Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Van Gogh again

I've been reading Van Gogh's letters, Dear Theo on and off, mostly off, for years now.
Mostly he writes about how little money he has and using the poor as models.
Then there will be a bit about mixing colors or using charcoal pencil.
This bit, however, has relevance to life today. "Competition that arises from jealousy is quite a different thing from trying one's best to make the work as good as possible for the sake of mutual respect. I do not see any good in jealousy, but I should despise a friendship which did not call for some exertion from both sides to keep it on the same level."
On the Human Kinetics website, author David Shields went so far as to rename the negative approach to a contest - simply trying to knock out the opponent by any means, calling it decompetition, writing, "The term "competition" comes from Latin roots and literally means "to strive with." Importantly, it does not mean "to strive against."

Monday, May 27, 2013

Italian Itam Lodge on Pontoosuc Lake

Not to be confused with the Italian American Club on Newell Street, middle of Pittsfield.
We were out of town and my brother, the musician of the family, had a lead on a good band, and lo and behold, the floor was very nice too. Every Sunday, half an hour from my parents' house. Done at 11:00, and my brother got us there at 10:45. It was worth the drive to get out of the house and kick up our heels.

Friday, May 24, 2013

downtown Falmouth hoppin'

Which was good for Stage Door Canteen at Liam's.
We met friends there, and did some dancing, but that floor is just not to be recommended!
A couple of guys were brave enough to ask me to dance, and they had a few moves. The one who is looking for a dance partner should get to the Trowbridge where single dancing ladies are. When he met Joe, he explained his best move, unfortunately blocking the waitress.
Then it got really loud and Motown, filling the floor with those who do not move their feet.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

WCS basic steps and principles

The movement is done in a Slot, with the lady traveling from one point to the next as led by the man who stays in the middle of the Slot, directing the traffic.
Lead and follow is done at an arm’s length, so connection through body weight and movement is essential.
Leverage/ Stretch = a slight pull through body weight. Lady’s hand is cupped like a trailer hitch. Guy provides a solid surface to connect to, often with a sideways hand.
Compression/Sink = the leaning into each other for Sugar Push and Tuck Turn.
Forearms are relaxed.  Change of lead through body movement - NO push and pull with arms
Anchor Step replaces the East Coast Swing/Jive rock step for getting to Leverage.
L side pass (L hand or 2 hands)
 Starts with leverage.
He steps back and to his right out of the slot on ‘1’ .
She responds by stepping straight forward
He gets out of her way by turning sideways to his left on ‘2’
She comes close in front of him continuing to the other side of the slot, the easy way
He continues to turn ‘3 &’
She moves along , often allowing her L foot to cross in front ‘3 &’
He steps slightly forward encouraging her to find the end of the slot ‘4’
She finds the end of the connection , and that is the extent of the slot ‘4’
Anchor step for both is a triple in place, settling back on the flat of the rear foot and connecting with Leverage. 5& 6
Under arm “Right side”pass  (L hand)
All the same movements for her. He takes his foot back and to the left out of the slot, turning to his right & raising the arm for her to go under. His right foot may cross in front or go next to other foot before he continues the turn.
Sugar push (2 hands) (or closed)
 Same beginning, but he does not turn away, instead blocks her and gets to Compression. Both stall on ‘3 &’ The compression reaches a change of direction as he steps forward and she steps back on ‘4’. Anchor step 5&6
Try for body shaping, i.e. same side as foot leads forward.
Tuck Turn: Starts like L Side Pass, but he raises arm to stop, compress, and re-direct her to do a right turn (L hand or 2 hand lead) She must really move to get to the end of the slot and turn on 4. Hands are upside down. Use Underarm pass to fix hands

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Social Dance - Steps to Success

I bought it for a penny, plus $3.99 shipping etc. Kind of preachy, which I appreciate when it comes to posture. How else can you get the concept across? Stand up straight! Present your best self. Pilates is particularly strict, and helped me find my best strength.
When I looked in the book online, the drawing of the guy standing up straight was good.  The lady didn't come out as good, and in the newer edition, the photos of the correct posture were not convincing.
The paragraph on Centering bears quoting.
"Once you can align your hips, shoulders and head over your base of support (your feet), you need to become aware of where your center of gravity is located. It is a three dimensional point near the center of your body where your body's weight is equally divided ( ie half your weight is above and half is below this point.) Typically the equal division of one's body mass is located a bit higher in males, slightly above the waist than in females, slightly below the waist. However in dance, a more universal term, center point of balance or CPB is often used to refer to a point just below your diaphragm. You can feel this point by making a fist and placing it at the base of your breastbone where your ribs start to separate. The advantage of the CPB is that it is slightly higher than your center of gravity." Judy Patterson Wright

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Viennese Waltz

The Viennese Waltz controversy:
Shall we work and work to get it to be a contiuous spinning progression around the floor, right and left turns?
Or shall we allow turns and then a stationary step in order to regroup?
My choice is the latter: do one or two turns well, then slow down considerably for some of what Mary French called "Fake Viennese", hesitations that allow for a change from left to right turns.
I also accept the waltz done like Italian and Polish men I have danced with. Their progressive goes side to side.
For variety, I am adding a little whisk action that can allow for an easy underarm turn for the lady.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Joan Acocella in the NewYorker
" 'Musicality' is one of those terms that dance people use all the time while other people stand around and nod and have no idea what is being referred to. I would say that musicality in dance is three things. One is intellectual: the choreographer makes the structure of the dance reflect that of the score. "
(In our dances, the steps are designed to reflect the prevailing mood of the style: Foxtrot & Waltz - smooth and progressive, Latin - earthy and in one space.)
"A second meaning is aesthetic: the dancer will weave her movements into the musical line, obeying it or teasing it, but in any case hearing it, responding to it, and not just dancing while it plays."
(I'm hoping to get to respond to the musical breaks in West Coast Swing. The dance includes the opportunity to pose when music ceases.)
"This yields the third, moral meaning: the dancer's primary interest is not to display her technique. However hard she worked at it, she must now give it away, to what the music calls for."
(Here, Acocella gets into performance art and goes on to suggest a show to attend. I just get to take a lesson or twoin musicality.)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Only the first game of play-offs...

