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?

On Bolero

For appropriate background music, click the video above for. You will have to stop it for the other videos.

 

Bolero – a style of music that is not music for Bolero the dance. For instance, Ravel’s Boléro is not meant for dancing a Bolero

Bolero – a slow dance to Latin music

Bolero – a dance with expressions through the arms, hands, legs, feet and face

Bolero – a fluid, slinky dance with rise-and-fall plus contra body movement (the upper and lower body slighting twisting in opposite directions)

If Cha-Cha is the tease and Rumba is foreplay, Bolero is the act of love

Image from ballroomdancers.com

 

History
Dance historians credit Spanish dancer Sebastian Cereza for creating Bolero in 1780

Bolero originally danced in 3/4 time

When Bolero music reached Cuba in the mid-1800s, it fused with African music and the timing changed to 2/4 or 4/4

Bolero originally a dance for a couple, but later adapted for large group choreography (which helped spread its popularity)

Bolero introduced America in the mid-1930s

Spanish and Cuban Bolero forms still exist today

Cuban Bolero (aka Bolero Son and International Rumba) is similar to American Ballroom Rumba, that is slightly faster than Bolero

 

Basic Steps
Bolero – a popular social ballroom dance, but also a competitive dance in American Rhythm ballroom

Bolero – danced in 4/4 time, usually at 96-104 beats per minute (slow than the Cuban Bolero in the previous video)

Basic pattern consists of six steps over two measures of music (eight beats)

Bolero’s basic pattern is as follows: (Note: Slow = two beats, Quick = one beat) Slow-Quick-Quick-Slow-Quick-Quick … (repeat)

1) Partners facing each other in standard ballroom hold

2) Bodies lower before a large, lunging step to the side (lead to the left, follower to the right), then raising on the second beat after the weight transfer (2 counts, slow)

3) Two rock steps follow (1 count each, quick-quick) that are smaller than the large side step. (Lead goes back then forward, the follower forward then back). Lowering for the next sequence occurs on the second small step.

4) Repeat the large, side step in the opposite direction.

5) Repeat the two rock steps (also opposite as below).

Watching this video will make more sense to the abbreviated written instructions.

 

When danced well, Bolero is a beautiful dance. With its long, fluid motions to go along with the music’s slow tempo, Bolero is full of expression, drama, and passion. The smooth, gliding, twisting actions, and accompanying rise and fall help make Bolero the beautiful dance of love. Enjoy the high-quality Bolero in the video below.

On Let’s Swing

When thinking about the emerging music of the 1920s and 30s in the USA, swing music come to mind. The initial craze led into the Big Band era that 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, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, swing has maintained a presence for many years.

Even within a generation, not all swing music is the same. Different music with different rhythms at different tempos also means different dances. Swing dance broke the rules of dance as it was fast, loose, and free … so the purpose of this post is to examine a few of the mainstays of swing dance.

Lindy Hop
Lindy Hop’s roots a traced back to the Harlem community of New York City, and influential dancer George “Shorty” Snowden. Life was a buzz with Charles Lindbergh’s successful solo flight over the Atlantic, and his name became attached to many things.

The dance, a fusion of Charleston and Foxtrot, moved out of Harlem and became popular – and also took on another name – the Jitterbug. Interestingly, this dance remains popular today – especially in clubs specializing in Lindy Hop/Jitterbug. Enjoy this classic movie clip that includes dance legend Frankie Manning.

 

Jive
As a variation of Lindy Hop, Jive became popular in the late 1930s, then American GIs took the dance to Europe. Although variations as boogie-woogie, swing boogie, and modern jive exist, today’s jive is a competitive ballroom dance.

 

East Coast Swing
East Coast Swing evolved as a simpler version of Lindy – that is, East Coast was easier to do and easier to teach. Arthur Murray Dance Studios were instrumental in popularizing this dance, which also became part of the competitive ballroom dance circuit.

Because of tempo variations in the music, one could subdivide this dance into single-time swing (fastest music, slower steps), double-time swing, and triple-time swing (slowest music, fastest steps).

