DANCE TIPS FOR DANCE STEPS
MOVIE REVIEW: My Fair Lady (1964 film)
The film My Fair Lady is an adaptation of the musical My Fair Lady and the play Pygmalian by George Bernard Shaw. It was released in 1964 and has had immense success. In 2006 it was ranked #8 in the American Film Institute's list of 25 greatest musicals.
The story begins in Covent Garden, London, where Eliza Doolittle (Audrey Hepburn) is selling flowers. Professor Higgins (Rex Harrison), who is a phonetic specialist, is there studying English accents and ends up making a bet with his friend, Colonel Pickering, that he can transform Eliza into a duchess simply by teaching her to speak properly. From there the stage is set and the fun begins.
From a dancer's perspective there's a lot to appreciate in this movie - there are even a couple of ballroom dance scenes. The first occurs in Higgins' study when Eliza finally begins to make some big progress in her speech. Higgins, Pickering and Eliza are so elated that they end up dancing all over the room. A few tango steps here, a few paso doble steps there and Eliza is swept off her feet by the music and romance.
This scene gives a glimpse of an awakening in her of some new feeling for Higgins as revealed in the next song I Could Have Danced All Night. While it's not really a song for ballroom dancing, it is a fantastic expression of the joy and magic of dance, and is especially uplifting and inspiring.
The other ballroom dance scene in the movie occurs at the Embassy Ball when Eliza dances first with the prince of Transylvania and then with Higgins. The first dance is a classic Viennese Waltz and the ballroom is infused with the elegance and romance of that music and that age. It is a fantastic vision of a time when ballroom dancing as we know it was in its infancy. There is also a tango in this scene that highlights some basic tango steps. Experienced dancers will be delighted with not only the mood of the ball in general, but also that real dance steps and real dancers are a big part of that mood.
There are innumerable good reasons to see My Fair Lady. It is simply one of the greatest movies ever. The fact that it has some great dance scenes is just a bonus for ballroom dancing fans.
Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.
MOVIE REVIEW: Shall We Dansu? (Original Japanese version)
Shall We Dance is the story of how learning to dance changes the life of an ordinary man. This original version is set in Japan and was released in 1997.
The movie starts with the main character, Sugiyama, riding the subway home from work. Sugiyama has a good wife, a good job and has just bought the house of his dreams for his family. With all his apparent success, however, he still finds himself unfulfilled and basically bored with his life. Looking out from the subway window he is intrigued to see a beautiful woman gazing out of the window of a ballroom dance studio. He is captivated and gathering his courage he joins the dance classes to find out more about her. What he finds when he gets there is that the excitement, energy and fun of ballroom dancing is what he was really missing.
One of the best things about this movie is the insightful, empathetic and hilarious portrayal of the process of learning to dance. From his first dance steps to his first competition we feel Sugiyama's pain as he struggles with the limits and restrictions of his own body. Anyone who has ever taken ballroom dancing lessons will really understand that pain and also the victory of finally getting it. Anyone who hasn't will probably want to get in on the action ASAP!
In addition to the physical and mental challenges we see, Shall We Dance also paints a tremendously accurate and sensitive picture of the emotional challenge of learning to dance. Partnership problems, self-consciousness, embarrassment, disappointment, and the fear of failure are big challenges for Sugiyama and the other characters in this movie, as they are for every dancer. Sugiyama's journey of learning to dance, however, is also a journey of friendship, love and finding joy and meaning in life. Shall we Dance understands the challenge of ballroom dancing, but ultimately this is a movie that celebrates the good things that learning to dance can be.
The thing that really makes Shall we Dance a special movie though, is the overall tone and feel - it's down to earth, warm and very funny. Sugiyama has a quiet elegance that brings real dignity to the movie while his friends and classmates are fun, original characters that help bring out the laughs. Shall we Dance is never elitist, pretentious or weird - it is simply a charming story that will bring a smile to your face. The fact that it's a Japanese movie only makes it more endearing.
Against the backdrop of a culture where ballroom dancing is laughed at as a pastime for perverts and showgirls, Shall we Dance describes ballroom dancing with humour, grace and respect. It is a wonderful movie and certainly one that every ballroom dancer will cherish. If you haven't seen it do yourself a favor and put it on your list.
Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.
MOVIE REVIEW: Shall We Dansu? (Original Japanese version)
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 1/04/2007 11:05:00 PM
Floorcraft Etiquette for Ballroom Dancers
From crowded restaurants to social dances to the most prestigious competitive venues, the challenge of getting around a dance-floor and avoiding other dancers is a big part of ballroom dancing. No matter who your are, if you spend enough time on the dance-floor, collisions and accidents with other dancers are inevitable.
So what's a dancer to do? Well, whether you have just learned your first steps or you're a 5-time champion, handling these situations with grace and courtesy marks a truly mature and complete dancer. Here are a few tips to help you avoid collisions and to handle them properly when they do happen:
- If you are passing other dancers, it is generally your responsibility to avoid them. In a social situation it is often the more experienced dancers who are moving most quickly around the line of dance, and therefore have the most responsibility for avoiding collisions. Beginner dancers usually don't know as many dance steps and therefore don't have as many options to get out of the way. No matter who you are though, don't be afraid to stop or just mark time. Trying to squeeze steps past someone without enough room is never a good idea.
- That said, it is also a good idea for beginner dancers to try to stay out of the flow of traffic. Generally this means moving towards the middle of the dance-floor which allows more advanced dancers room to move around the outside of the floor. If you have just learned your first steps or are practising a new move, move to a corner or the middle of the room.
- If you do have a collision it is common courtesy for both couples to apologize and leave all ill will behind them. Realize that as annoying as an unexpected crash can be, it is almost never completely one couples fault. A genuine concern for the other couple and a sincere apology from both parties is the most courteous and desirable outcome.
In the end my best suggestion is to keep your head up, your eyes open, and your smile ready!
Dancing For Dessert offers online dance instructions for all ballroom dance styles. Learn dance steps for salsa, swing, foxtrot, waltz, tango, rumba, cha cha, and wedding dances. Our online dance lessons will have you dancing with confidence and ease.
Wedding Dance Tips and Advice
The idea of the first dance affects people in different ways. Some people are anxious to take the floor and bask in the glow of their big moment. Others want to stay as far away from the dance floor as possible. Whether you can't stand the idea of your first dance or can't wait to get it going, being organized and prepared is the key to success. Here are a few more things to consider as you think about learning your wedding dance.
Think about your dress length before you get too carried away imagining spins and dips. If you have a long train you might be more likely to spin into a heap on the floor! Choose dance steps that are suitable to your dress. It is a really good idea to practice your dance wearing your crinoline or another dress of similar length and weight. If your dress is really long you might want to consider changing out of it for your dance, or just doing something really simple.
Again it is a good idea to practice in the shoes you will be wearing on the day. If your shoes are more slippery or sticky than you are used to, it could make a big difference. For more information about ballroom dance shoes read our article Why should I buy ballroom dance shoes.
Again it's always best to know what to expect. It is a good idea to find out in advance how big your floor will be and find a place to practice that is comparable. If your dance-floor is tiny, you don't want to have a plan that takes up a lot of space.
As with anything in life, practice and preparation are essential keys to success. The more ornate and developed your vision is, the more time you will need to make it happen. If you want an elaborate dance, it is probably a good idea to start working on it 3 or 4 months before your wedding date. Even the simplest one step dance should get a number of hours of practice if you want to feel confident, musical and at ease on your wedding day.
How to hear ballroom dancing music III: Tempo
Simply stated, tempo is how fast or slow the music is played. You could take any song, and play it faster or slower to change the song's tempo.
