Thursday, July 30, 2009
By Linda Winer, chief theater critic and arts columnist for Newsday
In the beginning, people danced to grab the attention of the gods - or, at mating times, to grab one another.
Eventually, someone realized that the moving was almost as much fun as the mating. Folk dance became the Saturday night fever of the countryside while, up at the castle, the rich were formalizing the ecstasy into ritual.
The dances became more and more intricate, until regular people looked stupid doing them. Ballet got too complicated for the abilities of Louis XIV's court, and social dancing changed from a participatory to a spectator sport.
Which brings us, sort of, to the shocking new popularity of dance on TV and, perhaps, on Broadway.
It has been four years since mainstream America began calling professional dancers by their first names - Melissa, Ade, Karina, Maksim. "Dancing With the Stars" has demi-celebrities perform with ballroom champions. "So You Think You Can Dance" auditions contestants of all styles from around the country and lets viewers vote them off the island.
I can't say whether this newfound appreciation will translate into new dance-literate audiences. Certainly the outpouring of emotion last month for a seriously abstract, poignant modern pas de deux about breast cancer on "So You Think You Can Dance" suggested more than just a disease-is-bad reaction to the subject matter.
It remains to be seen how many TV fans will make the leap into paying audiences for "Burn the Floor," the touring show that opens Sunday night at Broadway's Longacre Theatre featuring Maksim Chmerkovskiy) and Karina Smirnoff from "Dancing With the Stars" (for the first two weeks of the 12-week engagement).
But I'm amused to see the ads that promise "Ballroom. Reinvented."
If we really want to see ballroom reinvented, I suspect the unlikely place to be this fall is the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. There, Twyla Tharp is opening (with intimations of a Broadway transfer) "Come Fly With Me," her full-length musical based on the songs of Frank Sinatra.
Tharp has had her slinky, thorny, exhilarating way with pieces of Sinatra, but for the dance world, not for Broadway. The director-choreographer - who had a Broadway smash in 2002 with Billy Joel and "Movin' Out," then a crash in 2005 with Bob Dylan and "The Times They are A-Changin'" - made a ballroom duet for herself and Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1976 called "Once More, Frank."
Baryshnikov has memorably said, "Twyla's ballets make you feel like a fish in the sand. I always had the feeling I was out in a boat that had no sail, doing forbidden things."
Few have made forbidden things sound more seductive than Sinatra, and nobody in my lifetime has made his nuance more visible than Tharp. She did, after all, learn about American romance from working in her parents' drive-in movie theater in small-town California, and most of her career has functioned as a Missing Link between high art and pop. In 1982, she created a fantasy ballroom in "Nine Sinatra Songs" and, two years later, crawled back under our skin for more with "Sinatra Suite."
About the new show, according to the Alliance publicity, she intends to make audiences "remember that song, that dance, that special someone, that moment when you fell in love and fell in love again."
That doesn't sound much like radical Tharp, but if anyone can, I suspect she can.
This throwback to a more romantic time must also be part of the TV-dance appeal. There is a whiff of Fred and Ginger in the partnering, not to mention a sense of the old floor shows in fancy '50s nightclubs, the Ice Capades and Olympic figure skaters and, of course, the image of Tony Manero practicing his dips in front of three-way mirrors in Brooklyn.
Neither "Saturday Night Fever," in 1977, nor "Dirty Dancing," 10 years later, brought couple-dancing back to the heyday it enjoyed before the "Twist" taught people to dance with themselves in the early '60s. Music videos, especially those by Madonna and Michael Jackson, made a whole generation more sophisticated about watching stars dance - virtuosos, but solos with backup dancers.
What might be different now is an appreciation of partnerships. Not to read too much into it, but the return of dancing in pairs may signal
a hunger for mutual awareness. What's more, as Valentino proved, years ago, the tango can make a four/four downbeat seem like a naughty idea.
“Joshua happened to hear me mutter, ‘Gee, I wish I could do that again,’” Elkins recalls.
Ramirez, who was 24 years old, asked why she couldn’t. Elkins told him she had flat feet. He responded that he had flat feet, too.
“She was using that as an excuse, so I pulled off my shoe and showed her,” Ramirez said. “I’m a firm believer that if you want to do something, do it.”
So Ramirez helped Elkins find knee braces and arthritic shoes. Then he told her to stand up.
“I convinced her to get out of her cart and dance,” Ramirez said.
And she was able to. Elkins said Ramirez “pushed, pulled and cajoled” her and, over time, turned her into an accomplished dancer.
It wasn’t easy, though. Ramirez jokes that Elkins is “incorrigible,” and Elkins sarcastically retorts that she’s also “stubborn, independent and won’t give an inch.”
