Friday, June 26, 2015

Square Dance Shoes 6/25/15

On my expedition to the National Square Dance Convention in Springfield, I inadvertently toured the Eastern States Exposition, AKA the Big E: the horse show,  the states' buildings,  the firemen's show,  until  Double Square signs showed me the way to the RV parking lot where they directed me to downtown Springfield.
Vendors were doing a brisk business in pouffy petticoats, embroidered men's shirts,  and women's dance shoes with round toes and low heels. After an hour and a half, I bought a black pair and ordered a beige pair.
Took a card for a dealer that can order very fancy leather.
Skirts were either very puffy or the generic tiers in Indian gauze. I didn't buy the one nice gored lycra for $140. Didn't buy a Scully men's shirt for $80 (XL ??) because it was too masculine.
And onward to make strawberry rhubarb pie at my mom's house in Stockbridge.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Town Dance 2015

Bart Weisman did a great job - with a nice singer too. The weather cooperated - beautiful night. The dancers showed up in force - Cape Cod Ballroom Dancers well represented and others as well.
Thank you,  Roger and Judy Day!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Arts Alive Falmouth

Tomorrow - Town Dance in Falmouth - 7 PM Library Lawn
Joe is donating the use of our dance floor again.
This time, the jazz musician from downCape is bringing a band. A new set of musicians every year!
Bart Weisman is very good, and I'm looking forward to it.
There are other bands for the weekend, but this one will be classy.
Maybe next year will be time to start repeating. We haven't had Stage Door Canteen in a dance venue with a decent floor for way too long. Or Johnny Hoy!

Sunday, June 14, 2015


"Let's Get Lost" is the choice for my latest wedding couple. Unfortunately, it features an extended trumpet solo in the middle, adding too much time to the dance for neophytes. So my added service of shortening songs continues, thanks to Audacity.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Keeping healthy dancing

A June 7 2015 NY Times article " Finding the Right Balance" by Alex Hutchinson suggests that dance is one of the best activities for older people in order to avoid falling, a common danger.
He opens by noting that fall can be serious.   Over 65, "one in three in this age group falls every year, resulting in some 250,000 hip fractures and more than 25,000 deaths, usually from traumatic brain injuries."
"For an older adult who wants to continue living independently, it’s clear that the ability to rise from a chair and walk across the room, which requires the coordination of muscle strength, balance and aerobic activity, is more important than any individual element of fitness. And it’s not just a physical challenge. One key warning that you’re at higher risk of falling is if you tend to stop walking when you talk — a sign that the cognitive demands of staying on your feet are overloading your brain.
An emerging body of research suggests that exercising in a way that taxes your coordination, agility and balance — a suite of abilities known as “gross motor skills” — rewires your brain in ways that are fundamentally different from straightforward aerobic activity or strength training. By improving these physical attributes, you also enhance cognitive performance.
"...Cognitive gains occur in different ways depending on the mode of exercise. While aerobic exercise and strength training trigger brain chemicals that enhance neuron growth and survival, balance and coordination call on higher-level cognitive processes that seem to increase the number of synapses connecting the neurons.
"That, in turn, suggests another reason simple balance exercises alone won’t achieve what we want. It is novelty and unpredictability, rather than repetition, that are essential to keep your brain engaged. "A recent study by researchers in Denmark, Finland and Germany compared a group of 15 endurance-trained athletes, like runners and cross-country skiers, with a group of skill-trained dancers, gymnasts and figure skaters. The researchers captured data to assess their subjects’ “motor cortex plasticity,” a measure of the brain’s ability to change its wiring in response to new stimuli.
"Both types of athletes have highly trained calf muscles, but endurance athletes use them repetitiously, in a way that the brain consigns to autopilot. Sure enough, plasticity in the area of the brain that controls calf muscles was no different between endurance athletes and nonathletes. In contrast, the dancers, gymnasts and skaters, for whom autopilot is not an option, showed dramatically higher plasticity: Their neurons were primed to keep learning new motor tasks.
"A striking feature of the balance and coordination exercises used in these cognitive studies is that they sound a lot like games. Whether you’re dancing or playing tennis, the unpredictability of your partner’s actions means that no two workouts are the same. Perhaps the enjoyment we get from a good game isn’t just a nice bonus: It’s an indicator that we’re fully engaged, mind and body, in the activity. You could call that achieving good balance."

