Friday, November 25, 2011

Healthy Thanksgiving

Really it can be a great holiday, especially if your sister-in-law who loves to cook decides to bring her in-laws next door and they all do a lot of the work, very well. We were apprehensive, but I loved just doing the pies. We provided home-grown super- fresh turkey, too, a 25 pound creature that was processed for a brine bath in a cooler on Sunday.
Add in a beautiful day and a walk to the cranberry bogs for no food hangover.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Providence College performance

One of my road trips was Saturday to Providence College Dance Concert where my daughter-in-law teaches and choreographs. Hers was the first one she ever composed, interesting and dark involving a couch and a bunch of people not communicating, a thoughtful piece reminding me of family tensions showing up with the holidays. I believe she's happier now.
Firestarter was inspiring, done to Duke Ellington's "Night Creatures". I can attempt to reproduce one of the costumes. After I wear it at Halloween, I'll share with my granddaughter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Over for now

It was a season with great dances, and I have it on DVR.
MAYBE, I could do my very own DVD of highlights. I would certainly keep Sir Tristan and Lady Nancy dancing on the bright side of life, Derek and Ricki's Psycho tango, Rob K's freestyle. I couldn't have JR's freestyle because ABC cheated me out of it with that football.
I think the judges underscored JR on Monday to rile up viewers and get more votes to come in. I knew he would win, and I was pleased Rob got second place. Making it to the finals is the real prize, and probably comes with more money.
So You Think You Can Dance should start up soon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

DWTS bumped by Football- sort of ran late

And not LIVE! I hope the rest of the country, non-Patriot super fans got it on time.
My DVR found it after Jimmy Kimmel, but missed the last 10 minutes, so I have only seen JR's freestyle in a choppy version with digitized squares on
That was super authentic salsa with the hip-hop flavor so popular in that dance world. No wonder his cha-cha was a little flat. It was a ballroom version of how Latinos dance.
I could hope the judges ask for it as a re-run, but the lifts were dangerous.
Rob Kardashian, age 24, had a fantastic freestyle, too, a 1920s New Jersey style "Minnie the Moocher" both smooth and smart.When asked why he should go to the finals, he said, "Because I love to dance!", a joy to watch.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Planning ahead

Lake Pearl Ballroom $75 pp for DOCMA dance Sunday December 11.Hmmmmm - not for Joe Brodsky
Roy Scott Band there 2/12, dinner optional.
K&S Music sometime in April.
And that plus Halloween seems to be the extent of ballroom dancing at the beautiful venue in Wrentham.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Setting up Scholarship awards

As I am now in charge of the Mary French Scholarship fund, I am setting up a means to award the money to local youth.
A first step is to send out guidelines to the schools and dance academies that money is available for youth to try social dance. A voucher would give a half price class to students.
After completing a session, promising students would submit a letter of interest for private lessons with a view to improving their dancing enough to perform in a showcase or join a ballroom dance team when they go to college.
Since the Cape is a large region, we would like to offer parents and youth choices of qualified teachers.
All this could happen with the new year.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Casual New Year's Eve

All set with St Barnabas Church Parish Hall for a New Year's Eve casual dance -
like my monthly dances, but no lesson and a slightly different time, 8 to 11 PM.
The big hall includes round tables, so people are encouraged to contribute favorite finger food, and groups can chat while they take a break from dancing.
More details follow, but this, at $10, will be the best buy in Falmouth. If people want to spend money, the restaurants are planning special menus, and should be happy to take early seatings.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The performance art that is DWTS seems to be demanding more tricks. Case in point - a cartwheel from Nancy Grace - and she lost anyway. Now the favorite, JR, has twisted his ankle.
Happily the version of ballroom dancing practiced on Cape Cod is a social art like conversation or board games, but more fun because there is the exhilaration of music and physical movement.
An occasional misstep or tension in the shoulders means it could be said to be more dangerous than sitting around, except that sitting around happens anyway in all our lives to an unhealthy extent.