Still, with Ramirez’s help, Elkins became such a strong dancer that she entered dance competitions, often placing first. The woman who thought she would be confined for life to a motorized cart was now pursuing her passion.
“It has changed my life – literally,” Elkins said.
That’s why she asked to ‘pay it forward’ to Ramirez. CBS 5 News gave her $500 this week, and she gave it to Ramirez.
When we asked Ramirez what it was like to see Elkins change from a woman stuck in a cart to a dancer winner competitions, he said, “That feeling is why I do this job.”
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Keep on Dancing
Monday, July 27, 2009
If you love challenge and want to take the experience to the ultimate level, then dance competition might be for you. Whether it is the refined Ballroom or the energetic, sensuous Latin rhythm, many well-rounded dance enthusiasts literally live and breathe this delightful mixture of art and competitive sport.
Exactly what are the judges looking for when evaluating a dance competition? These highly acclaimed critics usually consist of former dance professionals and/or current choreographers. They are chosen to showcase their expertise in analyzing, evaluating and unanimously deciding the winners.
The judges' evaluation of performance is based on originality of the particular genre. Did the couple execute the dance and make it their own? Did they sell it? Was there chemistry between them? Were their respective personalities highlighted during the performance, along with their skills? Did they exude emotion? Was the performance real? Was it believable? Contenders must be actors as well as dancers.
The judges look for styling. This involves the dancers' lines which include posture, full graceful extension of their legs, arms, center balance and fluid continuity, giving the look of big, yet flawless and seamless.
Evaluation also includes the couple's individual and combined strengths as supporting partners. Did they hold their own on the dance floor, yet dance as a unit?
Musicality and Expression - The basic characterization of the dance to the particular music being played and the choreographic adherence to musical phrasings and accents.
Presentation - Does the couple sell their dancing to the audience? Do they dance outwardly, with enthusiasm, exuding their joy of dancing and confidence in their performance?
The most perplexing problem for judges is analyzing the contenders as a group while performing. It is not a one-on-one. In that one minute and thirty seconds of performing, the judges must go into multitask mode, simultaneously critiquing the contenders both collectively and individually in order to properly evaluate the performance and render the appropriate score.
Different judges have different preferences in what they want to see, and weight these factors differently. One judge might be especially interested in technique, while another wants to be moved by musicality and expression. While both factors are obviously important and need to be considered, it can result in couples getting widely disparate markings. Because the judge sees each couple for only a few seconds, anything that draws the attention, either positively or negatively, could very well be the deciding factor on how you are marked. Most judges try to do a conscientious job. And the use of a panel usually insures that the end result is the correct one.
Dancing is a process. The more practice, the better the performance. Competitions are designed to put dancers to the ultimate test.
And if you are worried that you might not have what it takes to become an accomplished ballroom dancer, consider this quote - Cannot act. Slightly bald. Can dance a little. - Anonymous studio verdict on the original screen test of Fred Astaire in 1933.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
by Joan Acocella
If you watch a video of the Jackson 5 performing “I Want You Back,” on the Ed Sullivan show, in 1969, you will see that the group’s lead vocalist—Michael, the youngest of the five brothers—was already an A-list dancer at the age of eleven. Here is this fat-cheeked boy, in a pink Super Fly hat that he is obviously proud of, doing tilts and dips and fanny rocks and finger snaps, and tucking in little extras—half steps, quarter steps—between them. Most amazing is his musicality, his ability to respond to the score faithfully and yet creatively, playing with the music, moving in before and after the beat. Musicality always comes off as spontaneity, and he was loved, early on, for that quality.
Now turn to “Don’t Stop ’Til You Get Enough” (1979). Ten years have passed. He has started recording his own songs. He does fancier steps. But at twenty-one, as at eleven, he is galvanizing above all because of his naturalness. He hops with joy; he wags his head; his shirt comes untucked.
Then come the landmark videos of the early nineteen-eighties: “Billie Jean,” “Beat It,” and “Thriller,” all of them for songs that appeared on the collection “Thriller” (1982), which is the best-selling album of all time. At this point, Jackson has just about everything you would want in a dancer. He is very fast, and, now that the adult musculature has come in, his whole body is “worked.” (This means that every muscle is stretched, and operating in the service of the dance. Nothing is blurred.) As a result, he has a sharp attack, and wonderful clarity. Watch him—as you can, for example, in “The Way You Make Me Feel” (1987)—dancing, silhouetted, alongside other men doing the same steps. You can’t see the faces, but you know which one he is. He dives into a step more intently, and shows it to us more precisely, than anyone else. Around this time, the videos are featuring some new moves—for example, multiple spins (which seem, at times, to have received technical assistance). And he’s now doing the famous moonwalk, which he picked up from break dancing. He has also started doing some rather dirty moves, notably the crotch-grab, which will endure, with striking embellishments, throughout his career.
