memorabilia will be nice for the memorial dance.
I just keep cleaning up so the studio can get painted.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Alex Torres Salsa Band @ White's

Lavada Studley, music teacher at the junior high, my ballroom student, gave me flyers for the appearance of the Alex Torres Salsa Band, appearing at White's of Westport as a benefit for the New Bedford Public Schools, 7 to 11 last night. We figured if we got there at 9:00, we'd get plenty of dancing and not have to pay the full $25. Sure enough, we paid $10. The other price was was for parents whose kids got to play with the band in the opening numbers.
I wanted to see White's of Westport, and though it's almost an hour away, it's an easy ride on Rte 195, 5 minutes off exit 10, just past New Bedford.
Our room had a raised stage with an inset for the 11 piece band and the wings for dancing, spaces as big as most hotel dance floors. Not crowded, empty round tables. One Latina couple, a few other salsa dancers of some ability.
Good musicians, though they played fast and faster. Maybe the slow numbers were all used up on the collaboration with the kids?
Then I walked through the other rooms, and the one I'd heard of had a terrific long wood floor, three times the Sons of Italy, though it was all the way at the end of a huge room that seats 500, no tables on the sides of the floor.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pink Martini

Opening night was a bit chilly , but it was the best concert I've ever seen at the Melody Tent.
Not too loud. Earplugs have been necessary before.
Personable performers who connected to the audience, joking as well.
A well behaved crowd kept the ambient noise down.
Plus the Pink Martini music, genre bending sound, includes my favorite beats.
There's no dance floor, but I didn't need to dance because the 12 players kept my attention. I can play their music at my parties.
Melody Tent concessions are feeble. Pizza and beer in plastic cups. I was surprised to be searched for food. I'd have preferred to have some notice that no snacks could be brought it.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Young dancers

Partnered for the first time, those hardworking beauties danced their hearts out on So You Think YCD. I came in a bit late, but I adored the ones I saw. And the third judge is the nice one, I guess, because he had only good things to say. Mary was screamier than ever. Nigel had a few points, but I disagreed. I actually voted for the ones I saw, except the Samba which was nothing new for me, and another Russian American, born in Moscow. I don't get to see much Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, or Bollywood. Two women are more mature, one married and one all of 29 years old, but as strong as the younger ones and very expressive.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Jazz Band in the Lobby

I thought I had the Conservatory for Tuesdays in the summer, but it seems a jazz band will be practicing in the lobby 6 to 9 on Tuesday evenings. Several horns would drown me right out. Space at the studio in Cataumet is not oriented around ballroom any more, but let's hope it all works out for the best.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ron's class

Little Red Schoolhouse was how Ron characterized the West Coast Swing class. We need more publicity; however, it was fine to have the oh-so-talented young couple who will be having their baby in a couple of months or so, the guy who has been out of it for a while, a woman with some skills, and her friend, cheerfully lost, shepherded by me. Next week will be completely different.

Monday, June 8, 2009

09 Wianno

A chance to dress up, a floor crowded with dancers, showcases, film clips, and better snacks. Plus the full moon was rising red through some clouds as I danced the teacher's tribute to Lillian line dance. I looked out the window because I couldn't look at the people or I'd have lost my place in the sequence. I put the smile on my face and missed one step, had to recover and re-smile. Later, the clouds had won. No more moon. I didn't realize the Wianno club faces east.
The trouble with a dance is you never really have time to talk. You see the important people who get things done in the dance world, but then you have to make the effort the next day.
I did say hello to students, and talked to the band about a fall date.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


Kati is back, hopefully regularly. This time it was Bulerias which she explained was one of the hardest of the rhythms of 12. Either 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 OR 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Then we did an extremely complicated bit which would be typical of the FUN a Flamenco dancer might have just playing with that rhythm.

