Saturday, November 3, 2007

Good tension or a kick in the face?

Good tension between partners in crucial to good dancing in ballroom. Without tension, partners would have no way to communicate with each other. The lead controls the follow by pushing of pulling them, either by the shoulder in closed position or by the arms in open position. But in order for the lead to push the follow, the follow must have resistance or tension. This does not mean the follow should fight the lead and refuse to move, but a little independence never hurt anyone.

In this video Randal Barnes and Rachel Holland demonstrate why have good tension is so important.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Simply Salsa

To me, salsa is one of the best night club dances, its tight, close, casual and fun. By casual I mean that for those of us who don't have or know great technique, salsa still looks pretty good and dances easily. (I know that there are salsa connoisseurs and teachers who are cringing right now- my apologizes). The rhythm is also fairly easy to follow with the music, as salsa utilizes the down beat and falls in even time. This is unlike some other dances like foxtrot which may get off of the down beat for two-thirds of the time. Salsa is known for its use of spins and pretzel-looking moves(technical term :) ), which Justin Nix and Brittany Slonina demonstrate in the video below.

On a side note, you may have noticed that none of the lessons I record from our dancers have any music. This is because of my very new understanding of the strict rules of copyright law and my lack of desire to get busted this semester. Most of the dancers I film are pretty discouraged by this, after all What fun is dancing with out music? But none of the dancers where as determined as Justin, who dances in the next video.

Whipping out his cell phone he asks 'What if I wrote a song and said you could use it?'. 'Of course,' I answer, 'but we are filming now where will you get a song?' For the record, he has no cds, no ipod, no musical instruments only his cell phone, on which he is button mashing as we speak. I stare in curiosity, but seconds in salsa music streams out of the little phone. The music he composed in spare time with an application in his phone is playing merrily. So it is with great glee and amusement I ask you to enjoy the music; Copyright Justin Nix.

Athens Weekly Ballroom Events

If your in the Athens area and your looking to go dancing here is what going on this week.

Friday Night Dance Party - Nov 2
Lesson: Cha cha
Free Lesson at 7 p.m.
Dance Party from 8 p.m. - 10:30
Ramsey Center
Building number 1690
$3 for students $5 for non students

Sunday Night Dance Lesson - Sunday, November 4
Lesson: Waltz
One hour lesson at 7pm; Dancing till 9 pm
Memorial Hall Ballroom
Building Number 0670

Rueda Lesson- Sunday, November 4
(Rueda salsa is like group salsa)
Lesson starts at 6:30 p.m. before the Sunday Night Lesson
Memorial Hall Ballroom

Swing Club - Monday, November 5
Lesson: East coast, West coast, Balboa or lindy hop
Lesson at 8 p.m.
Memorial Hall Ballroom

"Swing & Ladies" - Tuesday, November 6
Lesson: east coast, west coast, Lindy or Charleston
Doors open at 8:30 p.m. - Lesson at 9 p.m.
The Ritz, downtown Athens
$3 cover

Casino Salsa (aka Rueda Salsa)- Tuesday, November 6
Lessons are available
Dancing is from 8-10 p.m.
The Upstairs bar at Transmetropolitan, downtown Athens
$10 cover

"Salsa @ The Ritz" Wednesday, November 7
Lesson: Salsa by Spicy Salsa
Doors open at 8:30 - Lesson 9 p.m.
The Ritz, downtown Athens
$4 Cover

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Dancing in the Dark

Night Clubs are dark for a reason. They serve alcohol for the same reason (besides extraordinary profits): Getting out in to the public and 'shakin' it' like you do in living room is terrifying. Unless of course you know that you are a fabulous dancer or so good looking it doesn't really matter then perhaps the world truly is stage. The rest of us worry a little to much, in all the dancing we do from night club to ballroom, about who is watching and what they are thinking.

But why should we?

Dancing is fun. Grovin' to the music is an universally awesome experience, even if your just bobbing your head to the beat in the car. In Don Baarnes post I Can't Dance Like Nobody's Watching he talks about using his car time to practice isolation exercises and worrying less about anyone taking notice. (You may remember that isolations are key in Latin styling).

When I take a cold, hard look, it’s obvious I shouldn’t care what they think. If I actually continue my exercises, possibly entertaining them and giving them a good laugh, I’m making their world more interesting and improving my dancing. In a way, I’m giving them a gift, even though they may be laughing at me rather than with me....

Think of them telling their friends, “Yeah, I’m sitting in traffic, and this gray-haired guy in his Lexus is grooving to something. I think he was on drugs, or maybe he was having a seizure, I almost called 911, but then I figured out he thought he was dancing and I laughed so hard I had to pull over and wipe the tears from my eyes. This guy is a hoot. Watch for that gray Lexus.”
Baarnes reminds us that dance takes practice, not just practice of the steps or in his case isolations but practice of the spirit. We have to work at letting go, looking dumb, making mistakes and going out of our comfort zones. Not only for the sake of being better dancers, who are focused on our partners and our expression, but for the sake of being better people, who live life more fully and with more joy.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Couldn't get enough of Latin Week--Get some style

Last week's Dancing with The Stars featured the spicy Latin dances, the samba and the rumba. These dances along with cha cha, paso doble, mambo and tango all use basic Latin styling.

While it may seem like Latin styling is just a lot of ‘booty shaking’ it does take a lot of practice to do and look good. The key is to the keep control of your hips and to move fluidly into to each weight change. Most challenging part of styling is that while your hips and legs are moving your upper body is isolated and still. Working your abs to keep to your ribs and hips separated is quite a work out and explains why all those dancers have pretty flat mid sections.

In this video Randall Barnes and Rachel Holland explain the Latin styling from the waist down.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I dip, You dip, We dip

As the music is winding down and the dance is coming to an end, the question becomes How can I stop dancing with out being really awkward? The Answer: The dip. The most classic of dance endings, there are many different variations of the dip. Some have spins before them, while others begin from a sway.

What is important to remember while dipping is the relationship of trust between the two partners. The lead will decide how low the dip will go, by how much support he gives the follow. The follow must commit to the dip by letting go and falling into the lead. However, this does not mean that follow is not holding their own weight in their legs, with out that support the follow will quickly overwhelm their partner with their weight, no matter how light the follow is.

In this video Michael Mitchel and Amanda Melton demonstrate how to dip in Waltz.