Saturday, March 30, 2013

Florida continued

I'm only 200 entries into editing the blog to get it put in a bound book of some kind. Kind of expensive for just one, vanity press and all, but I am a great fan of books. Sometimes bloggers' books sell, but this one is not sensational - pretty quiet.
So, our next nights on the east coast of Florida dance scene. Tuesday was a movie "Life of Pi" definitely Oscar material since it was the best 3D movie I've seen.
Wednesday was Vero Beach, an hour north to see where the best teachers in the area for salsa have their studio. Joe and Sherri run 14th Ave Swingsation with verve, style, energy, great music and Latin percussion if the spirit moves you, and I do love Latin percussion - clave, maracas, bongos, guiro.
Thursday was Solid Gold at the St Lucie Civic building, a crowded floor of non-dancers, but we had enough room, and Joe got some variety in partners since he knows women who don't usually bring their husbands. Gus and Blake were there with Kathy and whats-her-name. We sat with Dan and Linda, newbies to the dance scene and Florida, very friendly.
Fridays are best at Save the First Dance where an amateur couple run the place for the love of it, not to sell private lessons and take ladies to competitions and buy an orange Corvette like the fellow in Rio who has never said hello to me and tolerates Joe as single male dancers.
The USA Dance people go to STFD, so when I contacted her by email, Jen Rose offered to take me around to meet the board members. George and Judy have a fabulous style, and he won the Foxtrot, if you count how many people he passed when he danced with me or his wife.The owner announced me as a visiting USA Dance member from Massachusetts, giving me the introduction to meet people. Tom Newton who teaches on the Vineyard summers has a good solid feel for the music.
 Marc Martin teaches there now, loves to show off and will be doing showcases with all the single ladies in a couple of weeks. I love his Hustle best - an unforgettable experience, I told him.
Song ideas - a new Waltz line dance - I even got teaching material.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Dear Readers

If I have any -
This week, I am editing the whole thing, the entire blog of 1,000 posts, preparatory to printing a book that I can store with my old photo albums - more public than the spiral bound notebooks I store in the attic. Those scribblings are supposed to be culled for material for a novel, though memoirs are extremely popular.

I like reading the old blog posts. I doubt the notebooks are as interesting/fun - they are not written to be published, mostly just to work things out, though a few years of daily writing comprise an actual journal (following a writing friend's suggestion).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Florida March 2013

On vacation, I still need projects. Exploring the dance venues is a good one, and so far, Joe has taken me to two new ones.
I probably wrote about the Plaza Ballroom a couple of years ago because it is the best venue around. That was Saturday in West Palm, right off the airplane. Great music and sound, great floor, Nice dancers, not too crowded.
BB King's Club in West Palm was our choice for Sunday. The BB King All Stars were an impressive bunch of musicians. Not really enough blues for my taste, but since it was all tourists, we danced hustle and shared the floor. Fun decor and good food.
 St. Lucie Civic Center is a huge and impressive building with several ballrooms. Ballroom 6 was only a quarter full, and had a quarter of a Latin band i.e. a sound machine and a good singer in front with a keyboard and a congo player.  Pretty good for a Monday night, really.
Ramon the Argentinian was a wild dancer, mostly doing a version of samba, and I followed him as best I could. A little old man in a sailor's hat asked my friend to dance, but she is too new to the idea to accept. He didn't ask the tall gal, me, which was fine.
Batches of single ladies danced together or with whoever including the two guys in our party.
Another room had a passover seder, also under attended in proportion to the size of the room, at least so it looked from outside.
Daytime, I read, go over dance notes, play with beads, and ride a bike we rented for a week for $20 from a 97 year old gentleman. I just trimmed a Kaffir Lime tree for the landlady, very fragrant.
Next project, editing this blog so I can print it up. I have been writing it for years. (Thanks, google!)

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Jensen Beach by tonight

If I copied my passwords correctly into my little book, I will be able to report on the dance scene in the middle east coast of the sunshine state. My husband has a card for Florida: Tennis by Day/ Dancing by Night. He left out the windsurfing that brought him to this corner of the coastline, the southern tip of the Indian River with wind and flatwater sailing. Occasionally, he goes into the Atlantic, but there are more swimmers, surfers and sharks there.
So far no properties that I might be interested in. In many ways, he would rather rent. His life ambition now seems to be becoming a snowbird.
Meanwhile, I have cultivated the Falmouth corner of the Atlantic coast for 34 years, gardening, raising kids, dancing, and teaching dance for 23 years. My culture is here with this group of friends.
Then when you add grandchildren in Providence or even Dartmouth, well, Florida comes out lacking.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Official tempi (I love this)


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New week

An easier week for me means I can just zone out with the dancing stars.
I remembered Aly Reisman because she's from Massachusetts, Dorothy Hamill from long ago, and Wynnona Judd because of the music.
My favorite dancer was Andy Dick with the charming new pro, Sharna. They looked straight out of the Great Gatsby. Carrie Ann called him demented. I might vote for them before next week's elimination.
Next favorite was Zendaya, the 16 year old Disney star with a graceful Contemporary, the choice of a new dance for the ballroom pros. Val embraced it.
As for the rest, well, no one made me cringe.  Cheryl Burke, usually my favorite pro, was odd with her too long bangs hiding her eyebrows, and an awkward partner. The judges were unnecessarily harsh.
I know Lindsay. She was on SYTYCD, charming ballroom dancer from Utah, made top ten. Victor Ortiz, the boxer,also charming, might do well, though Lindsay's choreography was weak compared to say, Cheryl's.
Tom is the star in many ways, joking that they get people to be on the show when their judgement is impaired. I noticed he said "easy-peasy" which seems to be a new catch-word.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Big Day

From visiting my parents, I left at 7 AM and saw the sunrise on my way to Boston for Dance Teachers Club.
Four and a half hours with Allen Gaskell and my fellow teachers at the Woburn Hilton.

