Friday, October 29, 2010
By Patsy Holden, Orlando Ballroom Dancing Examiner
.. No matter what generation you emerge from, there will always be something that the younger generations do that cause you to shake your head and frown with disgust. Believe it or not, the Waltz was once considered one of those very things, the downfall of young society.
It is true, yet hard to believe, that there was once a time when every pastor in America preached against the evils of the Waltz. The desperate accusations, including that the Waltz stole every woman of her virtuous nature, were the same complaints heard in the 1920's about Jazz and the Lindy-hop, the 1950's with the Swing and Rock-n-Roll, and the in the 1970's with the Hustle...that couples' dancing was sinful. In fact, virtually every ballroom dance was originally conceived as sinful and just plain wrong.
The Waltz originated from peasant dancing in Europe, and the white elite society would not dare be caught seen dancing in the ways of "those people." Yet "those people" enjoyed what they could of life though their music and untrained dance movements, and the temptations on the upper classes to also enjoy music and life were real and could not be avoided. The solution? Hire your own private dance instructor who could mold the barbaric and animalistic peasant dance moves using elite mannerisms to make them look more elite-worthy.
The Waltz is the oldest of all the ballroom dances, and was the most popular dance during the entire 19th century. In formal attire, men often wore swords and women always wore huge gowns. This, and the fact that ballrooms had large floors, that women liked to twirl and and spin, and that Johann Strauss Jr. and his fast Waltzes were extremely popular, helped to shape the image of the Waltz dance position and Waltz style that we know today. However, because of that dance position, which meant touching the opposite sex in public, the Waltz was considered the downfall of the entire young elite society that embraced it with enthusiasm. How times have changed our views of this beautiful dance.
Additional audition cities, dates and venues will be announced.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer
This week's theme was rock and roll with a group marathon at the end.
Brandy had the best performance of the night with her Tango danced to "I Need A Hero." Brandy and Maks are becoming a very interesting couple to watch. They won the best routine for the night and finished first place in the marathon.
Audrina Patridge came in second place this week with her Paso Doble. I really liked the music she danced too and her costume looked fantastic. She showed good footwork but, again, she didn't express the character of the dance. She had beautiful lines but her face showed no emotion. She doesn't understand or feel the mood of the dance. She got a score of 24 with 8 additional points for the marathon for an overall score of 32. I am pretty upset by her elimination. In my opinion, she should still be in the competition. There are three other couples that should've gone before her.
Rick Fox's Tango definitely showed improvement. His dance earned 24 points plus 6 points in the marathon for an overall score of 30.
Also getting an overall score of 30 was Kyle Massey. He danced a Tango for a score of 23 (with additional 7 points for the marathon). It looked like Lacey was really pushing him in rehearsal and it showed. His movement and footwork was so much better.
Jennifer Grey came in next with an overall score of 29 (20 for her dance plus 9 points for the marathon). It was not her best week. Perhaps she is feeling too much pressure at being #1 because now her results are going down. She looked nervous when she danced her Paso Doble. She messed up her footwork and lost her balance (along with her partner Derek Hough).
Bristol Palin danced a Tango for an overall score of 28 (23 for the dance and 5 for the marathon). She was much better than last week. I felt like she really tried.
Kurt Warner came in last place for an overall score of 22 (18 for his Paso Doble and 4 for the marathon). His performance, for me, wasn't so good. I think they can do much better. I still don't see any improvement in his posture.
Results of the dance marathon:
1st place - Brandy
2nd - Jennifer
3rd - Audrina
4th - Kyle
5th - Rick
6th - Bristol
7th - Kurt
It was the biggest shocker of the season so far.
Audrina Patridge, who entered the limelight via the MTV reality show, "The Hills," was voted off "Dancing With the Stars" last night despite scoring a combined 32 from the three judges, the second-highest total of the show's sixth week.
"We were baffled Monday night after what the judges said. I still don't understand. I'm really sad to be off the show," Patridge said on "Good Morning America."
Throughout the competition, the judges consistently gave Patridge high marks for her dancing, but sometimes said her performances lacked character.
"I just know that I had so much fun, this entire experience," she said upon learning her fate. "I felt like I was really pushing it and trying to give more character, but I guess I couldn't tap into that."
