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Well my story of dancing began when I was really young, about 6 years old maybe. My posture wasn't very good so my parents sent me off to dancing lessons. In the small dance studio where I took lessons, everyone in the class did all of Modern, Tap and Ballet. Now myself and the Ballet teacher really didn't get on all that well because I wasn't very good at it but the Tap and the Modern I loved.... In Ballet, everyone had to wear the same pink leotard but in the other two we all wear different colour catsuits and I had a bright yellow one. Yeh... I know it sounds absolutely hideous now and looking back, it was! But at the time I loved this old thing! It didn't seem to matter to my other dance teacher that I had 2 left feet, the main thing to her was that everyone had a go and enjoyed themselves. Because I enjoyed Tap and Modern so much, I actually grew to become fairly good at them! Now if you've read my reviews before, you'll know that I was given the choice by my parents of whether to take up piano lessons or to carry on with the dancing and because I still didn't get along with the Ballet teacher (and it was her studio), I decided to quit dancing. This is where the story of my dancing lessons ends. Or at least, it was.... In September, it was announced that our school was going to put on a production of Grease and although I'm really not a person who pushes herself forward for things, I decided to pluck up the courage and audition. I was desperate for a main part and I did really well at each of the auditions (apart from the dancing where I was pretty terrible!) but when the cast list came out I was gutted to find that I was just one of the dancers. There were other people who auditioned for main parts and just ended up a dancer and they dropped out of the show, but this was something I really wanted to do so I prepared myself to be a dancer. After the first r
ehearsal, I was still really awful and found it really hard to remember the dances one we were taught them but it did actually get easier the more my legs got used to moving quickly. It's now a week till the show and I am really really looking forward to it. I have had a fantastic time dancing and I never thought I would, I'm singing backing vocals to some of the songs and I have even bough myself a pair of jazz shoes so that I can take up a beginners dance class when I got to University. So this is really just a message to say that even if you've got 2 left feet, give dancing a go because it really does get easier and is soooo much fun!! :) :) :)
When I started thinking about what was my favourite, favourite thing in the whole world ever, various things came to mind. I thought of my wonderful father and brother, who I’ve put through so much, yet have remained constantly there for me. I thought about music, that has enriched so many days and nights and months and seasons and even years. And of course, I thought about pizza and chocolate and Ben and Jerrys ice-cream and flowers and fireworks and specific films and memories and dreams… And for good few hours I thought “Nope, this is too difficult, can’t possibly pick ONE thing that I love above everything else”. Then I thought again, and slept on it, and decided that I couldn’t cop out that easily. This wasn’t a normal everyday opinion, it’s a celebration of a special individual’s continuing life, and should reflect what makes my life worth living and makes it wonderful and makes me smile. So working on the basis that if I didn’t contribute, I would be disrespecting that important anniversary, and that the celebration is of life itself, and that whatever I finally chose should be highly personal, enduring and ongoing, I picked Dancing. I’d love to be able to reel off a fact-packed historical journey from the origins of dance to the present day, highlighting key movements and moments, but I’m sorry, I can’t. This op would probably become tediously long and despite my best efforts would undoubtedly still contain omissions and errors. So what you’re getting instead is my personal history of dance. (If you’re looking for a “proper” opinion on Dancing in General, you may wish to peruse the other opinions within this category!) So, if you’re still with me, off we go… The home I was brought up in was incredibly musical, guitars and keyboards and the piano and singing everywhere. Which was great but I’m
not musically gifted, giving up after numerous piano lessons, guitar tutorials from my dad, school-based recorder and clarinet classes. But what I did get from my home environment was a love of music. I remember when I was little doing that ‘walking up my dad’s legs while he held my hands and doing a roly-poly back to the ground’ thing, and being swung around in the air, and so often this was at least with the background of music, if not exactly in time to it. At about 4, I can just about remember a party across the road and playing musical statues – surely the earliest experience of dancing for anyone? And then the 3 years from when I was 6, maypole dancing at school, all dressed up and spring-like, twining the multi-coloured ribbons as we skipped and sang. Again at school, country dancing where you skip backwards and forwards to “Now take your partner by the hand..” etc etc., spinning in circles and through lines of other people. It was never actually cool to enjoy these lessons but everyone did anyway, it all felt so frivolous and non-schooly and so people put their awkwardness to one side and tried to fall into the rhythm. There was no hierarchy and people just giggled and bumbled their way through it. Happy memories! Despite not being a gymnast by any stretch of the imagination, I involved myself in my form’s gym team at secondary school, purely to enjoy some educationally-sanctioned dancing. I just about managed the required three gym moves in order to spend the lunchtimes bopping away to Madonna. And then I was 14, and proper clubs awaited (yes really!). Saturday nights spent euphorically jumping around to indie-cool were quickly replaced by more sedate house nights, where shimmying and fancy-footwork was all, and the bass dictated that swing of the hips or nod of the head. Next, proper techno, and the pounding beats that were mirrored by my feet, then junglist drum ‘n
