nyusabda logoHelping Dancers with the DanceAssist Fund
Oct. 3, 2011 ed.

Greetings from the Greater NY Chapter of USA Dance!

In this edition:
  1. Support the DanceAssist Fund
  2. Just Read Becoming Ginger Rogers
  3. Abakuá Performs at Brooklyn Museum
  4. USA Dance Nationals Update
  5. DWTS13 Week 2 Recap
  6. Collegiate Ballroom Season Kicks Off
  7. Return of the Socials
  8. Reminders of Upcoming Events
  9. Looking to Improve Your Dancing?
  10. Looking to Social Dance?
  11. Looking for a Partner?

Support the DanceAssist Fund

In the last few months, we have received sad news about health crises faced by some of our dancers. In an effort to address the situation, the Board of NY USA Dance has decided to establish the DanceAssist Fund. The purpose of this fund is to contribute money to support dancers from the Greater New York area who are facing a major health crisis in their lives and are without insurance or financial means to cover healthcare costs.

On Saturday, October 22, NY USA Dance plans to hold a social at Manhattan Ballroom Dance, and the proceeds from that event will go towards the creation of the DanceAssist Fund. We hope that the dance community will come out in support of this event and help us collect significant amounts. We plan to donate the proceeds to support Julia Ivleva, who is fighting stage 4 lung cancer, and Roberto Pagan, who is recovering from a stroke.

More details will be forthcoming. In the meantime, please save the date and we hope you can join us on October 22.

Just Read Becoming Ginger Rogers

Recently, I stopped in at Dance Times Square, where the group Asian Women in Business held an event to promote a book entitled Becoming Ginger Rogers by Patrice Tanaka. I was coming out of a meeting at a law firm nearby and was heading to dinner in the neighborhood and only had time to pass through and introduce myself briefly to Ms. Tanaka. She was gracious enough to present me with an autographed copy of the book.

Becoming Ginger RogersI just finished reading it, and I highly recommend it. The book recounts the author's journey from the high-stress world of public relations to the glitz and glamor of the ballroom world, in which she discovered joy, dance, freedom, growth and fulfillment of childhood dreams.

The book combines memoir and how-to advice on succeeding in business. The book's subtitle, "How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO," while accurate, doesn't quite convey the highly personal and heart-felt aspects of Ms. Tanaka's story. The book was released in September 2011, soon after the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and that tragedy figures prominently in setting Ms. Tanaka on her path to ballroom dancing.

I knew next to nothing about the public relations world and what people in that profession did, and some of the most interesting parts of the book concern the campaigns that Ms. Tanaka and her award-winning PR firm masterminded, including the introduction of the original Dyson vacuum cleaner into the American market and the revival of the moribund Godiva chocolates brand. Her ability to inter-weave and relate her experiences in learning to ballroom dance with her professional successes was truly remarkable. You don't have to be in PR to appreciate the lessons she draws from the ballroom world to apply them in the corporate world. Actually, Ms. Tanaka discovered many worthwhile life lessons from ballroom that translate just as well, if not better, to everyday living.

The book contains well-written descriptions of the various ballroom dances that ballroom dancers will recognize as being accurate and non-dancers should find understandable and accessible. I was also pleased and delighted to read the names of dancers, professional and non-professional, that I know. Indeed, my favorite dance competition, the Manhattan Amateur Classic, makes an appearance on page 101 (but erroneously identified as "the Manhattan Amateur Competition" at Barnard College).

Reading the book on the train, I nearly missed my subway stops, engrossed as I was by some of the stories in it.

Whether or not you are a ballroom dancer or a PR professional, I urge that you add Becoming Ginger Rogers to your reading list. It certainly made me think of the lessons from ballroom dancing that I could have (maybe even should have) applied in my professional and personal life. Maybe it will inspire you and get you thinking along the same lines.

Abakuá Performs at Brooklyn Museum

Abakuá at Brooklyn MuseumA popular and family-friendly event takes place on the first Saturdays of every month at the Brooklyn Museum, sponsored by Target, and this month's Target First Saturday took place on October 1, which happened to be not just the first day of the month but also the first Saturday of the month.

In performance in the Cantor Auditorium on the third floor was the world-renowned Afro-Latin dance troupe Abakuá, back in town from a recent performance in Poland.

The packed auditorium eagerly awaited the start of the performance, and a buzz of excitement filled the air when the house lights turned off. However, when the room remained dark and only the murmurings of the puzzled audience was heard, the crowd soon clamored for the show to start.

The house lights came back on and the lone figure of Frankie Martinez, Artistic Director and Co-Founder, took the empty page. He apologized for the delay and acknowledged that it was unusual for him to address the audience before the start of a performance, but he explained that due to a family tragedy, one of the dancers who was supposed to perform that night could not be there. The performance would proceed, but Frankie let us know that some of the duets would now be solos, so if the choreography appeared strange, that was the reason.

Frankie returned to backstage and the lights came down again. This time, as the lights came back up and the music came on, the dancers had taken their places.