During rehearsal, Patridge's professional partner Tony Dovolani took her to train in mixed martial arts to get her to be more aggressive and passionate. On "GMA" Dovolani rebuffed the judges' critique that Patridge was not intense enough.
"She brought the intensity. She really performed well for me," he said. "I honestly thought we had a really good shot to be there in the finals...We invested so much emotions and worked so hard to get to this spot."
Over the six weeks of the competition, Patridge said she developed a passion for dancing she never knew she had.
"I'm going to keep dancing. And Tony said he will teach me when he's in town," she said.
After 10 seasons on the show, Dovolani said Patridge was a refreshing partner.
"Being paired up with Audrina was like a breath of fresh air," he said. "We had a blast through the entire process. We left with a smile on our face."
In last night's elimination, it came down to two couples who have consistently ranked at the top of the leaderboard: Patridge and Dovolani and Jennifer Grey and her partner Derek Hough. Judge Len Goodman said it was "absolute nonsense" that those two couples were in jeopardy.
"I know America is attached to the underdog, but you got to give credit to where credit is due...to the people who are putting in the work," Dovolani said. "I pick Brandy, I pick Jennifer. Brandy has been consistently great, so has Jennifer. I was hoping we were the third couple that would be in the mix, but we are not."
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
October 25, 2010
Mary Murphy says more changes are afoot for the U.S. So You Think You Can Dance.
So You Think You Can Dance will undergo another format overhaul in the U.S. after disappointing ratings over the summer, says Mary Murphy, the high-octane ballroom expert who until last season was a judge on the U.S. series.
Murphy, who also guest-judged the Canadian version of the dance competition, says last season's decision to incorporate all-star dancers into weekly routines did not entirely resonate with audiences.
“Ratings did drop in the States this last season and so they're going to make changes,” Murphy said backstage at So You Think You Can Dance Canada, which crowned ballroom dancer Denys Drozdyuk the winner on Sunday.
“We’re probably going back to the way that we used to do it and they're going to keep the all-stars as well, so they're going to do half of the show the way it used to be done and the later half of the show with the all-stars. How that's going to work out, exactly, I’m not sure yet because does that mean we increase the season if we start off with 20 dancers? Or we may be kicking more dancers off than one couple at a time. So it'll be very interesting to see how that plays.”
The Canadian show maintained the original format in which 20 hopefuls (22 in the case of Season 3) are split into 10 pairs to tackle different dance styles every week, with two eliminations a week until a winner is chosen from the top four.
Last spring, series creator Nigel Lythgoe announced a Top 10 instead of a Top 20 for the U.S. show, one weekly elimination instead of two, and a pool of ex-SYTYCD all-stars to serve as partners.
Murphy says she felt the change took away some of the drama that emerges when novice dancers tackle a genre they're unfamiliar with.
“Everybody knew they had somebody that was a pro in that division, someone that they can go home and practise with, and know that they know what they're talking about,” she said.
“When you get two different styles together and then they draw another style that they know nothing of, we're all sitting at home and we're sitting there as judges going, ‘Oh my gosh, this might be a train wreck!’ . . . But when they do it halfway good you're, like, all fired up over it. We didn't have that this season.”
Fox has ordered an eighth season of So You Think You Can Dance, and auditions began earlier this month in California.
Auditions for Season 4 of So You Think You Can Dance Canada begin Nov. 6 in Saint John, N.B.
Monday, October 25, 2010
Every year around gift giving time, I google search "great gifts for Dads" or "best gift ideas for my husband" or "gift ideas, Montclair, NJ". You see, I am the owner of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Upper Montclair, and all my friends and family already know how to dance, so I have to come up with ideas for gifts for them. For them, it's the quest for the perfect tie, cologne, pot or pan, candle, massage or other gift. Again. And it's boring me!
Why Ballroom Dancing Lessons Make a Great Gift
If you're like me, you want to buy something special for your parents or sisters, loved ones or friends. Tastes are difficult to guess, fashions come and go, some people won't wear cashmere. Dancing lessons have benefits that suit everyone.
Ballroom dancing changes lives.
I know it sounds corny or cliche, and pitchy at best, but it's true. Don't believe me? I googled it! And 159,000,000 entries came up. That's an astounding number.