The “Thriller”-period videos were instrumental in converting MTV from a backwater to a sensation. Jackson consciously aimed at doing that. “I wanted to be a pioneer in this relatively new medium,” he said in his 1988 memoir, “Moon Walk” (a book, incidentally, edited by Jacqueline Onassis). He spent a fortune on these projects. The 1995 “Scream” video cost seven million dollars—a record at that time. He didn’t like to call these works videos. They were “short films,” he claimed—and rightly, for he had them shot not on videotape but on 35-mm. film. “We were serious,” he said.
Jackson took his choreography from a number of sources: hip-hop, sock hop, “Soul Train,” disco, and jazz dance, plus a little tap and Charleston. By his account, he constructed some of the movement himself. “Billie Jean,” he says in “Moon Walk,” still had no dance component the night before he was scheduled to perform it in honor of Motown’s twenty-fifth anniversary. He went down to the kitchen, turned on the music full blast, and, in his words, “let the dance create itself” on his body. His moonwalk had its début in that number.
But on most of his dances he did not work alone. Michael Peters, Vincent Paterson, and Jeffrey Daniel, all of them experienced stage and TV choreographers, collaborated with Jackson. On the PBS special “Everybody Dance Now” (1991), in answer to a question from the dance historian Sally Sommer, Peters said that Jackson’s method was to put together some steps and ideas and bring them to a choreographer, who would then organize them into a coherent dance.
But, whether he went it alone or got help, the result was much the same. He didn’t have a lot of moves. You can almost count them on your fingers: the gyrating hips, the bending knees (reversing from inward to outward), the pivoting feet (ditto), the one raised knee, the spins, and, above all, the rotated or raised heel, which is what he gets around on. These steps are generally done staccato. He finishes the phrase and freezes, then finishes the next phrase and freezes. He also has some moves so natural that one hesitates to call them steps: lovely, light-footed walks, struts, jumps, and runs. He made at least one important innovation in music-video choreography—the use of large ensembles dancing behind the soloist—but beyond that he created very little dancing that was different from his own prior numbers, or anyone else’s. Yet many people were happy to see him, again and again, do the thing he did. Long after the critics soured on his music and his videos, they still liked his dancing.
Sometimes they had to take the dancing on faith. Jackson, who had a thorough knowledge of the movie musical, revered Fred Astaire. He records in his memoir how thrilled he was when Astaire praised him. The old master even invited him over to his house, where Jackson taught the moonwalk to him and his choreographer Hermes Pan. (Astaire told Jackson that both of them, he and Jackson, danced out of anger—an interesting remark, at least about Astaire.) But despite Jackson’s awe of his predecessor, he never learned the two rules that Astaire, as soon as he gained power over the filming, insisted on: (1) don’t interrupt the dance with reaction shots or any other extraneous shots, and (2) favor a full-body shot over a closeup. To Astaire, the dance was primary—his main story—and he had it filmed accordingly. In Jackson’s videos, the dance is tertiary, even quaternary (after the song and the story and the filming). The camera repeatedly cuts away, and, when it comes back, it often limits itself to the upper body. Jackson didn’t value his dancing enough.
Pop critics often say that with the “Thriller” album, though it came early —he was only twenty-four—Jackson went as far as he ever got musically. The same might be said of the music videos born of this album. The “Thriller” video became part of world culture. On YouTube, you can see a clip of fifteen hundred inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, in the Philippines, doing the “Thriller” dance in unison, in their orange uniforms. (Prison officials thought it would be a good lesson in discipline.) The later videos were not as popular, because they were not as good. Now, in place of dancing and stories, he ramped up the pyrotechnics. Smoke banks enclose him. Great flames shoot up behind him. (Back in 1984, while he was filming a Pepsi commercial, the special effects set his hair on fire. He had to be treated for third-degree burns.) Then come the computer-generated effects: he vanishes, he materializes, he walks on walls. With this abracadabra, good causes, mawkishly treated, make their entry. “Heal the World” (1992) gave us war, and abandoned children sucking their thumbs; “Earth Song” (1995) was about the destruction of the environment. This would have been O.K. if he had gone on dancing, but he didn’t, or not much. In one video, he just walked; in another, he just sat; in “Heal the World,” he didn’t appear. “You Are Not Alone” (1995), the major embarrassment of this late period, shows him as an angel, quite naked, with a vast pair of feathered wings. Needless to say, this ruled out dancing. Many of the late videos are heavy on self-aggrandizement; others, on self-pity. He, too, was sucking his thumb.