 

West Coast Swing
With a Lindy style that was more anchored and whippy, dancer Dean Collins left Harlem and took the Lindy Hop to the California. From this, West Coast Swing developed into a slotted dance where dancers are either on or off the slot (track). West Coast Swing music is typically slower than East Coast Swing music with more of a smooth, blues, R&B, cool jazz sound. This video involves two good dancers dancing improv (not choreographed).

 

Shag
As another variation of swing that developed from the upbeat music of the 1930s. Shag developed in the African-American communities of the Carolinas, and then spread across the country. DIfferent variations include Collegiate, Carolina, and St. Louis. This video is interesting because is uses multiple dancers.

Swing dance isn’t limited to the above as other variations include Balboa (Bal), Rock and Roll, Western Swing, Imperial Swing, Jazz Dance Swing, Rock and Roll Swing, Acrobatic Rock and Rock, Washington Hand Dancing, Push and Whip, DC Swing, and Charleston. Even in competitive dance, American Style Ballroom Swing is different that International Style Ballroom Swing.Swing dance is also the foundation other modern dances as disco and country line dancing.

Speaking of line dances, let’s end the post with a classic. Shim Sham originally appeared as a tap routine in Harlem during the 1930s – but it morphed into a swing dance, then into a line dance for today’s swing dancers. Let’s bring back the great Frankie Manning for some Shim Sham.

Any favorites? Which of these do you wish you could do? Better yet, can you dance any of these swings?

Which of these dances should have its own dedicated post?

On a Close Encounter of …

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I recall hearing and reading about the hub-bub between John Hurley and Kelly Monaco in Season 1 of Dancing With The Stars (DWTS) – but I didn’t watch. As a sports fan, having ESPN anchor Kenny Mayne in the Season 2 cast caught my attention – so my wife and I watched DWTS for the first time on January 5, 2006.

We watched the entire show. The next day was the results show, and my wife asked, “Don’t you want to see what happens?” I had seen the first night with Kenny, and that was good enough, but she was curious – so we watched the elimination of Kenny Mayne.

Season 22 (of the 2 seasons per year) starts later this month. Since that first episode we watched, DWTS was the first domino that led us into the world of ballroom dance. We’re still watching the show and still dancing. Who knows how much money we’ve spent on lessons, dances, and shoes – at least I can blame Kenny Mayne.

Long-time watchers may remember Season 2 as it included guests Drew Lachey (a Cincinnatian who won), Stacey Keibler, Jerry Rice, Lisa Rinna, Tia Carrere, George Hamilton, Tatum O’Neill, Giselle Fernandez, and Master P, It also introduced us to professional dancers Tony Dovolani, Maksim Chmerkovsky, Louis Van Amstel, Cheryl Burke, Anna Trebunskaya, and Edyta Śliwińska – the Polish-born dancer who easily catches the eye. Besides, many of us would love an opportunity to dance with the partner of our choice …. Just once! Did you hear that Edyta? Anna? Sharna? Peta?

To those of us old enough to remember the variety shows on television, DWTS is a blend of a reality show of today and the variety shows of yesteryear – especially on the Results Show when top artists perform – such as this appearance by Michael Bublé in Season 9.

Like any business, dance studios aim at making a profit. Every studio has their way of increasing sales, which may include providing coaching sessions. The “coach” is usually an experienced dancer/teacher from out-of-town who is part of a normal lesson – of course with an extra fee. Yes, coaches are an outside perspective providing a new set of eyes for suggestions, but it’s never interested us – after all, we are social dancers who don’t compete.

As part of one of the sales promotions are our current studio, we earned the right for a drawing – and what did my wife select? … a free coaching session. We talked with our regular instructor about the upcoming coaching possibilities, so we selected Agnes. Plus, I took a group class with her last year, so I knew she had a pleasant demeanor … as well as being an attractive woman. (At least I’m honest.) 😉

Early this past February, we had our coaching with Agnes. A wonderful lesson – and I had a few steps with her. In our chit-chat time, I discovered that she’s Polish and now lives in Los Angeles … but why I didn’t wonder if she knew Edyta is beyond me! After all, look at the connections – Polish, dancer, Los Angeles.

Two weeks later, my wife was gone on her girls’ cruise – which meant too much time on my hands – so I searched Agnes. On her website I discovered her personal story of dance and journey to the USA – her dance accomplished as a winner or finalist in the most prestigious dance competitions, and her appearances on Dancing With The Stars.