How could it be there are 159,000,000 search results for "HOW DANCING CHANGED MY LIFE"?
Well, for me it's easy. I'm a dancer and a teacher. I see it every day. I've seen it every day since I started choreographing community theater for the Dansville Rotary Club production of DAMN YANKEES in 1983 or 1984.
While your reading the descriptions below, think Zen, think health....
Dancing, specifically, ballroom dancing, allows you to connect with another human being. Physically and mentally. Even if you don't have a partner, you connect with your teacher. And if you're like half the people who take lessons for the first time, you return, week after week. Connecting with your teachers, with your new friends at the studio. Weekly, For years. There are books out there about the innate desire for humans to have a human experience, searching for that connection. (Hey, if they don't want dance lessons, that book would make a great gift!)
Once you've established yourself as a fixture at your studio, you make new friends. You see the same people week after week, and one day you strike up a conversation about art, politics, kids, tango, the merits of your teacher, and BAM, the next thing you know you're having monthly dinner outings with your new-found friends. And often your new friends trump your old friends. Sorry old friends. That's just the way it goes.
Ok, so we're not therapists, we dance teachers, but you'd have to convince some students that we aren't at least as good as their life-coach or yoga teacher. Weekly Ballroom lessons get your mind off your troubles. Period. And your dance teachers now know about your sick dog, your aging dentist, your doctor who retired, the cancer scare, your kids' report card and your shingles. And we care. And we'll remember. And for 40 minutes or so, you'll forget.
Whether you could get a gig on THE BIGGEST LOSER and can barely walk a mile, or you're a gym enthusiast looking for the next fitness craze, ballroom can be great exercise. Compare a foxtrot and a salsa. Anyone can do it. And everyone can benefit. Dancing burns calories. Watch the magazines this holiday season. "How to burn off the holiday weight" I guarantee you'll find at least 5 mentions of some form of ballroom for cardio.
I could explain the benefits of physical exercise and the rise of endorphins, seratonin levels, etc. But if you've read this far you probably understand all that.
Ok, now, if you want to read more about the benefits of ballroom, do your own google search. Now I'll just list some more, otherwise I'll start thinking I'm an author too!
What to Buy
If you purchase an Introductory Program as a gift, your friend, parent or loved one will get a chance to explore the world of ballroom dance in just a few short weeks, and they can make a decision for themselves if they'd like to continue. At the Fred Astaire of Upper Montclair, our Introductory Program is 2 private lessons and 1 group class, and it's only $99.
It's Not Cheap
If it's a really special occasion, like a 25th or 50th anniversary gift, a gift for your spouse,
or a wedding gift for your best friend, perhaps you'd like to spend a little more. For only $360, you can give your friends 5 private lessons. That's like the gift of 5 personal training sessions. Yes, ballroom dance is a luxury gift. Your friends will think you have great taste!
If you'd like to talk about the perfect gift for your loved one, feel free to give us a call at 973-783-8999 Monday-Friday from 1-10PM. Or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don't live near Montclair, NJ, visit www.FredAstaire.com for the studio location nearest you.
Still not convinced that ballroom dancing lessons make the best gift you can give? Go ahead. Find a tie. I heard Macy's was having a 0ne-day sale.
By Kathy Kemp -- The Birmingham News
Even on the telephone, Fabian Sanchez sounds like his hips swivel.
"Hey babe, what's up?" asks the Birmingham-area dance instructor, best known for his turn as actress Marlee Matlin's pro partner during their appearance in 2008 on "Dancing With the Stars."
But don't get the wrong idea. Fabian, 38, is a family man who loves talking about "my beautiful wife," Jackie, and their 8-year-old son, Ty. He's teaching his boy to play soccer, like he did as a child growing up in Colombia. Fabian's dad, Freddy, an architect, moved his family to Birmingham for a job when Fabian was 12. Check out Freddy's artwork at www.freddysanchezart.com.
Fabian and Jackie own and operate the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Hoover (979-4777). Although he no longer competes on the pro circuit, Fabian is a four-time Fred Astaire national champion and earned, with Christina Penatella, the title of World Mambo Champions in 2006.
His friendship with dancing pros Tony Dovolani and Maksim Chmerkovskiy opened the door for Fabian to dance with Marlee in 2008. The "Dancing" producers called him with the news they'd found his perfect match in the fiery deaf actress. Fabian and Marlee remain close, texting each other weekly to catch up on family goings on.
