Monday, October 27, 2014

New Venue for me

My premiere at Betsy's for a casual dance.
Not a huge success. Did the usual crowd not want costumes optional, prizes? They didn't know the prizes were home baked goods.Was my lesson idea of Partnering Tips not worth the $15 ticket price set by the Betsy's Ballroom owners, the Yarmouth Senior Center?
A pleasant group came, including some new good dancers. Kent, who was closing his house up for the winter was a very competent West Coast dancer. Luckily, I had a single lady for him. The singles went to see Shag in Plymouth. Spencer, in from Provincetown, has recently moved from England and is thinking of teaching the International style. West Coast Swing would go over better in P-town, I think.
I was tired.
Then we came home where a neighbor was sitting with the sleeping kids while their parents were at the P-town Dance Festival, my daughter-in-law dancing her solos. The little boy never wakes up, but he had a fever and thought his bed was on fire! Ibuprofen and grandmothering sent him back to sleep and he was fine in the morning. His surprised comment: "My bed was not on fire."
After they left, I took a nap.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Smooth, continuous motion

There were the 4 judges, Pitbull AKA Armando Christian Perez, Julianne, Carrie Ann and Bruno. I miss Len, but he returns next week.

Poor Julianne has to try to hold onto ballroom in the face of what-all. At least it was partnered dances mostly. Jazz, not a social partnered dance, was the best dance yet for Jonathan who got eliminated before he could try Waltz. Will he continue to dance? I figure Betsey Johnson can easily continue since her teacher, Tony, is NYC based.
Meanwhile, Pitbull stood up to illustrate a dance move and looked better than Bruno.
And then, Bruno said something that made me think, "Rumba has to have a smooth continuous motion." As I dance, I find the little bit of technique I have been applying for the past year, keeping the big toe on the ground at all times during Rumba, translates into that effect.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Costumes - we love 'em

Coming up, an opportunity to dress up, not necessarily in our best, but sometimes...
My granddaughter's Queen Elsa costume is complete, turquoise shimmery knit circle skirt, tulle cape with snowflake sequins, headband tiara, and a white fleece hooded cape. Joann Fabrics got our choices.
Her brother loves his Darth Vader cape made from a silver and black slippery knit that was a plus sized woman's shirt.
Joe thinks the weird green snaky material I bought for the little boy, rejected by said child, will be cool for an alien costume. Outer Space at Cotuit. I was thinking of cartoon villainess from outer space - tight red dress, black cape, blue make-up and hair.
However, for the Casual Costumes Optional in Yarmouth coming up the weekend before Halloween, I might have to tone it down a bit. Gypsy is an easy one, just put on all my jewelry and scarves with a long skirt and I'm there.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Fall Hours

As the days shorten, we line up our nights' entertainments.
Six classes I have taught this week so far, each a pleasure in its own way.
Tonight, a reunion of no longer young married couples - their songs: Let's Stay Together, L-O-V-E, Walk Forever by my Side, Valentine, Love of a Lifetime, and Never Thought that I Could Love.
Meanwhile, DWTS added Burlesque, a style that seems to cheapen things further. Don't they already use elements of burlesque in all the Latin dances? Where is the Waltz this season? Has Len Goodman abandoned ship?
Sunday, an afternoon with Ron Gursky will be precious.
Coming up next week, I have accepted an opportunity to run the dance at Betsy's Ballroom, giving Deb Israel a break.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Shoulder Season ends

It is a big travel weekend, I could tell when I got several calls from out-of-towners willing to try the local ballroom dance night. The Porters came from the North Shore where they study with my colleague from Dance Teachers Club of Boston Tina LaFlam - great name, sort of like Mary French, a name with a certain ring, maybe just the echo of continental European culture.
I took a drive out to Stockbridge because my Uncle Peter came to visit and admired the changing of the maple colors - those brilliant reds are often sugar maples, and the pinky orange, swamp maples.
My sister and I hiked a small mountain and discussed the use of the "foam roller" to relax the Ilio-tibial band running along the outside of the thigh.
Home to my dance - nice turnout, lovely folks.
 A drink at Grumpy's afterwards. Chasing Blues was a Cajun band complete with stand up bass and banjo, no drums. We sat out the songs that sounded like we should dance the Crippled Chicken, but stood up for the Tennessee Waltz, handed out a card to a PhD candidate from Woods Hole, and went home.
Next month's dance will be a bigger deal. November 1, right on the heels of the Cotuit Costume Ball, I have the St Barnabas Church Parish Hall - twice as much set-up and clean up.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Do Your Dance"

