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October 24, 2008


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Take care, Susan. And I wish you a good time. It'll be exhausting, yes, but good.

You're in Boston? Well, probably not anymore by the time you read this...

Let's see, you're probably swing dancing now! Have fun, and drive carefully!

Have fun, and drive carefully!

Just not at the same time.

Actually, I am still in Boston, in a very civilized home with broadband access I can plug into, even though their wireless network and my Mac can't seem to agree on terms. It looks like I am skipping this evening's rehearsal, which is going to be more like an organizational meeting, so I could do a quick dinner if you like before I drive and try to get home at a reasonable hour. I shall now go and see if I have your phone number somewhere.

I will be having kosher pizza with Michael and Nomi later. Hurrah!

I am working on a theory:

In odd-numbered years, my dance career and love life flourish, and in even-numbered years they both go off a cliff.

This seems to apply rather well for the last few years. I'll have to look back further and see how well it works before that.

This is a long-winded way of saying I am possibly looking at quite the teaching troika next year, though I'm not so optimistic about the personal life. Details when things firm up....

Would a cross-step waltz be one where you trip over your own feet?

Well, I don't trip over my feet. Can't speak for some beginners, though! :)

The essence of the step is that rather than being taken straight forward/backward or around one's partner, the first step crosses between one and one's partner. It makes for an interestingly different feel in turning, but it can be confusing for beginners.

It does sound as if it it would be -- certainly to someone like myself equipped with two left feet.

If you can (1) hear the rhythm in music and (2) move your feet fast enough to take one step on each beat, I can probably teach you to dance, barring some specific physical disability that prevents it. Those are the two genuine barriers I've noticed with beginners. I was an astonishingly clumsy and utterly unathletic child and have no natural talent whatsoever for dance, though I do have an excellent sense of rhythm, and I managed to learn.

Most people who aren't rhythm-deaf or physically barred from dancing trip on psychological barriers more than anything else: like any other skill, dancing doesn't come instantly and naturally except to a very few lucky people. Many people, when they realize they can't do it perfectly in the first five minutes, just give up rather than taking the approach they would with, say, learning a new language or to play a musical instrument or to ski.

And many people are also traumatized by dubious teaching and/or a partner who tries to Make Them Dance and then heaps scorn on them for not being instantly good at it. My own mother is in this category -- after a bad experience 30-odd years ago with my father, she still refuses to even attempt any sort of dancing!

I'm not saying any of these specific things apply to you, but if you can hear rhythm and move your feet in time to it, you might be surprised by how far you could get with a good teacher!

This is a long-winded way of saying I am possibly looking at quite the teaching troika next year...


As for even-numbers versus odd-numbers, I've studied numbers a little, and they're hardly superstitious at all. I see no mathematical reason why you couldn't have a multi-year winning streak. Especially if you're being nagged given encouragement on another thread.

Well, the dance gig streak is not entirely under my control - the events I teach at rotate their teachers deliberately, so I can hardly expect to be asked every year. This has been quite a good year for dance stuff in many ways, it just didn't include the any of the higher-profile gigs I had in 2007.

Regarding this weekend, I also note that Springstep's Blues Café evening was well worth attending. I danced for 2.5 hours with almost no breaks and had a marvelous time. Unfortunately, my calendar isn't going to let me get back to another Blues Café until June at the earliest.

Hey, I'm moving my feet to one step per beat! Of course, I'm sitting down.

I never danced, as I grew up a nerd but not so nerdy that I didn't feel self-conscious. It'd be interesting, now that I've gotten over worrying so much over the opinions of most others, what I'd do if I tried to dance, especially with a good teacher to guide me.

This reminds me of a documentary I once saw about Flamenco. The teacher said that many boys didn't want to try because dancing is for girls, right? Sissy stuff. And yet isn't Flamenco a dance where boys very much get to strut out their 'masculinity'?

Having fun driving carefully is a good way to keep attention focused on the task. Driving can't always be fun, but let's at least let it be fun some of the time!

You fall under the physical disability category, alas!

I know the drive back and forth to Boston so well I can do it on autopilot, so I spend the time listening to good music and (when I'm driving alone) singing along. I was rocking along with Tempest on this trip.

Flamenco does have some variation on what men do vs. what women do, but yes, it has ample opportunities for sexual display for both genders. Re. dancing in general - see the two things I said above. If you can do those, you can probably learn.

Susan... If you can (1) hear the rhythm in music and (2) move your feet fast enough to take one step on each beat, I can probably teach you to dance

I don't know. I've never listened to music in terms of patterns that can be danced to, and in a timely manner, but that doesn't mean I couldn't. I can detect structures though. I was watching some old movie yesterday and some of the score's elements sounded familiar and sure enough I had correctly recognized a Korngold composition.

Well, I could test this in five minutes in person. It's a bit harder to do over the net, though I could probably work out a way you could self-test the rhythm detection portion.

Go for it, Susan. You could make it into a separate post if you want.

...but not if it's going to get in the way of mysterious writing project 'R'.

The times I drove back and forth from W. Springfield to Boston, I put radio shows on. I listened to "I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again" a couple of times, and to some Lux Radio Theater. "Destry Rides Again," with Jimmy Stewart, "Meet Me in St. Louis," and "A Star is Born," both with Judy Garland. Her radio version of the latter preceded her movie version by, um, I think a couple of years, at least. Jean Shepherd's good, too. When I had to drive between MA and the Hartford area for my dismal job, I listened to Nero Wolfe, Philip Marlowe, Bob & Ray, the Goon Show, and Jean Shepherd. Not all at once.

Driving back to Albuquerque from Denver after the worldcon, I put on my CD of Jeff Wayne's musical version of War of the Worlds. Entertaining, even though of the disco era's musical tastes do peek thru. Still, it's a better interpretation than the Spielberg/Cruise movie.

Interesting; when I drive, I don't listen to anything that requires much attention. I prefer music I know well already so I can tune in and out according to the demands of the drive and just pick up wherever it is without having to think. I listen to a lot of Broadway show soundtracks.

I have no tolerance for any sort of being talked at while driving. I can't stand radio (while driving or, for that matter, any other time) for that reason, and have avoided audiobooks, which seem to combine the worst (from my perspective) of all worlds: being talked at and having to pay attention.

Susan... I don't listen to anything that requires much attention

That's not an unreasonable concern. In the case of my CD of WoTW, total concentration wasn't needed because this isn't the first time I've listened to it on long-distance trips. (Good thing too because there was a point when I was far from civilization where rain fell so hard that I had to slow down to a crawl.) This time though, while driving and listening, I found myself wondering how one could do a masquerade presentation that'd have a Martian Tripod come on stage.

You know, I can dance in water, too, but that would be a problem with your costumes. I don't drive long distances anymore, but I listen to my CDs in the van and usually sing along.

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