Monday, November 14, 2011


Solear, a very difficult rhythm in Flamenco with accents on 3, 7, 10 and 12.
My teacher here gives a fairly simple rendition. If only my feet hadn't been hurting by the end, I might have been able to dance it too.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

All this and no mention of Harvard's Ballroom Dance program

Jill Johnson, the new director of the dance program within Harvard’s Office for the Arts knows that many people are intimidated by dancing, which makes it hard to be comfortable as a beginner. She encourages nonprofessional dancers not to worry so much about how they look, but to concentrate on how they feel: dance is a way to explore what of ourselves gets expressed, and our relationship to others on the dance floor. “We worry about how we are perceived by others,” she adds. “People say, ‘I’m not a dancer’ and that shuts off curiosity about it. We were born with the capacity to dance! Children who see someone playing music on the street will move to connect with the beat. That instinct gets lost because of who we think we are supposed to be as adults.” Great dancing is not about satisfying the ego — it is “an offering” of your gifts, Johnson says.

There is no doubt of the positive effect, in general, of physical activity on the brain, on cognitive functioning, and on age-related problems, notes David Kahn, an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. “But dancing adds another aspect to exercise and its effect on our bodies and brains, because it is a joyous activity.” He is part of Dance New England that holds a Dance Freedom. “Every dance I find some joy in,” Kahn says, “but every once in a while, like the other night, there is a meshing with another dancer and there is a chemistry that is like chocolate melting in your mouth.”

Friday, November 11, 2011

Dancing Makes Us More Alive by Nell Porter Brown

(From the Harvard alumni magazine thanks to a student. I have edited for this blog.)

In primitive cultures throughout the world, dance brought communities together in a common purpose, says jazz master Wynton Marsalis, Ar.D. ’09, Dances requested rain or a successful hunt or battle, opened paths to gods and other spirits, promoted fertility and gender identity. They taught “our young the meaning of sexuality as they entered adulthood,” he said. “Dancing sanctified our space. It could heighten our sense of being alive by making us one with the very ground we danced on, the air we breathed, and the seen and the unseen.”

Dance was, and is, a unique and essential human activity that connects us to the musical rhythms of life. “Unlike rowing a boat or chopping wood, in dancing you became more of yourself as you became one with others. You almost never got tired because your spirit soared the more you danced — because this was play.” Proving that point, his four-and-a-half hour presentation on the history of social dance and music in America was punctuated by dazzling performances, from the cakewalk, minuet, waltz, and fox trot to tap, tango, the Charleston, the lindy hop, the mashed potato, merengue, cha cha, and the twist.

Marsalis said social partner dancing allowed “a glimpse into another soul, if only for a moment, through the exuberance of motion.” He took a year to research the origins of popular dance, clarifying for him what social dancing has contributed to culture. “It was competition, cooperation, and consciousness,” he noted. Dance “is and was and will always be community in action. Although life is no cakewalk, people are going to dance no matter what, because it makes us more alive.”

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Partner connection

I checked my blog post to see how often I talk about connection. 20 posts only, over the years, and some of them were about the VCR/TV, so time to re-visit that most important aspect of partnered dancing.
For the man, I've stopped saying "Hold her" because then he thinks of using his fingers which is uncomfortable.
For the lady, the slight pull back into the man's hand is a feeling that can take a while to get, especially if he is deferential or gets lazy.
If there is distance between the two, as we commonly dance in social American style, this connection becomes crucial.
More distance, more important, such as in West Coast Swing, or any time dancers are at arms length in the open positions. The connection goes deep into the palm of the hands and thereby connects to the back.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life's Little Truths (Orange Peel Gazette)

"If at first you don't succeed, see if the loser gets anything."
DWTS is a great show because the loser gets plenty. We don't even know about the money.
Another good quote for the couple voted off, "Just when I was getting used to yesterday, along came today."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

hope for Hope

Great Show!
This week the costume designers seemed to be doing their best to make everyone look great. Earlier in the season, they let some ugly outfits go out there, but this time, they put a suit on Rob Kardashian that made his butt look sleek. Nancy Grace looked cute instead of lumpy. Rikki Lake's legs were on full display for the Jive.
I feel like I've been waiting a long time to see Hope Solo's dress, the kind that I always wanted to wear, garden party without being at all uptight. I wanted to be in that dress, dancing Quickstep like her, so strong and light.
Hope's Jive outfit was one I couldn't wear, but she looked great letting that fringe spin all up the pants, and her kicks and flicks were as high as Maks. She can't leave now. Especially now that she has got Maks to teach nicely. He said it takes more time, but if she doesn't learn, which she didn't before, it doesn't work, and you don't teach her, and all the time is wasted. Like the saying: if you buy something that's not right, the money is wasted.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Saturday Night Hit at St. Barnabas Parish Hall