Occasionally, though, he would get up off his chair, and then it was like old times. The last known video shows him at a rehearsal for the London season he was about to embark on. He struts, he boogies; he snaps and pops. As CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, said, “This doesn’t look like someone who’s very sick to me.” That’s not to mention that Jackson was fifty years old and, because he was in rehearsal, was probably not performing “full out.” He was still a great dancer. Two days later, he was dead. ♦
at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan
Shake your booty for a good cause at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio Dance-A-Thon! Dancing starts at noon Friday August 14 to noon Saturday, August 15! We’re dancing round the clock to benefit Variety Far Conservatory for the Therapeutic and Performing Arts’ ballroom dance program for children and adults with mental, physical and emotional impairments. Private lessons are only $75, Group lessons only $10! Call (248) 454-1715 for more information!
Monday, July 20, 2009
Tuesday, September 22: Boston, MA - Agganis Arena at Boston University
Thursday, September 24: Newark, NJ - Prudential Center
Friday, September 25: Mashantucket, CT - MGM Theater - Foxwoods
Saturday, September 26: Trenton, NJ - Sovereign Bank Arena
Tuesday, September 29: Toronto, ON - Air Canada Centre
Thursday, October 1: Columbus, OH - Nationwide Arena
Saturday, October 3: Detroit, MI - Joe Louis Arena
Sunday, October 4: Champaign, IL - University of Illinois Assembly Hall Tuesday, October 6: Chicago, IL - United Center
Wedneday, October 7: Minneapolis, MN - Target Center
Friday, October 9: Milwaukee, WI - Bradley Center
Saturday, October 10: Toledo, OH - Lucas County Arena
Sunday, October 11: Indianapolis, IN - Conseco Fieldhouse
Wednesday, October 14: Long Island, NY - Nassau Coliseum
Thursday, October 15: Baltimore, MD - 1st Mariner Arena
Saturday, October 17: Richmond, VA - Richmond Coliseum
Monday, October 19: Charlotte, NC - Time Warner Cable Arena
Tuesday, October 20: Duluth, GA - Arena at Gwinnett Center
Thursday, October 22: Miami, FL - American Airlines Arena
Friday, October 23: Tampa, FL - St. Pete Times Forum
Saturday, October 24: Tallahassee, FL - Tallahassee-Leon Co. Civic Center
Monday, October 26: Houston, TX - Reliant Arena
Tuesday, October 27: Austin, TX - Frank Erwin Center
Wednesday, October 28: Grand Prairie, TX - Nokia Theatre at Grand Prairie
Friday, October 30: Tulsa, OK - BOK Center
Saturday, October 31: St. Louis, MO - Chaifetz Arena at St. Louis University
Sunday, November 1: Kansas City, MO - Sprint Center
Tuesday, November 3: Omaha, NE - Qwest Center
Thursday, November 5: Colorado Springs, CO - Colorado Springs World Arena
Saturday, November 7: West Valley City, UT - The “E” Center
Monday, November 9: Los Angeles, CA - Nokia Theatre LA LIVE
Thursday, November 12: San Diego, CA - San Diego Sports Arena
Friday, November 13: Glendale, AZ - jobing.com Arena
Saturday, November 14: Las Vegas, NV - Orleans Arena
Monday, November 16: Sacramento, CA - ARCO Arena
Tuesday, November 17: Fresno, CA - SaveMart Center
Wednesday, November 18: San Jose, CA - HP Pavilion at San Jose
Friday, November 20: Portland, OR - Rose Garden
Saturday, November 21: Everett, WA - Comcast Arena at Everett Events Center
Tickets sales begin on July 25th.
Boca Raton studio: 561-391-8571
West Palm Beach studio: 561-478-1400
Charlie Belknap, a disabled war veteran, is unable to dance. But every time his wife twirls out onto the dance floor, he has to smile.
Frances Belknap, a Medford resident who also lives in Fort Walton Beach, Fla. with her husband during the winters, has been dancing for 11 years. She first became interested in dancing when the pastor of her church invited her and her husband to a practice party at the Fred Astaire Studio in Florida.
“It was a guest party, where people bring guests and they’ll dance different steps with you and offer you so many lessons for a really great price,” said Frances. “They kind of introduced you to rhythm dances and ballroom dances — smooth dances.”
She said the instructors showed newcomers the basics of three different smooth dances, the waltz, the foxtrot and the tango, and two different rhythm dances, swing and rumba. Inspired and excited, Frances decided to sign up for the lessons offered by the studio.
“I went to the first lesson,” she said. “I came home and I was so excited and happy that my husband said, ‘Keep going.’ So I kept going!”
