Sunday, October 30, 2011

Best Halloween Party this side of P-Town

Everything is this side of P-Town.
The cheerful, creative crowd voted Man in a Cage most original, though I cast him as scariest. I loved the organ grinder and his monkey, but they didn't stay together the whole evening to be the best duo like the Siamese twins did. I voted for me, Flowerpot lady who claims to be Mother Nature, as funniest, but I guess Zippy the Pinhead captured the cartoon shtick really well. They liked the headless man as scariest, and his costume was very good.
Dancing was good, too. The Cotuit Center for the Arts had taken down their huge stadium seating that can cover the whole floor.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

"This American Life"

An NPR episode about Middle School, including broadcasting from school dances.
All that embarrassed and uncomfortable chat.
Chaperones ready to break up whatever like the 'grinding' we've heard about, the type of dancing they do on MTV. The high schools don't even have dances any more since the students refuse to do any other type of dancing.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sideshow or Masque Event?

The Cotuit Center for the Arts has a sideshow theme this year, a darker slice of life. Will there a two-headed character, a costume that could win Halloween prizes at manys the event. I would rather be in a circus than a sideshow. Shades of the Midway at the Barnstable County Fair, a corridor I tried to keep my boys away from.
The Arts Foundation has set up a mask contest. Will the artists be inspired? Who will ante up the $100 to attend at the Wychmere Country Club? Doug and Kimberley will be on hand to promote ballroom dancing to those who can afford it, or anything else.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Steps for West Coast Swing

There's a million steps in this dance because it allows for so much play time, once you get the basics down. Structure that you can build on. So I spent an hour writing up the basics for students.
Now I have to provide a playground. I can play more West Coast music at my dance, or people can dance West Coast to Foxtrot music like the real Westies do, just staying in the middle of the floor, so the Foxtrotters can dance circles around them. There's room for all. West Coast to Chacha music - happens all the time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This week DWTS

For great DWTS moments, I thought the first two dances, Rob K. and Nancy G., were delightful, showing improvement and humor, musicality and performance.
Rob's family is still awful. His mother coming into rehearsal and telling him he has grown up and starting to cry, so embarrassing. His sisters razzing the judges and texting madly throughout, as Tom told us.
Nancy was odd in rehearsal, asking for content and then accusing Tristan of giving her too much and planning for her to fail.
Ricki had a lovely dress finally, and Derek's choreography showed her off. I liked her response to Brooke's comment about losing weight. "I don't know. Maybe 20 pounds."
Chaz, well, today we can breathe a sigh of relief. I just kept thinking, "Go away, go away, go away."
Maks apologized and I guess we are to remember that English is his second language. In some way, I think he meant it when he said, "It's my show." Then Tom said, "I was going to ask him for a raise!"
Finally, JR looks like a winner all the way, and we don't see the face as horrifying as we did in the beginning. I wonder if more reconstruction can happen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Will Power

On my way back to the Cape, Bob Edwards Weekend had a story on Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by John Tierney and Roy F. Baumeister. Willpower as a 'muscle' in our brains that gets stronger through being exercised and needs glucose to work. Diets don't work because we need to eat to be able to resist overeating.
The same greedy part of the brain does decision making, so judges tend to give parole, a harder decision, earlier in the day. Quarterbacks get decision fatigue.
Personally, I had just gone through hours of decisions on the stuff my mother has been collecting for 50 years. Taking breaks was important.
I loved listening to the section about children who could resist eating a marshmallow, usually by distracting themselves, not by concentrating on defeating the marshmallow. Later studies showed willpower as a prime predictor of success in life, measured in ways like finishing school, marrying happily, and staying out of jail.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Not dancing, not on Cape Cod

In fact, my weekend was quite active. My older sister and I cleaned out a few corners of my mother's house. Three stories, along with an attic and a basement means a box of rubbish might need to go down four flights of stairs.
Meanwhile, here in Falmouth, Joe said Sweet Melissa did one of her best sets ever at Grumpy's.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

PR for the papers

The Mary French Scholarship dance October 14 entertained ballroom dancers from all over Cape Cod. Music was played by Trilogy Band, a favorite of Mary French, the Cataumet teacher who died in 2008. Showcase dancers from the MIT Ballroom Team were superb. The committee reports a healthy fund to distribute for dance education.
The Mary French Scholarship Award 2011-2012 is open to youth between the ages of 12 and 21 who live on Cape Cod and are interested in ballroom dancing. No prior experience is necessary.
The recipient(s) will be eligible for private lessons and group classes with Ron Gursky, Mary French's teacher, at the Cape Cod Dance Center in Cataumet. Other teachers may be submitted for approval by the committee.
Depending on how many awards are given out, the number of classes may vary.
Applicants may send a letter of interest to Ellen Brodsky.
PS: That did zilch.

