Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dancing For Variety Club in Buffalo, NY

From the Amerst Bee:

Tommy Radon, an instructor at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Amherst, will present STORM, a fundraising event for Variety Club.

A nationally renowned ballroom dancer, instructor and choreographer, Radon and additional instructors will hold workshops from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28, in the Millennium Hotel, 2040 Walden Ave., near the Thruway, Cheektowaga.

Additional instructors include Matthew Clark, a nationally renowned jazz teacher, choreographer and performer; Andrei and Anastasia Abrashin, three-time U.S. 9 Dance champions and Theater Arts champions; and Vera Chervin and Vladimir Kosarev, National Fred Astaire Smooth champions.

Workshops are 40 minutes each until 10:30 p.m. when there will be a professional show at 11:30 p.m.
Dance styles include jazz, hip hop, popping and locking, and ballroom. The day pass is $40 and includes snacks.

All proceeds go to Variety Club. For information or ticket sales, call 633-1866 and mention STORM.

Radon has reopened his choreography company, STORM, with fundraising as its primary goal. This is the first of many fundraising efforts STORM will be hosting.

He holds the record for most lessons taught within a seven-day period — 214.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Free Latin ballroom dancing at the Fred Astaire West Palm Beach


SUBURBAN WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- Have you ever wanted to take a Latin Ballroom dance class? Now is your chance. And it's free.
The Fred Astaire Dance Studio West Palm Beach will open its doors Saturday, February 28, for an open house "Wine and Cheese Guest Party." The Fred Astaire team will be teaching several group classes and performing shows with students and professional ballroom instructors. Studio managers and US Fred Astaire National Finalists Andreas Luetzner and Doreen Scheinpflug will perform.The open house party runs from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. The Fred Astaire Dance Studio West Palm Beach is located at 4603 Okeechobee Blvd. For more information, call 561-478-1400.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tony Dovolani Practices With His New Partner!

Ballas Hough Band's new single "Do It For You" Now Available on iTunes

For the last several years, we’ve been watching Mark Ballas and Derek Hough, along with Tony Dovolani, on Dancing With The Stars. Did you know that Mark and Derek are not only champions of Dancing With The Stars but talented musicians as well? You may have had the opportunity to see them perform their music on the show, and now you can download their new single “Do It For You” from iTunes for only 99¢. Be one of the first to have the new Ballas Hough Band hit and enjoy how multitalented these young men are!

Dance Like The Stars In Texas

From The Tribune:

A few years ago the country surrendered to dance fever and that fever is still raging.

“Dancing with the Stars,” “Superstars of Dance” and “So You Think You Can Dance,” have certainly kept dancing in the spotlight.

To dance like the stars, expect the old adage “you get what you pay for” to apply. There are a few local cowboy bars where couples can do country western dancing, but where does one go to learn to “dance like the stars?”
Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Kingwood, owned by Pahjmon and Cynthia Lipsey, has been providing instruction in different styles of ballroom dancing since 2005 and recently relocated to the Heritage Center in Town Center.

According to Pahjmon Lipsey, his is the only full-floor studio for adults in the area. He said they currently have a special introductory offer, which lets the students determine whether this is something they would want to continue with private or group lessons, or both.

“We are a ‘dance school’ and we work with our students to create a program for them based on what they want to learn and their beginning level of dance. Our students range in age from 4 to 5, to 80 to 90,” said Lipsey. “Not only is ballroom dancing a great way to exercise, it’s also a way to work your brain and body at the same time. You will get a cardio workout and learn the actual dance in the correct way – not just as aerobic exercise.”
The studio offers ballroom styles including Latin dance, swing, disco, club style, American style, international style and country western. All classes are available in private or group lessons with dance practice and socializing encouraged, much like a dance country club.

Lone Star College- Kingwood also offers group dance classes at Fred Astaire Dance Studios for college credit.

Dance fever is also bleeding over to the business world. Professional dance instructors from the Fred Astaire Studio recently performed at a Realtor event in the custom section of Fall Creek – Serrano Creek.

“We featured two homes and had salsa and waltz champion dancers,” said Fall Creek Custom Sales Manager Janie Morris.