The West Coast Swing step was very nice, and my fellow teachers have really improved at that dance.
The Waltz was maybe too open, but that's the Country style.
I'm still pretty bored with Nightclub Twostep. Have to try it out in Florida next week.
Salsa was fun.
Then I got back to the Cape in time for my lessons with Ron Gursky. More WCS.
Set the DVR for DWTS tomorrow!

Friday, March 15, 2013


After all these years of not knowing Polka, I finally broke down and took a lesson.
A wedding couple showed up with a cute song from the movie Juno, "All I Want is You", which to my ear, is a polka. When I said that, I found out her parents are Polish from the old country, so I felt it would be only right to have them prepare a Polka.
I had my lesson with Ron Gursky who said, "You're taking me back in time here!"
Not as hard as I thought. The triple steps are in my repertoire. Adding a hop was hard at first, until I thought of it as a skip. Most people don't even bother with the hop. Mary French certainly didn't. And the young man probably won't either, even for her. He got the triple step and then we were able to apply it to Swing, a nice trick.
Ron said the right turns are easy, and sure enough, my night school couple, Polish as well, did right turns beautifully. Then, their Waltz worked better after warming up with Polka.
I bet my Albanians are going to enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Funny trick

The performing arts people who share the studio I use are always putting tape on the floor - to mark the spot where the lead girl will stand in an ensemble piece or to mark the space as relative to the stage they will perform on.
So I decided to do a tape on the floor trick. I laid out masking tape in a dotted line to represent the traffic markings on the rotary that is the line of dance. You may not go backwards along line of dance because you will disrupt traffic! The guys seemed to appreciate the metaphor. I played "King of the Road."

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Technique notes for Salsa

I do a write-up periodically for my classes.
Recently a month of Salsa has given them a batch of steps and these technique notes
ARM STYLING: Keep arms at waist level if not connected to partner.
Circling hands is common.
Note: many moves in Salsa are the same as moves in the other Latin dances. Smaller steps to speed up the timing. Side by Side chases is an example.
TECHNIQUE: use pressure into the floor with ball of foot to move and to swivel.
Bend and straighten knee, allowing action to continue into hip.
In open position, connect with hand pressure toward or away from each other as in WCS.
In closed a slight pull away is evident especially in Back Spot Turn.
Add flicks after back rocks for a nice Latino touch.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Writhe and Twitch?!

Not really the pleasant words for dance variations, but can be applied as unled variations in body movement, suitable for changing the look of a dance figure that might otherwise look flat and dull. Body rolls and shimmies, extra kicks and flicks are what I would suggest for West Coast Swing, but Ron certainly got our attention.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Shim Sham

Learning the Shim Sham. Yes, it was originally a tap routine, but goes so nicely to Lindy Swing music that we could really enjoy the music and dance in time as a line dance that ends up partnered.
Frankie Mannig's video is charming. Patrick and Natasha break it down beautifully.
There was a global May 26 Shim Sham dance in honor of Frankie Manning's birthday. I would love to meet fellow Shim Sham dancers in our travels!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chinese philosophy

The only philosophy I read, the I Ching, on Enthusiasm:
"Music has the power to ease tension within the heart and to loosen the grip of obscure emotions. The enthusiasm of the heart expresses itself involuntarily in a burst of song, in dance and rhythmic movement of the body."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Gritzbach Band

Another great performance at the Beach House. Dancers are loving this band. I hope they're eating and drinking enough to keep the management happy.
At my house, the departure of my son means the refrigerator doesn't get cleaned out, so I went without pizza and just had the beer this time.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Setting up the music playlist for a dance ahead of time is work, and then just letting it run is play.
Choosing songs on the fly is work and play mixed, more tiring, but Mary French used to say you could gauge the crowd better, and that's what I did last night.
The group had a good time, 23 satisfied dancers. Enough yummy treats.
With Joe in Florida and my son moving out to help his grandparents, I might end up with more time this month to set up a new playlist that incorporates what I have learned about pace and selection, the old and the new, the line dances, the Latin and the ballroom.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Posture, posture, posture

And how to convey the crucial nature of this element of dance?
I know from my own experience that the ingrained feeling of how I stood masked the need to bring the head up and back until the occiput was engaged. Mary French's gentle hints were not enough.
Occiput = the bottom of the skull at the back of the head connected as an extension of the spine.
Keeping an eye on what is happening was one way I felt I could best react to a lead.
In fact, the body lead requires a follow that is unimpeded by input from the eyes.
After seeing my first showcase on videotape, I began looking for ways to improve my head placement. Pilates literature was promising, but the first classes I took were crowded, and doing crunches the wrong way made my neck hurt.
Finally, Lori Martin's class gave me the tools for the upper spine.
I want to help students through my Dance & Stretch class.