You may have had the experience of trying to dance to music that is impossibly fast or excruciatingly slow. It is important that ballroom dance music be within a certain range of tempo or it won't feel comfortable to dance to.
In competitive ballroom dancing there are strict guidelines about the tempo of music that can be played, so that the dances can remain true to character.
In social dancing the tempo can be very flexible. However, while the best dancers are able to adapt their dancing to almost any music, there are certainly points where musical tempo makes it impossible to dance certain steps.
Tempo is counted in "bars per minute".
Generally accepted tempi for ballroom dancing music are as follows:
- Foxtrot: 28-32 bpm
- Tango: 30-33 bpm
- Waltz: 28-30 bpm
- Cha Cha: 28-32 bpm
- Rumba: 26-32 bpm
- Swing: 36-44 bpm
- Salsa: 47-48 bpm
How to hear ballroom dancing music II: Counting
Each ballroom dance has its own "rhythm" within the musical timing. In order to marry this dance rhythm to the music, we typically count our steps in "Slows" (S) and "Quicks" (Q), where slow is worth 2 beats and quick is worth just 1 beat. Different dances are counted differently:
Tango -- SSQQS
Theoretically, because it has 2 beats per bar, Tango should be counted 2 beats at a time. This can be confusing however, and it is far more practical to count a phrase of 4 or even 8 beats of music at a time. All of our steps are 8 counts long, and so we will always count in groups of 8. The basic rhythm we use, which applies to almost all of our steps is: SSQQS.
Fox Trot -- SSQQ
Although Foxtrot music has 4 beats per bar, the basic dance rhythm is 6 counts long: SSQQ. This means that a basic step takes 1½ bars of music (just like Swing). You can see below that although the beginning and end of the steps don't always match the beginning and end of the bars, they do match up every 3 bars. More experienced Foxtrot dancers often use steps with alternative rhythms like the box step and chasses, to match the dancing to the music when it feels good to do so.
Waltz -- 123
Waltz is not difficult to count to because both the steps and the music are grouped in even counts of three. Remember though, that because there are an odd number of counts, you will start dancing each new bar on a different foot. Because of this, it is sometimes helpful to count two bars at a time (123 - 456), to give a sense of completion to each step.
Rumba -- SQQ
Rumba feels great to dance to because, like the Waltz, the timed dance steps fit evenly into 4 beat bars of music. A full Rumba basic takes 2 bars of music. It is sometimes helpful to count 12345678.
Cha Cha -- 1234&
Cha Cha music can feel fast because there are 5 steps to make in 4 beats of music. The extra step happens on the 4th beat, which means that the 4th beat is split in 2. We count "&" on this ½ beat. A full basic step takes place over 8 beats.
Swing -- SSQQ
Swing music has 4 beats per bar, but the basic dance rhythm is 6 counts long: SSQQ. This means that a basic step takes 1½ bars of music (just like Foxtrot). Again, the beginning and end of the steps don't always match the beginning and end of the bars.
Swing can also be danced with a triple rhythm that has 8 steps in the basic pattern. The triple rhythm is counted: Q&Q Q&Q QQ.
Triple rhythm Swing will often feel more comfortable for Swing music that is slower, while single rhythm works better for faster songs.
Salsa -- QQS
There are a few different ways of using the 4 beats of Salsa music to make a dance rhythm. And while some people have very strong convictions about the 'rightness' of their way of counting, the bottom line is that you can have a great time dancing either rhythm. In our syllabus we count QQS and dance the first Quick on the 1st beat of music. This is probably the easier rhythm to dance, because it starts on the '1' beat of the music, which is natural for most people. Alternatively, some dancers hold the first beat of music and start dancing 'on 2'. Dancing this count, you start on the 2nd beat and count 2 3 4 hold. (Notice that this is just QQS starting on the 2nd beat). This is often thought of as Mambo rhythm, but it can be danced to any Salsa music.
How to hear ballroom dancing music I: Meter
Most ballroom dancing music is organized in a simple structure that can be easily understood without getting too technical. Typically a "beat" refers to a drum beat. A group of beats is a "bar" or "measure". Finally a group of bars is a "phrase". Meter is the way the beats are grouped in the bars - usually by 2's, 3's or 4's. Different dances have different meters.
Most ballroom dances have a meter of either 2, 3 or 4 beats per bar.
- Tango: 2 beats per bar
- Samba: 2 beats per bar
- Waltz: 3 beats per bar
- Foxtrot: 4 beats per bar
- Rumba: 4 beats per bar
- Cha Cha: 4 beats per bar
- Swing: 4 beats per bar
- Salsa: 4 beats per bar
- Quickstep: 4 beats per bar
As you can see 4 beats per bar is a pretty popular meter for ballroom dances. In fact since most ballroom dancing music has 4 beats per bar, you can theoretically dance most steps to most songs.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference between 2 and 4 beats per bar, because of the even numbers of beats. However, it is usually easy to recognize a Waltz because of its distinct 3 beat rhythm. If you hear a strong 3 beat rhythm, then the song is definitely a Waltz. If you hear even numbers of beats, you will also need to consider the tempo and character of the music, before you decide on your dance.
Ballroom Dancing Quotes
Some of our favorite dance quotes:
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room. - Kurt Vonnegut
For the good are always the merry Save by an evil chance And the merry love the fiddle And the merry love to dance. - William Butler Yeats, The Fiddler of Dooney
The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing. Any problem in the world can be solved by dancing. - James Brown
There are short-cuts to happiness, and dancing is one of them. - Vicki Baum
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. - Japanese Proverb
Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. - Dave Barry
Dancing is wonderful training for girls; it's the first way you learn to guess what a man is going to do before he does it. - Christopher Morley, Kitty Foyle
Dance till the stars come down from the rafters Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop. - W.H. Auden
Dancing is the loftiest, the most moving, the most beautiful of the arts, because it is not mere translation or abstraction from life; it is life itself. - Havelock Ellis
And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music. - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
On with the dance! Let joy be unconfined; No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet To chase the glowing hours with flying feet. - George Gordon, Lord Byron, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everybody a great deal of good. - Edwin Denby
There is nothing more notable in Socrates than that he found time, when he was an old man, to learn music and dancing, and thought it time well spent. - Michel de Montaigne
God Respects Us When We Work, but He Loves Us When We Dance. - Title of a documentary film by Les Blanc about a 1960's love-in in Los Angeles
All dancing girls are nineteen years old. - Japanese proverb
You don't stop dancing from growing old, you grow old from stopping to dance. - Unknown
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance. - Unknown
Dancing: The vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music. - George Bernard Shaw
Those move easiest who have learned to dance. - Alexander Pope
We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. - Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
The girl who can't dance says the band can't play. - Yiddish Proverb
MOVIE REVIEW: Take the Lead starring Antonio Banderas
Take the Lead, starring Antonio Banderas, is based on the true story of Pierre Dulaine and the pioneering New York City dance program called Dancing Classrooms. The program teaches kids the classic ballroom dances like the waltz, tango, foxtrot, rumba, swing and merengue. It has been a tremendous success and now includes over 60 participating schools from all over NYC. The recent documentary Mad Hot Ballroom is also inspired by this story.
Take the Lead gets rolling when Pierre finds a high school student vandalizing his principal's car. When he goes to meet the school principal to talk the situation over he sees the difficulty of the students position and volunteers to take on a small group of troubled kids as their detention supervisor and dance teacher. Despite the barrier of their very different world-views and life situations, Dulaine and the students eventually find common ground in the dancing that enables them to better understand each other and themselves. The group does learn to dance, but they also learn about dedication, forgiveness and respect as well. In the end all their hard work and learning pays off as they head off to a local dance competition and stun the local dance scene with not only their skin color but also their passionate moves and uninhibited style.