Fall Creek marketing director Meredith Weber said, “With the amazing popularity of ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ dance seems to have taken America by storm. Following that trend, we thought it would be fun to literally bring dance home, and show how versatile dance can be while also showcasing our beautiful custom designs. With the lessons we’re offering in our open houses, you’ll be ready to be the life of the party with a sizzling salsa.”
Many health and fitness centers offer dance in the form of exercise, for example line dancing and Zumba, which is aerobics with Latin music.
Some couples, like Jeff and Brenda Sherwood of Kingwood, have made dancing their hobby.

“We started two years ago at Club Ballroom in Kingwood, which is closed now. The kids were all grown, we were empty nesters, and dance classes were something we had wanted to do for a long time but had never gotten around to. Sound familiar?” said Jeff Sherwood. “We have also taken dance lessons at Stetson’s, the country/western Dance Place in Humble and private salsa lessons.”

The Sherwoods also enjoy going into Houston for contra dancing.
“It is the type of dancing that the English settlers brought over in the 1700s, so it has historical value, too. They always have a live band, and it is less than $10 per person,” Sherwood said.

The Lake Houston Family YMCA offers line dancing to active older adults and Zumba. Marketing director Carol Sutton said, “We anticipate starting ballroom dancing in the spring so watch for more details in the near future.”

Aspiring dance partners may want to check out the Humble Community Center for square dance lessons and May Community Center in Huffman for beginning and advanced line dancing.

Photo: Fred Astaire Dance Studio located in Kingwood Town Center offers instruction in all styles of ballroom dancing and recently relocated to the old Heritage Center. Professional dance instructors are, Lyudmyla Tychuk, from left, Ruslan Sherman, Jessica Nail, Vladimir Khan and Cheryl Humphreys. Photo by Trilla Cook

Monday, February 16, 2009

Healthy Living Through Relaxation

From webmd:

Whether you enjoy a slow waltz around the living room, or are training for a competition, dance is a great way to stay active. In fact, ballroom dancing has been chosen as a demonstration sport for the 2008 Olympic Games.

When the Rumba Rhythm Starts to Sway
The benefits of dance are many: stress reduction, better posture and body alignment, increased confidence, improved agility, greater flexibility and stamina. Because dance is a low-impact sport and can be practiced at different intensities, it's a great workout for any age or fitness level. And dance is less likely to result in injury than activities that produce the same motion over and over, like aerobics or running.

Best of all, dancing is a great way to spend time getting closer—literally—to your partner. Because it relies on non-verbal communication and a sense of touch, it's a great way to bond. (The name of the most romantic of dances, the tango, reputedly derives from the Latin "tangere"—to touch.)

Add Some Style to Your Day
There are two main styles of ballroom dance—American Social and International. American Social, taught in many North American dance studios, is generally easier to learn and dance with different partners. Competitive dancers practice International style. Both offer lots of variety, from the slow and steady waltz to the pulse-quickening fox trot.

Dance the Night Away
Casual, loose-fitting clothing is acceptable at classes; avoid jeans, shorts and uncomfortable shoes.

Investing in shoes made for ballroom dancing will make it easier—they're specially designed to give you proper support with out adding weight, and the soles allow you to glide across the floor without missing a beat.

Sign up for a class to learn the basic moves and build confidence. Practice at home until you feel comfortable—then go and hit the dance floor.

The Stay at Home Spa
By enjoying a relaxing session in the comfort of your own home, you'll save on spa prices and avoid the inconvenience of traveling there and back, not to mention the crowds and scheduling problems. Whatever you feel is your favorite way to unwind, be sure to take the phone off the hook and put up a Do Not Disturb sign, so the rest of the family gives you some peace.
A relaxing bath. A good bath soothes all your senses: smell (with bath salts or essential oils); sight (candles or dimmed light); sound (your favorite mellow CD); touch (warm water, thick towels); and taste (a soothing beverage). To draw the perfect bath, fill the tub about 1/3 full with comfortably warm water, slip in, then fill the remainder with hot water until it reaches the desired temperature.

The yoga studio. Whether you can devote the corner of a room, or have a room of your own, keeping all your yoga gear in one convenient spot for quick access makes for a stress-free workout prep. The gear to get: sticky mat, DVD or video, comfy clothes.

