2 Weeks to Go!

Anna and I have been working on two new routines to supplement our West Coast Swing routine - a Hustle and a Cabaret routine. Our debut performance date this year is June 11, 2011 where we will perform all three routines at Stardust Dance Weekend in the Catskills.

The New Hustle Routine

20110114-Take-it-off-01One of our new routines is Hustle. For us, this might be the hardest challenge. When we picked music back in January, we knew that it was going to be a musical routine and a test of endurance. The song we picked was Ke$ha's Take It Off which is at 125 beats per minute. We liked the song for its party style energy, strong lyrics, and interesting compositional texture. During our first rehearsal, back on January 14, 2011, we choreographed a solid 45 seconds - which is a good amount.

Erik Novoa makes West Coast Swing the final thought on WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show (guest hosted by Mark Oppenheimer).

Your Public Media (WNPR)On Thursday, April 28, one of my students (thanks Doug) texted me to tell me about a radio program about dance on 88.5. Since I was home, I tried to tune in on the internet but could not find the program about dance. It wasn't until I brought my wife to our local train station when I was able to tune into the car radio and heard the radio broadcast.

WNPR's Colin McEnroe Show was being guest hosted by Mark Oppenheimer. The show entitled "The Elegance (And Pleasure) Of Dancing" was a full range discussion about dance in America. It was so interesting an poignant that I raced back home to hear the final moments at home. Simultaneously, my student had texted the phone number of the radio station to me, perhaps as a subtle suggestion to call in.

Counting out-loud while learning to dance

Counting-while-dancingThere are many ways to help a person achieve a new motor skill such as dancing (especially partner dances like West Coast Swing, Hustle or Salsa). Discussion of rhythm, spatial movement and arithmetic methods are usually combined to create a complete package for someone to understand the new skill. As a teacher, I call it, "picking the lock" of the dance student's brain. I have found out-loud vocalization to be highly effective to get people dancing as quickly as possible.

The act of expressing your physical action through a vocal process is a sophisticated mental game. If it is done, it actually accelerates the learning process and prevents the body from memorizing incorrect movement during the early stages.

In January of 2010, the Norwalk Advocate wrote an article about our free Hustle and West Coast Swing lessons and party for people who are unemployed at Dance Dimensions in Norwalk, CT.

The article illustrates that owner, Erik Novoa, values his dancers even when they have an economic downturn like unemployment.

Review: Hustle and West Coast Swing classes and party in Norwalk, CT

In January of 2010, the Norwalk Citizen wrote an article about our Hustle and West Coast Swing lessons and party at Dance Dimensions in Norwalk, CT. The article featured one of our prominent and long-standing members, Pam Ross. It described her journey into her first West Coast Swing class and how she was impressed by the regular people, wearing jeans, dancing to contemporary music.

Your Brain on Dance

AMNH - Brain the inside story - related to dance

One of the joys of being a teacher is figuring out how a student’s mind works. If I can understand how a student learns both generally and specifically, I can become a more effective teacher. The exhibit called The Brain at the American Museum of Natural History is an indispensible tool for both teachers and students alike. For me it was a game-changer.

Saying "Hello" to the Host

say-helloI've been professionally teaching dance classes and hosting dances in both West Coast Swing & Hustle for the last decade. I have started to notice a trend that many people go to a party or class and do not say, "hello" to the host. I have seen this both at my own dances and at others.

I'm just wondering if people have fallen off the "my mother taught me good manners" wagon? So let's review the appropriate way to enter a party or class:

Pre-Payment for Dances

PrePaymentMany events, both national and local, offer pre-payment discounts for their functions. In the days of yore, people would send in a registration form and a check to hold their places. In the 21st Century, events use online payment methods such as PayPal to over significant discounts from the "at-the-door" rates.

What astounds me is that most people don't use the pre-payment offers, especially the "early bird" rates, and wait until the last possible moment to sign up, even though they are 99.9% certain that they will be attending a function.

The best part (sarcastically said), is that many people will pay significantly more just to have the "option" not to go - just so that they are not financially bound.

Top Dumbest Opening Lines of a Song

Are you dumb?Have any of you actually listened to the music that is played on the radio? Some of the most popular songs have some of the dumbest lyrics. But when the opening verse of the song is so ridiculous or lowbrow, it might say more about us as a listener than the uncreative songwriter.

Here are some of my favorites:

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag? - Fireworks (Katy Perry)

Do you have a first aid kit handy? - Damanged (Danity Kane)

Wake up in the morning feeling like P-Diddy - Tick Tock (Kesha)

Email me some of your favorites

"Black Swan" co-star, Mila Kunis, says, "I will never dance again"

Mila Kunis in Black SwanIn a recent interview by given to W Magazine, Mila Kunis describes part of her experience in the 2010 thriller movie, Black Swan.

As a girl who had never danced before, Mila was thrust into a movie in which ballet - one of most challenging of dance forms - was featured. Mila confesses that she had to train for four months, seven days a week, five hours a day. She expresses her naivety when she though that she could handle pointe shoes simply because she was able to wear an expensive pair of Christian Louboutins high heels.  And in a shocking statement, Mila says that she will never dance again.

This rebuke of dance is simply embarrassing. Hollywood has cast another pretty face to try an capture the spirit, hardship and beauty of an ephemeral art form and what do we get? A quitter!!