Monday, October 17, 2011

WHOI Harvest Ball

Kudos to Andy at WHOI for getting a good band, After Hours Blues Band with Dave Richardson, as well as the best caterer, Roland (Yum). The Brodsky dance floor performed as well as the dancers on it - great!
Plenty of people came this year since they opened it to the entire scientific consortium - and friends. Hopefully they made good money for the Cape Cod Shelter. Raffle tickets may be the way to go.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I was right - the showcase dancers were superb on Friday. I spent the first set in awe, hardly clapping, as did most of the people, it seemed, so DeeDee Burke asked me to remind the audience that they do not mind and are not distracted by applause. Polite quiet is not the proper response.
Noelle Sun held herself with pride and grace that you know was supported by strong core muscles. Gowns are more beautiful than ever, and these weren't slathered with Sawarovski crystals either, just fitted and flowing. Even my husband was impressed by the flame colored scarves floating off her arms.
Meanwhile, Ben Moss, not a large man, commanded the space, using the length of Betsy's Ballroom, our largest on-Cape floor.
We see too much of the showy versions of ballroom dances, especially in the Latin division, but spilling over into the American Smooth, so these 5 International Standard dances, tradition honed to perfection, showed us how beautiful strict discipline can be.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Running an event

For the Mary French Scholarship Dance, Janice Condron and I were essentially a committee of two. I missed having a group of ladies I could count on as I did when I ran the Masque Ball, though I do remember some tiffs. Probably Janice particularly wanted to avoid those. Volunteer help showed up the day of the event, and I thank those stalwart folk. Thank you cards are in order.
Lovely showcase, pleasant band, great people, and an emotional evening since it was our farewell to Janice who is moving to Florida, to the condo she and Willie bought together.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Today:print gift certificates, make turnovers, check about lighting, check camera, print program, write speech, gather platters, pick dress,
Tomorrow: pack everything in the car, Grand Jury, buy fruit and cheese and crackers and arrange, set up tables and chairs and decorate.
Then the dance!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No tables at the Conservatory

The engine that drives the dances is fun music.
Without tables to sit at, dancers do more dancing I think. It's different - the studio dance atmosphere.
I also liked the lounge effect of some stadium seating that the Conservatory leaves in our ballroom, dancers kind of lumped together.
A large Mashpee location - how about the closed Star Market in the Commons? If I had million dollars.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Open Meeting/Members Dance

Worth it to go to Betsy's Ballroom last night, especially as I was able to car pool. Thanks, Linda and Dawn!
Discussion at the board included trying to get some Falmouth/Bourne/Mashpee locations for dances. CCBD needs different locations. My dance (tonight) goes along just once a month. I get Ron to be part of a dance 4 times a year in Cataumet.
New members were elected to the board for next year, using the single unanimous vote system for a unopposed slate of five dancers who all spoke briefly and well.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mary French Memorial Dance October 14

Coming up so soon - just next Friday, the terrific dance with Mary's favorite local band, Trilogy. Also, competition college dancers from MIT where Mary worked back when ballroom was just entering the competition phase that has become so popular.
With the closing of the Sons of Italy, we had to go downCape, to Betsy's Ballroom and I will figure out decorations tonight.
The food will be first rate, though not dinner. We subsist on our art! Or eat a hamburger before. But there will be fruit platters, cheese and crackers, my desserts and more.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ballroom Hell

I love this little graph. The guys get to be scientifically validated as to how hard it is. Ladies are told to go to styling class.
written by "staff"

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


The October 3 New Yorker has an article on coaching by Atul Gawande, a surgeon who can take criticism and write about it.
"Expertise, as the formula goes, requires going from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence to conscious competence and finally to unconscious competence." I love that.

Having reached the final stage, a success in one's field, a professional needs outside eyes and ears to improve. Gawande writes about musicians, athletes and teachers using coaches who can "break down performance into critical individual components." He doesn't mention dancers.

Once my students have the muscle memory for a step, I look at them and see how they could do it more easily.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Judging DWTS

I watch the show, I listen to the judges, I even read Television Without Pity to get perspective. Still, I disagree with them all. Four couples got the same score, and I hated Hope Solo and David Arquette's dancing and loved Rob Kasdashian's Foxtrot and the Samba with the little blond who is dancing with Mark Ballas.
Maybe the costumes put me in a bad mood. David Arquette did not need his new haircut, or his shirt open. Then, his arms were uncertain. Hope Solo had that horrid poofy skirt that showed the crotch with bare thighs and then garters and patterned stockings. Not a graceful look, and she isn't little and cute. Doesn't seem sure of what she's doing either.
Whereas Queer Eye Carson filled out his dinner jacket and attacked some Tango moves with great style. Chaz looked more comfortable than ever.
My leader board would have had Rob K. as #1 even with the huge Jesus Christ tattoo on his bicep. His deceased father (One of the lawyers who got OJ off) is on Rob's forearm. Rob: "He was a really good looking man." Cheryl: "You look like him." Rob: "Yeah." Maybe it's the whole Foxtrot smooth debonair stuff I go for.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

quote from DEAR THEO

"As to mediocre artists, to which you think I should not want to belong, what shall I say about it? I shall do what I can, but mediocrity in its simple signification I do not despise at all. And certainly one does not rise above that mark by despising what is mediocre. In my opinion, one must begin at least by having some respect for the mediocre and know that it means something, and that it is only reached with great difficulty."
Vincent Van Gogh
I love watching people dance, especially as I see the tiny steps they make to progress.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Practicing dance moves is a great idea.
Practicing turns makes you dizzy, so we have to make a little bit go a long way.
Neck long, head level, abs engaged, and soft arms before you even start.
Then, attention to the connection between the hip and the ball of the foot.