From a dance perspective Take the Lead definitely has some nice dance scenes. In particular the Tango that Dulaine inspires the kids with in the detention area is fantastic. It is intense and passionate with lots of interesting choreography. For me this dance was the best part of the movie. It was also cool to see that they brought in so much Hip Hop music and dancing to this movie. It gave it a great energy that complemented the ballroom dancing and also created a bit of a theme of old vs. new that gave more life to both styles.
While it is a fun movie derived from a fantastic true-life story, it's probably safe to say that Take the Lead is not going to win any Oscar's. The movie is pretty cliché; if you are sensitive to bad dialogue, one dimensional characters, and a storyline you've seen before, then Take the Lead may have you cringing at times (this is pretty much the norm for ballroom dancing movies unfortunately). That said it is certainly a nice story, and if you're looking for something light and fun with great music and lots of dancing, then Take the Lead might be an ideal choice. Also, for what it's worth, every woman I know says it's worth seeing just for Antonio Banderas!
MOVIE REVIEW: Take the Lead starring Antonio Banderas
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 9/02/2006 06:13:00 PM
How can I tell which dance to do to the music?
The short and annoying answer to this question is that it takes experience to get a sense of what dance fits with what music. The good news is that with some time and training almost anyone can learn how to recognize the various dance music. (And the even better news is that most of the dances can be danced to almost any music that has a steady beat anyway.) To really understand which dance goes with which music, you need to understand 3 key musical factors: Meter, Tempo and Character. Be sure to check back as we blog in more detail about these factors.
How long does it take to learn to dance?
When we asked a lawyer how much it would cost to develop the 'terms and conditions' for this site, he replied "how long is a string?" (We decided to go with a different lawyer!) In that same spirit, however, after years and years of dance lessons and experience, your Dancing for Dessert team is still learning all the time.
Inspirational stories aside, you can probably learn your first dance step in about 5 minutes and, depending on your musicality, be dancing to music 2 minutes after that. If you haven't already we encourage you to try our Taste Test, where you can learn the basics of the Rumba Box Step for free, to get a sense of how efficient and easy our system really is.
To feel comfortable dancing on a real social dance floor with other dancers around takes quite a bit longer of course. If you wanted to learn 5 or 6 steps for 5 or 6 of the most popular social dances it would probably take you at least a few months of regular lessons and practice to feel somewhat competent. Depending on your skill level and dedication you could progress much more quickly or slowly.
Also, it usually takes men longer than women to feel comfortable with their steps. This is because men need to get used to leading, as well as putting the different dance steps together to move around the floor and avoid other dancers.
Of course, there will always be more to learn and we encourage everyone we meet to make dancing a part of their life - it's something no one ever regrets!
How can I learn to dance with 2 left feet?
The most popular excuse people make for not dancing is that they are naturally bad dancers. But in all of our years of teaching we have never met anyone who couldn't learn how to dance.
The bottom line is that dancing, like walking or riding a bike, is a physical skill that is learned through action. If you take it one step at a time, and actually get up and do it, you can learn to do any step in any dance and even look good doing it.
Do I need a partner to learn how to dance?
You can learn a great deal of dancing without ever touching another human being. In fact many of our customers use our site to learn the steps and styling that allow them to feel confident before dancing with a partner. On the other hand, it does take two to Tango, as they say, and you will eventually want to show off your moves in public - or at least with one other person. At this point it's good to remember that no matter how good you feel by yourself it always takes some time (and patience) to get in sync with someone else.
Can I really learn online?
While you are unlikely to become a world dance champion taking ballroom dance lessons on the internet, you can definitely learn enough to be confident with the basics and have a great time. In fact the convenience of learning to dance at your own pace, and in your own space, from carefully considered instruction that can be reviewed over and over makes Dancing for Dessert an ideal way to get started.
Read what others have said about learning to dance online with Dancing for Dessert.
How to dance so you don't get stepped on.
Q. How can I avoid getting my toes stepped on when I'm dancing.
A. Fear of being stepped on, or of stepping on your partners toes is one of the most common scary thoughts when you first learn to dance. Ladies who are new to dancing are often very excited about getting a new pair of shoes, but are usually far less excited about the idea of open toes anywhere near her partner's feet. At the same time men are often terrified that they are going to step on their partner and embarrass themselves, or worse yet, actually cause real damage!
Luckily, there are some easy steps you can take to make sure that this doesn't happen.
Almost always it is the person who is moving backwards who is at risk of having their toes nicked. However, it is also the person moving backwards who has the most control to keep that from happening. The most important thing you can do to avoid being nicked is to move your feet and legs back properly.
Extending your ankle joint as you move your leg back is the most basic thing you can do to solve the problem. A foot plunked flat on the floor is also known as a target! Ideally you want to move your foot back perpendicular to, rather than parallel to the floor. Doing this properly actually makes it impossible for your partner to step on you because there is nothing to step on. One trick to help make this happen is to imagine that you are trying to touch the top on your foot to the floor. Of course it will be impossible, but it gets your foot moving in the right direction.
If you are a lady, transferring your weight slightly after the man completes the puzzle. If his foot is on the floor slightly before yours is then, again, it will be impossible for him to step on you. This is not as easy as it sounds, especially when you are a new dancer. If you keep your weight forward as you extend your leg back you will be in much better shape. Also, allow your foot to slide backwards as your partner moves you backwards to keep from stepping too soon.
- Dance Position and Tracking.
Ideally you should never stand directly in front of each other when you're dancing, but rather stand slightly offset so that both partners are standing slightly to their own left. Looking down at your feet both men and women should see that their right foot is pointing between their partners feet.
Tracking your feet and legs in dancing means that you move them forward and back in straight lines.
Putting these two ideas together will help you to avoid stepping on your partner because your feet will (hopefully) be moving in their own 'tracks' and not in the same line as your partner's. When people first learn how to dance they often make the mistake of trying to avoid their partner's feet by stepping wide or 'cowboy stepping' as they move forward or back. This only makes things worse, because the final destination of their step is so unpredictable. Your dancing will be much safer, more comfortable, and more efficient if both partners are moving their legs in clean, straight lines.
Putting all of these idea together will hopefully make your first dance steps a lot more enjoyable and a lot more safe. It's never encouraging to see blood on the floor when you're learning how to dance!
How Can I be 'Lighter' for my Partner?
Q. My partner complains that I'm heavy. What can I do to be 'lighter' for him?
A. (Heartfelt from a couple of guys who have hauled many a heavy lady around the dance floor) - Thank you for your question!
Every lady wants to look great on the dance floor - that's a given. And you might very well be asked to dance for the first time based on how you look. Trust us though - the second invitation has a lot to do with how you feel. You see, every man loves to dance with a woman who is easy to dance with and feels good in his arms! And we want you to be one of them!
One thing you should understand right away is that dance heaviness has nothing to do with size. Very heavy people can be very nice dance with, and very light people can feel like a piano. The key ingredient to lightness in dancing is actually attitude: if you think it's the man's job to haul you through your dance steps, you are probably going to be a nightmare; if you're a true partner, happy to do your part, you will dance like a dream!
Ultimately, being easy to dance with comes down to taking responsibility for holding your own body, while allowing the man to lead.
There are four important factors that will make you feel light to your partner: holding and moving your own weight, being on balance, following and relaxing.
1. The first thing you need to do is make sure you hold your own weight in dance position. Although you should touch the man's left hand and right arm over as much area as possible, you still need to support 100% of your own weight. Try to stand up as tall as possible and project your energy up and towards him in every way. (This is especially important when you're first learning to dance and are tempted to look down). You should almost feel like you are lifting him from above by creating a vacuum. If your partner suddenly dropped his arms from underneath you, you should feel that your own arms would not fall even an inch.
