On the Answer

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Note: As another feeble attempt into the world of fiction, I didn’t establish a word limit on myself this time. Because I embedded music into the story, listening to at least part of the song (30 seconds) helps set the tone. I will appreciate your comments about the story.

On the Answer

 

The large wooden floor and good music makes it a popular place for ballroom dancers. He and she are relatively newcomers to this venue – but this is their first special-event night – a charity ball. Each are acquainted with a few other people from previous visits, but not with each other. This night is their first sighting.

He finds her alluring – but their eyes never meet. He is a bit intimidated by her dancing ability. She watches him thinking he’s handsome and can dance – yet their eyes never connect.

He wants to ask her, but is hesitant. She waits – yet is anxious..

They sit on opposite sides of the hall – but never know the other’s interest. Their dance partners are from what seems to be a partitioned sector.

A waltz ends – they are unknowing close enough to bump into each other as they start to leave the floor causing their eyes to connect for the first time. Neither knows the other’s thoughts.

A Cha-Cha begins. Their previous partners know one another and pair to dance. He and she are left looking at each other. He asks. She smiles and accepts.

 

Cha Cha music is upbeat and rhythmic. The dance is fun, spirited, and playful – some say flirtatious.

He cautiously engages her. He starts with basic steps so they get comfortable with each other. She compliments his leads. He accepts through a smile and returns kind words; although her ability and confidence are obvious.

The music continues and the steps greatly vary as they both smile and occasionally talk while having a good time – actually a great first dance. The song ends. Smiles of approval and appreciation evident. The next song quickly begins.

 

He extends his hand to say, “Rumba?” She again accepts with a smile and without saying a word. Rumba – its slow, steady Latin beat that some say is the dance of love. To others, it’s the dance of foreplay.

Whatever he leads – she follows without hesitation. Again she compliments him. He smiles and tells her that she makes dancing easy to lead – but he is taken by her white dress that displays her form, her beauty, and her motions.

The song ends. He mentions they are two strangers dancing as one. She philosophically responds, “That’s a power of dance.” – then a different song starts.

 

A Bolero – the dance of love – a dance that they each adore – something the other doesn’t know. The music acts like a strong magnetic bringing their brown and blue eyes together. Without words, they stay on the floor.

Bolero music is slightly slower than Rumba. They are close – thighs touch – frames engage. Bolero is slinky – together, apart, back together – low then high, back to low. He offers a steadiness that she appreciates. She acts as his dance muse as he leads steps he’s never done before – yet she follows with elegance. Still no words – just dance.

She speaks to him with alluring eyes, flowing arms, and a curvaceous figure. He remains outwardly calm. Inwardly he concentrates on the dance because he doesn’t want to make a mistake – but she also has his attention. She is taken by his confidence and continues to silently speak. Once again, they dance as they were one.

The music ends. They stare, smile, and say thank you. He walks her back to her table where she invites him to sit. They continue to connect through conversation and more dances.

When they recount that night, common elements exist in their versions – yet each has their own perspective. She still boasts about his leads and handsomeness; he still finds that difficult to accept because of his ordinariness.

He still talks about the beauty behind her captivating ways; she graciously turns the compliments toward him. He recalls the white dress; she jokes about him remembering the dress while knowing it is safely stored as a keepsake. Yet, this story still remains the answer to the question that friends ask, “How did the two of you meet?”

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On a Beach Walk: No. 44 (A Community of People)

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I like walking the beach. It’s good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

Today is a Friday. The morning is cool – even cold to some – but, I am confident this afternoon will be comfortable for all. No matter how cold it is here, it is still warmer than home – but today I think about that distant place I call home.

There, our normal Friday night routine is ballroom dancing. We won’t be that here – but I think about that home dance community on this day.

The Friday night crowd is typically 50-75 people gathering for dancing and socializing. Most are regulars – many I’ve gotten to know – other I have not. It is an interesting collection of people that make it work.

Dance abilities range from A to Z. Only several compete, while others don’t hear the beat or the timing well. Most are in between.

Some dance with a variety of people while others dance with only their partner – but everyone has a good time.

There are married couples and married solos. Others are single, divorced, widowed, or re-married. There are parents, grandparents, and the kidless. There are American born and foreign born. Ages vary – but most are over 40. Those over 60 and 70 say, “Dancing keeps them young by keeping us moving.”