Fast facial. In just 15 minutes, you can relax and give yourself a glow. The secret of making your at-home facial feel more relaxing: cover your face with a hot, damp towel and place a rolled-up hot towel behind your neck. Relax for a few minutes before applying your favorite peel-off face mask.

Pedicure-all. A pedicure is a double-duty spa treatment that's both cosmetic and relaxing. Start by soaking feet in warm water with bath salts. Trim nails and push back cuticles. Exfoliate and rev up circulation with a pumice stone, then massage a peppermint-based lotion into feet, ankles and shins. Finish with your favorite clear or colored nail polish. TIP: Look for a pedicure lotion with a mild exfoliant.

How To Lower Your Blood Pressure With Ballroom Dancing


by Xsagutk GdFaith


Throughout years in history, physicians have always encountered basic problems like high blood pressure, or hypertension, haunting their patients. As these doctors acknowledged the value of fitness through consistent exercise, they would recommend fun activities, such as jogging, walking and bicycling. Many people, however, dreaded those repetitive workouts and eventually ceased their routines. Their physicians then suggested ballroom dancing, which was a form of cardiovascular exercise that required socializing and vigorous, memorized movements accompanied by good music. In fact, little did their patients know that this type of workout can burn up to 400 calories when done for at least 30 minutes daily. The following steps are illustrated below to teach people an easy and an entertaining way to lower their respective blood pressure.


Step One
Establish a focused, yet positive, attitude. As the 2007 ScienceDaily stated, hypertension, or high blood pressure, "is associated with an increased risk for mild cognitive impairment, a condition that involves difficulties with thinking and learning" ("Science," 2007). Ballroom dancing, no matter what type, requires memorization, which then triggers significant neural growth and development.

Step Two
Communicate and enjoy waltzing with a partner and other fellow colleagues in the studio. Ballroom dancing is social dancing--not one but two people are necessary to perform a decent promenade. Indeed, "the movement to music is always a superior form of relaxation" (Luhrs, 2007).

Step Three
Dismiss the stresses of the day. Constantly worrying about that popular girl in high school or sweating bullets on that important project for a huge business client will get people nowhere but into anxiety, obesity, and lack of exercise--all root causes of high blood pressure. By participating in ballroom dancing, people can expect to temporarily and healthfully forget their concerns and avoid conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and an "increased peripheral arteriorial stiffness" ("AtCor", 2006).

Tips & Warnings
It is fine to worry about certain things in life, but never overdo it.
Imagine ballroom dancing as a magical experience.
Be sure to obtain your physician's approval before starting workout.
Be careful about ballroom dancing--you might just love it.

Dancing Off Calories

How many calories will you burn while dancing? That depends on the type of dancing. Here's a range of some of the most popular varieties, based on a 150-pound person, per hour:

Swing dancing: 235 calories/hour
Ballroom dancing: 265
Square dancing: 280
Ballet: 300
Belly dancing: 380
Salsa dancing: 420+
Aerobic dancing: 540+

Vampire Ball Raising Money For YMCA

From the NBC-2 website (Ft. Myers, FL):

On Valentine's Day, the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Ft. Myers, FL threw a "Vampire Ball" to raise money for the local YMCA. The idea came from twelve-year-old Chloe Hart, a student at the studio and dance champion who started dance lessons at the Y when she was a young child. All of the money raised went directly to the Lee County YMCA's Strong Kids Campaign to help pay for activities for kids before and after school.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My Golden Dancers

Written on My Heart

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

Written on my heart is such a beautiful line. I saw it in a death notice of a lady who died and one of her coworkers said she had such a good heart and soul and that being around her was like having something written on his heart. What a lovely saying.

Can you go back in your life experiences and think about at least two people other than your parents and possibly your siblings who have touched your heart in many ways? We expect our parents and our brothers and or sisters to at one time or another stroke our feelings. If we are lucky, we do experience that with our families now and then or many times. We remember those precious moments as good memories, and we treasure them.

Meeting someone in your life other than your spouse or significant other is a moment in time we value. Meeting a stranger in our life who designates us as their friend and one day you realize that maybe something they have done becomes written on your heart.