The documentary on the World DanceSport Federation Games in Hong Kong, comprising the DanceSport athletes  I know, fierce competitors in Latin and Standard International style Ballroom, and cheerleaders, Boogie Woogie which looked like Lindy, Rock and Roll a slower Jive with colorful costumes, Line which was solo male dancers in cowboy hats, various forms of gymnastics, and other styles I have forgotten. All trying to be accepted as Olympic sports.
Thank you, Paul Hughes, my fellow teacher in Dance Teachers Club of Boston.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tear-jerker time on DWTS

AKA Most Memorable Year - a distraction from the dancing
 Lea Thompson: When my father died
Good scenario for Contemporary 10s
Jonathan: When my mother died  (father just died 4 months ago).
Why did he have to do Samba?
Bethany: When I was bullied and came out of it with YouTube
Rumba without much Rumba content, but Derek can get away with it. Also he just released a book which reveals bullying in his life, so he teared up.
Michael won the Nascar the same race as his friend died (Earle Barnhardt).
Samba, too, which he messed up, but he figured Earle would have thought it was funny.
Janel's beloved teacher died soon after she went to LA to seek fame and fortune.
Nice Rumba

Antonio came to the USA and was the hunk on Janet Jackson's video, didn't have to dance, just look handsome; Betsey had a daughter and her marriage broke up, danced okay; Alfonso was on Fresh Prince of Bel Air and did my favorite dance of the night; Sadie had to deal with her grandfather's politically incorrect remarks, but Julianne gave her a 10 for Shirley Ballas arms; Tommy Chong went to jail for nine months where he learned to Tango but they didn't go into that.He already did tango, so they did Jailhouse Rock Jive and he couldn't keep up.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A weekend of dance - with breaks and shoe pads

Friday, Joe and I attended Falmouth's Jazz Stroll, no actual dance floors in evidence, but we made do with the platform at Peg Noonan Park while Ceryse sang some of the standards under a tent. Besame Mucho is always a good one, and she did another great Swing/Foxtrot afterwards. Unfortunately, the weather was just getting over drizzling, so she was shut up behind plastic walls and couldn't see.
Saturday at Lestyn's Dance, her 50th Anniversary of teaching,  a great showing by Cape Cod. We are fans of her gracious, welcoming style. The floor at Occasions in Taunton was as good as everyone had told me - smooth, clean, large, and filled with polite dancers.
Sunday brought back Ron Gursky to the CCDC. Argentine Tango followed by Slower Quickstep with a break down of the Ballroom Pivot, a very specific turn, shunned by my old teacher, Mary French.
All this activity and my feet are fine with the little felt pads in the left shoe to support the metatarsal arch. A tingling, with occasional pain, had been developing since last winter. The podiatrist with my HMO suggested stretching. I believe in stretching, but that did not touch the sensation. Lestyn mentioned neuroma, so I looked it up and went back to my old podiatrist. Thanks to Dr. Whitney, I should be cured in three months. Same price as the deductible for Dr. Kahlil's bad advice.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Media choices

Happily, my new computer streams fast enough to allow me to watch DWTS later because the Patriots pre-empted my show on the TV. Supposedly, it aired at 2 AM, but my DVR didn't pick that up. (The Patriots lost.)
At on Monday, while the show was airing, I got to see Lacey Schwimmer in a booth with an Australian chatting with and about the stars. I could also see the Red Room, where they wait before they go out, the Skybox, where Erin does the interviews, and the Dance Floor from afar, the nosebleed seats. Lots of interactive tweeting going on.
 If I had had my wits about me, I could have watched Live! through xfinity.
As it was, the next day video on had more ads than the TV, a disjointed experience. Tommy Chong was the stand out performance. The young women with Val and Derek got 10s.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

published in
Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Love Lessons From Ballroom Dancing

It takes two to tango, but there’s more to it than just following the prescribed steps. Read on for five ways to take your romantic relationship for a different sort of spin.
By Chelsea Kaplan

elieve it or not, television’s Dancing with the Stars has resulted in more lasting romantic partnerships than matchmaking franchise The Bachelor. Is it the romance of the rumba? The titillation of the tango? Quite possibly, says Janet Carlson, author of Quick, Before the Music Stops: How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life. “Let’s face it, moving rhythmically to beautiful music together is a turn-on that’s hard to resist,” she says. “It’s hard not to enjoy the person who’s helping you feel sexy, glamorous and elegant!”

