Monday, October 20, 2008

Teaching Tuesday Night

Just a quick FYI that I will be teaching Deborah's classes at The Ballroom tomorrow, Tuesday the 21st. I will also be DJing at Sac Ballroom Society on Friday.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Belly dancing!

OK, I am a dance nut. It's kind of silly, really. Some people have a fierce loyalty to their chosen discipline and have no interest whatsoever in doing or watching other styles. I, however, wish I could learn every style that's out there! If I were 15 years younger, 70 pounds lighter, way more flexible and 200% more talented, I'd totally love to be on So You Think You Can Dance. However, I'm not. Nor do I have the time or the money too pursue all the dance styles I'd like to! My experience is pretty much limited to Ballroom. I have done a tiny bit of ballet and belly dancing.

Every time I read about or watch a new style of dance, I want to do it. Although, I have to say that some of the "contemporary" stuff they do on SYTYCD is pretty weird and doesn't float my boat. Recently, I wrote an article about Highland dance and wanted to do that. The other night, Greg took me to Marrakech (a Moroccan restaurant in Sacramento) for my birthday. One of our favorite features about that place is the fact that they have a belly dancer on Friday and Saturday nights. Watching her got me all excited about belly dancing again, as she did when I first saw her (assuming it was the same one) there a few years ago.

I did get to learn a little belly dancing a couple of years ago for a variety show I was in, and I really loved it. I think it's time to do some more! My friend Ally said she wants to go with me, and we want Ashley to go with us, but I think they'll chicken out. Either way, I'm doing it! There's a lady who teaches in Folsom, where I live, so I've contacted her for info. yay!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bolero workshop today, and a discussion of technique

I don't know why I don't think to announce these things sooner, but I am giving a Bolero workshop today from 2:30 to 4:00 at The Ballroom of Sacramento. We will be working on styling and technique and applying those to a couple of patterns.

Technique is good for everyone, whether you compete or not. Most people, in my experience, would like to look better on the dance floor and lead/follow better. However, these same people don't want to take the time to work on their technique! They think they just need to learn some "styling" to look better. However, while learning where to put your free arm in a cross-over break will help you look a little better, using proper technique will take you much further! It also helps you to interact better with your partner, because you are both using your bodies properly.

Technique does not have to be hard, and you do not have to spend hours on drills. Simple things like using correct footwork, rise and fall, moving your body correctly over your feet and improving your frame are things that are easy to learn and improve, but go a long way toward improving your dancing--for you and your partner.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

DJing this weekend

Attention dance fans, I will be DJing this Saturday night at The Ballroom of Sacramento, 6009 Folsom Blvd in Sacramento. Hope to see you there! Maybe I'll come back with some new material to talk about, since I haven't updated this blog in a while.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What is dance all about?

If you ask five people what dancing is about, you will probably get five different answers. However, I will tell you the real answer: dancing is about connection. Connection to the music, to your partner, and within yourself.

When you dance, what are you thinking about? The steps, how to wiggle your hips? You should be thinking about relating to your partner and to the music. Yes, steps are important, but they are only part of the connection.

I watch dancers who are technically pretty good, but they have no connection to each other or the music. They are just going through the motions. Or, they are so busy trying to do cuban motion, they are ignoring each other (I mentioned this in an earlier post). Their arms aren't connected to what their bodies or legs are doing. None of it is expressing the music, although they might be on the music.

When you see the top professionals dancing, they put together all the pieces. The team is working together as one, every part of both bodies are working together, telling the same story--the story the music is telling. Although their technique is very, very good (and, truly, that technique is a foundation that helps the rest of it), but what gives them the extra edge is all the other stuff.

Dancing is connection.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Teaching tomorrow

I forgot to post that I taught Samba at the Sac Ballroom Society dance last all two of my readers missed it! Ah, well. Tomorrow I'm teaching Deborah's classes at The Ballroom. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Free online dance lessons!

I have started posting some dance steps on my Associated Content page. Please check them out! They're just basics, but if you are just learning to ballroom dance, you may find them useful.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Get out on the floor!