2. Once you have established a nice connection with no weight, the next trick is to maintain that feeling as you do your dance steps around the ballroom. Balance is obviously a major key to making this happen. If you are relying on your partner to support you every time you take a step, you are basically asking your partner to lift weights throughout the dance. To improve your balance stand up straighter, hold your head up high, and wear shorter heels (especially when you are learning your first steps).
3. Moving together at the same time is the third key to lightness. For a lady this basically comes down to following. If you are trying to zig when your partner is trying to zag, it is going to take energy to work out the difference. This is a lot like driving with the emergency brake on: you can still get around, but it takes a lot of effort. Every friction between you requires either a compromise or an effort. Compromise is part of dancing and you will both have to make many as you learn to dance. But it is always the man's job to steer, and everything you can to do make this easier is like releasing the emergency brake a little further.
4. Finally, it is really important that you relax your hands and arms while you're dancing. When you are tense and stiff you not only tire yourself out, but also pass that tension onto your partner. Depending on how you are holding him, the man will usually feel tension as direct pressure which will add significantly to the load he's bearing. Try to hold your arms up from your back. This makes your arm muscles free to relax, which will keep them nice and light.
One final thing you can do to improve your balance, posture, strength and endurance is to practice dancing by yourself. If you can make it through a full dance by yourself - on balance and with your arms in dance position - you will know that you have the tools to be a wonderful partner. Also, by practising your dance steps on your own, and working on your balance and posture independantly, you will not only improve the feel of your dancing, but also give yourself confidence that you can dance easily with any man.
Dancing with the Stars - Week 6 Breakdown
Welcome to Round 6 of Dancing with the Stars. Once again this week's play-by-play is brought to you by Dancing for Dessert -- it's Better than Chocolate!! Last week after our 5th round of dancing we saw the lovely Tia Carrera get eliminated. I believe that this was an appropriate result and I'm glad to see that despite the popularity contest aspect the elimination was an accurate reflection of the quality of dancing.
This week each couple will perform a dance of their choice. Most of the chosen dances have already been explained in previous blogs. Additionally the dancers will be performing a group Viennese Waltz. This group dance will not be scored by the judges.
Viennese Waltz This is one of the more exhausting dances to perform. In it's purest format the dance is done with the dancers performing 4-7 movements. This affords the judges a chance to do a direct comparison of the dancers without being swayed by creative choreography. For Dancing with the Stars expect some artistic license for the benefit of creating a more exciting television viewing experience. A good viennese waltz should be danced quite close (no gapping) -- look for smooth right and left turns and an elegant presentation.
Jerry & Anna -- Paso Doble Wow -- this performance is a real breakthrough for Jerry! The passion and emotion that he was able to put forth was absolutely astonishing! Next I'd like to see Jerry get more grounded by creating more pressure through his supporting leg. Also watch that head Jerry. What an incredible performance!! I felt the judge's scores were a tad low, but in the right ballpark.
Drew & Cheryl -- Tango Another powerful performance from Boy Band. Nice staccato movements great flow through the closed body contact position. Unfortunately Drew, a promenade must be done with a heel lead! In fact, his footwork is surprisingly underdeveloped compared to the rest of his dancing. The judges have really been on him for his shoulders, but the real root of the problem has been in the carriage of his head -- unfortunately it hasn't been completely fixed. At his level I'd really like to see him track his knees for more balance during those fast movements. Not to take away from an otherwise adequate performance. Triple 10's from the judges and I can't say that it wasn't well-deserved.
George & Edyta -- Rumba I still think that this guy is the elegance in this show. The choreography is clearly designed to hide the difficulty of the rumba timing, but unfotrunately it doesn't hide all of it as George clearly stumbles with the timing. Another fine performance from George but at this round of the competition I'm afraid that George's dancing is not at the same level as the others. Look for George to be the next dancer eliminated. Judges tie him with Jerry, though I felt that Jerry earned a higher score than George.
Lisa & Louis -- Quickstep A comon flaw in the Quickstep is to shorten your steps in an attempt to keep up with the music. Unfortunately this is also Lisa's major flaw this week. The shorter steps take away much of the energy of the dance and because of this Lisa's dance really failed to deliver. It would seem though that the judges disagree with me as they were all very impressed with her performance. Triple 9's for Lisa this week.
Stacy & Tony -- Jive Another incredible performance from the lovely Stacy. I'd really like to see Stacy use even more of her knees to allow her to point her kicks down towards the floor for a more compact and explosive technique. Be careful, Stacy, not to let the relaxed nature of the swing cause your head to drop. Stacy pulls off the impossible by earning Triple 10's for the second week in a row.
Another exciting Dancing with the Stars with two of our celebrity dancers earning perfect scores. Drew & Stacy have basically stolen this competition from Week 1 -- look for these two in the Dancing with the Stars finals. Also look for George to get the boot tomorrow on the elimination show. Agree? Disagree? Let me know what you think by commenting on this blog!
I've also decided to make this blog a little bit more interesting by posting Brian's Dance Tips for Dance Steps, so without further ado ...
Brian's Dance Tips for Dance Steps Brought to you by Dancing for Dessert
Whether you are leading or following, it is imperitive that you maintain a certain "elasticity" in your connection. This means that your arms should not be rigid or tense as this will only serve to make you less responsive to your partner as well as make your dancing feel stiff. Instead relax your arms and wrists while maintaining a light tone in your lats and your abs. This will give your dancing that muscular "substance" while keeping yourself light enough to be quick, responsive, light and graceful.
Until next week ladies and gentlemen!
Dancing with the Stars - Week 5 Breakdown
Conspicuous by their absence from Round 5 is Master P and Ashley. He was long overdue do leave as it was obvious from week to week that he didn't really want to be there, or that at least he was there for the wrong reasons.
This week all the couples will be dancing the same dances. This will allow all the viewers at home to do a direct comparison of each couple. Everyone will be required to perform a solo Samba routine as well as a group Salsa Routine!
Samba This is the Brazillian Carnival dance -- a fun, fast, playful dance characterized by Voltas, Botofogos, Walks and Whisk movements. This is the second of two latin dances that travel around the line of dance. Watch for a liberal use of open or side-by-side movements as well as a lot of teasing and flirting ... and hips hips hips!
Salsa This dance is one of the more casual of the latin dances. Rooted in Cuba, this dance has a reputation for being sexy and saucy. A stationary dance, look for a lot of play on the man's part as he twirls and turns his partner every which way.
Stacy & Tony Stacy is hot in this dance!! Watching her here it's really hard to believe that she's never danced a Samba in her life. I would be very surprised if somebody danced better than her tonight. I would have liked to see her present a cleaner line early in the routine by closing her legs fully. Bruno said it best -- Stacy is a weapon of mass seduction -- a real lesson in sex appeal! Anna said she was better than the other professional lady dancers -- I wouldn't go so far but she definitely danced like she would fit in with a professional group. Perfect 10's for a Perfect 10 -- despite the disadvantage of dancing first!
George & Edyta Bold effort by George here. It was nice to seem him hit all the required elements such as the voltas and whisks -- a clear effort on George's part to address his footwork critique from weeks past. We even saw him make use of his hips which was great. Unfortunately there were some obvious timing and coordination issues. Another elegant performance nonetheless!!
Lisa & Louis This girl has seen some incredible improvement since the first week. She can get a cleaner samba movement by tracking her knees. Excellent use of hips and body isolations, though she sometimes focused too much on her partner at the expense of the performance. Judges are divided in their opinions here, but scored her favourably overall.