Stage Door Canteen at the Trowbridge - several interesting grouping: three tables of Falmouth (including Woods Hole) dancers with Bourne, Sandwich, Mashpee, and off-Cape dancers mixed in. A new partnership made Lance look better than ever.
I hope we drank enough to keep the establishment happy - once again, Joe didn't go through with his idea of a "designated drinker", a plan that is mostly a play on words. We pick up an alcoholic to offset our tendency to drink water. Paying his bar bill and keeping him off the dance floor are two issues unresolved.
Joe disappeared periodically to check up on the Bruins game. Upstairs was Trivia night with TV sets tuned to the play off game. They won.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

DWTS finishing & on to STYTCD

Excellent DWTS Results with Derek and Kellie's Argentine Tango again and the extra tidbits of people like Louis and Cheryl.  Also the right person left. I felt sure they were keeping 4 so that we wouldn't lose any of the great dancing to be had next Monday - LIVE!
On the minus side, we got a too long "Romance in the Wind" with Gleb and Sharna, bedsheets and curtains. Avril Lavigne's song was not a dance number, and the women's costumes were ugly.  Mark Ballas at least looks good now since he let his hair grow, but he tried to throw his partner under the bus, telling on her for taking bangles from the costume shop as souvenirs. It became a running joke, but he is a jerk, no doubt about it.
This morning, realizing So You Think You Can Dance had started, I found a website with much better transmission than
Checked my DVR.  Yup, it automatically recorded, so I could see more than the winning auditions, the weird losers, too.

Detroit auditions tonight. How much dancing can I take?

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Season

The long early spring on Cape Cod has turned into the new season, the budding and flowering that will soon enough be full summer.
Another season for me, tutoring in the high school, has also finished. Now the MCAS Math is administered at the same time that the colleges set final exams, before young adults become too distracted.
My granddaughter, who broke her arm last week, does not need my attention as her mother is done teaching at Dean and Salve Regina.
Lessons with Ron Gursky have become more difficult to set up with the busy Cape Cod summer on the horizon.
Usually, I do a Spring Cleaning around about now.
Plant the rest of the garden.
And sort my dance teacher notes: preparation that ebbs and flows but never ceases.
Prepare to teach Viennese today!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fundraiser at Grumpy's - terrific

George Gritzbach Band for the Boston One Fund on Saturday 4 to 7 PM.
Wow was it deserted at 4:30 when we arrived, but the music was great and I needed a change of scene from the visiting grandchildren. Black Russian set me up, and the people arrived, swelling to a nice crowd by the time we had to leave to get the meal cooked by my son for Mother's Day, family dinner at home with silly children and their lovely parents.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Keep Four Stars

Enjoying the show - the extra snippets of dancing as we come back from commercial are really there for the live audience, but they add that dimension - an improvement over Tom's habitual greeting.
Derek's tour de force with the rotating room was great fun. I guess the live audience had to see it on a screen just as we did.
Some of the new special effects must be similarly added for the broadcast, digital overlays.
So the weakest dancer, Sean, left, graciously, with artificial elimination, "Not necessarily in the bottom two." Surely, the next weakest dancer, Ingo, was in the bottom two. Perhaps they wanted to spare his darling son, Peanut, who got some footage of his week on the set.
Then we will have 5 dancers, and they are calling it the semi-final. That means they are going to eliminate two dancers or have a final with four dancers. I would hate to see the talented and supremely entertaining Jacoby Jones have to leave before the end, even if Kellie and Zendaya are better dancers, and Ali Reisman an Olympic champion saddled with Mark Ballas.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Loving St. B Parish Hall

The view from the Parish Hall is spectacular, overlooking Sider's Pond; a cherry tree in bloom out another window. I added another floor lamp to their collection, so the lighting is really nice. Great space, round tables.
Only thing was when I came in this morning to turn in the key and the fee, I met the custodian who was upset at how dusty we had gotten the floor. I was surprised. The dry weather has produced dust, but my people bring in non-street shoes. There was no need for talc as the floor was not sticky.
It seemed a father had really cleaned the floor Friday in preparation for a Sunday party, and it wasn't shiny any more.
Anyway, I promised to dry-mop the floor next time, not until the fall.

Friday, May 3, 2013

International Rumba

I enjoyed introducing International Rumba to Intermediate dancers, well able to comprehend, but without any experience of the steps involved. They will take the skills involved in the Fan and Hockey Stick into West Coast Swing next week.
Bringing the dances closer together makes a lot of sense to me.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

TV Dancing

DWTS Latin week features some of my favorite music. In particular, the Flamenco guitar for Paso Doble included a very effective pause in the music.
Juanez' hit "La Camisa Negra" goes onto my playlist for Salsa. I loved the fancy Rueda, circle dance with partner changes choreographed by Louis Van Amstel.
I love seeing the stars without make up, especially the young one, Zendaya, with her expressive face, and the pros, who are stars in their own right.

The extra dances thrown in at commercial breaks keep the action perking along.
Finally, the elimination of Andy Dick was no great surprise, though he continued to be fun to watch. Mistakes make us sympathize.