I want to clarify something I said about dancing beyond your ability, and my observations in other people. I analyze dancers because I am a teacher and it is what I am trained to do. Keep in mind that: A. most people don't do this. They watch the good dancers and B. if you are a beginner, most people will glance at you, think "beginners, good for them for getting out there! Looks like they're having a good time!" or something like that. Most people will not stare at or judge beginners who are just trying to get out there and practice. So, don't let shyness stop you from getting out on the dance floor and practicing your dancing!

Ballroom dancing takes a lot of practice, and if you don't practice between lessons it will take you much longer to learn. Besides, what good is taking dance lessons if you never go out and dance? Try to go to your local studio's dances at least once per month to practice, see other dancers and get some inspiration and socialize.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Don't try so hard!

My rant for today is not to try so hard in your dancing. I don't mean not to try to do your best, or try to get better...but don't try so hard to dance well that you are taking away from the smoothness and rhythm. Dancing can get very stilted and unnatural, and that is no fun to watch or do.

I also see people who dance as if they are better than they actually are. I know that sounds harsh, but it is true. I know a woman who just loves to point her toes and do graceful arm movements, but she does them all at the wrong times, and they don't fit the dance or the music. She's so wrapped up in how pretty she thinks she dances, she's distracted and disconnected from her partner. Therefore, he cannot lead her as well as he would like--and who is that fun for? Well, her. But ballroom dancing is not just about the girl, is it?

Focus first on the lead and follow, then the technique, then arm styling. The focus should always be on the absolute basics. Without the basics, the dance falls apart.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Students I love

Tonight I started teaching a new couple in private lessons. They have been dancing for a while but want to improve their technique and styling as well as learn steps. These people are my favorite type of student. Not because they are fantastic dancers--they need some work. The reason I like them is because they KNOW they need work. They have made a commitment to improving. They take lessons and practice. They ask good questions and take notes. The man made sure he knew the lady's part so he could help her--but that also helps him to lead her correctly. They were attentive and didn't argue. Perfect! I'm really looking forward to teaching this couple.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dance around

My advice for today is to dance with as many different partners as possible. Many people like to stick with the person they came with (usually a significant other). However, if you only dance with each other, you tend to make up for each other's faults, so you both get entrenched in your bad habits. Then, you stop leading and following, or it declines, because you get kind of complacent. Even with each other, it's not as good as if you kept your leading and following skills sharp by dancing with other partners. It also keeps things interesting, and the singles who come to the dance really appreciate it!In class, it can help you learn--if you're a beginner, don't let intimidation keep you with your partner and hinder your learning. Rotate to the other partners, because if they have the step, they can help you learn it. Then, you get back together with your partner and you're both happier because you both got it!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Teaching and dj'ing 6/27

Just a quick update to announce that I'll be teaching American Foxtrot at Sac Ballroom Society on Friday night, June 27th, at 7:30. I will also be plaing the music for the dance. We're having a special mixer: instead of a line dance mixer, we're encouraging everyone to mix on their own! Have your partner sign your dance card, and whoever dances with the most partners wins a prize!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Jennifer steps in

Well, after my big plug for Bill yesterday, he called me at 5:30 and asked if I would teach for him! He'd spent all day moving about 2,600 pounds of scrap metal out of his side yard and, strangely, didn't feel up to teaching! I'm always up for making an extra buck if I can, so I agreed. I taught Tango, and it was really fun. As always, there were a couple of people who had never done Tango and most of the people had done quite a bit. I started with the basic step, then did Tango Rocks, which is pretty easy but a little more complicated and keeps them moving across the floor. I don't think many of them had done it before, if any. Finally, for the most experienced dancers I taught them a left rock turn, starting with a left promenade and ending with a corte. It was a nice step and gave the opportunity to talk a lot about technique and leading. Everyone got it by the end, even the beginners! It was really a fun class. I stayed and danced for about an hour and a half and had a good time...Bill showed up and we did a couple, plus I danced with a couple of others (including Lon and Mark, two of my favorites).

