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Author Topic: How Dancing Changed This Wily Bird's Life  (Read 7396 times)
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Burgess Penguin
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« on: October 25, 2009, 10:12:26 PM »


And just when you thought you had this bird figured out, he throws a curve-ball at you. One of my other pet passions (besides anything to do with music, 60's Batman and owls) is partner dancing (for me, it's REAL dancing). And how, some may ask, would a person who practices a very complex, intense and cerebral art form like experimental and progressive music be able to turn around and quite comfortably lead a lady through a Foxtrot, Hustle, Swing, Cha-Cha or Rumba on a dance floor? Here, I'll attempt to answer that question and others. But let me start way back when.

AWKWARD BEGINNINGS (CUTTING THROUGH CONCRETE WITH A PLASTIC KNIFE)

I think back to my awkward, insecure teenage years (not uncommon for a lot of folks) in the 70's. Seeing other kids on dance floors was at once inspiring yet intimidating to me, being that I wasn't exactly "Mr. Popularity" in those days. I had a major roadblock of shyness to overcome. It was pretty obvious that women love men who can dance (or at least have the guts to try). I would occasionally venture out in my own awkward way (freestyle). Part of what stopped me was the fear I had of "not looking cool" or whatever. Fast forward to 1984. Now in my 20's, something gnawed at me inside (no, it wasn't an alien parasite, though some wondered LOL). I knew I had to conquer my shyness somehow, and what safer, more nurturing way to accomplish that end than taking dance lessons. Plus, long-term re[peated exposure to the original "Dance Fever" TV show went a long way to motivating me, it all looked like so much fun (and the women dancers were incredibly beautiful I have to admit). The benefits were far greater than I imagined.

THE WALL BEGINS TO CRUMBLE

 I was very fortunate to have a very encouraging teacher named Kim Hayes, who not only got me grounded in the essentials of the major ballroom dances, but also helped me to see learning to dance as a way to build one's confidence around other people, especially with women. The benefits of dancing for me at that stage were: Physically loosening up, good exercise (cardiovascular especially) that was FUN! (Anyone that doesn't think partner dancing is a form of exertion should try doing a fast waltz, believe me, you WILL feel it! I once heard a competition dancer remark that ballroom dancing is like doing an 800 yard dash in dress shoes and evening wear) Socially, it helped me to start getting out of my shell, and learn to be comfortable in my own skin (or plumage in this case LOL) I actually remember my first lesson with Kim, and just how she was able to get me to talk and be more out of myself. In learning to lead steps, it got me to be more assertive. Contrary to what some folks might think, leading in partner dancing IS NOT pushing, shoving and the like. In reality, the leader simply signals and indicates direction through things like hand signals (not always obvious to the casual observer), changes of weight and direction and more. The follower simply reads those signals and moves accordingly. As one gets more comfortable on either end, one can start to improvise and inject one's own personality into the proceedings. sort of like jazz improvisation. I cannot tell you what a pleasure it is when dancing with someone who not only follows your leads, but really puts their own heart and personality into it, which in turn inspires me to be even more creative. one more thing that makes this Owl hoot! Creatively, my learning to dance actually helped me as a musician. Not in the sense that I started writing dance music that sold zillions (I didn't), but rather, it helped me get a far more solid sense of rhythm, time and pacing, even phrasing.

BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE

As my ability and confidence grew, I started to figure out and narrow down what I really liked. Of all the dances I learned, Swing (East AND West Coast) Cha-Cha, Rumba, Hustle and Foxtrot came out the winners for me, and here's why:

Swing (East AND West Coast): For as long as I could remember, I always loved the sound and feel of blues, swing, jump blues, R&B and the like. The dancing was a logical extension of that passion and emotion that came out in the music. East Coast Swing (ECS) appeals to me because of its fun, playful energetic character that utilizes the whole floor (or as much space as allowed by the presence of other dancers). West Coast Swing (WCS) is a somewhat different animal. WCS is done to slower tempo music in a narrow slot. The character of WCS is more slinky and deliberate. Both types of swing are very syncopated, allowing for many cool variations. And contrary to popular belief, the average swing dancer (myself included) DOESN'T do a lot of those acrobatic tossing-the-lady up-in-the-air type moves*. *(STERN NOTE:These acrobatic moves should only be attempted by those who have been properly trained simply for the fact they are dangerous and can cause serious injury or worse if attempted by an amateur)

Cha-Cha: A very passionate, rhythm-heavy syncopated and playful Latin dance that allows one to be very expressive and once you have that rhythm so ingrained in you, it allows for some genuinely exciting creative moves