There are the tall, the short, and the in-between. The overweight, underweight, and the just about right. The fit and the not-so-fit. Introverts and extroverts. Locals and transplants.

There are the retired, still working, and about to retire. A wide range of professional skills including engineers, electricians, teachers, doctors, realtors, lawyers, technicians, pharmacists, firemen, scientists, accountants, physical therapists, service industry workers, managers, customer service representatives, carpenters, IT professionals, machinists, and the self-employed.

There are certainly Protestant and Catholic Christians, Jews, and Agnostics – and I will assume some Atheists. Surely a wide range of thoughts exist about creation.

There are Democrats and Republicans, while others are unaffiliated or don’t vote. Throughout the room are conservatives, liberals, ubers of each, and moderates. Nationalists and globalists are also present.

The music plays – people smile and dance. They laugh and converse. A wide variety of people with variety of backgrounds, personalities, interests, and personal philosophies that make it work despite their differences.

As I walk, thinking about this group at home causes me to smile. It also reinforces my belief that the majority of humanity is good – and this is a good feeling to accompany me because I like walking the beach because it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.

On Samba

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For some background music, click the video. This Jennifer Lopez song has a wonderful Samba beat. Listen to the  rhythms.

Besides, Carnival 2019 in Rio de Janeiro has started!

 

General

Samba – some say SAM-ba, others say SOM-ba … I say the latter

Samba – a fun, lively dance to music of a distinct rhythm

Samba – a popular dance associated with Brazil; especially Rio’s Carnival

Samba – the fast dance associated with rocking, sexy motions

Samba – whose distinctive, energetic rhythm encourages people to move

History: Music and Dance

Samba – the dance and music rooted in the African people who came to Brazil

Samba – a dance done by Brazilians since the late 19th century to music rooted in the 16th century

Samba – a ballroom dance since 1930, today it is one of the five Latin competition dances

Carmen Miranda helped popularize Samba in That Night in Rio (1941)

Music

Donga & Mauro Almeida’s Pelo Telefone popularized Samba music in 1917 (click here for the recording)

Samba’s grew through the 1920s into the 1930s, eventually leading to the formation of Samba schools

Not all Samba music and rhythm is created equal – that is, there are different musical styles

In general, Samba music as a distinctive rhythm with pronounced percussion and played at a tempo of about 100 beats per minute

Different styles of Samba music include Samba Reggae, Samba Rock, and Samba de roda

Ballroom Samba music uses 2/4 timing with three weighted steps in two beats of music (more about that later)

Dance Styles

Samba is not one dance, but a set of dances – yet no one dance is definitely known as the “original” Samba

Types vary in movements, solo vs partner, musical rhythms, formality, influence by other dances, geographic region, occasion, acrobaticness, intimacy, and steps/patterns

Different Samba styles/dances are Samba de Gafieira (partners), Samba Pagode (partners), Samba Axé (solo), Samba Forró (partners), Samba no pé (solo dance typically done at Carnival by sambistas), and Ballroom Samba (partners)

Ballroom Samba includes American style and International style – both of which are different from the original Brazilian variations

Because of the competition nature of Ballroom Samba, standards and commonalities are established

Ballroom Samba

Ballroom Samba is a dance that can travel around the room (not staying in one spot/location), although some dance it as a spot dance

Ballroom Samba uses music with 2/4 timing, dancers use three weighted steps in two beats of music (for the musically inclined, the count is “one a-two”)

Ballroom Samba has one set (2 measures totally 4 counts) of 3 steps forward, then one set of 3 steps backward

The Leader steps forward on the left foot (that’s the 1 count), then the right foot forward to beside the left (that’s the “a” count), then changing the weight to the left in place (that’s the 2 count). (The Follower does the mirror opposite, starting with the right foot going backwards.) Then, both repeat the pattern in reverse and starting on the opposite foot.

Go back to the opening song to check if you can hear Samba’s feet rhythm.

The basic pattern can be done side-to-side (instead of forward then back) and in a box (forward, then to the side, together & weight shirt – back then to the side, together and weight shift). Also as a turning box.

In time, shifting weight and bending-straightening knees/legs create the body action while the upper body remains relatively still (except for arm movements)

 

Besides the Samba Basic, other common steps include Voltas, Bota fogos, Kick change, Runs, Promenade, Whisks, Struts, Taps, Locks, Rolls, Crosses, Step-ball-change, Under-arm turns, and more.