Fabian still talks with the producers, who tell him they are searching again for another match to bring him back. Fabian says he would love to dance with J.Lo or Shakira to show off his Latin flair. Meanwhile, he dances at special events, such as the Nov. 1 "Dancing with the Silver Stars" awards tribute hosted by the UAB Center for Aging. Area celebrities will pair with Fabian and Jackie Sanchez and others in the ballroom at The Club. For info, visit www.uab.edu/dwtss or call 975-5659.
Fabian never misses "Dancing with the Stars," seen Mondays at 7 p.m. and Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC 33/40. He was impressed by Florence Henderson, who was voted off last week, and is blown away lately by Brandy and Jennifer Grey. He also likes Audrina Patridge and has empathy for Bristol Palin.
"She is the true, average person just learning to dance," Fabian says. "Some people may not like her mother, but Bristol is so sweet and cute and easy to like."
The same might be said of Fabian himself, a talkative, love-of-life kind of guy who enjoys meeting new people. He doesn't teach as much in the studio these days, preferring instead to help coach his son's soccer team and spend time with Jackie and their large extended family.
Life is good, Fabian says, with or without the swiveling.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer
This week, the competitors danced to TV theme songs. I was looking for couples who really opened up the idea expressed in the theme song.
Brandy received the highest score of 27 for her Quick Step. Her dance showed lots of movement and was very interesting to watch.
I really liked Jennifer Grey's Foxtrot number. I saw the idea of the dance (all about love and marriage) from the beginning to the end. She had good style and a great connection with her partner.
Another dancer who showed the idea behind the dance was Rick Fox. Rick and Cheryl Burke danced the Rumba. He received a 24. I really liked the choreography of the dance. It was hot and sexy. He had nice positions and really stretched his lines.
Kurt Warner also received a 24 for his Quick Step. I still don't like his posture and I really haven't seen any improvement since the beginning of the show on that. He keeps his shoulders too far up and he leans forward too much. Although the movement of his dance was light and dynamic, he still needs to concentrate on his posture.
Audrina Patridge got a score of 23 for her Rumba. I agreed with the judges with this dance. From the hips down, everything looked nice and stable. But her upper body (including arms and the emotion expressed on her face) wasn't there. I didn't feel anything with her dance. In the Rumba, there should be some conversation between the partners but Audrina's dance had no emotion and no interaction. Technically, she did very well but she needs to bring expression to the dance.
Kyle Massey's Foxtrot earned him 20. I didn't think his dance was a Foxtrot; it looked more like a disco dance to me! The Foxtrot should be elegant, classic, flowing, and soft. There were too many jumps in his dance. He can do much better.
Florence Henderson was eliminated this week after she performed a Tango for a score of 21. The Tango should be passionate and dynamic but Florence didn't connect with the dance.
Bristol Palin came in last place with a score of 18. I think she should be eliminated next week. Her dance didn't look like a Jive. There wasn't any good technique to it. She lost timing during the dance and it just wasn't a good performance.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer
This week, the couples danced either an Argentine Tango or the Rumba. They were scored separately for technique and performance with a combined perfect score of 60.
The Situation's Argentine Tango wasn't so interesting. Although Karina did a great job dancing around her partner, I didn't see what of anything he was doing. They were eliminated this week.
Their score was 28.
Bristol Palin danced the Rumba for a score of 32. I didn't understand her dance. It didn't look as if she was inside the dance at all. There was no emotion or expression. The Rumba requires a lot of connection between the partners and the music. Bristol needed better balance and also, more of an extension when she created her lines. I felt that her dance was empty and I just couldn't read anything in it.
Kurt Warner's Rumba was an improvement over last week but it wasn't a great performance. I did see some hip movement during the dance but he needs to work more on his technique. His feet need to connect more with the floor. He can't just walk through the dance. His pivots didn't look quite right. His score was 34.
Florence Henderson danced the Rumba also. The Rumba is a romantic and sensual dance. You can use some sharp accents but the dance really needs extensions and continuous movement. Florence's dance was too sharp and aggressive for me. She lost her balance and timing a few times during the dance. Her score was 35.