Tia & Maksim Despite a slow beginning (which I later learned was done deliberately, though I don't think anybody got it) Tia has really stepped it up a notch from previous weeks. This dance really brought out personality -- what a classy performance!! I would like to see Tia emphasize the 2 beat for a more authentic samba feel. Unfortunately, I don't think that Tia's performance is going to be enough to help her advance to the next round. Judge's scores are accurate in comparison to the other performances tonight.
Jerry & Anna What an excellent performance by Jerry tonight -- he is doing so well for a guy doing Samba for the first time. Brilliant corta jacas and whisk actions, as well as an awesome partnership. His posture has also improved significantly -- it's like night and day compared to previous performances. The one thing that I am noticing about Jerry's improvement is that he is letting his inhibitions go more and more -- inhibition holds people back far more than talent or ability. Great job Jerry! I might have scored him a little higher than the judges.
Drew & Cheryl Nice crisp sharp movements, though I'd like to see him balance that by releasing some of the energy at the end of each movement. I especially loved the progressive rock element! Unfortunately he's still holding his head forward (or shoulder's up as the judge's might say). Another great performance from Drew, though I didn't feel as much improvement from last week to this week. Judge's scores are well deserved.
Group Salsa Really hard to compare the quality of the performances here due to the unique camera angels required by this type of performance. A real crowd-pleaser though -- very exciting to watch.
I have to say that it's been very exciting watching this whole competition unfold. It's almost enough to make one consider coming out of retirement ... almost. :P
Agree or disagree? Feel free to comment on this blog! Until next week People!
How to buy ballroom dance shoes.
Q. I've just started taking Ballroom Dance lessons. Can you give me some advice on buying dance shoes?
A. With the variety of styles, specializations and colors available, choosing your first pair of ballroom dance shoes can be a difficult decision. As a beginning dancer, however, there is no reason why you would need more than one pair. Unless you have specific needs you should be looking for something that is comfortable, suits a variety of styles and looks great on your foot.
Style: We recommend a peek-a-boo toe for beginning ladies because it suits both the Ballroom and Latin dances really well. A peek-a-boo shoe is much more flexible than a Ballroom pump so you will still be able to arch your foot, point your toes and 'grip' the floor. At the same time a peek-a-boo shoe offers more support than a Latin sandal, and definitely keeps your toes more protected. You may also find a T-strap is helpful as it adds a little more support and stability for your foot.
Heel: It is not a good idea to get heels that are too high, especially when you first learn to dance. Everyone wants to look good and feel great when they're dancing, and choosing a heel height that you can't handle will make you look bad and feel worse. A 2 - 2.5 inch heel is pretty standard. If you have difficulties with balance, or aren't used to wearing heels you might consider a wider heel, or even a flat shoe to start with. Remember that it is very difficult to focus on learning dance steps if you are wobbling around like a newborn giraffe.
Color: Black is a nice color for a pair of starter shoes because it looks more like a regular shoe, goes with most clothing and can easily go from "dinner" to "dancing". Another color that is very popular with dancers is nude. Nude shoes do not stand out as much, which is nice because mistakes are not as noticeable and your legs will look longer. They also go well with both summer dresses and winter clothing. You can get both leather and satin shoes in nude and if your particular style or skin color isn't available, you can usually find the style you want in white satin and dye it nude. The shopkeeper can do it for you or you can do it yourself.
Your first pair of ballroom dance shoes is a no-brainer. You want a comfortable leather ballroom shoe that fits well and has good support. If you want to stand out a little more you will probably be able to find something with some interesting styling (different weaves, cuts, textures). However, you should probably avoid patent shoes as they are most appropriate in very formal situations.
You should also steer clear of Latin shoes unless you only plan to learn Latin dances (Latin shoes have a higher 'Cuban heel' which makes taking heel leads very uncomfortable). Even if you never plan to learn to Waltz or Foxtrot we suggest that you learn you first dance steps (and many more after that) in a normal leather ballroom shoe.
You will likely only find black shoes, which will probably suit you just fine.
There are a lot of good reasons to buy ballroom dance shoes even though they can be pretty expensive (they are quite specialized and usually imported from Europe). Furthermore we feel it is worth the money to get a good quality shoe with the proper support rather than going with a cheaper pair. At the very least try on a few different pairs to get a sense for what feels good on your foot.
Dancing with the Stars - Week 4 Breakdown
Get set for Round 4 of Dancing with the Stars. Last week saw Giselle get eliminated. It really is a shame because the quality of Giselle's dancing pretty well guaranteed that we'd be seeing her in the later rounds. It would seem though that the voting aspect of Dancing with the Stars has managed to save some of the less deserving contestants for yet another week.
As the competition moves further along, many of the celebrities have really stepped up their game so unfortunately I too must up my game and get a little more detailed in my critiques.
Fox Trot This is perhaps one of, if not the hardest dance in the ballroom division. It requires a degree of control that challenges even the most seasoned dancer. Look for a jazzy, finger-snapping, toe-tapping ambience combined with a smooth elegant presentation.
Paso Doble This dance is one of the few that is considered to be the man's dance. The Paso Doble focuses on the relationship between the Matador (the man) and his Cape (the woman). Look for a strong agressive stance from the man as he skillfully uses his cape to avoid the bull. This is one of only two latin dances that travel around the dance floor.
George & Edyta -- Paso Doble George really brought out the personality of the matador -- wonderful personality and once again very elegant. Once again attention to George's shortcomings were skillfully deflected as this couple opted for many open-position type of movements. George is a powerful actor and this skill allowed him to show the strong male character -- a very good performance, though once again more style than substance. Judges scores were reasonable.
Tia & Maksim -- Fox Trot Unfortunately Tia experienced some major slip-ups in the beginning which really threw off the rest of the dance. As skilled as Tia is normally with the performance aspect, she fell a little short this week as the overall performance was quite flat -- certainly not enough to overshadow the hiccups in the choreography. It would seem though that the judges have a different opinion and were quite generous with their scores
Master P & Ashley -- Paso Doble Well I have to admit that P is definitely showing improvement in effort and result as the weeks go by. Unfortunately the level of dancing is still far behind where it should be. If ever there was an underdog this guy is it, and people usually love cheering for the underdog. This is the only theory I can postulate as to why this guy is still here! Bruno is especially hilarious in his critique, going so far as to tell the audience to shut up -- twice. Definitely P's best performance by far, but still needs to do a lot of catching up. The judge's scores were quite low, but harshly accurate.
Stacy & Tony -- Fox Trot Stacy is absolutely radiant on the dance floor -- what an elegant dancer! Awesome lines as usual -- another first-rate performance. Next I'd like to see Stacy reach and stretch each movement a little more -- especially the chasses. This will serve to keep her timing from looking a little rushed and add more texture to her dancing by allowing her to be more explosive when necessary. Remember -- Quick isn't fast, it's half a Slow. The judges give her the highest mark of the night thus far -- and deservedly so.
Drew & Cheryl -- Paso Doble This one was another good performance from Drew, though I felt it was a little stiff at times. One might argue that this is part of the character of the dance, but then that's the challenge in dance -- making it look strong while still keeping it soft and supple. Drew's poise is slightly off due to his head dropping (or his shoulders coming up). Very energetic and exciting dance -- the Thriller piece really went over well! I wouldn't have placed him above Stacy, but then I'm not judging, am I! The judges loved it and scored him quite generously.
Jerry & Anna -- Fox Trot You can really tell that this guy wants to win bad! A spectacular effort by jerry Rice this week. This dance is not easy but he pulled it off well! What a gentleman! He looks a little uncomfortable in closed position -- likely he's afraid of stepping on his partner. Don't worry Jerry -- Anna knows how to get out of your way! Posture was good for the most part, though I would like to see him drive his movements more through his hips rather than leaving them behind. The judge's scores were quite well-deserved!