Young children in school will have a special and dear teacher who sees something rare in them and in turn nurtures them and she or he becomes written on this child’s heart forever. I had a teacher like that back in junior high school (now called middle school.) She picked me out, I do not know why, and she liked me. She had given us our seats in the homeroom and she started backwards with the alphabet and somehow I wound up right next to her desk. I was upset at first being so close to the homeroom and French teacher combined. I thought in my twelve-year-old mind: What did I do to deserve this? We met the last day of school when we were placed in the classroom for about an hour so we could get to know her. Her name was Olga Virginia Bawden and until the day she died a few years ago, we kept in contact. She looked at me that middle of June day in 1946 and said to me, "Elita, when summer is over, I expect to see nice and long nails on your fingers, not the bitten off ones there now."

All summer I thought of that and did let my nails grow and no longer bit them as many teenage girls did in those days. You see, Olga had gorgeous manicured fingernails and she wanted me to have them too. The older kids did not like her when school started as she was a bit severe. She was and everyone admired a fine and eloquent French teacher and we learned to read and speak French. When my husband and I went to Paris in 1972, I honored Ms. Bawden because I still could read French and even converse with people there because she had taught us well.

You could say that she had written the French on my heart with her excellent teaching methods and her sometimes tough learning ways. Although I invited her to my wedding, she did not come. By then, she was up in years and had moved a distance from where I lived. She continued to send me holiday cards and one year they stopped arriving. I found out that she had passed away a few months before the holiday season. Once when I was eighteen, I met her for lunch in a department store cafeteria. I had not seen her since I was fourteen and had graduated from the junior high school.

She was dressed beautifully as she always had been when I was a young girl and yes, she still had the long and manicured nails. So did I. Now I was a young adult and she was a senior citizen and we were not like teacher and a kid, we were like two ladies. One a young woman and the other in senior land. She had never married, her fiancé was killed in the Second World War and she remained single. She always wore the earrings he had given her with a flight design on them. She wore them that day when we had lunch.

I told her then how she had influenced not only my nails, but she had influenced my life with her love of French things and her love of teaching. I did not say she had written something on my heart, I did tell her that I would never forget her. She told me that I was like the daughter she never had and would never have. She told me she picked me out that first day which was the last day of the previous semester and that she had purposely put me in the seat next to her desk. She did not say why but she said she knew she could be a positive and educational presence in my life. She did say that I had lived up to her expectations as a young girl approaching teenage life and after me and before me there were others. I was the only one who kept in touch, she said and she felt like it was meant to be.

If you all look back, you will discover someone who placed you in a situation and made your acquaintance happen and somehow he or she helped to influence your life and possibly you theirs. Many of you can look back if you are a ballroom dancer now and see who it was that kept you going at this wonderful hobby and if it was not for him or her, you would not be ballroom dancing now.

Merv Griffin just passed away and he picked out several personalities to be on his show and made them stars. He picked out Vanna White to host his Wheel of Fortune show and he said that he knew immediately when he saw her that he wanted her as hostess. The rest is show business history for her and dozens of others whom he saw something special in and by their own sheer will and his choosing of them, they are now stars.

Now we are not stars in that sense of the word, but we are stars in our own worlds. Ballroom dancers have dancing written on their hearts because they truly love this thing called dance. They love it in a special way that sets them apart from people who play golf, play tennis, play cards or even play other sports. Ballroom dancing is a world unto itself and we who are the recipients of its influence and impact sometimes wonder why we are doing this. Then we realize that it has become so ingrained in our bodies and hearts that we could not refrain from participating in it even if we wanted to stop. It is habit forming and we actually crave it when we are away from it.

Our first dance teacher was Laurence E. Miller. We called him Larry. He was a young teacher but he gave me the inspiration to keep on dancing and that we did. He and I competed in several cities throughout the country and any trophies or medals that I won were due to his persistent encouragement for me to excel. He now has his own studio in Maine and I know he still motivates his students, young or seniors. Bravo to teachers like Larry who change our lives by their encouragement for us to do well. The love for ballroom dancing that I have started with Larry and his stimulating my heart to be a ballroom dancer.

It is a good craving and will not harm us. It has become written on our hearts and we never want to have it ‘unwritten.’ It is the beauty in our life because every time we go and dance, we create a delightful happening and we are the center of it. We are the special person that I was in junior high school to Ms. Bawden. I let my nails grow that summer to impress her, a stranger to me then. She no longer was a stranger after the first semester. She was my friend, my mentor. So is ballroom dancing, it is our mentor, our friend, our heart written experience. It is a part of our life that we never want to leave us. It gives us motive, desire, results and most of all it gives us meaning.