Carlson, who has seen ballroom dancing illuminate more than a few truths about the keys to lasting love and ultimately help her endure and heal from her divorce, also believes that
Moving rhythmically to beautiful music together is a turn-on that’s hard to resist.
there are deeper reasons why ballroom dancing is akin to the “dance” of love: “In ballroom dancing, you learn the wisdom of respecting boundaries, trusting your partner and working together, just like in a relationship.” Here are more of her thoughts on the similarities between dancing and dating.

1. In ballroom dancing, if you consider your partner’s comfort, you’ll have a successful partnership.
“One of the first things I learned from a dance coach was probably the most important parallel between dance and love: Your job is to think about your partner’s comfort while you dance, and your partner’s job is to think about yours,” Carlson says. “My coach’s emphasis on this rule helped me realize that I had to think about and feel with my body what was going on with my partner and what I could do to make our dancing work better for him.” The bottom line: Look at your romantic partnership as a dance partnership — for a smooth, successful one, don’t step on each other’s toes, look out for your partner’s needs and make sure he or she looks out for yours.

2. The man shouldn’t always lead (and the woman shouldn’t always follow!).
Carlson explains that contrary to popular belief, in higher-level ballroom dancing, the man doesn’t lead and the woman doesn’t follow. “It’s much more like a dialogue; the man may determine the direction, but the woman will determine the distance they travel in a given figure. Both know what’s coming next.” Like in a flourishing relationship, both partners in ballroom dancing have a say in things and there’s a fine balance of power.

“I confess, being the kind of woman who’s mostly in charge and self-sufficient, it’s kind of sexy to experience the man being in charge when dancing,” says Carlson. “It’s taught me to stop trying to do everything myself in relationships.” She admits, however, that she also loves the moments when she’s driving the action and her partner must follow or go along for the ride. “This fluidity and trading of gender roles really adds to the fun and sexiness of dancing — much like in dating,” she says.

3. Unless you deal with your personal issues, your dance — and your relationship with your dance partner — is doomed.
Carlson explains that in ballroom dancing, as in a relationship, you must maintain control of yourself, take responsibility for your own actions and safety and stand on your own two feet. If you don’t, your success as a dance partner and the likelihood that you’ll excel with your mate on the dance floor is unlikely. A common roadblock of this nature is having control issues, she says, offering an example from her own experience: “I used to be afraid to let go of my weight during the downward whoosh of the waltz, a hallmark of the dance. My tightly controlled body movements were preventing my partner from swinging fully, preventing us both from swinging and fully performing the whoosh. Eventually, in
“It’s taught me to stop trying to do everything myself in relationships.”
order for us to be able to successfully perform the dance together, I had to learn to let go of my dysfunctional need for control.” Because control issues can interfere with forward momentum and excellence when dancing, you have let go of them, she says. If you don’t, your success is doomed, just like it would be in a romantic partnership.

Much like in the dance of love, there can also be control issues between ballroom dance partners, Carlson says. “The man might be a bully, for instance, or the woman might be pointing a finger at the man and trying to get him to change what he’s doing, when she’d really do better just shutting up and looking inward,” she explains. The solution in dance, she says, is akin to what most relationship counselors would advise to romantic partners: “To improve your dance, leave your partner alone, stop trying to control him or her and examine yourself instead. Compassion is the key in dance and in relationships.”

4. Ballroom dancing and romantic relationships both engage a full range of emotion.
There’s desire and love expressed in a rumba, playfulness in a cha-cha, anger and passion in a tango, something a little sad or wistful in the music of a waltz, a breezy confidence in the fox-trot, zaniness in a quickstep and even the extremes of dominance and submission in a paso doble, Carlson explains. The highs and lows of romantic relationships are no different, she says, as each new “movement” brings with it a different emotion and experience between partners.

5. You must bring trust to the partnership.
Bringing trust to your dance partnership can be challenging at first, as you’re getting to know each other, but if you can manage to do it, Carlson asserts, your experience dancing will be profoundly enriched, much like it would be in a romantic relationship. “I used to not know how to bring trust onto the dance floor, so when my partner was ready to support me in an outrageous pose where I’m stretched to the max off-kilter, I paid no attention to the poor guy standing there ready to help,” she recalls. “Instead, I tried to take care of myself and do the pose without using him.” She soon learned, however, that if she trusted her partner to do his “job” and allow him to support her, she wouldn’t fall. “Doing so made the pose much easier for me, and, no surprise, it was much more complete and beautiful. It was a great lesson for real life: Self-sufficiency and liberation are no excuse for not trusting.” All in all, when you let yourself trust your right partner, odds are he or she won’t let you fall.