Lisa & Louis -- Paso Doble This dance for me was really Lisa's best performance for the entire competition thus far! The faster dances seem to suit her well! What an excellent blend of energy, technique, partnership and performance! I still wish she would close her legs in some of her lines, but everything else has really come along! I stand here in awe at the improvement that this lady has seen! This performance actually ties her for second place!
Well this concludes Round 4 of Dancing with the Stars. Master P is last once again though I would have placed George over Tia. I have to really shout out to Ashley for getting him through all that you have! Keep it up girl! Next week the format changes again as our contestants will be performing two dances each. Should make for an inneresting show!!
As usual I welcome your comments! See'ya next week!
Dancing with the Stars - Week 3 Breakdown
Welcome to Week 3 of Dancing with the Stars. Conspicuous by their absence is Kenny Mayne, who was ekiminated after Week 1, and Tatum O'Neill, who was eliminated after Week 2. Now honestly I enjoyed Kenny's dedication and I would have preferred to see him continue. Tatum however did not show well last week, losing her cool in front of millions of viewers. Nobody likes a cry-baby so it comes as no surprise that she received the fewest votes.
This week it seems they've changed the formula a little bit by allowing the dancers to choose from one of two dances:
Tango This dance, originally from Argentina, was all the rage in France before eventually finding it's way to american ballrooms. Watch for fiery agression and passion, as well as sharp, crisp, staccato movements. The Tango is truly the Dance of Lust!
Jive The Jive is a buoyant, upbeat, peppy kind of dance -- the evolution of rock and roll. Look for quick feet and a fun, playful atmosphere.
Jerry & Anna -- Jive Very strong opening to the show this week. Jerry Rice has really turned it up a notch! His athleticism and quick feet really show well in this dance. Lots of fun to watch, and awesome musicality. The danger with the jive is that it makes you want to dance "down", so watch that posture, Jerry! Judges' scores are accurate, though they were a little harsh with their criticism.
Giselle & Jonathan -- Tango This woman really is a contender tonight!! Her Tango is crisp, sharp, elegant and dramatic!! Watch the left hand fingers, Giselle. What a fantastic dress!! This is gonna be a tough act to beat this evening!! Apparently Carrie Ann and Bruno weren't impressed at all, even giving them a warning for using a lift. I have no idea which dance they were watching -- the ending was incredible and appropriate -- hardly a lift at all! Unfortunately this routine was scored a little lower than it should have been.
Drew & Cheryl -- Jive Boy Band is really impressing me -- what an incredible performer!! Once again he's decided to bring it this week! Very impressive footwork and even more impressive toe-heel swivels -- a difficult move to do at his level. As happens in the jive, there were a few slip-ups, but he danced through them and ended strongly!! Great connections and awesome chemistry. Brother Nick was impressed, as were the judges -- again!!
George & Edyta -- Tango This guy is Super Elegant! It would have been nice to see George hold his dance frame a little higher. I noticed one slip-up, but he recovered nicely. George's performing experience really stands out, especially in the solo parts. Although he can't match the level of athleticism shown by the other competitors, he really adds a touch of sophistication to his routines. Another heartfelt performance, though unfortunately, the dancing is going to have improve substantially if he hopes to make it to the later rounds.
Lisa & Louis -- Jive I really felt that this routine was only average -- not at all at the level that she's showed herself capable of in past weeks. Head could have been held higher through the dance, but then that's the universal flaw with this dance. The legs were a little open on the swivels -- not at all what we want to see from a lady. Again, an average performance in my opinion, though it seems the judges disagree.
Stacy & Tony -- Tango This is usually a very difficult dance for a ballet dancer to transition into, and I am quite impressed at how technically sound this performance is. Once again Stacy and Tony have opted for a more classic approach, which works extremely well for them this week. Emotion was a little even (flat), and there was a slight hiccup going into the promenade kicks, yet she pulled this one off incredibly well -- the dance of the evening once again!! Scores are a perfect reflection of Stacy's dancing this evening.
Master P & Ashley -- Jive I have to say that Ashley is really going out of her way with this guy -- I just love the matching hats!! I'm pleased to see that Master P has upped the level of effort this week -- the man actually got his groove on! Unfortunately he is still the least improved of all the contestants. There were several obvious slip-ups which really shouldn't have happened. I love how he used his hat in his routine -- Ashley is doing a great job with this difficult student, working the chorography around the man's personality. The Judges were brutally honest with him, and I can't say that I disagree.
Tia & Maksim -- Tango Tia danced what I like to call a "Hollywood Tango" with the Schwartz a few years ago in the movie True Lies -- I think she's gonna be surprised at how different it really is. Her routine has an argentinian flavour to it which really goes well with her. Awesome lines -- the throwaway oversway in particular, which is a very difficult manoevre. As has been happening consistenly with her, she is dancing adequately, but really failing to captivate. I'd like to see her commit her hips to each movement. Universal flaw alert -- she's dropping her head in promenade position. A tiny slip-up on the fallaway reverse, but good recovery -- another average performance, but apparently the judges disagree, awarding Tia the third highest score of the evening.
Everybody has grown so much in experience and confidence, and a lot of them really brought it this week. As a result I find myself critiquing harder. Funny how the 1st place dancer from week 1, Drew, and the 1st place dancer from week 2, Stacy, are now tied for first place for week 3! I hated to see Giselle down in the bottom two, as I felt she should really have come ahead of Tia.
Well that's it for Week 3 -- as usual I welcome your comments and feedback! Until next week!
Dancing with the Stars - Week 2 Breakdown
Well here we are with Round 2 of Dancing with the Stars. This week the men will be dancing the Quickstep and the women will be dancing the Rumba. Again, I do what I must, though I'll try not to be too mean!
Quickstep What an incredibly difficult venture for the men. I have to admit that between the Cha Cha last week and the Quickstep this week, the men really have had the short end of the stick! The quickstep is quite the zippy and peppy dance, incorporating the flight elements of the Waltz and Fox Trot with the Jazz & Razmataz of the Charleston.
Rumba On the other side of the coin, the ladies seem to have the easiest dances! The Rumba is a sultry and sensual dance -- the dance of love. Watch for a strong leg and hip action as well as an atmosphere of passion and heat!
Lisa & Louis Very impressive showing for Lisa -- very sexy and sensual, everything that a Rumba should be! A little shaky in her balance at points, I still felt that she was holding back in some of her movements. Great chemistry though -- I really felt this one. Predictably though, as the first dancer the judges scored her lower than she deserved.
Drew & Cheryl Pretty impressive again this week for Drew. A very difficult dance for a beginner and he pulled it off well. A few mis-steps as can be expected in a dance of this difficulty, but this young man is really tearing up the floor. Drew Lachey is quickly becoming a heavy favourite to win this contest!
Tia & Maksim A series of Cucarachas opens this routine -- movements that perfectly captures the essense of the Rumba. Tia displayed a great use of legs in her latin movement, as well as an excellent use of arms to produce strong lines... overall a good effort. While quite technically sound though, the chemistry that we are looking for in Rumba wasn't quite there -- she even looked quite angry at points. To add insult to injury, the judges weren't too happy with her Heel Leads -- a cardinal sin in the Rumba.
George & Edyta A great opening -- athletics not withstanding, this dance should really give George a chance to show off his elegance. He really played to his strengths as an actor and did a great job in spite of his physical limitations. His solo piece was exceptional, reeking of elegance as predicted. Not enough actual "Quickstep" for Len's taste, but very very entertaining!!