Ballroom dancing is a delightful and fulfilling experience. May it never be silenced from our spirit because our heart has been written upon for eternity. It has been said that eternity is made up of no where and no when. It is the sum of the sums. To ‘sum’ it up, I cannot imagine my life without what ballroom dancing has bestowed upon me. Writing about my feelings on dance is a great fulfillment in my life. I know my readers all feel the same emotion about it. Ballroom dancing is written on our heart for eternity.

Just a few days ago, I received an email from Dr. Robert A. Fink who lives in the San Francisco Bay area in California. He had come across a short story I had written for another website and in it mentioned Ms.Olga Virginia Bawden as having been most instrumental in encouraging me to excel while she was my French teacher way back in 1946.

Bob mentioned that he felt the same way about her as I did. He was several years later in having her than me and still she was inspiring him as a young and almost teenager. Bob is a neurosurgeon and quite prominent in the medical community in California. He kept in touch with her through the years and always remembered her being a golden teacher. Golden in the sense that she requested from all her students to do the best they could and even to try harder than that and that she responded to them with superior teaching and profound respect. To someone of Bob’s stature in the medical community to still think about a junior high school teacher and her influence on his teenage years is really a tribute to this wonderful educator. It is also a gift of praise from him to her even though she is no longer here to receive it.

She never married and so to senior citizens like Dr. Robert Fink and Mrs. Elita S. Clayman, we feel in a way that we are the children she never had because we will always think of her and reminisce with sweet nostalgia of our adolescent years and this lovely looking teacher. A teacher of golden magnitude who saw in Bob and Elita potential for great and good happenings.

So Bob and I will pass these feelings down to our children so they may know the name of Olga Virginia Bawden as a very special and splendid person. There is a line in a movie that I love. It is called Love Is a Many Splendored Thing and it starred Jennifer Jones and William Holden. William says to her because he was going off to war and he thought he may not come back: “Suyin (her name in the movie) if I do not come back, we will not have missed because we have had the many splendored thing.”

So to Bob and Elita, they did indeed have the many splendored thing at different times in the years of 1946 for her and about 1950 for him, because they did not “miss the many splendored thing”, they received the warmth and happiness in knowing Ms. Olga Virginia Bawden, a teacher extraordinaire. She is written on our hearts for as long as we live.

Dancing and especially ballroom dancing is inscribed into our souls because we receive from our teachers who like Ms. Bawden give us these hours to enjoy and it is written on our hearts for as long as we live.

Always Keep On Dancing

You can email me at

Dancing With The Stars - Season 8 - Partners!

The dancing teams on the next season of Dancing With The Stars are:

Belinda Carlisle & Jonathan Roberts (returning for his 6th season on DWTS)
David Alan Grier & Kym Johnson (returning for her 6th season on DWTS)
Jewel & Dmitry Chaplin (2006 U.S. National Finalist & DWTS first-time professional)
Shawn Johnson & Mark Ballas (former DWTS champ)
Lil' Kim & Derek Hough (former DWTS champ)
Gilles Marini & Cheryl Burke (2-time DWTS Champ)
Ty Murray & Chelsie Hightower (10 Dance Youth National champion & DWTS first-time professional)
Steve-O & Lacey Schwimmer (returning for her 2nd season on DWTS)
Nancy O'Dell & Tony Dovolani (returning for his 7th season on DWTS)
Denise Richards & Maksim Chmerkovskiy (returning for his 6th season on DWTS)
Lawrence Taylor & Edyta Sliwinska (only pro to compete all 8 seasons on DWTS)
Chuck Wicks & Julianne Hough (2 time DWTS champ) *
Steve Wozniak & Karina Smirnoff (returning for her 6th season on DWTS)

* In an interesting twist, Julianne Hough & Chuck Wicks are currently dating!!!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Dancing With The Stars, New Cast Revealed!