Hustle: Though big in the 70?s and then dying out for a while, it has made something of a comeback, minus the polyester (THANK GOD!!). One of the reasons it died out for a time was that all the 10-zillion variations that propagated confused people, plus the sadly elitist attitudes of a few kept others away. Secondly, the extreme dominance of disco music on the radio (and the narrow shortsighted thinking of the music biz in general, but I?ll save that for another rant) actually created a backlash that sent it underground for a time. I would call it a classic case of "Too Much Of A Good Thing" that went sour. When formula becomes the order of the day, it’s inevitable that people will grow sick of it and move on. One thing that actually helped gradually bring Hustle back was the rise of House music in the 80's, where that insistent beat was enhanced by some genuinely creative and risk-taking musical sounds, in addition to applying R&B songcraft in some instances. It still continues to this day. In the current landscape, Hustle has become more standardized in how it's taught, alleviating a lot of confusion for those who venture to try. A lot more cool moves have been added as well. Dancers are just as comfortable dancing to House music as much as the old disco classics of yore (also to note, a lot of people nowadays prefer ANYTHING to the same 10 or 15 songs that got played to death ad-nauseum back in the 70's) But to my original point. Why do I like Hustle? Very simply, its gliding soaring feel (should this bird-like attribute surprise you?) with all the fancy spins, wraps and twirls make it really fun for a guy to lead, and it gives the lady a chance to really shine as well (provided of course she isn’t prone to dizziness or needs a lot of Dramamine while dancing- LOL)

Rumba: A very expressive, romantic Latin dance. I tend to think of this as the Latin version of the Waltz. Characterized by a quick-quick-slow rhythm and undulating moves, this is a very well-loved dance for many.

Foxtrot: There must be a romantic fool in me somewhere. How many people can resist gliding around the floor leading a beautiful lady to the sounds of Tony Bennett or Frank Sinatra as she looks at you adoringly. I most certainly cannot resist, not only the gliding aspect, (appealing to my inner-bird) but the grand sweeping variations that are possible are great fun as well!


 I'm also occasionally prone to some Salsa (which is also great fun), and an occasional Tango or Waltz if I feel really adventurous and sufficiently persuaded by an understanding partner (this is a tough one to learn). I have to admit, I never much cared for Quickstep (just waaaayyyyy too corny and old-fashioned for me, and besides I NEVER liked 2/2 cut-time in music).


CONCLUDING THOUGHTS (WITH THE LADY DOING A COUNTERCLOCKWISE FREE-SPIN INTO A DIP)

As time went on and I became more confident and competent as a social dancer (I don’t compete), more thoughts occurred to me why I like it so much: It’s an established fact that for humans to be mentally and spiritually healthy, we need regular physical contact and touch. Social Dancing provides that for a lot of people in a safe non-threatening environment (Note: Asking someone to dance is NOT asking to have a serious relationship with the person, rather it is asking, "Would you spend a few moments on the dance floor with me in a spirit of fun, friendship and social interaction?") Dancing is known to be very healing emotionally and spiritually. I can speak from experience, dancing helped me stay emotionally and spiritually stable through some very challenging times in my life and lifted my spirits like nothing else could. The interaction with other people is just the most wonderful thing one can experience
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elisedance
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2009, 02:29:55 AM »

Well thats quite the opening salvo!!  The next post will have to have chapters CheesyTongue

Thanks for that - an anazing insight into what makes a dancer tick.... we should probably all try to write the same.
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« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2010, 08:43:22 PM »

Been a while since I've posted in this spot, but here goes:

  • 2010 has turned out to be a year of great promise and change for me. After getting laid off last December from a corporate job that in reality I was VERY miserable with towards the end, and spinning my wheels job hunting  and living out the classic layman's definition of insanity for a bit, I finally came to the realization that I needed to pursue a path of self-employment that would bring me much satisfaction and make use of my skills with music, video editing CD/DVD design and the like. So to that end, I started my own business, 4 The Boids Multi Media Services. Not making as much as I was in the corporate world at the start, but I am SOOO much happier and healthier for it!   http://4theboids.wordpress.com
  • Lost 13 pounds as of this writing, by changing eating habits and LOTS of dancing!
  • I Added significantly to my dance repertoire, now doing Tango and after YEARS of aversion and frustration, FINALLY got the hang of West Coast Swing, learning more Waltz stuff of late too!
  • In the end, I really have enjoyed turning 50 this year and digging into life like never before!
« Last Edit: October 04, 2010, 02:24:01 AM by Burgess Penguin » Logged

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elisedance
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« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2010, 08:50:13 PM »

Fantastic BP - I think you are an inspiration to all of us to grab life by the, well, frame Cheesy
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QPO
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2010, 12:46:01 AM »

yes congrats to you. It is so wonderful to turn that dorner and now that you path to self discovery has been worthwhile. I wish you success for the futre may it continue to inspire you.
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« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2012, 11:23:10 AM »

And even more developments have transpired since I last wrote in this section.   Grin

Sometimes the very thing you desire deep within you yet are not consciously looking for has a way of finding you anyway.  Have to admit, more times than not, I dreamed that one day I would meet my soulmate/special someone while dancing, imagine that! For some time I began to write off the idea as a pipe-dream or delusional thinking. But then, in August of 2010, I asked what had to be the most stunningly beautiful lady in the room one Sunday afternoon for a Waltz. It was one of the most enjoyable Waltzes I ever experienced, made doubly so by her beautiful smile and her gorgeous hazel eyes. She showered me with compliments about my dancing and my leading in particular.  I have to admit I was really taken and drawn in by her warmth and friendliness.