Friday, June 5, 2009


The island just to our south has a certain mystique, unfortunately Joe is not affected, so he doesn't really care about the property he acquired in Vineyard Haven few years back, at the top of the market. We went to see it Saturday, and he just got depressed at its albatross qualities.
My African-American sister-in-law is enamored. Her doctor sister is in with the summer elite, unfortunately Oak Bluffs locale.
I have a connection with some ballroom types, Sundays.
Modern dance has a community, too, so an August visit could happen when my son Sam, his wife Ali, the modern choreographer, and our baby Sloane are here for the month.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

new card

I ran out of business cards and the old ones said Mary French Studio. I was waiting, thinking of putting Cape Cod Dance Center on them, but I didn't have to wait. My new ones are simpler, just me, my website and email.
So You think You Can Dance has begun. My daughter-in-law and I have to rebuff our husbands' scorn. There we were last night. I was re-making my other daughter-in-law's bracelet. He was falling asleep in front of baseball and the tennis channel and finally he says, "I have to get up early." As he leaves he says, "At least I didn't have to watch that dance show." What! I didn't even realize! I got the last 10 minutes, previews of the solos that I'll see tomorrow. I'll get my projects done nicely for these next weeks of SYTYCD.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

June 1

A nicely cleaned studio greeted us last night. The Cape Cod Dance Center has moved in, and we began with the first ballroom group class, three faithful couples. Advertising should bring in a new crop for the summer program.
Ron starts Sunday. Will more Argentine tangueros show up?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Last May Weekend

Good showing at Sons of Italy, especially for no advertising! I enjoyed talking to Holly. They now rent, and perhaps the p;ace will sell. Perhaps not. A Mary French Memorial in October.
Johnny Hoy at Grumpy's filled up. He did almost all new songs. One classic rock, but he doesn't repeat his old originals.
The studio is all cleared out. Eveline found a group that deals with the yard sale leftovers - good cause, military families.
A decent turn out to practice a Tribute to Lillian Line Dance, organized by Debbie.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sons of Italy

We had a very nice time with the Dave Burbank Band at the Sons of Italy last night. Holly tells me they rent the building now, and it will go on the market again after the summer, but we should be able to run the Mary French Memorial in October. Same band June 26. I will have to send around the notice. Now that it's Pergo, the floor is what we call "fast", AKA slippery - keep your feet under you.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Yard Sale

Initially weird, but interesting and memorable is how I characterize our last Mary French Studio class, held in the middle of a yard sale!
Everything was pushed to the side and we had the middle of the big room.
I had spent hours going through the LP records so they could be sold, but no one wanted them. Not a surprise. Perhaps a dealer.
After class, I sold a component tape player and a DVD/CD player, a bunch of CDs, AC cord, etc.
One last chance to buy will be Sunday.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Advanced Class

There we are, with the wrong shoes, but the gold ones I wore on stage are not comfortable enough (yet) to wear one minute longer than necessary, especially when you have to be ready to go on stage. A beautiful day and an easy performance.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Old soldiers

My father, hearing again that I teach ballroom dance, finally addressed the issue voluntarily, saying, "I guess I neglected that aspect of life." He is much more forthcoming in his new personality. The Alzheimer's confusion seems to have broken down his old barriers to communication.
I keep offering him stretches for body conditioning. Hopefully the personal trainer has better motivational tools to keep the old body going.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

DWTS final

Yes, I watched it. And I was a bit disappointed Gilles didn't win the trophy because he is so completely appealing. However, he didn't seem to mind. In fact, at times I felt he held back to give others a chance. His career should get a good boost and knowing he's easy to work with is another plus.
Tony was the one who was really disappointed. They should give him an Olympian instead of Mark Ballas - twice!
Meanwhile, my student believes the men have an easier time since they don't really have to lead. The routines are choreographed, and their pro partners will cover for them. The women competitors have to accomplish tricks: lifts, jumps, and five times as many turns in order to look at all like the pro women.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I love the feeling of getting something done as much as I love teaching dance.
This time it's a room remodel and cleaning at my parents' house, just in time for the family reunion. I love the evening blue the walls are. I love the new closets. I can deal with the stuff my mother had saved in the old closets.
Plus, while I was there, a personal trainer came to teach my parents some simple stretches and sell my dad the idea of exercise. There's a job I could get around. This fellow was about ten years younger than me and very cheerful as well as businesslike and knowledgeable, amused by my eccentric parents.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


We were the first ones to see the Dads' Dance. The Mary French Studio Recital includes a bunch of the little girls' fathers working out a performance. We loved it especially because it means we aren't the only adults on stage for this last event of Mary's life's work. Joe says, "They got better music," but Honky Tonk Part II by Bill Doggett was the one Mary played the most. Its slow steady pace works great for beginners.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sons of Italy

Seems they have regular dances with the Dave Burbank Band. Listed on the CCBD website calendar. Someone knew. I guess I expected an email notice, but maybe it's more like the Betsy's dances, especially if they do them regularly.
Can they have gotten their act together?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Last Night?

