Thursday, November 29, 2012

Just when you think....

Computer fixing, plus, I went crazy with an error in venue scheduling and have been scrambling to let everyone know that my dance will be at the Conservatory, not St. Barnabas.
Things were going really well, I thought, but the seeds for trouble were sown months ago.
Ain't it always the way.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Finale of course

Our show has finished its season - great entertainment. The production numbers got bigger and crazier - hilarious even. I kind of miss the old days, but it was nice in the All Stars not to have any cringe-inducing really bad dancers. Dance Center features one of them, Kenny Mayne and his not funny jokes.
On the final show with voting I saw terrific dancing altogether like Kelly and Val's Paso that made me happy, ready to accept her even with her manipulative streak. 
Tony and Melissa were odds-on favorites because of Tony's work throughout the many seasons. Lovely dancing, maybe not as fiery as it could be. I loved Sabrina, but her partner, Louis Van Amstel, didn't put in his dues season after season.
Shawn and Derek were great. I didn't need to see the rule breaking Quickstep again, but it gave the judges a chance at tipping the score for Melissa and Tony so we wouldn't be thinking, "Oh here's a Disney scenario playing out as usual. The producers totally wrote this ending."
Then we got to the final results show and had no guest performers, just the whole cast back to dance, reminding us that Pamela Anderson was there and couldn't dance, that Bristol really improved, that we love Sabrina, that Gilles wants to be an American even if we still see him as French, that Kirstie is pretty good if she doesn't get messy, Joey Fatone tries to get by on style, Apolo could have won, Drew got robbed, and other meaningful judgements.

Derek was weeping as he called Shawn a light, a spark for him. Does this mean he is going to leave the show? I wouldn't be surprised. Will Mark Ballas go, too? We'll see it all next season - Live!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

New Web Host

Thinking my old computer infected in spite of Norton Security Suite, I took on my mother-in-law's Dell and went after the transfer of everything and the web page got messed up. Homestead has no support. "Join our community," they suggest. I guess they were bought by Intuit and became a poor step-child.
iPage had good reviews and the guy on the phone was very helpful, giving me clear steps to follow, and if they didn't work, I got to call him back. Lou Walker of Arizona with a sense of humor. He would laugh when I did something dumb and then figured it out right away. So the webpage looks much better. Phew.
Meanwhile DWTS finale was on so early and I was having such a good time with my Samba class that when I finally got home the show was over and the phone numbers were cut off. No final vote for me. I get to watch today, my only daytime TV, so I'll be primed for the Results tonight.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Beach House Sunday evening

George Gritzbach was back last night from 5 to 8 PM, perfect for us middle aged folk.
Let the young drinkers have Saturday night.
As the owner of the Beach House told us a few years ago.
We made sure to have dinner there so the house made up for no cover charge.
The floor was refinished nicely. Last time I was there, it had gotten grey and sticky.
George had a great new keyboard guy and had sped up tempo on "Caledonia (yay)".

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Plymouth Dance

JP did a great job with the music last night in Plymouth. My local access cable Cape Cod TV show this year will show all the places people can go dancing.
Hustle was the lesson, and the dance for the year. Too bad Mary missed the comeback for her favorite dance, the one that paid off her mortgage.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hot Yoga?

Sitting around an awful lot this week. I did get walks organized, but would like a full-on exercise class. Maybe the hot yoga which is so hot right now. Bikram with a storefront in Falmouth. I figure it's a fad that will go away soon, so I should try it. Oooo, online they want me to join right away for 20 sessions!
Single class $17, unlimited week, $25 - but what if I hate it?
Maybe it's like laughter yoga - they say you should try it for at least three sessions to see if you like it.
I have tried yoga many times and seldom liked it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Still bizarre