Since then, Belknap has become a veritable veteran of dance.
“The first competition I did was in Boston,” she said. “My teacher said, ‘We’re going to have a competition in Boston, we can dance!’ So I decided I would do it, and I’ve been doing it ever since.”
And she has.
Since then, Frances and her instructor, Joe Trovato, have gone to several competitions throughout the United States, including Austin, Texas and even Chicago, Ill. Frances’ most recent competition took place at the San Destin Hilton Resort for the Emerald Coast Dance Competition.
Surprisingly, she has never gotten nervous during a competition.
“I always get excited about competing, and showing the judges what we do,” Frances said. “It’s a chance to show off everything we’ve worked so hard on.”
And she always dances with a smile.
“I guess I just dance from my heart,” she said. “The smile just comes, and I don’t think about it.”
But Frances has not only danced like the stars; she has danced with them at the Fred Astaire Studio, too.
“I’ve been dancing with Eric Luna, who was recently on ‘Super Stars of Dance,’” Frances said. “He’s excellent. I’ve known him for a long time, because I’ve been dancing for 11 years and he started teaching there. I’ve known him since he was a boy, shall we say.”
Frances has also danced with such television personalities as Corky Ballas and Jonathan Roberts, of “Dancing With the Stars” fame.
“Tony Dovalani is coming!” said Frances excitedly.
She added she owes her ability to dance with these professionals to Trovato.
“He calls them, comes to get them to coach,” she said. “Our teachers are coached by them, and...they give group classes.”
Despite being surrounded by such well-known television personalities, Frances still prefers one dance partner in particular: her teacher.
“I’d much rather dance with Joe Trovato any day,” she said.
On Thursday, July 23, Fred Astaire Dance Studios in Upper Montclair, NJ and UMBA will present an evening of "Dancing Under The Stars." The evening's theme revolves around a century of dance and will include dance demonstrations from all levels of Fred Astaire students - from newcomers to seasoned veterans. The participants will be demonstrating dances from the 1920s to the dances of today. Some of the dances that will be showcased are: the Quickstep, Cha-Cha, Tango, Jitter-bug, Lindyhop, Twist, Swing, Mambo, Dirty dancing, Hustle and even some Hip-hop. Iconic songs will represent the different decades, with hits such as "Tammy" and the "Tennessee Waltz," "La Comparisita," "Hey Baby," "Rock Around The Clock," "Zoot Suit Riot," "Footloose," "Staying Alive," "Dancing Queen," and more to showcase the dances of different eras and how they're still relevant today. Carrie Babcock, co-owner of Fred Astaire and 5-Time US Champion, will be MCing the event along with teaching introductory ballroom lessons and line dances.
The evening will also include a dance off judged by UMBA members and will wrap up with the 9:15 pm practice party at the studio!
The aim of Fred Astaire of Upper Montclair and UMBA is to entertain through the wonderful medium of dance. Ballroom Dancing is hotter than ever, with hit shows such as ABC's "Dancing With The Stars," Fox's "So You Think You Can Dance," and spin-offs such as "Step It Up" and "Dance Your A&* Off." There's never been a better time to experience ballroom dance in America!
Everyone is highly encouraged to come out and participate in this fantastic event so wear your best period garb - gangster zoot-suits and flapper dresses, poodle skirts and saddle shoes, the rat-pack garb, keds and capris (ala Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing), bell-bottoms and leisure suits from the 70s, or your latest, trendiest little black dress of today. The event is going to be a blast and you certainly will not want to miss it!
FRED ASTAIRE OF UPPER MONTCLAIR
604 Valley Road
Upper Montclair, New Jersey 07043
THURSDAY, JULY 23
5:00 PM- 10:00 PM
"For me, dancing is a different way of expression...You can write a poem, you can tell a story, or you can do the same thing with dance. And once people start dancing, they begin to realize that there's more to it - there are benefits. Exercise, making new friends, that sense of achievement that comes with moving so well."
Professional instructors at the Naples studio are currently training with nine prominent local celebrities for the "Dancing With The Stars" gala fundraiser for the Literacy Volunteers of Collier County held in mid-November.
Thursday, July 09, 2009
By Elita Sohmer Clayman
Would you believe that just walking into the dance studio for the first time in 364 days gave me such a contented thrill? By contented thrill, I mean a feeling of happiness and also exuberance that I finally came back to my dance roots.
Dance roots can mean different things to various people. To me, it signifies that I am now feeling better for the first time since our automobile accident last June 2008, and that there is a real possibility that I will be dancing very soon. We came that Saturday morning at 1130 a.m. because the studio was having an Expo type activity so people could come in and get acquainted with the facility. They could also bring new or used dance shoes they no longer wanted to be able to sell them to others who may want a less-than-average priced shoe.