Tatum & Nick This dance is definitely not Tatum's best performance. Several timing errors, mis-cues and mis-steps, she looked very uncomfortable -- very stiff and cold. Lots of smoke and mirriors as she dances from line to line. In true Hollywood Drama Queen fashion, Tatum was visibly upset after the dance, and rightfully so -- being "nervous" is no excuse.
Jerry & Anna Very good with the technical elements of the Quickstep but it was lacking the energy that is characteristic of this dance. A few mis-steps, as can be expected with this dance, but a very strong and exciting ending.
Stacy & Tony What an impressive dancer this girl is. It's to be expected with her many years of training of course. An impressive showing once again this week for Stacy, as she and Tony opt to dance the more classical movements rather than hiding behind all the smoke & mirrors. Seems the judges are in agreement, as Stacy's rumba earned her 2 10's and an overal 1st place!
Master P & Ashley I just have to say that this guy's running shoes are seriously hampering his movement. Granted he's actually moving this week -- clearly he's trying harder, though as a musician his timing is seriously lacking. I really feel for Ashley -- I have had my share of difficult, bull-headed students over the years and I certainly don't envy Ashley with this one.
Giselle & Jonathan Strong, sharp dancer, but this one lacked the fluidity that is necessary for the leg and hip movement of Rumba. This is a woman that appears not to be too comfortable with her sensuality. The potential is there though.
I love how the crowd really gets into it, cheering for the judges' positive feedback and booing for all the criticism. Did you agree or disagree with the judges? What did you think of what I thought? Comment on this blog and let me know! A la prochaine!
Dancing with the Stars - Week 1 Breakdown
First things first -- I know that all these couples worked very hard and I'm always happy to see people try out dancing for the first time and hopefully learn to love it. That being said, criticism and scrutiny is a large part of competition so I do what I must -- but I'll try not to be too mean.
Scoring any dance contest always has a large degree of subjectivity and relativity. That being said, the first couple is frequently disadvantaged because the judges will often score low in an attempt to leave room for better dancers. Of course, in this contest the judges' vote only counts for half the overall score.
The Fan Vote counts for the other half -- viewers are invited to call in and vote for their favourite dancers. This aspect makes for more of a popularity contest rather than a dance contest.
Len -- Funny how Len is the only ballroom dancer among the judges. It would seem that Len favours a traditional, classic approach to ballroom dancing, as he has often criticized dancers for spending too much time dancing away from each other.
Carrie Ann -- I like how she balances every criticism with something positive.
Bruno -- This guy is such a Drama Queen. Apparantly he also judges the UK version of Dancing with the Stars.
To make things fair, all the dancers will be judged doing similar dances. This week the men have been asked to dance the Cha Cha while the women will be showing us the Waltz.
The Cha Cha is perhaps the most versatile of all dances because it can be danced to many different styles of music -- Latin, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Country, Rock, House, Techno, Top-40's, etc ... there really is something here for everybody. Having said that, the dance is based on an element known as a "Triple-Step" -- an element that most beginner dancers will find themselves struggling with for some time. Look for sharp, crisp movements and a relaxed body action (HIPS!) in this dance.
Contrary to popular belief, not every slow song is a Waltz. Waltz music exhibits a very unique and recognizable characteristic. While most people have heard the expression "5, 6, 7, 8", the Waltz cannot in fact be counted this way. This is because the Waltz does not have 8 beats. Waitaminute, you say -- what sort of alien music does not have 8 beats? Well to clarify, most Waltzes are counted in 3's -- "1,2,3,1,2,3". Look for soft lyrical movements and a romantic atmostphere in this dance.
The first couple to dance was George and Edyta. George Hamilton has always played very suave and debonair roles and I think that if he makes it past this round he is going to be this season's John Hurley. Unfortunately I felt that while he has a great floor presence, his dancing is going to need much improvement if we are to see him in the later rounds. But hey -- it's happened before, it can happen again!
Second couple to dance was Lisa and Louis (van Amsterdam). I'm always surprised to see how great latin dancers look doing Smooth Dancing -- likely because they're more used to dancing away from their partner. Good job Louis, and good job Lisa. Fan votes not withstanding, I think we'll be seeing this couple in the later rounds.
Third couple to dance was Sports guy Kenny with Andrea. I gotta say that what he lacked in technique and experience he more than made up for with heart and gumption! I loved watching his guts and determination though on technique and presentation I hold very little hope for this couple.
Fourth Couple to dance was Stacy and Tony. Any wrestling fan knows of Stacy's extensive dance background and it certainly showed here. I think Stacy is a huge favourite to win the whole thing because of her huge WWE fan base. That's a lot of votes!
Fifth couple to dance was Boy Band Brother Drew and Cheryl. By far one of the more exciting performances of the evening. Brother Lachey was sharp and crisp. Two things that I would like to see him work on to get to the next level is a) committing his full weight to his steps and b) extending his arms through the use of his back.
Sixth couple to dance was Tia and Maksim. Another adequate performance from a beginner lady dancer, though I wasn't overly wowed.
Seventh couple to dance was rap dude Master P and Ashley doing the Gangsta Cha Cha -- Holla! Why was this guy dancing with running shoes and a blinged-out Master P baseball hat? Now Ashley is a lovely dancer -- she wouldn't be there if she wasn't, but unfortunately, I felt that she outdanced her student to an embarassing degree. In her defence the man didn't even try. This only served to remind the audience that they were completely mismatched in every possible way. Fan votes not withstanding again, watch for this couple to be eliminated tomorrow night.
Eighth couple to dance was Giselle & Jonathan. Apparently her father was a dancer, which I thought was inneresting. I thought she did a great job with this one!!
Ninth couple to dance was Anna & Jerry. Now I was quite impressed with this performance -- it's always tough for athletes like him, being used to moving very large muscle groups, to change gears and learn to move very small muscle groups as required in competitive dancing. That said, he did a great job -- good rhythm and great feeling!
Final couple to dance was Tatum & Nick. I wasn't really wowed by the performance, but it was what it was -- a very classic interpretation using many time-honoured elements and not diluted with a lot of smoke and mirrors.
Agree or Disagree? Feel free to comment on this post -- I enjoy receiving feedback, so long as it doesn't conflict with my opinion or challenge my authority!
Why should I buy ballroom dance shoes?
Q. What's the difference between regular shoes and Ballroom Dancing shoes?
A. Like regular shoes, ballroom dance shoes come in a wide variety of variety of styles, sizes and colors. There are a few qualities, however, that are unique to dance shoes, and which make them ideal for getting around the dance floor. Some of these differences include the shoe's sole, materials, fit and style.
-Sole: The single biggest difference between ballroom dance shoes and normal shoes is that dance shoes have suede soles. Obviously Ballroom and Latin shoes are made to be worn indoors, usually on a wood floor; therefore they don't need the durability of a leather or rubber sole. The advantage of suede is that it is smooth enough to slide easily on the dance floor, but tacky enough not to be slippery. Also, suede soles are malleable, so you can actually feel the floor under your feet. As you get better with your dance steps, your connection with the floor becomes more and more important, and a suede sole gives you the connection you need to make the dance floor your friend.-Materials: Dance shoes are made of various materials: leather, satin and patent are the most common.
-The leather used in ballroom dancing shoes is usually very soft so leather shoes are stretchy, comfortable and light. They will also last a long time, but will need some polishing and maintenance to keep them looking sharp.
-Satin shoes do not have the some stretch as leather and they tend to wear out faster. However, Satin is the most popular material for women's dance shoes because it is easily dyed. Most competitive women dancers prefer to dye their shoes a nude color that closely matches their skin, so that their leg lines are not interrupted by the shoe.