Despite the delayed start, Abakuá gave a terrific performance. It is always a pleasure to watch this troupe's unique interpretation of Afro-Latin dance forms, taking elements of tradition and folklore into present day and transforming them into something timeless. The selection and use of music for each of the pieces being performed were engaging and at times inspired. In the best moments, Frankie's choreography and music melded together seamlessly.

For some of my photos from the performance, click here.

Abakuá's next stop is Istanbul, Turkey.

USA Dance Nationals Update

USA Dance 2012 NationalsThose attending the Carolina Fall Classic this weekend (October 7 through 9) in Greensboro, North Carolina, will be happy to know that they can qualify for the 2012 USA Dance Nationals through their participation at that event, and this would be a good reminder to those who plan to compete at Nationals next year that the dates are March 30 through April 1, 2012. It will again be taking place at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. The new website is now up so you should check it and return to it periodically as it gets updated. New for 2012 is the Showdance, and if you're interested in taking part in that event, check the Nationals website for more details. There is also a menu item called "Stuff You Should Read" which includes "New Rules for 2012" and that definitely qualifies as "Stuff You Should Read."

Because we know that dancers always wait to the last minute, let me tell you now that on-line registration closes on March 6. Yes, I know it's months away but put the date in your calendars now, set up whatever reminders you need to, and if you want to register on-line and avoid last-minute hassles, make plans to register before March 6. You've been alerted!

DWTS13 Week 2 Recap

Elisabetta Canalis and Val Chmerkovskiy are eliminated in week 2 of DWTS13We returned to Sinigual on 41st and Third to catch week 2 of DWTS13, and our reception there last week was decidedly better than it was for the season premiere. The management placed "Reserved" signs for us at the bar. I only wish we had brought a larger group to fill it, but the staff dutifully turned on the show, with sound and closed captioning. We enjoyed the episode with a wide selection of beverages and a full menu of contemporary Mexican cuisine.

The dances in week 2 were jive and quickstep, not the easiest of the dances, especially for raw beginners. For the most part, the dancing was unspectacular with two exceptions: Rob Kardashian put in a watchable jive. It seemed like Cheryl Burke gave him choreography that made him look good, and she also didn't overdance it to try to draw attention away from him, which some of the other pros -- Derek Hough and Mark Ballas, yes, I'm looking in your direction -- have a tendency to do.

The other exception was J.R. Martinez. He came out strong last week with a wonderful Viennese waltz and proved that he wasn't a one-hit wonder by putting in an equally impressive jive that, for my money, was the best dance of the night. However, Len Goodman criticized him for dancing Lindy Hop instead of jive and Carrie Ann Inaba chastised Karina Smirnoff for putting in a lift. As a result, J.R. did not finish in the top position. In my view, both comments were off-base, and J.R. should have been at the top of the leaderboard, in first place.

After two weeks, J.R. Martinez remains the dancer to watch. He is a strong favorite in my book to be in the final, if not the one to take the Mirrorball Trophy.

The "star" eliminated in week 2 was Elisabetta Canalis, which was not surprising, even though the judges scored her quickstep high. She obviously did not have the fan base, and Val Chmerkovskiy was apparently too new to develop his own fan base to boost the votes.

On the point of the dance pros being the real "stars" of the show now, check out this article from last week's New York Times entitled "Realignment of Star Power," which talks about how some of the dancers are now more celebrated than the celebrities who are dancing on the show. I give you one guess who gave the following quote in the article: “I don’t want to sound conceited, but now I feel like it’s my show too.”

Join us on Monday, October 3, at the bar at Sinigual, for week 3.

Collegiate Ballroom Season Kicks Off

With school back in session, the start of the collegiate ballroom season also resumes.

  • Princeton University's ballroom team leads the way with the Princeton Ballroom Competition on Saturday, October 8, at the Dillon Gymnasium on the Princeton University campus. More than 200 dancers have registered to compete, some coming from as far away as Pittsburgh. Good luck to all the competitors!
  • The Saturday right after the Princeton Ballroom Competition, the 15th annual Cornell DanceSport Classic will be taking place in Ithaca, New York, on October 15. Registration has been open since August and will remain so until the day before, with a discount applying to registrations made before October 5. The evening performance will be presented by Ronen Zinshtein and Mariam Izmaylova.

Return of the Socials

October heralds the return of two regular socials:

  • Hot Latin Tuesdays at Club 56: To celebrate the Grand Re-Opening of this perennial favorite weekly dance party on Tuesday, October 11, the band Mambo Loco will be playing live. DJ Cody spins the tunes at Club 56 in Farmingdale, LI. Friendly crowd, terrific dancers, hot and cold buffet included with price of admission, cash bar (reasonably priced). Best of all, present your USA Dance card and you get all this for just $10.
  • Friday Fiesta Monthly Ballroom Socials make their return on Friday, October 14. After a summer hiatus, this monthly mixed ballroom event starts up again at American Ballroom Theater Studio on West 31st Street, from 7 pm to 10 pm. Admission is $15 per person but if you bring a friend, it's two for $20. For more information, send an email to: ballroom@nonstopplaynyc.com or call 718-781-3924.