I'm very pleased that my fitness level is improving. I huffed and puffed after the dances as usual, but not as much, and I danced several in a row without collapsing. This is thanks to my healthy eating habits over the past couple of weeks, several trips on the treadmill, and probably the fact that I've been dancing more lately. In any case, it feels good!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Bill's teaching tomorrow

Tomorrow, my brother/partner Bill is teaching Tango at Sac Ballroom Society. Please go support him! I hope to go, but I absolutely must go see my horse...I wasn't able to go tonight or last night!

The Sac Ballroom Society dances are really nice, low-key dances. Most of the people know how to dance, although there are few advanced dancers. The DJ's rotate (including me), so you get a different sound all the time. The facility is very nice and Robert and Leilani, who run it, put on a very nice snack spread and are really friendly. Check it out!

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I'm beginning to really enjoy teaching dance again. There was a time a few years ago when I was teaching five, six, even seven days per week. It got very old and I got very tired of it. I got burnt out, bitter about every little annoyance. Since I've had a nice long break from it and am doing more lately, I'm remembering what it is that I like about it. I like sharing my knowledge with people. I like the challenge of finding a new way to explain a concept so every person in the class gets it...or at least comes close. I like it when someone tells me after class "I've never gotten that before, but you explained it so well I understand now!" Every time it happens, I get a makes my day.

I teach again on June 27th, at Sac Ballroom Society. I'll be teaching American Foxtrot, then dj'ing for the dance. Should be fun...come on out!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Don't take classes above your level!

My rant for the day is about people who take classes above their level. If you have taken one beginning class and didn't quite get everything, you are not ready for intermediate! Intermediate is not just more steps...the steps get harder. You're doing yourself a disservice, along with everyone else in the class and the teacher, but taking a class you're not ready for. Make sure you have every concept down pat--you might want to take each level twice (or more as you move up) before taking the next level.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Teaching at The Ballroom

I will be subbing for Deborah for the next two weeks at The Ballroom of Sacramento. Tomorrow is intermediate American Cha Cha at 7:30 and advanced American Bolero at 8:30. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A little about me

I've mentioned that I currently teach ballroom dancing at The Ballroom of Sacramento. I thought I'd talk a little today about my dance history.

I started dancing at the beginning of June in 1995 when my brother Bill informed me I was going to. We'd been ice skating and roller skating most of our lives with varying levels of commitment, but I hadn't skated much in a while. Bill had taken up ballroom dancing with one of his skating partners, but she'd lost interest so he decided I needed to take it up in her place. I didn't have anything else to do that night, so I went. I was immediately hooked! I started going every chance I could get.

At first, I mostly learned by following Bill and by taking the classes that were offered before dances. Soon we started taking group classes and my skills grew. At some point when I'd only been dancing a few months, Ruby Campbell, then owner of The Ballroom Dance Center, offered me a teacher trainee contract, where I'd learn to be a dance teacher through her program and would then have a job. Well, the education didn't turn out to be all it was cracked up to be and I quit. I continued dancing here and there and eventually ended up at The Ballroom of Sacramento.

I took classes and workshops whenever I could, and when Bill needed a partner and would swing for private lessons, I took them. We competed a little bit, but didn't do very well. We found more enjoyment in giving performances, where we didn't have to pay to dance in front of other people! I eventually decided to turn pro and began teaching at The Ballroom. Bill and I did a few pro-am competitions, but eventually I bowed out and let him concentrate on his amateur partners. Bill always has several partners.

When I got my horse three and a half years ago, I started cutting back at The Ballroom and eventually stopped teaching all together unless someone needed a sub or an emergency private lesson. This was fine with me, because I had something new to concentrate on and was kind of burned out on teaching. In the past year, I've started teaching a little more again, several times per year at Sacramento Ballroom Society and subbing more at The Ballroom. I'm hoping to get some more teaching in to supplement my writing career so I can quit my day job! I am available for private lessons and classes/workshops in American-style ballroom through the bronze level, and I DJ if equipment is provided. Contact me at!

Welcome to my dancing blog!

Since I want to start dancing a bit more, I thought I'd start a blog to post my thoughts. I teach at The Ballroom of Sacramento and Sac Ballroom Society from time to time and am available for private lessons. More later--I need to get to bed!