-Men's Patent shoes look very sharp for ballroom and are the appropriate shoe to wear with a tail-suit. Patent shoes do tend to crack or rip as they age however. Also, you will need a lubricant to keep the shoes slipping past each other and not squeaking or sticking when they touch. Patent shoes will stretch over time, but not as much as leather. They also stretch more as they warm up, and shrink again as they cool.
- Fit: In general, ballroom dance shoes should fit tighter than regular shoes, especially when they're new. Dance shoes are made of very soft materials so over time they will stretch and mould to your foot. When you buy them, therefore, they should definitely be snug on your foot and not fall off or have the regular 1.5 cm space in the front like regular shoes. Basically dance shoes should "Fit like a glove".
-Style: Ballroom and Latin dancing is exciting, flashy and fun, and the shoes (especially women's shoes) tend to reflect that. You will often find that women's shoes are patterned with rhinestones to give them a little bit of extra dazzle. Glitter and bright colors can also be used to brighten up some shoes, although as we have already said, women's shoes are most often colored nude to give the impression of a longer leg line. Men's ballroom dance shoes are almost always plain and black, but it wouldn't be unheard of to see a man wearing bright red or blue shoes in a Latin competition - especially if he was wearing bright red or blue pants!
Before you head to the store to buy your shoes (or your red pants) make sure your read our next article on how to buy ballroom dance shoes.
How close should I stand to my partner when we're dancing?
Q. How close should I stand to my partner when we're dancing?
A. As with most questions about ballroom dancing, there is not really a 'right' answer to this one. It depends on a number of factors including how comfortable you are with your partner, which dance you're doing and what level of dancer you are. We have broken this question down into 3 categories: Social dancing, Latin dancing and Ballroom dancing.
1. Social Dancing
In a social dancing situation it is always the lady who decides how close to stand to the man, no matter what dance you're doing. Obviously the lady needs to stand close enough to be held comfortably. However, it is not the man's job to put her there. There is nothing more uncomfortable for a lady dancer than being pressed up against someone she'd rather not be pressed up against! For most people this is just common courtesy. But it is a frequent problem that men believe (whether through ignorance or convenience!) that the only 'correct' way to dance is in full contact.
2. Latin Dancing
Assuming that you feel comfortable with your partner, your distance will depend a lot on which dance (and which dance steps) you're doing. In the Latin dances you should usually stand a short distance apart, (maybe a foot) so that your arms connect comfortably in something like a circle. You should feel a comfortable connection with your partner, but you should also feel that your bodies can move independently. This makes it possible to move your knees, hips and body easily, without disturbing your partner.
That said, there is certainly nothing wrong with getting close. Latin dancing can be very sexy if you forget about personal space and just focus on personal. In fact, there are a lot of advanced moves that have to be done very close. Just make sure that your partner appreciates the idea as much as you do!
3. Ballroom Dancing
For the Ballroom dances things can also vary quite a bit. For beginning dancers we usually recommend that you stand slightly apart so that you get comfortable with the basic steps before you get too close. Again, in social situations or on a crowded dance floor, this might be the best idea no matter what. You will always look great if you're looking at each other when you're dancing (as long as you are happy to be there), and this is only comfortably possible if you're standing slightly apart. For this reason we usually recommend that Wedding couples stand slightly apart for their first dance if they want to use actual dance steps. If a wedding couple only wants to sway together, then they could move side to side in more of an embrace if they prefer.
The more advanced you become in ballroom dancing, however, the closer you will stand together. In fact almost all advanced ballroom dancers dance with their bodies in contact. (you should still be completely on your own balance) The reason for this is that you can travel and turn more easily when you are closer to the centre of the partnership. The closer you get to your common center, the more your two bodies function as a single unit. It really should be as if two people are moving as one. (This is easy to say, but dance position is one of the most difficult things to manage in a partnership and the best dancers spend years learning how best to stand and move together).
How close should I stand to my partner when we're dancing?
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 1/03/2006 06:50:00 PM
Salsa Steps - LA style or New York style?
Q. Are your Salsa lessons based on LA style or NY style?
A. As you know, Salsa is a worldwide phenomenon that invokes a lot of passion and dedication in its followers. And, depending where they're from, people are often passionately dedicated to a particular style of Salsa dancing. All of us at Dancing for Dessert have had the pleasure of showing off our Salsa moves in New York, Miami and LA, and have found that there are amazing dancers in all of those places (and many others as well). Furthermore the subtle variations in style and steps that do exist in the different Salsa hotbeds only contribute to a richer and more interesting Salsa culture overall.
Despite these subtle differences, however, we've found that the basics of Salsa tend to be pretty much the same wherever you dance. It's kind of like how my mother's apple pie may taste different from your mother's apple pie, but the major ingredient is still apples (or in this case, Salsa!). Salsa steps are basically the same wherever you dance - especially the most basic steps. And a good Salsa dancer who can dance one style will usually have no problems whatsoever adapting or blending in with another style.
With that in mind, our online Salsa dancing instructions don't tend to favor one style over another. Instead we teach the basics in a way that will help you become more comfortable and versatile with Salsa dance steps in general. In that spirit, we have included both of the most popular basic Salsa steps in our program. The first pattern in our syllabus is Man Left-Foot Forward and the second pattern in our syllabus is Man Left-Foot-Backward.
Good Luck and Happy Dancing,
I want to learn some Latin dance steps - Where should I start?
Q. My dance partner and I dance about 3 times a week and have always loved big band era music, Jitterbug and Swing. We have now decided we would like to learn some Latin dance steps. Do you have any suggestions for which dance we should start with?
A. Most of the Latin dances have very similar basic step patterns and combinations. All things being equal, however, we would usually recommend that students start their Latin dancing with Rumba. This is because good Rumba music is nice and slow and the basic dance steps are very simple. The slower music gives you more time to remember where your feet are going which makes it a lot easier to concentrate on things like leading, following and having a great time! Because of this Rumba is often thought of as the foundation of Latin dancing. Almost any studio that teaches all of the Latin Dances will get you started on Rumba steps very early in your learning.
That said, if you are really excited about a particular dance there is no reason why you couldn't start with that one. In general, enthusiasm is the mother of success - if you are pumped to learn to dance a good teacher should be able to make it easy no matter what dance you want to start with.
Finally, keep in mind that while each of our dance programs costs $15, we do offer our students access to all of our online dance instruction for just $50. This sometimes helps with the decision of "which dance program should we buy first".
Good Luck and Happy Dancing,
I want to learn some Latin dance steps - Where should I start?
posted by Dancing For Dessert on 10/03/2005 09:00:00 AM
What is the Line of Dance?
There are two meanings for the expression Line of Dance (LOD):
- The Line of Dance is the imaginary, counter-clockwise path which dancers follow around the dance-floor. This line is especially important for the ballroom dances (waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, polka etc.) as these dances are meant to travel. Samba and Paso Doble are two Latin Dances which also move on the line of dance, although that's not always important for beginners. It's a good idea for beginning dancers to do their steps towards the center of the room, as more experienced dancers will usually be flying around on the outside!
- The Line of Dance is also the name of our dance instruction journal where we write articles about the world of ballroom dancing! Dance tips, movie reviews, TV show overviews and much more can all be found here.
We also take requests! Do you have questions about the world of Ballroom and Latin Dancing? Maybe you're having trouble with specific dance steps and need some professional guidance to help work things out. Perhaps your partner needs a mint and you are wondering which brand is truly powerful! No matter what your dance concern, you can find answers to your ballroom dancing questions at Dancing for Dessert and The Line of Dance. We look forward to hearing from you.
Andrew, Magda & Brian