Gradually over the course of the ensuing year, she and I became more and more friendly, we danced together more and more and a chemistry and naturalness was in fact brewing. Dancing with her just felt so beautifully natural, unforced and not a trace of awkwardness to be found. Our Waltzes felt nothing short of divine, Tango became a real favorite of ours as did Rumba! And we had many laughs over the occasional One-Step  Grin

As it went on, I found myself starting to be intrigued by her, starting to have feelings for her, but yet, I was riddled by a number of thoughts like, "Is it wise to have feelings for her at all?" or wondering if I had even the remotest chance with her. Outwardly, the odds seemed against me, but little did I know. I did notice that as time went on, she became more and more affectionate with me, in a genuinely enjoyable way that was never overbearing or obnoxious. Some of our fellow dancers even took pics of us together.

It took some time before I finally started to summon up the courage to ask her to dinner with me one night, but one fateful Friday evening in December of 2011 at a Two-Step/WCS event, a door was kicked wide open, by her! Since our favorite Sunday afternoon dance wasn't happening that week, she asked me if I'd like to come over to her house and have lunch and watch a movie. Needless to say, I think a few brain cells got fried in the utter shock of it, but once over the initial shock, I happily accepted her invitation.   

Well, that following Sunday afternoon was a major turning point is this boid's life. Arriving at her home (a beautiful split-level she bought back in the early 90's and had turned into a personalized masterpiece) I was truly floored. After a delicious lunch of BBQ chicken sandwiches, we retreated to the TV room to watch "Crossing Delancey", a longtime favorite movie of mine and a first time viewing for her, she rather enjoyed it! The time after that was just sheer heaven for both of us, talked lots, much cuddling and such and by that evening, somehow, I found the courage  to tell her how special she was to me and I was indeed falling in love with her after all this time. I was relieved and delighted at the same time to find out she felt that same way. What really floored me was the fact she said she liked me from the moment she met me and wanted to give it time. In fact, our patience paid off in a major way. For the first time in this boid's life, it felt natural to tell her "I love you". The both of us felt this grand sense of "It Was Meant To Happen" . The craziest thing was, some years ago, I had a wonderful dream one night about being in love with someone of stunning beauty, and here's the kicker, that lady in the dream looked EXACTLY like the beautiful lady I love in real life.

I was floored by how much we had in common on and off the dance floor and found the journey of getting to know each other so wonderful and fun. We went out for some dancing one evening at a studio holiday party and it was just magical. It all felt like a dream or an old movie but it was really happening. I'll never forget one particular moment in mid-Waltz her adoring gaze and her smile and her saying "I Love You" in the most beautiful lilting way I've ever heard. And a Sunday afternoon dance was even more so, first time I've ever danced by a Christmas tree with someone special. 

She did a bunch of traveling over the holidays but we kept in close contact and absence sure did make this heart grow fonder. In between trips, we celebrated each others birthdays together, which was much fun.

Hard to believe it's been a month gone by already but to say we're like 2 kids madly in love would be an understatement. And of course, this is all punctuated with LOTS of dancing together.

I couldn't be happier.
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elisedance
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« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2012, 08:51:44 PM »

thank you so much for sharing this BP.  really made my day.  congrats to you too and keep on shimmyin' down the boards.. Smiley
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QPO
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2012, 12:15:28 AM »

I am so happy for you and you are right, you hve to be ready and believe that it will happen for it to happen......good luck and enjoy the next part of your journey.
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elisedance
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2012, 05:33:00 AM »

Is this the lovely lady in question? Smiley
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKg8h0PPqB8&feature=youtu.be

(saw you on FB)
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2012, 06:57:59 AM »

lovely...
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Burgess Penguin
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2012, 06:11:37 PM »

That is us indeed!
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Dancing - The BEST exercise in the world and A LOT prettier than going to the gym, and CHEAPER than a therapist!

elisedance
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2012, 06:21:37 PM »

That is us indeed!

Very sweet Smiley  Smiley 
Now were is that love topic...

Ah, here it is..
http://partnerdanceonline.com/index.php?topic=47.0

Grin
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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2013, 01:50:01 AM »

.  That s an awesome love story.  Your video is gone from FB or Youtube or wherever it was, but I can still visualize.  (Quoting song from fave movie...) "Young people in looove ... "

Very nice.  Thanks for sharing.Smiley
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