Record attendance for me, and I didn't do anything different except change the place.
Early in November is a good timing.
Also, people came to see the venue which is easier to find, perhaps more inclusive than the lovely room on top of the hill.
The teaching was basic as usual, and very quick, just so they could get started and have a good time. They didn't leave right after the lesson, so it was a good time.
I'll have to see if I can get it more often.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hustle with JP

I liked the new step, but trouble can happen with fancy arm work that you never did before: tension in either of the cooperating dancers' arms.
Light arms don't automatically happen, and I got a twinge in my shoulder after trying the step on the wrong person. She had taken the class, so I assumed she was ready for the new move. (You know about 'assume'.)
Another lesson for me - not the step as much as choosing which step for which lady.

Friday, November 4, 2011

More Mambo Dancer

Candice Angelet goes on, " I try to say yes to everyone, I don't like to say no. But sometimes a man is very unkempt, you know, and he looks horrible and he's stinky and - sometimes a girl's got to do what she's got to do. And sometimes, you just have to say no!
"Mambo is the old term, now they call it salsa. I'm an 'on two' dancer. It's one, two, three, one, two. One, two, three, one, two, and I start on the second beat. A lot of people come in on the first beat. Dancing 'on one' is very easy. And usually clubs are sort of divided between the 'on one' and the 'on two' dancers. And the 'on two' dancers dance with the 'on two' dancer. It's like an unspoken understanding."

"I have an addictive personality and I've struggled with addiction. In my 30s, when I pulled myself together from the funk that I was in for about 15 years, I remembered that I loved dancing. I feel like God really wants me to do what I do best. My best expression of myself is to dance.
I've seen people have heart attacks on the dance floor. I've seen about three people dancing and falling backwards, never getting up. But you know what? If I were going to die, I'd want to die dancing with everybody around me dancing." (New York Times)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Mambo Dancer

In the New York Times a few years ago. I just found the clipping.
"I never take a date to a club. I don't believe in dancing with one person all night. How boring can that be?

"When I'm dancing, I feel young, vibrant, sexy, strong. I'm thinking, I don't want this music to stop. that this music is bringing out the primitive in me. I feel like it's safe sex on the dance floor. Because I can do whatever I want on the dance floor and no one's going to hurt me. I can get as close to my partner as I want, and as far from him as I want. It's all up to me, I'm really the one in control. The man usually thinks he's the one in control because he's the lead. But the woman really controls how close a man gets when they're dancing."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Entertainment value

Really top production quality on DWTS - such as the special effects tarantula filling the dance floor. Tom says "Oh, there you are!"
Loved the lightning that struck the floor in the middle of JR and Karina's dance. Karina's costume of fluttery ghost like feathers. They were robbed in judge's scores. I feel like the producers had their fingers in that pie. Give JR an impossible song and then underscore so people feel sorry for him. Plus he's the one calming Karina down. Usually the pros are the ones who have to be sane.

I'm ready to pick who else will be in the final - Rob Kardashian whose family 'isn't creepy, though they're kooky", he says since he has to dance to the Adams Family song.
We still have Nancy not-so-Grace-ful. Poor Tristan trying to talk about Fun, and Nancy repeatedly accused him of saying she was Not Fun, so he had to bow out of that discussion. We got to see his Irish Step Dance flavor in the bouncy Jive.
Derek's Flamenco/Argentine Tango performance with SYTYCD winner Allison Holker has to get some attention outside the ballroom world. DWTS still has better production values. The live Flamenco orchestra took it up another notch.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Dance teachers speak of promenade as a very difficult step to do well.
Students happily do their Foxtrot double-wide and wonder what the big deal is.
Then we take it up a notch with styling through Waltz twinkles and Tango. The step begins to smooth it out.
Next, try going back to the old easy 6-count Foxtrot promenade - it goes the other way, off to the left, and then moves forward on the left foot! Shoehorning the new styling into the old step is not easy.