WHAT? I had in my arms and danced a few steps with someone who has been on the show! My wife and I had a coaching lesson with someone who probably knows cast members – including Edyta! … and yes … in the video above, that was Agnes and her partner dancing to Michael Bublé … and odds are, we watched that episode!

With YouTube doing what it does, I saw other videos, of Agnes and her partner Urs … including the entertaining, unique dance video below that demonstrates grace, variety, speed, strength, versatility, control, and probably more. TIP: After watching up to 2:50, save yourself time by forwarding to 4:50 … and enjoy watching the lady I think of as my Close Encounter of the Dance Kind.

Dance: The Musical – The Song List

With Sky: The Musical underway, thought it was time for the song list from the previous musical. A reminder that Act 2 (of Sky) is Tuesday at 9:30 pm (Eastern US). See the Hear Ye page for more information.

Compared to other musicals, Dance: The Musical was short – only four acts. From in-the-title keywords as dance, dances, dancing, dancers, compound words with dance, to types of dances, the contributors to this blog provided 165 songs. This is a wonderful list, thus perfect for a playlist.

Enjoy the list … and thanks for participating to make Dance: The Musical a smashing success.

DancePlaybillAct 1: Dance (48 songs)
Dance to the Music (Sly and the Family Stone)
Dance Dance Dance (Beach Boys)
Dance the Night Away (Cream)
Dance Me to the End of Love (Leonard Cohen)
I Can’t Dance Ants in My Pants (Louis Jordan)
When We Dance (Sting)
Dance With the One Who Brought You (Shania Twain)
She Just Wants to Dance (Keb Mo)
I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Whitney Houston)
Dance the Night Away (Van Halen)

Let’s Dance (Chris Montez)
Do You Wanna Dance (Bette Midler, Bobby Freeman)
The Mummer’s Dance (Loreena McKennett)
Zorba’s Dance (André Rieu)
Dance Naked (John Mellencamp)
Mary Jane’s Last Dance (Tom Petty)
Last Dance (Donna Summer)
Dance With My Skeletons (Erik Tyler)
Dance With My Father (Luther Vandross)
Your Mama Don’t Dance (Loggins & Messina)
Let’s Face the Music and Dance (Nat King Cole)

I Can’t Dance (Genesis)
Dance on a Volcano (Genesis)
Dance (While The Music Still Goes On) (Abba)
Let’s Dance (David Bowie)
Take Off Your Clothes When You Dance (Frank Zappa)
Dance Into the Light (Phil Collins)
Dance Some More (Mango Groove)
Shall We Dance (King and I)
Dance Dance Dance (Neil Young)
Shut Up and Dance (Walk the Moon)
I Don’t Dance (High School The Musical)
Dance Tonight (Paul McCartney)

Dance On Little Girl (Paul Anka)
Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow (Paula Abdul)
Don’t Forget to Dance (Kinks)
Dance Little Sister (Rolling Stones)
Dance Ballerina Dance (Nat King Cole)
All She Wants To Do Is Dance (Don Henley)
Save the Last Dance For Me (The Drifters)
Bailamos (Shall We Dance) (Enrique Eglasias)
Dance Again (Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull)
Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)
Square Dance (Eminem)
Baila Esta Cumbia This (Dance Cumbia) Selena
I Don’t Wanna Dance (Eddy Grant)
Just Dance (Lady Gaga)
Dance on the Bayou (Mamou)

Act 2: Dancing (34 songs)
Dancing in the Dark (Ray Conniff)
Dancin’ Fool (Guess Who)
Dancin’ Fool (Frank Zappa)
Dancing Machine (Jackson 5)
I Don’t Feel Like Dancin; (Scissor Sisters)
Dancin Shaggin on the Boulevard (Alabama)
Dancing Queen (ABBA)
Dancing in the Street (Martha & the Vandellas/Mike Jagger & David Bowie)
You Should Be Dancing (Bee Gees)
John, I’m Only Dancing (David Bowie)
Dancin’ Man (Fred Astaire)