Rick Fox's Argentine Tango wasn't great this week. They are one of my favorite couples and I still think that Cheryl and Rick can have some great results on the show. But I didn't see him as much during this dance. Cheryl did all the work in this routine. They need to get more of a connection with each other. His score was 39.
Kyle Massey danced a Rumba and - as always - his performance was very interesting! His score was 40.
Audrina Patridge got a 46 for her Argentine Tango. In my opinion, their music just wasn't right for the Argentine Tango. It was closer to cha-cha music. In order to have a great performance, you need a real connection with the music . I think if they'd had a better song, they'd have had a better dance. Her score was 46.
I really liked Brandy's Rumba this week. She wore a beautiful costume. Her foot positions and steps looked clean and clear. The dance was lyrical. She had great hip actions. It was a powerful, grounded performance. Her score was 48.
Jennifer Grey got the highest score of the night. Her Argentine Tango was wonderful. Everything connected. I could read through the dance as if it was a question and answer dialog. They talked through their body language, without any words. Score: 56!
Monday, October 11, 2010
What does long-time Chicago Bears Quarterback Bob Avellini have in common with Brady Bunch mom Florence Henderson? Illinois State Rep Mike McAuliffee share with Jersey Shore's Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino? The common link between former Chicago radio host Judy Markey and Bristol Palin?
Seems they've all slipped into dance shoes in the past few weeks, preparing to burn-up the floor with their ChaChas, Rhumbas, and Quicksteps.
While Henderson, "The Situation," and Palin hoof-it-up in Hollywood as contestants on this season's wildly-popular Dancing With the Stars, Avellini, McAuliffee, and Markey are learning to bust a move during private training sessions with pro dance instructors at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Buffalo Grove.
The studio, owned by Dancing With the Stars alum Jesse DeSoto, has partnered with the Northbrook-based Cancer Wellness Center for a ballroom dance competition featuring Avellini, McAuliffee, and Markey, each teamed with a pro dancer from Fred Astaire, to take place during the Center's 2010 Annual Benefit on Saturday, October 23 in the Grand Ballroom of the Chicago Hilton and Towers.
Each contestant is now training weekly at the studio, located at 404 West Half Day Road, Buffalo Grove. Keep checking the website for details to follow if you're interested in attending this special event.
Friday, October 08, 2010
Thursday, October 07, 2010
BALLROOM DANCING LEGEND: Fred Astaire’s will stipulates that he never be portrayed in a film.
In the decade or so leading up to his death, Astaire had been turning down requests for “official” film versions of his life, and in his will, Astaire stipulated that he never been portrayed in a film.
He felt that he should be judged by his life, and his life only, and not what some filmmaker may wish to say about his life in a film.
BALLROOM DANCING LEGEND: Jim Thorpe was a ballroom champion dancer.
Considered one of the most versatile athletes of modern sports, Jim Thorpe won Olympic gold medals for the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played American football (collegiate and professional), and also played professional baseball and basketball. However, his athletic dominance was not reserved for the playing field. He also dominated in the ballroom! Thorpe was known as an excellent ballroom dancer and even won the inter-collegiate ballroom dancing championships in 1912!
BALLROOM DANCING LEGEND: Cyd Charisse’s legs were insured for a million bucks each.
Cyd Charisse, a famed dancer who partnered with both Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly, was known for her beautiful long legs. For years, rumors were flying that MGM insured her legs for a million dollars each. But Charisse said for years before her death that it was not true and just a product of MGM’s publicity machine. In fact, MGM internal documents about Charisse during that time make no mention of such an insurance policy.
CBS will hold open casting calls for its new reality-competition series, “Live To Dance” in New York City on Thursday, Oct. 14 and Los Angeles on Thursday, Oct. 28. Paula Abdul, award-winning dancer/choreographer and multi-platinum recording artist, is executive producer and lead judge. She will also serve as coach, mentor and advocate for contestants during the performances and elimination process, sharing input and guidance while sharing her experience with hopeful contestants.
Dancers who want the opportunity to showcase their talents are encouraged to attend the open calls and show why they deserve to be a contestant on LIVE TO DANCE. The most talented and entertaining dancers will receive a callback to audition for Abdul and the panel of experts, all world-class dancers themselves. Callbacks will take place Saturday and Sunday after each open call date.
