Thursday, May 31, 2012

young dancers

SYTYCD had a young woman whose dancing really struck a chord. Usually I am awed by their prowess or amused by their antics, but this time I was ready to change places. Megan Branch was tiny. People don't believe I want to be little. I was once, but not for long.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Plenty busy weekend

Not busy with dancing, though we did go to see the Peacheaters at Grumpy's Friday, and they are good - 8 men on stage! However, "Four Dead in Ohio" is a song that sends me right home.
During the day Friday, I got to watch SYTYCD, the auditions, New York and Dallas. It seemed more streamlined than other seasons, like they screened the acts and only showed us the best (and worst) solos. The autistic guy who channeled the ocean was both best and worst.
Then off to see my whole family - only one nephew missing. A garage of clothes hung up for choosing amused the girls while Joe watched the Celtics win. The next day the TV was free for my father's black and white 16 mm home movies, transferred to videotape some years ago. My sister and I dance with no sound track. My mother stands on her head.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Football Player #3

Results show with too much filler. I particularly hated the part where the three couples stand on boxes with portentous pretentious music swelling around. I don't need to see the eliminated couples dance again.
We got another football player who, besides being talented and working extremely hard, appealed to the voting public with a freestyle country routine. Whether I'll remember him in a year is a question. I remember Emmit Smith because he was the first football player to win. Hines Ward was very appealing, but I keep forgetting his name.
I want to save a few routines on a DVD compilation - Derek and Maria's Argentine, William and Cheryl's Samba, and Donald and Peta's Jive with Karina where he jumped over the two women. Maybe that Mark and Katherine one where she was dressed as a Roman goddess. She peaked at week two, technically perfect from then on, so I can pick any one, and I am fond of costumes.
Anyway, it's over and time to move on to So You Think You Can Dance on Thursday. DVR getting a workout every week.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


One click and my iPod gets restored to original settings. All the knots it has tied itself into are erased and it will work smoothly again.
The good old human body would like such a click, but I am happy to say stretch class does it for me! An hour of concentrated attention and centering and the kink I got in my back gardening gone.
The new style exercises using "reciprocal inhibition", or the way opposition muscles can help relax each other, worked well, not better as far as I could see, but adding a dimension of work to the stretch, and that won't do any harm.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Active Isolated flexibility

On a hunt for the change in accepted wisdom on stretching, I came across the stretching-for-runners team father-son duo of Jim and Phil Wharton who say, "We don't even use the word 'stretching' anymore. It conjures up an image of static stretching--of holding still for too long, like the tension created by a tug of war. That can actually weaken the muscle-tendon connection."
The Whartons AI ("active, isolated") flexibility exercises work on healthy blood circulation and lubrication to the joint. Their exercises move the muscle and joint gently and progressively to the point of slight tension, then immediately release the tension, and then repeat 10 times. There's no static-stretching hold.
Not totally convinced, I'll get their book out of the library, absorb the ideas.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Results - semifinal gee whiz

This week, being overly busy (wedding couples) I didn't finish watching DWTS, including its conclusion, the results show, until yesterday. (Just in time. my other favorite show, So You Think You Can Dance starts tonight. This is their first season since we got the DVR.)
Anyway, I just couldn't write about the results right away. That semi-final was like the final to me. The departure of Maria and Derek was the last surprise, especially after their perfect Argentine Tango. One of the other contestants will win and deserve it. They all won the right to be in the final "competition": all three get a final set of dance lessons. One will get the sparkly object.
Then, Alanis Mourisette sang a loud song, and a couple of ballet dancers did those great ballet tricks, his continuous pirouettes and turning leaps, she in bare feet.
I was looking forward to Julianne Hough's turn from her upcoming dance movie also starring Tom Cruise and Catherine Zeta-Jones, but I hated it. They filled the screen with jumping youth and the sound waves with noise. 80s heavy metal, yuck.
"Design A Dance" gave us Chelsie and Tristan with a samba to a Beyonce tune, "End of Time". Viewers vote on dancers, dance style and song, so I looked at it once, but our choices were strictly limited. The lady who designed Chelsie's costume was in the audience. A ticket to the Live Show - that might be worth it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Semifinal DWTS

I couldn't finish watching the show until today because of too many other commitments, but it was well worth waiting for. A TERRIFIC show filled with talent and hard work. The perfect scores were completely deserved.
Maria's Argentine Tango was charged with emotion. I was sure she was in love with Derek, but her boyfriend got to talk on the filler part, so I guess she will be able to leave the show with a support system. Maybe it was the working through injuries, both hers and Derek's. Their Jive was notably free of kicks and flicks, using cute little floor circles and other tricks - injuries, covered up with clever choreography.
William's Tango was also stellar, in charge and graceful, but his Samba blew me away. Close to Salsa, his native dance, but enough different that he paid stricter attention, or maybe he's just getting better at concentrating on dance. Cheryl looked completely pleased at how well he was doing, and rightly so. A nice background piece on Cuba and Miami included people who hired him when he showed up to be a male model in his one set of clothes.
Katherine seemed afflicted with nerves, causing an error in each dance, something we never saw before. The foot fault in the Quickstep, unseen by Carrie Ann, gave her a little stutter, quickly covered up. For Samba, she dressed as a snake dancing to "Shake your body like a belly dancer", which the judges didn't mind for once. No mark down for a Bollywood-like routine, but a near fall at the very end that really upset her, causing all of us to worry. Apparently she's okay. Hopefully she has recovered from her broken heart, mentioned in the background piece.
Donald's story was much more dramatic than I realized, coming from a desperately poor neighborhood in Texas, single mother, briefly homeless, and dealing drugs until he found football and a good wife. Boy, his kids are cute. He still couldn't get a ten out of Len with a great Waltz or a Samba in a three piece suit - that's different!