The owner of the studio greeted both my husband and I with a dear hug and kiss. We were as happy to see her as she was to see us. It had been a long ten months. We missed (at least I did) the beauty of the studio and the warmth of the owner. We missed the beautiful wood floor and the ambience of the atmosphere. We missed getting out there on the floor and doing our dance steps, routines, and just plain old having fun.
The roots of dance were planted in the soil of our hearts over 32 years ago when we stepped or danced our way into the first studio where we took together our first dance lesson way back then. I have always wanted to and loved to dance and this was a momentous occasion then for us to go as a couple and also a married couple.
Our love for dance or should I say, my love for dance was nurtured through my years of being single by taking a group of lessons when I was working and earning a good salary. I went to a studio and signed up for 50 lessons but I did not have an encouraging teacher to water my seeds of dance feeling. I finished up the course not really knowing too much more than when I started there. Then I took a few lessons with a fellow I was dating named David and he too did not awaken anything new in me about dancing.
The years passed with marriage and children and still I yearned to really learn to dance and the thought occurred in my mind that possibly I could compete. When we walked into the studio on November 2, 1977, the first thing I saw on the shelves there were some trophies some of the students had won. Right then and there, I knew that was what I wanted for my shelves. I had a carpenter come in many years later to custom make white shelves so I could display my competition trophies. I dust them every week with love in my heart for what they stand for in my dancing amateur career. Hard work and diligent and unrelenting time spent studying the world of ballroom dance.
Ten lessons evolved into ten or more years of taking lessons, competing, social dancing and just plain enjoying the social dances held on Saturday nights or Sunday afternoons.
Until the accident we would go to them at least three times a month. Then it all stopped and for one solid year we were unable to go due to numerous aches and pains from being hit hard by a man texting and running a red light.
Now the year has passed with many medical decisions and many sessions of physical therapy. We are ready. Going to the Expo for a few hours to sell some unused dance shoes really watered my dance appetite again. We sat there for an hour or so and watched some new students take free 15 minute try-outs with various teachers to see who they wanted to teach them if they decided to take dance lessons. We watched one teacher coach five men on converting some Rumba steps they knew to Bolero steps.
Finally, we left and I felt the aura of dance happiness surround my head. I was back where I am most often spending the happiest hours I am involved in.
As I so often speak about what ballroom dancing means to me, so again I am able to articulate about it in a more meaningful and current manner. It seems that next Sunday we will be back there and if we can only dance just a few dances since we are returning and have to be careful in what actions we take in our first day of dancing; then so be it.
I have decided if we only dance four or five dances, we will be ahead of the time because we will have again started our voyage in the beautiful sea of dance. The sea is calm now and the water is blue and we will dance serenely and be at peace doing so. We survived the terrible accident and are now back to begin our weekly ballroom dancing once again.
As Shakespeare said “Those who have self control truly own their beauty.”
Dancing is surely beauty in motion and our emotions determine our motion. In the Broadway play from many years ago called Annie based on the original comic strip called Orphan Annie, the main character Annie says that tomorrow will be good and they sing a whole song called "Tomorrow" that became a big hit on the music scene back then.
So tomorrow became now and next Sunday will be the tomorrow I was thinking about for one whole year almost to the day when I will arrive at the studio and once more dance a few dances. Each week, I will progress and dance more and more dances until the hours there will be filled with continuous dances. Tomorrow will be now and I will have won out over the aches and pains and the pains and aches. I will be the victor because I waited till tomorrow and tomorrow will be glorious. The no dancing time was a long period but now the glory days are upon us (especially me) and I will savor every minute I am doing it.
When I dance, I feel at peace and I in turn can encourage others to take up dancing and therefore I can be an amicable supporter of a different kind. I can be a harmonious person by trying to inspire and support new dancers- to not wait till tomorrow but to know that today is the day when they will enter the journey of dancing for the health of it, for the enjoyment of it and mainly for the peace they will feel when accomplishing this wondrous thing called dance. They will have self control and possess their own beauty.
We are bold when we decide to think about taking ballroom dancing lessons. We know we will find magic in doing so; and if we think we can do it, we should begin it. Whatever you can do or even think you may be able to do, and then surely we should set it into motion. We should all have hope with everything we attempt. That is the courage of life and dreams.
We will be kindling a new flame into our lives and our life will be brighter for it. We can do it, begin it and continue the light that will brighten our heart and be an everlasting beam that glistens into our daily existence.
We can accomplish the almost highest thing we want by being confident and secure and when we ballroom dance, we receive added self esteem and self assurance because we know we are doing something really special.
