Last weekend, I journeyed to Severna Park, MD, to interview (for my book) dancers affiliated with the Arthur Murray Studio there. What lovely people! How nice dancers tend to be never fails to amaze me. While there are no doubt grumpy types everywhere, they are under-represented at dance studios. While it may be that it’s mainly happy people who are attracted to dance in the first place, I know from my interviews that dance does make those who take it up happier. It sure did that for me, and I was already a fairly light-hearted person. I’ve noticed that unhappily-married couples also seem to be under-represented at studios. While it’s unfortunately common for marriages to devolve into we’re-merely-sharing-space, or we’re-staying-together-for-the-kids affairs, many of the long-hitched dance couples I meet have obviously managed to keep the spark alive. What part does dancing together play in that? Inquiring authors want to know!
Speaking of marital intimacy (or the lack), I’ve just finished a most interesting Ballroom-oriented book written by Janet Carlson titled Quick! Before the Music Stops. How Ballroom Dancing Saved My Life (2008). Carlson, while in her 20s, had been a very successful amateur ballroom competitor but had dropped out to pursue her career as a magazine editor. Twenty years later, she returned to dance and her book is a reflection on the challenges and joys of that renaissance. I found the author’s treatment of her attempts to re-master various high-level ballroom techniques, and her reflections on the similarities between dance and marital partnerships, fascinating.
In case you’re interested, I’ve listed below a few of the other books I’ll have to list and review as part of the proposal (for my book) I’ll eventually be submitting to a publisher:
Erikson, Julia (2011). Dance with me: Ballroom dancing and the promise of instant intimacy- Have not read it yet.
Savoy, Sharon (2011). Ballroom! Obsession and passion inside the world of competitive dance. New York University Press – Have not read it yet.
Seagull, Elizabeth (2008). Ballroom dancing is not for sissies. An R-rated guide for partnership – A serious reflection on the challenges of partnership in Ballroom. A must-read for instructors and couples who dance together.
Raurell, Lydia (2008). A year of dancing dangerously. One woman’s journey from beginner to winner – Haven’t read it yet.
Moore, Alex (2002). Ballroom dancing – A how-to guide
Allen, Jeff ( ). The complete idiot’s guide to ballroom dancing – Another how-to guide
While in Maryland, I took a lesson at the Severna Park studio from an instructor named Paul. Paul is a tall, handsome (aren’t they all?), charming (aren’t they all?) man who is a fabulous dancer and a seasoned instructor with 10 years of experience. I was so nervous initially that I could not hear the music and could not tell what dance I was being lead through. My feet knew, though, and Paul swiftly put me at ease. I became aware that I was waltzing – my favorite thing in the world to do. We worked on my twinkles and my walk-around turns. I simply cannot seem to get the hang of rotating 180 degrees on a given foot and leaving the weight on that foot until it’s time to shift to the other foot, rotate, and leave the weight on that foot until the next step. I have a dreadful tendency to lurch through turns, sticking a leg out for balance. We also worked on Cuban motion and Paul taught me to dig the heel of my straight leg into the floor in order to feel what it’s like to really settle deeply onto the other hip.
This weekend, I’m off to NYC for another workshop on Energy Psychology.