In one of the most inclusive talent searches on television, dancers with raw ability, in any age group from across the nation (either performing solo or in a group) can audition in any form of dancing - ballet to break dance, tap to tango, or show us something we've never seen before with your own unique fusion of styles - rock ballet, hip-hop clogging or contemporary mixed with capoeira. The most talented dancers who make it through the callback process will have the chance to perform live on CBS in the semi-finals and finals, where they will battle for the right to be crowned LIVE TO DANCE champion and be awarded a $500,000 prize.
• NEW YORK CITY, NY - Thursday, October 14, 2010
The Jacob Javits Convention Center of New York
655 West 34th Street, New York, NY 10001
Check-in begins at 8:00 am
(Callbacks are Oct. 16 and 17, please plan accordingly)
• LOS ANGELES, CA - Thursday, October 28, 2010
By Catherine Brill
Tao Porchon-Lynch isn’t your ordinary dance student. She is a former Hollywood movie and small screen actress, model, screenwriter, and documentary producer, and has been a Master Yoga teacher for more than 45 years. She has studied with yoga legends Indra Devi and BKS Iyengar and has made over 24 pilgrimages to India with her yoga students. She also frequently competes in Fred Astaire regional ballroom dance competitions.
Not too bad for someone who is 92 years old.
Tao actually met Mr. Fred Astaire in the 1950’s when they were both at MGM. “He was a very sweet and shy man. Everybody liked him,” she remembers. But she didn’t start ballroom dancing until seven years ago. “I always wanted to go to Argentina to dance the Tango!” Now she takes two to four lessons a week at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Hartsdale, New York.
Tao doesn’t let anything slow her down, not even hip replacement surgery! In April of this year, she kept dancing (with her hand in the air) after breaking her wrist. More recently, Tao injured herself in a fall and her doctors advised her to stop dancing for a month. She only took a week off before returning to the dance floor. “There’s so much to do in life and so little time,” she reflects.
At the most recent regional competition in Verona, New York, Tao performed 31 dances and three solos. Not surprisingly, she received a standing ovation for her performances. To celebrate her latest birthday, the studio threw her a big party where she danced the Jive, Samba, and Argentine Tango for her guests.
Her extensive background in yoga has helped her with her dancing. “Yoga makes you breathe and gives you more energy. Both yoga and dance get you in touch with the creation of life.”
“Dancing brought new joy into my life,” Tao believes. She is now practicing for another competition in New Jersey in November and a showcase in Tarrytown in mid-October. She is an inspiration to dancers and non-dancers alike, an extraordinary woman who has made the most out of life.
By Natasha Oreshkina, award winning ballroom dancer
This week was Story Week where each dance had to tell a story.
Margaret Cho was eliminated this week after performing a Samba. The beginning of her dance was OK but then she lost her timing as the dance progresses.
Bristol Palin performed a Foxtrot for a score of 19. Her dance last week was much better than this week's.
Florence Henderson received a 20 for her Waltz. I always enjoy watching her. She looks beautiful on the floor. Her dance was sweet and full of emotion. She had a nice presentation.
The Situation also received a 20 for his Foxtrot. His dance was entertaining but it needed more flowing action and style. He needs to concentrate on that.
My two favorites this week were Jennifer Grey and Audrina Patridge.
They had the most interesting performances for me. Jennifer performed a beautiful and complicated Samba. Her Samba Rolls were executed nicely and I enjoyed the story of her dance. Similarily, Audrina performed a beautiful Foxtrot. I am so proud of and happy for Tony Dovolani for teaching Audrina so well! Her memorable dance was smooth, elegant, and emotional.
One quick comment about Maks and Brandy. This week, there was some footage shown of Maks slapping Brandy as he taught her. I know that Maks is tough on his students but he needs to understand that these celebrities are not professional dancers. Our goal as teachers should be to have students feel confident and enjoy themselves. Yes, we should concentrate on the technique and style of each dance but we can't forget that dancing is also about having fun and enjoyment.
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
By Mary Giunca
Pierre Dulaine strides onto the stage at Forest Park Elementary School with a combination of Old World courtliness and drill sergeant snap.
“Feet together!” he commands a group of fifth-graders who stand around in various forms of slouch. “Hands out of your pockets.”