The new cast for the upcoming season of Dancing With The Stars has been revealed! It's a great cast and even includes a husband/wife combination! Here they are:

Shawn Johnson, Olympic gold medal gymnast
Chuck Wicks, country singer
Gilles Marini, actor
Denise Richards, reality TV show star
Lawrence Taylor, retired NFL linebacker
Nancy O'Dell, Access Hollywood co-host
Steve-O, comedian
Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple
Lil' Kim, Grammy-winning rapper.
Belinda Carlisle, rock star
David Alan Grier, comedian and actor
Ty Murray, PBR bull rider (married to Jewel)
Jewel, singer/songwriter/poet (married to Ty Murray)

The season premiere is Monday, March 9 at 8/7c! Don't miss it!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

My Golden Dancers

George Joseph and Keep Your Eyes Open Wide

By Elita Sohmer Clayman

My mom was the fourth child in her family. The fifth child Joseph was born blind and the second child Michael was born healthy. Mike was about four, he got an illness and it was not diagnosed properly, he lost his hearing and therefore his ability to speak. Joseph, who when grown changed his name to George, and Mike tried to converse. They could not because of their individual handicaps and as brothers were even not able to play together or argue as siblings do.

George grew up and was very accomplished in his work life and also his personal life. He played the piano of course by what is called ear and any song you hummed to him or that he heard on the radio, he could immediately play on the piano. We kids had to take piano lessons to learn a new song, Uncle George was gifted and of course, not being able to see could not view the printed version. So he played it from ear and was a wonderful and accomplished pianist. In later life, he played in a combo group which performed at weddings and various affairs.

George, I do not know why he changed his name from Joseph, was adored by all the nieces and nephews in the large family. My brother Herbert and I particularly loved this special man. He could talk about any subject and he was well versed on what was happening in the world then. Of course, there were no television sets, so he got all the news and opinions from the beloved radio that we in those years were fond of.

George graduated from a regular high school which was unheard of in those days and he never walked with a cane or had a Seeing Eye dog. During the Second World War in about 1944 an ophthalmologist named Dr. Mary Small decided after examining him that there was this new invention called contact lenses and possibly George Joseph could be fitted with them. He might be able to see very large print and she did not know what else since they were being experimented with in this country. They were manufactured only in Japan and he chose not to get them because we were coming out of the war with them. He felt it unpatriotic to buy something Japanese and so he declined. She told him he would have to do it soon before it might not work as he aged if he waited.

This was his choice and no one in the family tried to influence him after the initial conferences about it. He was married to RoseMarie at that time and one of the other gossipy sister-in-laws blamed her because she did not encourage him to try the lenses.

One said that maybe she did not want him to ‘see’ her because perhaps he had imagined her as more of a beauty. I think he just did not feel that at that age he could contemplate a new life of sight when he had been blind for so many years. He must have been about forty or forty five at that time and life was ok for him in his mind. He had a good job, a fine hobby of playing the piano at events and a loving wife and adoring nieces and nephews and siblings.

Dancing at a late age to some is something of a pleasant hardship and chore and one must really want this happening to them. I was forty-three when I started sincerely to take lessons and to dance. Of course, one cannot equate George’s declining contact lens with taking dance lessons but to him it seemed a hardship he did not want to enter in. To some folks seeking a hobby, ballroom dancing seems a hardship though never in the manner of George Joseph’s lack of sight. Some people feel they are too old to bounce around the floor. Others think they cannot comprehend all the moves and brain work needed to do this. Others feel they are too aged already and others do not have the encouragement of friends to accomplish this.

He thought the name Joseph did not define him and so he thought George a more romantic name that acknowledged his personality. Since he could not see himself in the mirror, he fantasized that George was more suitable for his calling as a pianist and a medical secretary to famous doctors transcribing their notes on operations into typed sheets. No computers were invented in those years yet.

Personality he had and then some. He had this marvelous melodious voice and when I spoke with him on the phone, he sounded like he was a movie star or a radio announcer.
He was very handsome with dark black hair and I often thought how sad he never saw how he looked. He did not let sadness overtake him from being blind. This was his life and he felt blessed to be alive. His work life consisted of being a professional medical secretary at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He was not a secretary in a doctor’s office; he was an official medical secretary for the hospital. All of the prestigious and important doctors after an operation would request George to type their notes because of his meticulous manner in transcribing their work.