Here’s a very polished couple doing a routine with mostly basic moves. They are very good – although I’ve never seen anyone in my social ballroom world dancing Samba this well.

Closing

I’ll admit to several points:

  • I enjoy Samba music because it’s fun.
  • I enjoy watching people who dance Samba well at a social level.
  • I can’t do Samba very well.

Below are three different Sambas for you to enjoy. The first (from Dancing With the Stars) is well done, and highly choreographed. The second is competition level Samba. Choreographed as well, but done at a high level. The last (and not to leave the Brazilians out) are solo Sambas for Carnival. Let me know the ones you watched.

On She/He: Initiating the Challenge

 

Note: To participate in this challenge, see the Challenge page/tab.

 

She is the one for the next dance.

He spotted me and doesn’t know who I am, but I know him.

She displays a slight smile as I approach.

He doesn’t know that I started watching him as soon as he walked through the door.

She changes her face into a glow as I extend my hand.

He doesn’t know what I have in store for him.

She graciously engages my offered frame.

He feels like a dancer.

She transforms my leads into beautiful motions.

He’s a better dancer than I expected, but not as good as he thinks.

She glides the floor with grace and elegance.

He doesn’t realize that I make him look good.

She makes me feel like the king of the ballroom.

He’s about to be surprised.

She smiles in appreciation as the music ends.

He doesn’t know I just delivered a signal.

She is the one.

He’s a dead man.

On She, and a Challenge

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She’s the one for the next dance.

She displays a slight smile as I approach.

She changes her face into a glow as I extend my hand.

She graciously engages my offered frame.

She transforms my leads into beautiful motions.

She glides the floor with grace and elegance.

She makes me feel like the king of the ballroom.

She smiles in appreciation as the music ends.

She is the one.


Note: This post serves as the basis for the She/He Challenge. Click the here or the Challenge Page/Tab below the header/banner for more information. FYI: Unrelated to this challenge, see the SPECIAL Page/Tab for an important announcement. 

On East Coast Swing

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Click for some appropriate background music. Notice the beat – especially the percussion.

Swing Introduction

When one things of swing dancing and the accompanying music, many minds will go back to the music of the 1920s and 30s in the USA – a time known as the Big Band era (which continued into the 1950s).

From the likes of African-American giants as Louis Jordan, Cab Calloway, and Louis Prima to Big Band icons as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Benny Goodman to the new generation of swing of Elvis, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard, then onto the more contemporary sounds of Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, swing has maintained a presence for many years.

Swing dancing goes back to New York City’s Harlem community as the Lindy Hop took hold. Life was buzzing due to Charles Lindbergh’s successful so transAtlantic flight. Because the Lindy Hop was fast and acrobatic, developed a different dance style for the music that would be simpler and danceable by more people. That was East Coast Swing, yet today we also have West Coast Swing, Jive, Shag, Boogie-Woogie, Jitterbug, and Lindy.

This post features East Coast Swing – also known as East Coast and Triple-Time Swing. Here’s my past post about a broad overview of Swing. East Coast Swing came about because Lindy Hop’s speed and acrobatic nature – so East Coast Swing is slow and not acrobatic. For those needing a refresher, here’s a classic Lindy Hop.

Introducing East Coast Swing

East Coast Swing – classified as a Rhythm Dance (not a Smooth Dance)

East Coast Swing – a spot dance (does not move around the floor in a circle or line)

East Coast Swing – one of the most versatile dances for many settings

East Coast Swing – a ballroom competition dance

East Coast Swing – a dance popularized by Arthur Murray Dance Studios

East Coast Swing – whose name refers to swinging hips

Basics Steps

East Coast Swing – a relatively fast dance at 145-170 beat per minute in 4-4 time

East Coast Swing – feature a basic pattern of 6 counts

East Coast Swing – featuring triple steps (3 steps over 2 counts) acting as the dance’s pulse

East Coast Swing – for triple steps, think side-together-side

East Coast Swing – the repeated six-count pattern of triple step (2 counts), triple step (2 counts), rock step (2 counts). (Note: Some teach the rock step begins the pattern)

Watch the video for East Coast Swing’s basic steps.

 

Suggestion: Now that you watched the basic steps, return to the music that opened this post to see if you can hear the pattern (triple step, triple step, rock step).