Monday, May 14, 2012

"First 20 minutes"

I heard the author of this book on Fresh Air. Getting up is the first and most important thing to do - stretching is optional, be sure to stand up at least every hour, 20 deep knee bends to as little as 60 degrees 3 times a week - all this sounds possible and helpful.
I did stair stepping this weekend - helping my mother with stuff in their three-story house - another type of fitness.

Friday, May 11, 2012

"Ballroom Battle"

Extra competitions for some of the pros were featured only online in 25 minute episodes. I wrote about "Karina vs Cheryl" which is no longer being shown. Essentially, Cheryl was given a ringer who blew all the other teams away.
Then I watched "Tony vs Lacey", now also gone, which showed Tony Devolani at his studio in NYC and the young people he has been working with. At that level, students need encouragement and it's heartbreaking to reject promising young people for the sake of 90 seconds on DWTS.
Lacey, at her father's studio in Redlands, CA, had three couples but then one girl quit. The extra guy had to borrow another guy's partner, adding to the difficulties with partnering. I guess we all knew that - it's part of life!
In the Ballroom Battle, a stage in a warehouse in LA, Tony's team beat Lacey's.
The Mark vs Louis battle is still on view. Their studios, both in Utah, were affiliated but split some time ago, causing some bad feeling, nothing specified. Again, the younger teacher, Mark, messed with the partnering, switching off, a good idea for dancers in general, but not when preparing for competition, in my opinion.
Louis applied his knowledge of the judges, all International, like Len Goodman, believers in tradition, to choreograph a traditional Paso Doble, which won the right to compete on TV.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

This week DWTS

Great fun as usual.
What is the deal with Maks and Derek claiming they "hurt the ones they love the most"? I know there's an emotional bond, but Maks really seems to love himself most. Maria may be in love with Derek, but he should be staying focused and professional.
Another mystery is why Len refused to give Donald a 10 for a complete success in the Jive Trio. The man was fabulous. I hate his earrings and his head seems wrong most of the time, but I think it's just the shoulders being too big, and in the Jive there was no problem with that. Also there was zero criticism, so why no 10?
Meanwhile, I didn't mind saying good-bye to Melissa though she did finally seem to dance for about 30 seconds, once she got past the beginning of the Foxtrot with Maks. Maks and Val (who else) surrounding her did not improve her Samba.
Roshon was another one who, though improving, is not as interesting. What I say is - these stars can take dance lessons on their own and become part of the dance community.
Maria's Viennese was one of my favorite dances of the evening, and Len marked Derek down for breaking hold. Their Bollywood Samba, similarly great, got an even worse reaction - a 7. Crowd boos, naturally.
William got the 30 this week for a terrific Foxtrot. I knew he would do well with Foxtrot - that's his persona, not Latin Lover, but suave gentleman.
Katherine did her usual attempt at perfection - good job. The costume change mid-dance left her stuck with a pants leg. I rewound to check - yup, Mark's fault.
Other performances - Las Vegas Rumba, Dick Clark tribute, Chris Brown - were much the same as we have seen in the past.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Musica en Espanol para Cinco de Mayo,Sabado noche

Ballroom songs in Spanish - plenty of Rumba, Mambo, Merengue, one Swing, "La Bamba", Foxtrots, yes, Waltz, no. The oddest were "Personalidad", the Johnny Mercer hit, and "Mi Gran Amor" (translated from the Beatles "And I Love Her") to turn people's brains around.
A good time at St Barnabas, non-dancers even - a young couple dragged in by his mother after a couple of good margaritas.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Karina vs Cheryl

After the youth competition on DWTS, I went to to watch the way the teams were put together.
Karina has a stable of young dancers training for competition, and she had them compete against each other, coming out with a nice young couple.
Cheryl does not train amateurs for competition and had open auditions. She got odd ones, like an older man who did Tai Chi type dancing. Then a young Russian couple showed up, another Maks but with no chin, and a girl with bad hair. They seemed like they knew what they were doing, then my phone rang. I couldn't pause the video, and while I was booking a lesson, another Russian showed up, the one I'd just seen win the competition on DWTS. Unfortunately, the girl knew him. At some point in the past, he did something unforgivable. So Cheryl had to find him another partner. Meanwhile, he went on camera to say he was a new man since he had just had testicular cancer!
Now I'm looking for that episode at Where did it go?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Much meatier results shows lately.
The young dancer, Steelo, who returned from aneurysm was very touching, and his fellow hip-hop dancers very impressive.
The contest of teens coached by our pros was telling. The three nicest pros got the best results. Cheryl's couple won, but I think it was because of the innate talent of that young man. His kicks and flicks were faster and crisper than anyone, anytime.
They are making the judges really work, judging that and the duel in a minute flat with Tom saying, "Come on guys - we need a result now!"
The last dance duel was very close. I'd have kept Jaleel, but watching two couples at the same time is impossible.
I just wish Melissa had been in it because I'm tired of her. Are women voting to see Maks again?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Classical Night DWTS

Loved the opening with Josh Bell playing his heart out. The troupe dressed in the style of Louis XV was pretty funny, and they did without their usual Solid Gold Stripper moves.
Classical week also brought in a child prodigy, Jackie, a lovely little girl with the voice of a grown woman, and an Italian tenor singing Verdi.
First up, Mark and Katherine dressed for Greco-Roman/Game of Thrones. I thought she danced beautifully and the judges were just stingy giving 9s.
Roshon with his button nose and skinny legs did Argentine Tango after some attitude lessons from Val. From the judges' comments, it's the feet that make the legs look weak.