Monday, January 31, 2011

Too many dance classes

I had Dance Teacher's Club of Boston workshops, Ron's Waltz class, and a private lesson. Without even a nap in between. (Naps increase your chance of recall, according to recent research.)
My learning capacity fell away after an hour and a half. The last bit at DTCB, the fancy choreography, is a blur. Teaching tips are what I go for, though, so I went through those while driving home. Active recall is worth something.
I was refreshed by the time for the Waltz class, but my brain shut down again halfway through the private. Luckily, that's a good time to follow.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Foxtrot vs Quickstep

"Foxtrot is characterized by long, gliding, perfectly smooth steps, demanding ease of movement and control to give the dance a lazy and unhurried appearance,...only possible to dance in a large and uncrowded ballroom... Social dancers would be well advised to learn to adapt the simple basic figures of the Quickstep."
Alex Moore 1963
Which is what Arthur Murray did with the Magic Step.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Modern Day Cotillion

I heard of cotillion from people my age who had to wear white gloves back in the day.
Online, JDW Social Education Programs™, Cotillion or SEE Survival Etiquette Essentials, sells classes in social skills. Their photos have girls in white gloves.
The 5th grade girls were actually concerned about touching boys' hands - after all, after recess, those hands are often filthy.
I've contacted JDW to see what they do.
The important thing is to get a group together. Sometimes a mother or a group of girls have gotten a dance class going for a season.
Maybe the activity needs to be sold as "an educational investment that builds a strong foundation for developing positive relationships that will last a lifetime."
Perhaps the Mary French Scholarship could give such a program a boost.
We in the arts do have to compete with the sports, our society's craze.
Also,even if it runs in Milton, will it run on Cape?

Sunday, January 23, 2011


George Gritzbach's band was in fine form, and the bar looked pretty good, too. Some new booth type seating on the side gives a nice view of the band.
I've given up on my wacky dream of a wood floor, but a skim coat on cement to smooth out the bumps and holes doesn't seem impossible.

Friday, January 21, 2011


What a great class Mary had in 1995! Tom & Debbie Walko, Bill McCaskie and Norah Dale-Allen, Willie Thorns and Carol Shea, and the couple from Plymouth whose names I forget. All will appear on the TV show for local access cable about Mary French. Great camera work, too, thanks to Ken Glazebrook, producer at the Yarmouth station.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Waltz 'n' Polka

Falmouth Community Television FCTV runs a show filmed around the country by a Waltz and Polka night fan, and I was kind of stuck there the other day, waiting for a download. No dancing skill required. No artistry displayed other than the fiddle player. But they were having fun, and I got to think about the similarity of the two dances. The Waltz was Viennese, of course, done as a tiny shuffle or a hesitation step. The 1,2,3 of Polka went oom pah pah. Taken at this level, we see people enjoying the music, not worrying about how they look. Some of them even come to our CCBD dances.
For the real deal, there's a Waltz and Polka night in Rhode Island at the German Club.
In my classes, we learn that "Fake Viennese", as Mary French called it, and then the scary fast way that moves around the floor like the wind and looks so great, but people are afraid to do.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Breath and Flow from Pilates

Quotes from "Ballroom Pilates" in pilatesstyle magazine.
Using breathing techniques, you get more movement and expression in your torso which makes you look taller and fill more space as a ballroom dancer.
As people gain greater mind-body awareness, they become more conscious of how they're using - or not using - their breath and rhythm.
With breath also comes flow.
Flow has to do with musicality.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Navigator Coffeehouse

Last night, we went five minutes up the road to the Navigator, named for the famous Portuguese king. The Portuguese American Association runs a nice function room and Manny Dias supports local musicians, last night our friends Chris Locascio and Melissa Weidman who will be playing blues February 4 with the full band at Bud's Country Lounge, now known as House of Bud's. They provided a quieter sound for the coffeehouse, just the electric piano and bass guitar, their own songs and lyrics. I thought we would be dancing in the back, but with no drummer, we were able to sit still. A young couple from off Cape, Smilemakers, were next and rounded out the evening.
We won't go again, but it was good to look in, see a few people we know. We supported the PAA. Plus, I won Flipside's CD in the raffle. Manny Dias says we might set up for dancers next year. The evening was not wasted.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dance and Stretch

Klara Koenig's Ladies Strength and Flexibility class, was held mid-afternoon before ballet, aimed at her old lady friends. I loved that time, and the music and stretches were great, but she insisted I do Modern Dance, last class before Mary French's ballroom. Klara used to send us around the room trying to be as graceful as she was, our movement accepted in the spirit it was offered.
Continuing to work on offering the best classes myself, including my version of Ladies Strength and Flexibility, I will be watching myself to try not to talk too much.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Emotional Farewell

Yesterday, we danced for hours as Willie Thorns used to, then we had heard memories of his kindness and unassuming strength.
Our dance video was shortened by technical difficulties, but I will put it on a program on local access TV.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


First off is the skating party. You're invited to our pond which is a huge rink covered with a light dusting of beautiful snow. We have been skating for the last two days. Today the stunning 2-year-old Sloane will come, with her equally beautiful parents, and a few other selected friends who believe us when we say the ice is safe. 30 years and only a dog ever got wet.
I set up the First Saturday, Conservatory, 7 to 10, and expect light attendance, but experiments in scheduling are important. Sloane will not be able to come as that is her bedtime.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Following Foxtrot

After teaching for years, I see more and more why Foxtrot is the hardest dance to follow. First of all, it goes around the floor with the lady walking backwards, an unnatural act. Waltz and Tango do as well, but the definite rhythm of the Waltz makes it easier to keep track of what he might do, and the closer hold of the Tango makes the connection stronger.
Foxtrot is supposed to look easy, floating and gliding, and the syncopated jazzy feel means he can go from six to eight count rhythm any time. The lady (in front) has to keep out of the way, maintain connection, read the partner's intention, and look like she isn't even trying.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


I didn't copy any of Mary French's LPs of continuous Disco music that she ran her classes with, but I have a select bunch of fun, slidy music, and the advanced class caught on right away, as expected. Hustle is a very easy dance, especially the way she taught it, 4 beat hustle, or Cowboy Swing, she called it. No wonder it was so popular. Mary did 3 hours a night in the late 70s, and then went out with students to the old Cape Codder, now condos on Buzzards Bay.
Once you are comfortable with that dance and if you are ambitious, you can switch over to the New York Hustle with the dropped beat.
I also like a 4 beat Latin hustle - triple step, step, step, changing from left to right feet.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

11:11 on 1/11/11

Only thing better will be in November.
Maybe all the computers will go crazy from too many '1's.
We had fun with a light showing at my last minute event, the Recession Conservatory Dance, (non-alcoholic). The music and the space are perfect, and the people as well. Last year's New Year's Eve at Ballymeade featured loud music and dull food.
Afterwards, at home, we had a 'split' bottle of champagne, a Florida import that Joe doesn't even remember he got it as a gift for being a dance host in February or March. Perfect size.