The second half of this week's DWTS performances was still bizarre with the Michael Jackson tribute gimmick. ABC has an upcoming special on Thanksgiving - a show about the 25th anniversary of the release of "Bad". Michael Jackson's music can fit with the ballroom dances, especially swing, but they forced Tango and Rumba onto jazzy upbeat songs that we don't even know. I never heard of  "Dirty Diana" Melissa and Tony's Argentine Tango, so full of lifts it was more of an acrobatic performance than a dance. Perfect lifts - flawless - 30. And Tony threw his back out during rehearsal, but got injections so as not to let Melissa down. Derek and Shawn were more traditional and also got a 30. Apolo had to do Rumba to a Man in the Mirror at half time, ignoring half the beats for his 30. Emmit seems to be getting a bit sulky at how much work is involved this time. He already makes Cheryl commute to Dallas so he can sleep at home most of the week. 27. Kelly Monaco is still my least favorite - for years now!
Viewers did not agree.On the Results show, I really appreciated a re-run of Apolo's Rumba - stunning, and he seemed to enjoy himself. But he's gone with a gracious speech. Emmit also left nicely.
Three showcase dances:  First, Paris Goebbel from New Zealand doing Hip hop, not my favorite style, too angry. Then Paula Abdul with a medley of her 4 hits and a lot of bizarre animation added in - how do they do that live? I would have liked to see what the audience saw because I've seen animation mixes in the movies plenty. And Derek's Contemporary piece had slow motion added in - again I would rather see what the audience saw. We don't need tricks when we have people performing live! I don't know where he finds the time. The stage with water in it was very nice, like Pia's choreography. We saw it during "Surfer Flamenco" last week looking just plain silly.
Next week: Tony & Melissa neither of whom has won before, Shawn and Derek, both of whom have won before, and Val & Kelly - she won.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Weird Show Dancing is as far as I got

Once again DWTS went out for an entertainment gimmick that worked better for some than for others.
Surfer Flamenco that was mostly about Val Shmerkovsky's Speedo and the couple's love affair which I don't believe in. Another soap star's idea of how to stay on a reality TV show. It was Paso because Val knows Paso and it's close enough but Carrie Ann wanted it to be more Flamenco (a lifetime study).
Terrific Caveman Hustle for Tony and Melissa that Carrie Ann said had off balance turns.
Impressive Night Rider Bhagra for Derek and Shawn; cartoonish Espionage Lindy  for Emmit and Cheryl; Disturbing Big Top Jazz for Apolo & Karina. Her choreography is not very accessible.
Meanwhile I hear Cheryl will be The Bachelorette?
I will catch up on the rest of the show later. I spent the weekend at my mothers' and am falling behind here.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Musicality and Technique

A particular project of mine is to allow some of my male students to be able to keep time with the music by adding technique. Often, the guys learn steps and once the step is not difficult any more, they execute it with no regard to timing. When it was hard, they did it slowly, with the music. Now that it's easy, they breeze right through.
Now is the opportunity for a teacher to slow them down. They know where they're going and can enjoy the time spent going there, adding in a gliding action for smooth styles or knee to hip action in the Latin styles.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Television Without Pity website quotes

I quote my favorite TV reviewer, Kim, who gave the episode a B while other viewers gave it a C, quoting Tom Bergeron saying an All Star season would be a sign the producers had run out of ideas.

"Double elimination! That means two couples! TWO! We're that much closer to the end of this season! This has actually been a good season, but by this point in any season, I'm just over it."
Then Kim says, "With Shawn and Derek (and Mark) doing their tribal dance, it's really interesting that I read a blog post about cultural appropriation..."   (at  "Cultural appropriation is taking aspects of another culture and using them without permission or understanding. Cultural appreciation, on the other hand, involves learning about another culture and the significance it places in certain objects." I believe Derek is showing an understanding of dance culture - not so sure about Mark. Shawn is the student.

Kim goes on to say, "Can I tell you about this blister I have on the top of my tongue? I think I got it from eating microwave popcorn, which is super lame. But it keeps catching on my teeth and I think it's making me crankier than normal. Anyway, that blister prevented me from enjoying Ne-Yo's performance. As far as I can tell, he's a combination of Michael Jackson and Usher."
Blisters are more interesting than the TV performance of a singer I never heard of.