Reminders of Upcoming Events

  • Friday, October 21, Place at Main will feature a live band, Gerard Carelli and his Orchestra, and professional performances by Andy and Yulia Klinchik (former USA Dance National DanceSport Championships Standard Champions). The cost is $48 per person and includes light dinner and wine. Place at Main is located at 36-51 Main Street in Flushing (a few blocks north of the Main Street stop on the 7 train). For more information, call 718-321-0521. Click here for the flyer.
  • If you missed the first USA Dance National Dance Cruise last year, now’s your chance to take part in the second annual USA Dance National Dance Cruise, taking place from December 4 through 11, 2011. Here’s more from the National Ballroom Dance Cruise website.
  • The 22nd Annual Manhattan Amateur Classic takes place from January 13-15, 2012, at the Grand Ballroom of the Manhattan Center. Registration is now open. Questions? Send them to mac@nyusadance.org. Save the dates! Hope to see you there.
  • USA Dance National DanceSport Championships takes place on March 30 through April 1, 2012, at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. On-line registration closes on March 6.
  • Dance Legends” is coming to the Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center next April. It will be a two-day event set to take place on April 13 and 14, 2012, and it will feature past and present champions in ballroom and latin, performing in multiple showcases. Tickets are due to go on sale in a month, on September 1. To learn more, visit the website or follow Dance Legends on Facebook or Twitter.

Looking to Improve Your Dancing?

Here are some ideas for classes and practice spaces:
  • At Brooklyn DanceSport Club, Maria and Eugene will be teaching Open Junior/Youth Seminars on Mondays from 7:00 to 8:30 pm, and Open Adult Seminars on Tuesdays from 7:00 to 8:30 pm. They will also hold regular run-through Latin rounds on Tuesdays from 8:30 to 10:00 pm and Thursdays from 8:00 to 9:30 pm. Blackpool Professional Rising Star Ballroom Champions Marat Gimaev and Alina Basyuk have now joined the studio as Directors of the Ballroom Department and they will be teaching the Open Standard Seminar on Wednesdays at 7 PM, starting July 6th. They will also run regular Standard Run-through Practices on Wednesdays at 8:30 PM and on Fridays at 7 PM. The studio is easily accessible by subway, via the N train, 18 Avenue stop. From there, it’s a short walk to the studio.
  • Stepping Out holds an International Standard and American Smooth Practice session on Tuesdays from 9:30 to 10:30 pm, and the cost is just $3 per person or $5 per couple. On Saturdays, they hold a Standard pratice session from 5 pm to 6 pm, at the same cost. Just show the front desk your USA Dance membership card to take advantage of these great rates, and ask them what other USA Dance discounts are available for their other programs and events.
  • Become the best ballroom dancer you can be for your partner by working on yourself first. ISTD Fellow Michael Choi shows you how with his Ballroom Barre, at Chelsea Studios, every Wednesday, starting at 8:30 pm. Just $25 per person for USA Dance members. The classes are non-sequential so drop in any time; no partner required, all levels welcome. For more information, contact Michael at michael@dancemchoi.com.
  • Manhattan Ballroom Dance studio runs Standard rounds on Thursday , from 9:30 to 10:30 pm and Latin Rounds on Friday nights from 8:30 to 9:30 pm.
  • Basic Ballroom holds a Competition Run-through Class supervised by former World Professional Latin finalists Paul and Olga Richardson on Friday nights from 8 pm to 9:30 pm. Just $20 for USA Dance members.
  • Check out the special rates for USA Dance members at Basic Ballroom: just $79 for a 10 session card and $90 for their unlimited monthly card.
  • DanceSport offers a $100 monthly floor fee card for amateur dancers: Unlimited practice space Monday to Friday 10 am to 5 pm, Saturdays 10 am to 2 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 7 pm for 30 days.
  • Dance with Me Soho can no longer host practice sessions on weekdays due to space constraints. Dancers are welcome to practice on weekends for $15 per hour per couple. Also, you may want to try their practice parties on Wednesdays at 9:20 to 10:10 pm (salsa theme) and Thursdays same time that covers all styles.

Looking to Social Dance?

Here are some suggestions:

For more ideas, check Wayne's Dance Commentary or bailamosdance.com.

Looking for a Partner?

We have a follower seeking a silver or higher leader in Standard or Smooth. To see this and other posts of dancers seeking partners, take a look here. If your post has expired and you're still looking for a partner, feel free to re-post. It’s free, it’s easy. Do it today!

That does it for this week. If you're going to the Carolina Fall Classic, see you there!

Yang Chen
Greater NY
USA Dance
(NY USA Dance)

General disclaimer: Please note that, other than events organized by NY USA Dance, the listing of events in this newsletter is purely for informational purposes and does not carry with it any endorsement, sanction or seal of approval, express or implied. If you have any questions about an event other than one organized by NY USA Dance, you should direct them to the organizer of that event. NY USA Dance has no control over any of the events listed herein, other than those events which NY USA Dance itself organizes. NY USA Dance bears no responsibility for the content, conduct, quality, management or operation of any of the events listed in this newsletter, other than those events organized directly by NY USA Dance.

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