Excellent classes to conclude the Mary French Studio ballroom run.
I am very glad to have been a part of the ongoing ballroom effort.
I even stayed late, in memory of all the times Mary was ready to teach until 10 PM while her students, 30 years younger, drooped.
Now I hear the insurance is okay, so maybe a couple more, if I'm not too embarrassed about being out of the loop.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Demidova is tall

I expect they will hire Anna.
I was not pleased with Bruno's declaration that she brought Maurice Greene along better than ever. That means better than Cheryl who taught him before. Why foster bad blood between the teachers?
And Max had to be negative, saying, "They will have to find some tall celebrities." In fact those football players need a larger partner than Edyta.
But I did notice she was almost as tall as Max.
Meanwhile, Mayo is so thin, he looks even taller than he is, but seems a lot nicer than Max who has been the partner for the tall women.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

90 seconds x ?= one hour

Let's see. That's a minute and a half for each DWTS routine. If you ran a continuous loop, you'd need 40 performances for an hour show.
At one of the studios in Florida, the owner had made a DVD of the best performances, and ran it during the dances. I didn't check how long it was. Have there been 40 star quality dances?
It was more wallpaper than performance since he didn't have the sound running. For a fan like me - great wallpaper! Just identifying the dancers was fun.
Anyway, last night,I recorded the double trifecta from Gilles, and Shawn and Melissa's smooth dances. I'm still on videotape, but it could be transferred.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fearless Mom

Maybe it was just that she was fearless for us.
My mother brought us up to believe that if we knew we were right, we could do whatever we wanted. We figured all we had to do was figure out what was right.
It turns out other people might disagree. For instance, school administrators were occasionally nonplussed. We usually went along with the rules.
She didn't teach us salesmanship. Often, you have to sell your belief before it's accepted as right.
Anyway, her belief in us is total.
Thanks, Mom.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Mary's cassettes had to go. I threw out mine last year, so I'm not going to take on hundreds from the 80s, country line dances mostly.
The CDs are sorted, pretty well.
The videotapes take up more space. (She never got into DVDs.) Also, they put me to sleep mostly. I'll be working on those for a while.
And the LPs. I know her favorites, but there are others - several "Arthur Murray's Favorite", not bad collections, with a picture of the ugly old man on the cover - history! I have to judge those at the studio where the record player works.
Then the 45s. I appreciate the way vinyl doesn't break down, really lasts if you take care of it, so I'll keep working.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Joey Doucette, Vegas choreographer

This Bourne native was having a drink at the Courtyard and noticed the studio lights on last night. Joey Doucette taught a jazz class here many years ago, when Klara Koenig was at the Mary French Studio, and I took it. Great fun. Luckily, he didn't remember how bad I was. We talked about old times, and he will call the Cape Cod Dance Center, maybe do a Master Class in the summer. Vegas, New York, Hong Kong, and Cataumet!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wrong again

So Ty is still there, and we just hope they give him something he's good at. That's how I handle students. But DWTS is a competition.
I'm watching old competition tapes from Mary French's collection. In 2001, Derek Hough competed as a young teen while living in London with Corky and Shirley Ballas, Mark's parents, brilliant ballroom dancers.
Some people thrive on competition.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Good show

Well done presentations all around last night on DWTS. We could have one guy left when the dust settles.
Ty did manage to move his hips, but he didn't get that he could express something other than bump and grind. And that's why he should go.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Media material

I am sorting the volumes of music and video that Mary French left to the studio.
Turns out I don't like video that much, but the music is great fun, and we can find good homes for the duplicates. She loved Latin and Swing.
Waltzes are harder to find good ones since they tend to be sad.
Songs without vocals are good for teaching, but many collections are stuffed with vocal renditions.
Since the Cape Cod Dance Center offers African and Contemporary styles as well, I can keep more than just a ballroom studio would have in a library.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Chocolate, the health food

So I went to this chocolate as a health food demo: slide show, talk, samples, Q&A. I felt great afterward. The specially processed (unheated, not alkalized) in Belgium chocolate tasted very good, unlike the rawish chocolate we got in Mexico, where chocolate was invented.
I was sorry I took the champagne as well because that could have been why I felt high - really loved the sky and the moon as I drove home.
However, I'm not going to invest $160 per month in combating free radicals with these nuggets that are also good for the gums and teeth, nor will I turn into a salesman for the product in order to support my habit, even if it did allow the founder of the company to go from morbidly obese to normal.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