For the next 45 minutes, Dulaine, a professional dancer and the founder of Dancing Classrooms, alternately guides, cajoles and bullies another MTV generation through the rudiments of ballroom dance.
“Is this elegance?” he asks as he demonstrates the wide leg, hands-in-pocket stance of the students.
Yesterday was Dulaine’s first appearance at the school. The Dancing Classrooms program started last year at Forest Park, Cook, the Arts Based and Ibraham elementary schools.
Dancing Classrooms is a 10-week, 20-session program for fifth- and eighth-grade students that uses ballroom dancing as a tool to develop social skills, self-confidence and teamwork.
Ann Guill, a local dance teacher, works as the site director for the state pilot program, which got its start in Winston-Salem last year.
The program was founded in 1994. Last school year, it served 50,000 children in 525 schools in 16 U.S. cities as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands and Geneva, Switzerland. Dancing Classrooms inspired the film Take the Lead, in which Antonio Banderas played Dulaine.
The program works, says Sandra Gilmer, Forest Park’s principal.
Last year, people commented on how well-behaved the children were on field trips as the year progressed, and she credits the program for that.
Dulaine’s program incorporates many of the elements of a basic etiquette course, such as the proper way to stand, shake hands and hold partners when dancing.
He has advice for fifth-graders who are dubious about being paired off and told to hold hands: “He’s not going to be your boyfriend. She’s not going to be your girlfriend.”
The children laugh, and the session continues.
Dulaine said children know he is on their side and working with them.
“Many times we tell children how wonderful they are without being specific,” he says. “They need truth. They need answers.”
Monday, October 04, 2010
The secret of male dance floor success is all above the waist!
A study reveals upper body movement, not fancy footwork, is key to attracting women
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
The difference between a good and bad dancer - as rated by 35 heterosexual women for the Northumbria University study - lies in the movements of the upper body
We have all witnessed it – a packed dance floor of bodies gyrating perfectly to the beat suddenly being emptied by the unwelcome appearance of a man flailing his arms about wildly.
But for the millions of wannabe lotharios who find it impossible to dance without looking like a malfunctioning windmill, a solution may be at hand: psychologists claim to have discovered the key dance moves that make men attractive to women.
As the single most important arena where humans select their mates, the dancefloor can inspire terror and longing – but more often embarrassment and hilarity. Millions strut their stuff every night in venues across the country, but no scientific study of what makes a successful dancer has been made until now.
Researchers at Northumbria University identified differences between "good" and "bad" male dancers based on the responses they provoke in women. The results, which are surprisingly detailed, suggest that the speed of the right knee is critical, as is the size and variability of movement of the neck, trunk, left shoulder and wrist.
Women were most excited by men who danced vigorously, making large movements of their upper body and head, but who also varied their movements, showing creativity and flair. Head bangers were a definite turn-off. Those who lean towards folk dancing of the Riverdance kind face disappointment – Irish dancing, with its focus on leg kicking and a static upper body, is unlikely to set women's hearts racing.
Nick Neave, who led the research, published in Biology Letters, said: "This is the first study to show objectively what differentiates a good dancer from a bad one. Men all over the world will be interested to know what moves they can throw to attract women."
The researchers have posted videos of good and bad dancers on the web, so men keen to put the findings into practice can do so.
Male volunteers were filmed with a 3D camera system as they danced to a basic rhythm, and avatars – humanoid characters – were programmed to reproduce their moves so that 35 female volunteers could rate them for sex appeal without being influenced by their level of physical attractiveness.
Dr Neave said: "We now know which area of the body females are looking at when they are making a judgement about male dance attractiveness. If a man knows what the key moves are, he can get some training and improve his chances of attracting a female through his dance style."
But his own initial response had been more ambivalent, he confessed. "When I saw the good dancer I thought he was a bit of a show off. I thought 'What a pillock'. But he has got that flair and variability and creativity. If you had had a drink you might think 'He's interesting, I'll go and have a chat.'"
The bad dancer, walking around in a circle making the same stereotypical movements, was more obvious – small, tentative movements with little hint of vigour or variability.
The researchers added that movement plays an important role in animal courtship, with males performing elaborate courtship dances to attract females. Dance movements form "honest signals of a man's reproductive quality, in terms of health, vigour or strength".