He walked around the huge surroundings of Johns Hopkins without a cane or Seeing Eye dog. How he did this we never could understand. He crossed the streets down there in downtown Baltimore after arriving there with a driver who brought him and others to work. He arrived in the building to his office and he was ready to go and work the full day. Everyone he worked with adored him and he adored them. The office was always full of admiring co-workers. They found in George (Joseph) a man who attained what he could with the handicap he had. He never felt sorry for himself. He loved life as all of us seniors and not yet seniors should.

My special Uncle George was a dear man who inspired everyone around him to conquer their fears and their anxieties by his cheery and loving manner. At my wedding, he was a guest but he got up and played a few special songs joining his band group. I was important to him. He was a splendid human being and an inspiration to all the many nephews and nieces.

The sad part was that George and Mike could never talk because of their different handicaps but the shaking of their hands and the hugging of their bodies still conveyed their love for one another. Mike married and moved off and George for a few years lived with my mom and dad before I was born and before he married RoseMarie. She adored him and they had had their secret word for each other. They would call themselves Dar and one day I asked what did that stand for. They said Darling. A darling couple these two were and their love and devotion was a privilege for us kids to behold.

Darling he was and all that he was became a journey to my heart. Once we went on a public bus. Of course his eyes were closed and people would stare at him and he could feel the stares. I as a young child of about eight stared right back at them for their inconsiderate attitude towards him. I wanted to yell out to them, do not stare, this is the most beautiful human being you will encounter. It was as if they were fascinated by this man with his eyes closed and still able to walk on and off the bus.

His eyes may have been closed but his heart and soul were open and full and he had a life of adventure and happiness.

People who ballroom dance have their eyes opened wide when they begin to perceive what dancing is all about and how it will affect their lives forever. When I was down competing in Florida in 1982 with my teacher, a blind lady got up and danced in several heats with her teacher. She won all her heats over sighted people and no one knew till it was announced that she had won this or that and that she was blind. She held her head up and moved to the music and the audience could not distinguish her blindness from afar.

There are rumors that the blind performer Stevie Wonder may compete on Dancing with the Stars next season. That will be something for us sighted people to watch and to appreciate his attempting to do it.

George being blind from birth accomplished great feats in his life. The lady in Florida danced beautifully and George with his music playing in bands for big occasions SAW MORE WITH EYES CLOSED than many people with their eyes open.

So to all you new or old ballroom dancers, you can believe like George Joseph did that even if sometimes you think life has dealt you a raw deal, go out and achieve and attain and be fulfilled because there is nothing you cannot do if you have the will to do it.

Do not keep your eyes closed because you are blessed with open eyes and sight. See all you can see and believe all you can believe and perceive that you are special and that you can be involved in this activity and will be making a journey into your own heart. Your heart will welcome this voyage and you will be the blessed traveler into a world of ballroom dancing and so much happiness and joy. You will be like my Uncle George seeing the world as only you can.

Seeing and believing that you can attain your goal to be a moderate dancer or even a competitor dancer is a lofty desire.

We can reach for these lovely expectations with the assistance of our dance coach, our partner and our own inner self. We can motivate our soul to achieve as much as we want at any age, at any time and even though George and Mike could never be physically close; their hearts knew that they were brothers. Nothing could keep their love for each other distant even though their only contact was a touch of the hand. One could not see the other’s hand and the other could not hear the other’s words. Still they were a unit as you will be with your dance partner or spouse when you attempt to ballroom dance. Ballroom dance needs the touch and the words for the event to happen but feeling it in your heart to be important in your life is surely a journey into delight and a Fait Accompli.

Go out and ballroom dance and know that nothing can ever take away the splendid feeling that happens when you walk out onto the dance floor and begin to move to the music. You are blessed because this begins with a touch of the hand and even though George and Mike could only touch hands they felt blessed.

You are now the fortunate one and as someone told me recently that no two eyes see the same thing the same way. Either can be right in their assessment of the sighted happening and both have good eyesight because they are able to distinguish the good from the bad and surely ballroom dancing is certainly the ultimate in excellent experiences.

We have not danced for seven months. We intend to go back to dance this Sunday.

Surely our eyes will be wide open and our touch will be divine and when the music starts we will be blessed that once again we are ballroom dancers. Bravo.

Always keep on Dancing.

You can email me at