      Then they sent Kirstie home halfway through the show, and let everybody else pick a weirdo style for the Michael Jackson week, even the one who will be eliminated which turns out to be Gilles.
Kim doesn't  think he deserved to win the whole thing anyway.  "It makes me sad to say that about Gilles, who I really loved on his last tour, but there it is."  I'm thinking the middle America vote is not for a Frenchman, even with all his dreams.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Short Dances on the All Stars

I noticed right away that Shawn's dance was very short, so I timed it. Not 90 seconds, but one minute - 60 seconds total - really short. All of the dances were short, naturally, since that's only fair. Plus you don't notice as much that they're shorter than usual when you reach the new reality of 60 seconds.
I wonder if they did this before when the stars have to learn 2 dances in one week.
Several thirties this week. Looks like the judges are rooting for Melissa and Tony. Beautiful dancer trying really hard, didn't win before. Tony never won.
Another idea they haven't tried for a while: the same dance for several couples - easier to compare. Lack of content made Kirstie's Viennese look shorter than even the one minute, though she did look good for that short time, and Maks looked great, like a soldier.
Emmit's salsa made Gilles look sloppy, though when I was watching Gilles, I loved it.
The quicksteps by Gilles and Apolo had enough content - lots of steps, done quickly, as Len pointed out.
A theme of angels got repeated for the Veteran's Day edition, nicely by Shawn and Derek, completely weirdly by Kirstie and Maks with Tristan all wearing wings on harnesses. Surreal. And dumb. Psychedelic or psychotic? They should have chosen a wiser pro like Louis who might have stepped back and stopped the foolishness. I think Kirstie will probably go this week.
The other one I would let go, Kelly Monaco, chose Louis since he taught most of the pros. Louis made remarks about Kelly & Val's relationship that Disney did not chose to hide. Will viewers approve?
The samba by Derek and Mark featuring Shawn Johnson was great. Len scored his point - not enough samba -  with a 7 while Carrie Ann went for the 10. "If you go tomorrow night," said Len, "It won't be your fault, Shawn." Way to make people vote for her, and for that stunning dance.
Unfortunately, I had to vote blind, and figured they were safe while I was working to keep Apolo, Gilles and Melissa.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Fall River again

Our dinner was at Biera Alta, a piece of urban Portugal transported. Our waitress has been here six years and is very unsure of her English. Dinner was cheap and salty, so when we took home half the paella, I improved it by adding a full measure of unsalted rice. I finally figured out paella. It's like a combo of Persian rice with the crispy crust and risotto with short grain rice, only not the expensive Italian kind, just Goya short grain, crisped up in our cast iron pan. Entertainment was a video DJ. His musical selections included video that went with the piece: Elton John at the piano looking very young, part of Good Morning Vietnam, Elvis. There was a dance floor, so eventually people might dance.
Anyway, on to The Eagle and a nice Arthur Murray style Rumba lesson. We love that place and are planning a 40 wedding anniversary there.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


The latest American Dancer came in the mail with an article about youth. This time they highlighted the obesity problem - solvable through ballroom dance!  or maybe, as "a thing that can be done."
So I downloaded 20 pages of the School Dance Program Guide from the USADance website and it's got a lot of good material. The teaching tips are right on.
The most important page is #5, the Youth Outreach Coordinator. This individual will assign 1-3 schools to each committee member, then get the list of instructors, then develop a budget plan, then raise funds.
Next bullet points:
Determine which school buildings and grade levels to target.
Develop a marketing plan.
Meetings with appropriate personnel (District Superintendent, School Principal, Activities Director and/or Head of Physical Education Department) to discuss the program.
Finally, meeting for interested parents.
I like the teaching part and have a lesson scheduled with the 4H kids at the local magnet school. 
I need a Youth Outreach Coordinator, some community organizer who shouldn't be the teacher - conflict of interest..

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Selling Exercise

Gretchen Reynolds wrote The First 20 Minutes after writing for the NY Times Health column for years.
A lot of it is getting people up off the couch. She writes the greatest change happens just by standing up. Of course to get healthy, you have to keep going, but then there's a drop off in health because of injuries if you don't know when to stop. The old Sine Curve.
I like that "30 minutes is a sweet spot." It's 30 minutes a day and gives the best return for your effort.
I also like her approach to the way to do many exercises - science based and sensible, not unexplained wisdom or trust-me pushiness.
So I will add squats to my daily life "routine" because she pointed out how they can keep people the most able to navigate the world.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Timing is everything