You Make Me Feel Like Dancing (Leo Sayer)
Dancing Mood (Dave Brubeck)
Dancing Barefoot (Simple Minds)
Dancing In The Rain (Hillary Weeks)
Heads Were Dancing (Kate Bush)
Dancing With the Moonlight Knight (Genesis)
Dancing Shoes (Dan Fogelberg)
When We Are Dancing (Louis Armstrong)
I was Slow Dancing in a Burning Room (John Mayer)
Dancing in the Moonlight (King Harvest)
Dancin’ Party (Chubby Checker)

Dancing On The Ceiling (Lionel Richie)
Come Out Dancin’ (Ricky Nelson)
Slow Dancing (Willie Nelson)
Dancing on the Jetty (INXS)
I Wanna Be a Dancin’ Man (Johnny Mercer and Harry Warren)
Dancing Cheek to Cheek (Irving Berlin, from the movie Top Hat)
Attitude Dancing (Carly Simon)
Dancing in the Dark (Bruce Springsteen)
King Crimson: Lady Of The Dancing Water (King Crimson)
I’m Just a Dancing Partner (The Platters)
Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (Ultravox)
How Could We Still Be Dancin’ (Brian Wilson w/ Elton John)

Act 3: Dancers (31 songs)
Dance Hall Days (Wang Chung)
Private Dancer (Tina Turner)
Tiny Dancer (Elton John)
Slow Dancer (Boz Scaggs)
Little Gandy Dancer (Bachman-Turner Overdrive)
Dance Ballerina Dance (Nat King Cole)
Ballroom Dancing (Paul McCartney)
Flashdance … What a Feeling (Irene Cara)
Claire de Lune/Ballerina (Styx)

Fancy Dancer (Commodores)
If I Were a Dancer (Rolling Stones)
Music Box Dancer (Frank Mills)
The Ballroom Blitz (The Sweet)
Nina, Pretty Ballerina (Abba)
Disco Dancer (Devo)
Land of 1000 Dances (Wilson Pickett)
Dancers in Love (Duke Ellington)
Dancer and the Moon (Blackmore’s Night)
For a Dancer (Jackson Browne)
Blood on the Dance Floor (Michael Jackson)
Ballerina Girls (Lionel Richie)

My Wife The Dancer (Engelbert Humperdinck)
Dance Floor (Kylie Minogue)
Lonely Ballerina (Michele McLaughlin)
Dancehall Queen (Beenie Man & Lady Saw)
Moondance (Michael Buble/ Van Morrison)
Ballerina (Van Morrison)
Black Satin Dancer (Jethro Tull)
Death of the Disco Dancer (The Smiths)
Riverdance (Bill Whelan)
Spanish Dancer (Stevie Winwood)

Act 4: The Dances (52 songs)
Lambada (Kaoma)
Do the Freddie (Freddie and the Dreamers)
The Bunny Hop (Lawrence Welk)
The Funky Chicken (Rufus Thomas)
Boot Scootin’ Boogie (Brooks and Dunn)
Electric Slide (Marcia Griffiths)
Chicken Dance
Macarena (Los del Rio)
Harlem Shake (Baauer)
The Locomotion (Grand Funk Railroad)
Wobble Baby (V.I.C)
Jitterbug (Cab Calloway)

Jamaican Rumba (Percy Faith Orchestra)
Do the Hustle! (Van McCoy)
The Stroll (The Diamonds)
Zydeco Boogaloo (CJ Chenier)
Tick-Tock Polka (Frankie Yankovic)
Tango Flamenco (Armik)
Bossa Nova (Estopa)
Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy (Andrew Sisters)
Carlito Samba (Andy Fortuna)
Samba Do DJ (Art Popular)
Mashed Potato Time (Dee Dee Sharp)
Conga (Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine)
Disco Lies (Moby)

Swing Little Girl (Charles Chaplin)
The Charleston (Green Hill Instrumental)
Mambo No. 5 (Lou Bega)
Begin the Beguine (Cole Porter)
Jumpin’ Jive (Cab Calloway and the Nicholas Brothers)
Dark Waltz (Hayley Westenra)
Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits)
Time Warp (Rocky Horror Picture Show)
The Twist (Chubby Checker)
Gangnam Style (Psy)
Gutter Ballet (Savatage)
Tango Bolero (Hans Bund)
The Rich Man’s Frug (a Bob Fosse production)
Do the Bus Stop (Fatback Band)