West Coast Swing Movie

Love 'n' Dancing is the name of the movie, and Robert Royston is plugging it which makes me think he choreographed. He is a terrific teacher and dancer who shows up often at the Seacrest in North Falmouth for Swingin' New England. The preview looks good enough. Dancer needs partner and new lease on life. Schoolteacher needs new fiance and to dance again.
I still love the social dancing the best - real people out there having a good time. Competitions with flashy tricks make for a good show. I'll hope for the best - even hope the movie gets to a theater nearer than Atlanta, where it opens soon. No reviews yet.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Here's the beauty, my granddaughter, Sloane, standing up, ready to walk. My son says, "What a lot of trouble keeping track of her now! And everything goes in her mouth!" It's lucky they are so adorable at this age because they are so much work.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I wish they would cut out the injury producing element of DWTS. I don't know how Melissa will be able to continue with a cracked rib.
At least our cowboy got to stay. His posture alone is worth his presence.
And I voted for Anna Demidova again. I saw her sister Katusha in Hyannis just after she and Jonathan Wilkins won the Ohio Star Ball.
I am pleased with our American pros, however, like Chelsie Hightower who is just flashy enough.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The big loss was Mary French, followed by the prestige of the studio as primarily a ballroom venue.
We cope with these things and count our blessings. After all, I still have a place in the building for my classes.
A smaller loss will be tonight on Dancing With the Stars. I don't want any of those charming, hardworking people to leave. One of them will lose, and the rest of us can feel the reverberations remembering the losses we suffered. I hope they leave out the icky red light and the Bottom Two.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Bride at Grumpy's

There we were listening to Fatwall Jack, great blues, quiet night, and in walk batches of tuxedos, then bridesmaids and finally the bride, Kate. The groom, Nathaniel, studied at WHOI.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Ballroom Warm Up

I found a set of warm up exercises specifically for ballroom dancers, and tried them out on my class. What fun that my students decided they would have each other for support when rolling the ankles! Perfect! The activity gets a ballroom twist.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Class control

A central theme of teaching theory is classroom control, how to deal with a room full of students. Already taller than so many people, I prefer not to dominate.
My supervising professor for high school certification asked me, "Ellen, where is your ego?!" Apparently, not in controlling teenagers.
In teaching dance, I have found an investment for my ego. However, my blend of self confidence and modesty means I am open to listening, allowing people as much freedom as possible. It works a lot better with adults. Some still need to be reminded to concentrate.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I saw my 10 and a half month old granddaughter yesterday, just walking for 5 days now, but one foot toes in. We'll count on her Pilates instructor mother to keep that from being permanent.
I am very pleased with my Pilates experience with Lori Martin at Harmony in Mashpee. Her attention and knowledge about body alignment seems to have set my knees right after I had recurring pain for over a year.
And the Trader Joe's vitamins for hair skin and nails have cured my pie crust fingernails - great for gardening after 5 years of splits that couldn't be cleaned and had to be cut down.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Body function

By body function, you might guess I mean a euphemism for farting, like Steve-O on the dancing show. I would think that cost him some votes. (Can I even publish that word in a blog? Let's see if they block it.) The Rumba, epitome of romantic love, and he spoils it. Chemistry out of an 8th Grade Science Kit. So he's gone, and good riddance.
Meanwhile, I'm wondering why Cheryl isn't showcasing her star, giving him those too fast and even frantic routines. I think Len said hectic. Was that chemistry too much for her since he's married and father of small boy?
I read reviews, but maybe I should go on some fan websites.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm back

I let the blog just sit for so very long, I thought it would have disappeared, but a radio interviewer from WCAI called me looking for Glamorous Grammas, and that's me. (Maybe my interview will air soon.) She found my blog and liked it. The issues are not out of date, it seems.
As well, the time came for my website construction, and a blog link was de rigueur. I haven't face booked or twittered yet, but I am a gramma, after all. Our lovely baby girl is walking very early. A very busy little person, cheerful, smiley and bright. Her parents find the sleepless nights difficult, and now, a lead paint test has them scurrying around Brooklyn for a new place to live!
Huge transitions for me as well with the death of Mary French and the sale of the studio. My grief and depression are lifting with spring and the beginning of a resolution of my place within the new order.
I enjoy writing, so you'll hear from me again as I try to have a presence on the web.