We set into motion a fulfilling adventure that will culminate in a special happiness so profound we will often wonder how we lived without it.
Annie in the play said "Tomorrow, tomorrow" and she surely knew that tomorrow would be so splendid it would make up for any days that were not that perfect. If we can only project that tomorrow will be blessed with good and kind events then we will have fulfilled our destiny in becoming happy. Ballroom dancing is like no other sport because in learning to perform it; we have boldness, adventure, motion, emotion and most of all a constant beginning of something so perfect to begin with that the final perfection we achieve is the ultimate reward.
The aura of dance happiness is in our soul. Hillel, a Jewish sage, said our soul is a guest in our body and deserves hospitality. Hospitality that is affable with the happiness we receive from this thing called dancing.
The more you do it, the more you benefit from its graciousness and you will observe how it makes you feel. The feeling sometimes is overwhelming and it fills your heart with the peace you deserve all the days of your lives.
Keep on Dancing
You can email me at email@example.com
- For those of you looking for an intense workout, ballroom dancing is for you. You can modify your workout based on your physical abilities, concentrating on the slower dances if need be. Through regular practice, you can gradually increase your exercise by dancing to faster songs to a faster beat.
- Ballroom dancing lessons are a great way to interact socially with others. You'll find your dance studio to be its own little community. For couples, dancing is a bonding experience. It's a hobby that encourages teamwork and intimacy.
- As an outlet for creative people looking for some kind of artistic expression, ballroom dancing is perfect. You can express your own personality through the music that you choose, the costumes you wear, and your interpretation of the dance.
- Finally, if you're looking for the thrill of competition, the ballroom dance industry provides a variety of dance competitions throughout the country and world-wide.
To support the Make A Wish Foundation, Dancing With The Stars celebrity dancer Tony Dovolani will be at the studio on July 18th from 7-9 p.m. To attend this event, you can call the studio for reservations (239-939-1517).
On July 25, the studio will host a Dance Day Benefit for the local Animal Refuge Center from 2-4:30 p.m. This benefit includes a beginner's group class, a live auction, and professional performance. Tickets are $10 at the door and any additional donation of dog or cat food of equal value will get participants a free private lesson. Celebrity participants will be announced soon.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
6 Detroit-area dancers to train with 'Dancing With the Stars' celebs
By PATRICIA MONTEMURRI
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Six Detroit-area dancers from the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Bloomfield Hills will get tips this week from personalities from the hit show “Dancing With the Stars.”
The six metro Detroiters — ranging in age from 15 to late 60s — leave Wednesday to compete in Chicago in the Astaire Awards Competition, where they’ll have a chance to meet some of the prime-time dance show’s participants.
Professional dancer Tony Dovolani — who was paired last season with third-place finisher Melissa Rycroft on the ABC show — will choreograph the Astaire competitors for a special dance number.
The competitors will be “doing all the different ballroom dances — a waltz, tango, and a fox trot, cha-cha, a rhumba, and swing,” said Evan Meachum, who owns the Bloomfield Hills studio with his wife.
About 3,000 participants are to compete in the Astaire Awards Competition, which will also features judges such as Fabian Sanchez and Corky Ballas, who appeared on the TV show.
Competing for the local Fred Astaire studio are Emily Dobrota, 67, who lives outside Windsor, Ontario; Bobbie Fitzpatrick, 52, a small business owner from Metamora; George Zahul, 53, an accountant from Bloomfield Hills; Amanda Demery, 15, a high school student from Bloomfield Hills; Victoria Zahul, 20, of Bloomfield Hills; and Nancy Smith, 49, a nurse, from Bloomfield Hills.
Contact PATRICIA MONTEMURRI: 313-223-4538 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LuAnn Pulliam and husband Bruno Collins have owned the Cinco Bayou studio for 26 years. Now retired from competition, the couple danced their way to a remarkable twelve U.S. Championships in Cabaret Style Dancing and were recognized as World Cabaret Champions four times. Pulliam is shy when asked about her legendary competitive dance awards, but she will quickly tell you how proud she is of the talented dancers she has trained to compete and teach.
Instructors Georgia Ambarian and Eric Luna are the current U.S. Cabaret Champions. They have been featured on ABC’s hit show Dancing With The Stars and on the PBS special America’s Ballroom Challenge. Two other employees, Jesse Benedetti and Kimalee Piedad, are ranked second in the nation and the world in Cabaret Dancing. Pulliam has also coached Tony Dovolani, one of the regular professional dancers on Dancing With the Stars.
