Thursday, February 16, 2012

Champagne Social - Episode 6

Strictly Dancing

~by Carmen Champagne

I have a free Friday night!

What to do, what to do?

Stay home and watch a movie with
Ben & Jerry?


Go out for drinks at a bar where the sports announcers on the multiple TVs do battle with the music piping through the overhead speakers?

I don’t think so.

No, tonight I’m going dancing.

It never dawned on me that regularly scheduled social dance parties would be the norm at Fred Astaire Dance Studios. But in hindsight, it makes perfect sense. If you are learning how to dance, you want the opportunity to practice…and not just to the radio in your kitchen. The intuitive instructors at Fred Astaire know this and provide the perfect setting to dance the night away…

Off is the fluorescent lighting in the studio this evening. Instead, festive, clear twinkle lights line the walls and small spot lights are strategically placed creating a warm and festive vibe. Music is playing, refreshments are laid out and the waiting area is filled with students, the teachers welcoming and greeting all. I am not sure how the evening is going to go, but I slip into my sandals and make my way towards the group. I feel a tap on my shoulder just then and turn around to find Tobi asking if he might have a dance. Of course!

The evening passed in a delightful whirlwind. Cha-chas, tangos, rumbas and waltzes. I danced with Tobi and the other teachers. I danced with students of various skill levels. I danced all night. And as I twirled around from partner to partner, I got to learn a little bit about them. The mood was light and easy. This was not the time for instruction and rules of learning. This was the time to enjoy dance. Purely. And honestly, I had the time of my life.

Stay tuned for the final episode of Champagne Social, Friday February 17th

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Fan Mail

That's a photograph of the letter that was waiting for me when I arrived to work on Friday morning. To say I was delighted, would be putting it mildly. I had a smile plastered on my face all day long.

Abbie is a fan and asks:

Q. Why do you enjoy dancing and what inspired you to perform and video tape it?

A. Dear Abbie :)

I enjoy dancing because it makes me feel happy when I'm doing it. I love music too. All kinds of music. And sometimes when I'm listening to music, my toes tap or my feet stomp. I just want to move. I thought taking lessons would help my toes tap and my feet stomp a little bit better. You see, Abbie, I happen to be kind of klutzy. I've been known to walk into poles or trip up the stairs for no good reason (I even broke my toe once doing that trip up the stairs bit...true story). I was hoping that maybe I would gain a little grace by taking dance lessons.

I brought along the camera because well, if it didn't inspire people to try to dance themselves, they might at least get a kick out of watching my silly antics. However, the teachers at Fred Astaire really know their stuff and I learned a lot from them. Maybe my bumbling days are over!

I'm glad you have enjoyed the series. Our last episode of Champagne Social airs on Friday. Hope you tune in!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

And We Danced

What I noticed first when I entered the studio that evening for my group lesson was that the male students outnumbered the female students. I thought I needed to move to Alaska to get those kind of odds. Who knew all I had to do was head to my local Fred Astaire Dance Studio? The reception area became filled with jovial banter and laughter as students came in, removed their coats and changed into their dance shoes. Though I was new to the group, they welcomed me right into the fold.

The super chic and stellar dance instructor, Nicole Jeurgens, would be leading this evening’s lesson. The dance being taught was the cha-cha. These group lessons were important, Nicole explained, as a way to gain your own sense of balance. So while you want to offer resistance to a dance partner, you do not want to rely on them for balance. You must be able to stand on your own before you can merge with another.

Yeah, I know, I know. I won’t even type it out loud.

Nicole explained and demonstrated the cha-cha as well as a variation on the basic step while the entire class followed along. We spent the remainder of the time going over the newly learned moves in our own space.

After class, staff announced that the following Friday would be a social dance night. What? FADS regularly puts on social dances right at the studio so you can mix, mingle and practice your moves. What a brilliant idea! I’m in.

Hope to see you there!

Tune in for the dance party extravaganza Friday, February 10th on the next episode of Champagne Social

To watch previous episodes of Champagne Social on our Youtube Channel, click here.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Resistance Is Futile...Or Is It?

Thoughts on...

Dancing, Dating and Life’s Lessons

~by Carmen Champagne

Over the years I’ve developed a sound belief that there are only three options available when life hands you lemons (well, four, if you count making lemonade):

  1. Change yourself.
  2. Change the situation – this means altogether removing yourself from it.
  3. Change your mind – in other words, your attitude. Just quit fighting the inevitable and accept the lemons. Fully. Zero resistance.

While I’ve done my share of all three, it is the practice of letting go of resistance that is always foremost on my mind. So imagine my surprise when Tobi began our third lesson with an exercise in — of all things — resistance!

“In dance,” he explained, “You need to offer some resistance to your partner in order to feel where they are leading you. “

Ha! The irony of this statement struck me as too funny.

But then I thought, well, perhaps that might explain a few things about my lack of skill as a dancer (and dare I say a dater, as well). Either total resistance or none at all.

Tobi brought me to the wall in the studio, and had me stand in front of it, palms outward in front of me, touching nothing but air. Alternately, I was made to touch the wall by moving forward on the balls of my feet until my palms met with just the slightest of resistance. Could I feel the difference, he wanted to know. This insightful exercise taught me that a certain amount of resistance is not only good, but is absolutely necessary if you want to dance with a partner. Hmmm…

Tobi got his point across and scored some extra points from me besides! This eye-opening moment revealed itself as the dawning of another of life’s lessons.

The rest of our time was spent going over the basics of tango. My new found knowledge in place, I confidently followed along as Tobi explained the steps. The character of the tango comes to life when dramatic flair is added to it. My love for all things theatrical made me a more than willing participant.

Well, folks, although I’m going to play it a little cool…show a little resistance:) but I really think I have met the dance of my dreams…

Tune in for my very first group lesson on Friday, February 3rd on the next episode of Champagne Social!

Click here

To watch previous episodes of Champagne Social on our Youtube Channel.