Friday, June 12, 2015

Trying the Quickstep again - more notes!

Quickstep Basic into a lock step
Throughout: work on brush and passing feet
LEFT SIDE LEAD precedes any right turn
Shoulders parallel to the wall

Opening step: Left foot Toe/heel side and slightly forward allows a start on his left foot. Figures begin with his right foot
Basic: Quarter Turns - sideways movement done facing the wall, SQQS his RLLR
Quarter Turn Right
Right foot forward, heel lead, slow. Side together= quick, quick on the toes LR. Side and slightly back toe/heel Left foot
Quarter Turn left – Right foot back, S, side together QQ, side and slightly fwd S
Progressive Chasse: Same as Quarter Turn left, but ends with a position that allows his right foot outside partner

The class asked for lock step.
SQQS  Lock step begins with the R foot outside partner S
Q his L foot diagonally forward
Q his right foot slides behind his left foot. Her left foot slides in front of her right foot.
S his L foot side

Next step R foot fwd again outside partner for a right turning figure SQQ or SQQS

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Cavalcade of Bands at the Rhodes

The Beautiful Rhodes on the Pawtuxet in Cranston, just the other side of Providence, hosts the Cavalcade of Bands several times a year. Upcoming is Tuesday June 23.
In the big ballroom, Tommy Rotondo 5:30-6:00 and 7:00-7:30
Also Dan Ferreira & the Meadowlarks 6:00-7:00 & 7:30-8:30
Then a dance show by the USA Ballroom Dancers 8:30-8:45
This means the USA Dancers will be there that night, and they are usually a friendly group. Plus we are members of the Cape Cod Chapter.
Then the New Providence Big Band 8:45-10:30
And if you get tired of the scene in the ballroom, the foyer has 6 different bands performing for 45 minutes or an hour.
$15 with a check mailed in and received by Friday June 19. Name, address and email
Providence Federation of Musicians
681 Park Ave Suite 11
Cranston RI 02910-2133
$20 at the door.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Highlights of "Men and Dancing"

New Yorker humor articles are occasionally funny, like this one by Jesse Eisenberg, slightly shortened.

Squaw: The only solution to our famine is the sacred rain dance.
Chief: The only solution?
Squaw: Yes, you must do a rain dance, or we'll all starve to death.
Chief: Okay, I'll just go into the woods and do the dance.
Squaw: No, in order to appease the rain gods, you must dance in front of the whole tribe while we point and laugh as you, as is our native custom.

King's Aide: The King demands a dance.
Jester: And what happens if I don't do the dance?
King's Aide: If you don't dance, His Highness has requested that your body be slowly torn apart for his amusement.
Jester: I see.
King's Aide: Yes, it would be a slow but hilarious death.
Jester: Right...

Protestor One: We're all gonna take LSD and protest the Vietnam war on the National Mall.
Protestor Two: Great! Finally those bastards in Washington will see that imposing our hegemonic ideology on this poor Asian country id reprehensible.
P1: Exactly! So just pop some LSD and we can get right to dancing.
P2: Excuse me?
P1: You're not scared of a little LSD are you?
P2: No! Not at all. I'm totally good with LSD. But did you say dancing?
P1: Yeah. That's our protest. Just let our bodies loose on the Mall, flailing them around freely in opposition to the war.
P2: Oh. that sounds fun, really. But, just to play devil's advocate, do you really feel we've exhausted all our options? Have you considered making signs?
P1: None of that stuff works! What we need to send a message to those hawks in the government is some good, expressive, unself-conscious dancing.
P2: Right, sure. But have you considered all sides of the war? I mean, it's not so clear-cut. Aren't you worried about the domino effect? Say we get out of Vietnam, a tiny country turns Communist. But then Laos and Indonesia and China go Communist and suddenly Karl Marx is at your door, handing you a red book and asking you to go work in his shoe factory.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Dance Community

Building a dance community has begun to seem like a goal I should work at more seriously. I have spent these years teaching and holding the dances in Falmouth, supporting the Cape Cod Ballroom Dancers, bringing in Ron for enrichment. Now attendance seems to be falling off. Maybe people are feeling connected through the internet? But face to face interaction is a very important component of life.
Our evening at the Wianno Club was lovely on Sunday, but a smaller crowd than other years.
Tomorrow is my dance, the last one in Falmouth until October because of one thing and another. I hope people will make it special by coming to meet and mingle.