Other steps include Turning Basics, Open Breaks, Underarm Turns, Tucks, Sugar Push, Swivels, Peek-a-Boo, Kick Ball-Change, Shoulder Spin, Toe Heel Spin, Lindy variations, Promenade Walks, Whips, Kick Breaks, Pretzels, Cuddles, Tunnels, and more.

Other music to listen for the basic pattern: Michael Buble, Huey Lewis, Boz Scaggs, Fats Domino, Bobby Darin

Conclusion

As the opening pop song indicates, East Coast Swing music is lively, fun, and energetic – so dancing East Coast Swing should match that feeling. It’s music provides a bouncy feel, which can be found in a variety of music genre – including today’s pop music!

The closing video below is from a competition. A reminder: East Coast Swing is not acrobat as Lindy and what others may think as swing dancing. Because multiple couples are on the floor, you will see many variations – but all are dancing East Coast Swing. Enjoy!

On Multiple Connections

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In November 2014 I posted this collaboration with a photographer around the word connection. Below are a few thoughts from that post.

Connection: A correspondence between two partially ordered sets
Connection: Causal or logical relation or sequence
Connection: A relation of personal intimacy
Connection: A means of communication or transportation
Connection: synonyms including coherence, continuity, link, affinity, association, kinship, liaison, linkage, relation, relationship, union

This past April I wrote a ballroom post about Lead and Follow. Since that post, I continued thinking about the role of connection in ballroom – especially in a social ballroom dance setting. After all, our instructor preaches it! The Lead and Follow post included the following paragraph:

Lead and Follow requires a connection between the partners because that connection is the communication line transmitting signals through a strong frame. With the goal of moving together as one, signals travel through any of the following (or combination of): whole body, core, shoulders, hips, back, elbows, arms, hands, legs, and feet, plus extensions and compressions.

In ballroom there are other connections beyond the physical connection between the dancers:

  • the physical connection between two dancers
  • the connection between dancers and the craft
  • the connection between the dancers and the music
  • the mental connection that some partners have with each other
  • the connections between friends
  • the connection between instructor and students
  • the connection between the feet and the floor – and I imagine a few more.

The music is part of the setting. The music can be traditional ballroom, contemporary, and from a variety of genre. In general, I see three key factors from the music affecting ballroom dance: timing, tempo, and rhythm.

Timing: Whereas waltz music is in 3-4 time (3 beats per measure), the other ballroom dance are in 4-4 time (4 beats per measure.

Tempo: How fast/slow is the music? For instance, Rumba and Bolero music are similar, but Bolero is slower. Viennese Waltz is faster than Ballroom Waltz. Three-count Hustle music is slower than Four-count Hustle. East Coast Swing is faster than West Coast Swing, but not as fast as Lindy.

Rhythm: The background rhythms supporting the music provide the musicality and the feel for the dance. Whereas a friend would say one can dance Tango to Foxtrot music (and vise versa), I say that would be a mismatch between the music and the dance because the background rhythms supporting the music are vastly different – therefore not even close.

Regardless of the place, the music sets a tone – a mood for the dancers to explore. Therefore, different dances provide different moods: Cha cha is playful and sharp. Foxtrot is smooth and classy. Waltz is grace and elegance. Rumba is rhythmic and sultry. Bolero is fluid and romantic. Salsa is lively and party-time. Quickstep is exuberant and glamorous. East Coast Swing is fun and energetic, but West Coast Swing is bluesy and slinky. Tango is strong and edgy, but Argentine Tango is personal and intricate.

Different songs provide different moods. For instance, the elegance of waltz serves to transport the mind to a beautiful place. The beauty of the dance fits with the beauty the music provides. Music comes from many sources – including popular songs. However, not all danceable waltzes set the same mood. Yes, I’m picky on that count – for instance, many country waltzes are for a bar or a barn – not a ballroom.

So to put the two thoughts together. Two dancers with a strong physical connection in their frame and contact points in the presence of the right music, the dance can be special. The dance can be a moment that one may never forget. At the end, the dancers may look into each other’s eyes with special admiration and gratitude for the moment. Now that’s what connection can do in a social ballroom setting.

“Laughter, song, and dance create emotional and spiritual connection; they remind us of the one thing that truly matters when we are searching for comfort, celebration, inspiration, or healing: We are not alone.” (Brené Brown, author)

Below are two scenes from popular movies that you may have seen … and these scenes are about important aspects of connection – well, at least to me. Enjoy, and thanks for reading. Does this make any sense?