Amethyst Quickstep (Marc Reift Orchestra)
Monster Mash” by Bobby Boris Pickett & the Crypt-Kickers
Zorba’s Dance
Camilia Slow Foxtrot (Marc Reift Orchestra)
Rain Dance – Guess Who
Wah Watusi (The Orlons)
The Bop (Ms. Bop)
Breakdance (Irene Cara)
Do the Limbo Dance (David Hasselhoff)
Cowboy Cumbia (Javier de Molina)
Cha Cha Slide (Mr. C the Slide Man)
Cha Cha Gabriel (Jimmy Bosch)
Dancin’, Shaggin’ on the Boulevard (Alabama)

Dance: The Musical – Act 2: Dancing

The Story

Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is no mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself. (Havelock Ellis, psychologist)

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. (T. S. Eliot, poet)

The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing. (James Brown, musician – the Godfather of Soul)

I got started dancing because I knew it was one way to meet girls. (Gene Kelly, actor/dancer)

The main thing is dancing, and before it withers away from my body, I will keep dancing till the last moment, the last drop. (Rudolf Nureyev, dancer)

I have no desire to prove anything by dancing. I have never used it as an outlet or a means of expressing myself. I just dance. I just put my feet in the air and move them around. (Fred Astaire, dancer)

DancePlaybillProgram (Past Posts)
Act 1: Dance

Act 2: Dancing
Dance is a rhythmic action to music, but it’s also an event where the action occurs. Then again, from the time we most-likely first danced on someone’s lap, one can dance anywhere – around the house, down the aisles of the grocery store, or wherever one desires.

Those who do it well, dance with style while expressing a message. For others, dancing is a fun activity because it brings them joy.

Act 2 features songs with Dancing or Dancin’ in the title.

Caution: No duplicate songs, which includes the same song by a different artist.

Production Note
To prevent browsers crashing from loading too many videos, please 1) include the song title and artist in your text, and 2) paste the URL as part of your last line (not a new line). The latter will provide a link, thus not embed the actual video … but I don’t mind unembedding, so apologies are not necessary.

Announcement
No matter the skill level, dancing is an expression for the dancer. Opening an act with an instrumental, but Act 2 is about dancing. Ladies and gentlemen, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to honor a dancing legend for the opener. Enjoy not only Dancing in the Dark by Ray Conniff (which is from the movie Band Wagon), but also the expression by Cyd Charisse and Fred Astaire.

On Quickstep

Quickstep – not the passion of Tango, not the aristocracy of Viennese Waltz, not the sexyness of Bolero – but Quickstep’s characteristics are quick, joyful, energetic, light-hearted, smooth, glamorous, flowing, cheerful, graceful, exuberant, playful, weightless, spontaneous, and carefree

The History
Music of the 1920s played the slow-Foxtrot too fast – thus Quickstep became the faster version

Roots lie in the strides of Foxtrot and the quickness of Charleston, but without the kicks

Quickstep is also influenced by dances Shag, Peabody, & One-Step, plus ragtime music

Quickstep called “the QuickTime Foxtrot and Charleston” at a 1927 dance competition

Performed in Ziegfeld Follies (Running Wild) in 1923

The Dance
Quickstep – the fastest tempo of all the ballroom dances

Appears dancers’ feet are barely touching the ground

Quickstep is danced in 4/4 time

Dancers stay in hold (no breaks)

The movement of the dance is fast and powerfully flowing and sprinkled with syncopation

Quickstep moves across the floor with quick steps, quarter turns, chasses, hops, runs, pivots, tipples, fish tails, swivels

Quickstep and it’s music are both happy and lively

The Basics
Quickstep involves fast movement, but the basic pattern is easy to learn

The basic pattern progresses down the floor in a zigzag pattern

The basic rhythm is slow-quick-quick-slow or slow-slow-quick-quick

Repeating pattern: slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, slow, quick quick, slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, etc

Quick is one beat, slow is two beats

Heel leads on forward steps important

Both the leader and follower should maintain an upright posture throughout the dance

The basic, but with a spin-turn for corners

Closing
Quickstep is not for everyone because it’s not an easy dance. However, there’s no doubt that the audience loves watching Quickstep at its finest.