Often the guys rush through steps, ignoring the music. We all see this all the time, and it can be torture for the partner who is there to enjoy the music.
Sometimes followers will also disregard the music for the sake of their partner. Her patience might let him learn the steps until he can relax and allow the music to set the pace.
As a teacher, I have to be sensitive to this give and take with learning styles.
My Hungarian modern dance teacher gave us the paradox - "Which comes first - the music or the dance?"
I was very sure the music came first, but others were not as sure.
That Lost Wax performance with Ali Brodsky used music mixed on the spot to approximate choreography rehearsed for weeks and included spectacular synchronization.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election vs Dance

My night school party last Tuesday was called off for the storm, and people didn't know that it was just postponed. Or else the election drove other ideas out of their minds.
Anyway, it's over and we can relax for a bit, still worried.
There is so much to fix these days.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Great Show

Before I go vote for President USA, I watched the recording of that great show, DWTS All Stars.
I loved them all, even Kelly Monaco. Maybe she's sleeping with Val and it allows her to access more than her usual dance.
That bit of fireworks Maks sent out from his King/Duke costume was very funny.  He isn't out-dancing this partner as much as he usually does, and being funny instead. Kirstie was nice in Quickstep again, but her usual too messy in the Latin dance. When they got eliminated first in the dance marathon, that meant they didn't have to dance the full four minutes.
Apolo still wants to win, but now he realizes making it to the finals will be like winning against this crew, and he's a bit softer for that.
Emmit was the man in pink, and Cheryl is still the pro I would like best to learn from. Every 8 bars, they switched from Rumba to Samba - a terror in terms of rhythms.
Gilles was back to being the man I love. I love seeing his wife every chance the cameras get, too.
Shawn Johnson got two teachers. Amazing Derek and Mark were able to cooperate. Two fierce competitors, but they grew up together. They must have beaten it out of each other when they were ten.
Melissa works as hard as anyone and has the talent. I think Tony deserves to win finally.
That's everybody, right? Pretty funny attack ads - "paid for by stars with more than 5% body fat"
I voted for Gilles, Apolo and Melissa.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Learning to be graceful

Strength adds to ease of movement.
Understanding allows relaxation.
Tame the energy for the art of dance.

Better if I had had more energy yesterday, but I took my lessons with as much as I had left.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tough week, but great dance

The end of the week found me in Providence with grandchildren. Ian, now one-and-a-half, is no longer a doll baby, but the active sort of toddler you have to watch every minute. His new name: "Sandy the Hurricane".
I brought them home with me in advance of their parents, and that was the end of any computer time.
Friday night was a surprise date for me. Joe got tickets for Lyle Lovett at the Zeiterion in New Bedford and had researched restaurants with his Portuguese pals. CotaliMar is beautiful and well run with excellent seafood. If only the GPS could handle New Bedford. Doesn't help that they're fixing the streets.
Saturday morning I taught Dance & Stretch, then we picked wild cranberries.
Noon was a weekly private lesson. Then Sloane and I made pear cranberry pie.
4:00 was time to set up the hall with Sloane and her mother, Ali.
6:00 dinner made by Joe and Sam.
Sloane was exhausted and having a break-down when I had to leave.
Discovered I had left the power cord to my sound system in the Lawrence School on October 23, I didn't panic, after all, it's a portable system and has battery power, but (where's my phone?) borrowed a phone to call Joe who was taking his time getting there. The back-up system was needed after two and a half hours.
Lovely Dance!
We all seemed to need our favorite outlet after weeks of election news and days of bad weather. I just wish I had spent my time wisely while without power. Reading two novels and a novella is how I retreat. When the power came back, I made comfort food.
With Hurricane Sandy and the namesake gone, time to tackle my dance bag.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I'm baaack

Nice to have my life back. It wasn't bad, really. We had the generator for the refrigerator and a few lights. We even figured out internet yesterday, and I caught up on email to the noise of the large motor in the woodshed. Then I finally got through everything else and tried to watch the show that I missed, Monday's DWTS Country Night, online. Still choppy streaming. I could see many of the lines the dancers made, but without the fluid motion.  I watched less than half. The ads have gotten longer online too.
I wonder if the schools or library have a stronger signal, but they wouldn't want the hear the theme song form DWTS.