While she enjoys helping dancers succeed competitively, Pulliam insists that you don’t have to be a competitive dancer to reap the benefits of dancing. “Anyone can learn to dance, regardless of his or her ability or disability, size or age,” she says. “One misconception many people have is that you already need to know how to dance to come to a dance studio, but we work with all levels from beginners to world champion competition dancers. And our students range in age from five to 95.”
The newcomer is greeted like a long awaited member of the family. Pulliam fosters that kind of atmosphere with her staff. “It’s a happy place to be because we all love what we do.”
Another misconception that many people—especially men—have is that real men don’t dance. Quite the opposite is true. The instructors are competitive dancers, and that makes them athletes. Pulliam’s 16-year-old son Bruno points out that every male working there can bench press 350 pounds. “You have to watch your diet and take care of your body in order to succeed at dancing.”
“The first time I came to the Tuesday night social I never sat down,” says Barnes. “I had always wanted to dance, and the people here make it so easy. They also make you feel so special. I appreciate the world of dance so much more. Now when I watch the pros on television I understand what it takes to dance that way.”
Another senior says her classes at Fred Astaire Dance Studios helped her cope with grief and depression. Doris Faught enjoyed a long career as the first female veterinarian pharmacist in the country. She even wrote the pharmaceutical reference book used by most vets. She says she couldn’t seem to move past the death of her husband until her neighbor—a Fred Astaire student—talked her into taking lessons. Faught says all her friends say dance has changed her.
Cheryl Chrisan, the neighbor who recruited Faught, has been dancing at Fred Astaire Studios for over four years and says it is her stress reliever. “When you’re on the dance floor you can forget about everything. I consider dancing my hobby. My husband has golf, and I have this.”
That brings up another common misconception. Some people believe you must already have a dance partner to take lessons. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are at least 15 instructors at the studio, roughly half female and half male. Instructor Chris Uy just returned to Fort Walton Beach after working in studios in the New England area for a few years. “This studio is absolutely the best. Everyone has a positive attitude and the family atmosphere cannot be beat. We love our students and our job.”
If you think you are too old or too young or too fat or too clumsy to dance, stop making excuses and let the people at Fred Astaire Dance Studios show you how you can. And you can be sure you’ll be welcomed into a happy, healthy family.
Monday, July 06, 2009
This year, the Team Match was between Great Britain, Germany, Italy, and the USA. This is the second year in a row that the USA has won.
Mark your calendars now for this extraordinary, unforgettable dance extravaganza!
respect, appreciation, and admiration. With much pride and gratitude today, we would like to put in the spotlight two great dancers who strive for perfection and reach new heights in their dance careers and in their teaching talents every single day.
RADOSTINA GEROVA and PLAMEN DANAILOV are 5 times Bulgarian Professional International Latin Champions, Rising Star US Open Finalists, Rising Star International Finalists, Rising Star Blackpool Finalists, UK 10 dance Championship Runners Up. They are also the current Fred Astaire International Latin Champions and finalists in many major US and European Championships.
of our students has earned well deserved respect and recognition for her work.
and charity events.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
The Oxygen Channel's new dance-diet reality TV show highlights 12 overweight people as they combine dance training, exercise, nutritional, and medical counseling. In a kind of Dancing With The Stars meets The Biggest Loser, each contestant is paired with a professional dance partner who trains with them for weekly stage performances in all different styles - from Hip Hop, to Ballroom and even Pole Dancing! The contestants are judged on their dance performance and that score is added to the percentage of body weight they lost that week to determine who is sent home.
The judges are Mayte Garcia, a famous dancer and singer, best known as the former wife of pop star, Prince. Garcia’s exceptional choreography skills span a variety of dance styles, including hip hop, salsa and freestyle; Lisa Ann Walter, an American actress, comedienne, writer, and film producer. Lisa is well known for her performance in Shall We Dance opposite Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez; Danny Teason, dancer and choreographer for Grammy® Award-winning artists such as Kylie Minogue, Diana Ross, Robbie Williams and Tom Jones.
Tune in on Mondays, 10/9c
A shining star in the dance world, Russian-American Anna was six years old when she started to dance. She won the Ireland Open Championship and the British Open Junior Ballroom Championship when she was 15 years old. With her dancing partner Andrei Begunov, she became the US Youth Champion in 2005-2006. At the World Championships, she made it to the finals, representing the U.S. In the Yyouth category, they won the BYU Championship, the Tri State Challenge, the King’s Ball, and the Ohio Star Ball. With her new partner Igor Mikushov, she has won many more championships, such as the Emerald Ball, the San Francisco Open, the Ohio Star Ball, and Manhattan Dancesport Championship. Demidova and Miushov made it to the finals in the Blackpool Under 21 Ballroom Championships.
Anna is definitely qualified to be a great addition to the show. The only question is ...who will be her partner?!?