8217; bass with its more complicated rhythm structure that on occasion had me slinking away to wait for a more dance floor friendly number. Salsa, reggae and dub nights that led to more expressive and soulful sashaying and stepping, and onwards, to Latin inspired frenetic percussion pieces and slinkier, slicker world music collaborations. And here we are. Always in the background were the jump up guitar based indie-pop, and the proper pure girlie pop that I’d sing along to quietly whilst flexing and stepping and swinging and shaking. And all the while, regardless of the pace or sound, I would be dancing along with a big grin on my face, until my feet were too painful to actually stop the constant weight-shifting, and then until my legs were just too tired to carry on moving. In case you haven’t picked it up yet, I love dancing. I love the freedom, the sense of space, the feeling of being engulfed in the beat, the rhythms that capture your soul and whisk you away. I adore that sense of surrender when your toes start tapping and your feet start shuffling and your hips start swaying, and remaining still is just not an option. With your eyes closed and the most contented smile on your lips and the beads of sweat breaking on your face, I love it. Nothing makes me feel more goddess-like and more in tune with my physical self than releasing myself to music. Even just writing this I’m grinning away to myself! Oh and just think of the contexts! A girlie night out or a seriously cool club, solo dancing on the podium or getting up close and personal with the object of your affection, the vertical expression of a horizontal desire for that gorgeous figure you’ve spotted, or just that tribal sense of being part of a heaving dance floor. Nowadays of course there’s the added virtue factor that I’m actually getting a work-out while enjoying myself, but often that’s only remembered after t
he fact, when I’m reminded by my aching muscles and blistered feet! (Just remember to drink lots of water all the time and every day!) I’m currently trying to locate do-able dance classes to extend my repertoire to include the merengue, mambo and samba styles and I’ve found various websites pretty helpful. The best of these was www.dancesport.uk.com, which contains details of classes, teachers, events and venues all over the UK, as well as comprehensive information covering different styles, dance wear and shoes, music CDs and instructional DVD/videos, dance holidays and an awful lot more. I’ve never had any formal dance training before, so wish me luck! But even if you’re not interested in learning a specific style of dance, go out dancing this weekend and let yourself flow to the music. Or just stay in, but put your favourite CD on and dance around the living room, or kitchen, or even bedroom if you’re that way inclined! You know you love it really, the rush of adrenalin and endorphins as you react to your choice of sounds and beats lifts the spirits like nothing else. You’ll be getting that all-important cardiovascular activity and you won’t even notice the time going by! So there you go. My favourite thing. Pipping music to the post only because by dancing I become involved, physically, with the rhythms. No longer a passive listener, more of a participant. And, consequently, engaged, energised, enlivened, empowered, enriched. So Dance, then, wherever you may be… "Jill Murphy asked me to write about one of my favourite things to help her celebrate her fourth anniversary of cancer-free living and to remind ourselves of all the nice things in the world. It takes more muscles to make a frown than a smile you know. If you'd like to join in, whether you've only just joined dooyoo, or you've been here ages, you're more than welcome. Just wr
ite about one of YOUR favourite things, make your title "A Favourite Thing: [your choice]" and include this paragraph at the foot of your opinion. And post before Friday, 9th August."
I’ve become a couch potato. Or rather, an “armchair in front on the PC with keyboard on lap” potato. I don’t walk anywhere much, the idea of jogging leaves me cold, and I’m not crazy about swimming either. I simply don’t get enough exercise. I bet I’m not alone either, am I? Over the past two or three years, the state of my body has declined at a frightening rate. Yeah sure, I’m not as young as I used to be, but that’s not the only explanation. More than anything, it’s down to my lack of exercise. I’m overweight, I smoke and I don’t eat sensibly. A heart attack waiting to happen. My energy levels are far lower than they were, and everything feels generally sluggish. It wasn’t always like this though. Once upon a time I felt reasonably fit and although I’ve never been sylphine, my body was in a lot better shape than this miserable example of womanhood. So what was I doing back then, that I don’t do now? Quite simple really. I danced. Ever since I was a tiny girl, before I could even walk, I’ve danced. To start with my father carried me in his arms as we waltzed around the dance floor, then as I grew and became more certain on my feet, he taught me the steps and would proudly lead me through various dances. I can remember the smell of the chalk on the highly polished ballroom floor, and the way my feet would so easily slide along. It was almost like skating without skates. I loved it, and those evenings spent dancing with my father became major highlights of my week. I’ve had a good few dance partners since those early days, but sadly, I have nobody to dance with now. I’ve never really enjoyed “individual” dancing, and without a partner to dance with, I hardly ever dance anymore. Strictly speaking, you don’t ‘need’ a partner to dance, there are plenty of types of dance that can be done
without one, like flamenco and square-dancing, but they aren’t really my cup of tea. Maybe I’m just going to have to find some alternative form of exercise, but although I know there are health benefits to be gained from cycling, swimming and jogging, I can’t imagine them being anywhere near as much fun as dancing. • So why is dancing good for you? ~ You burn calories 15 minutes of fast latin-american ballroom dancing (cha-cha, jive, merengue etc) burns an average of 104 calories. In comparison, running at 5 mph over the same time burns an average of 159 calories, cycling at a leisurely pace burns about 74 and intercourse burns 79. A good excuse to let some dirty dancing be part of the foreplay eh? ~ You’ll get plenty of cardiovascular exercise Dancing, depending on the tempo and the amount of work you put into it, can raise the heartbeat from 80 to 120 (sometimes even more) beats per minute. A dance usually lasts about 3-4 minutes and if you “dance one, miss one” over a 45 minute period, these “bursts” will help build both your heart’s strength and it’s endurance. In fact, the exertion and breathing rates of dancers performing just one high energy dance is, according to The British Dance Council, the same as an Olympic 800 metre runner over a similar period. Competition dancers who enter a ten dance championship can find themselves repeating this performance up to thirty times so you can imagine the sort of stamina that’s needed for serious competition dancing. ~ Your muscles will be toned Dancing is a wonderful way to improve muscle tone, especially for women, as the mix of isometric (muscle contractions against resistance where the length of muscles remain the same) and isotonic resistance (muscular contraction which the muscle remains under relatively constant tension while its length changes) are perfect for tonin
g without building up muscle mass. For women with pelvic muscle problems, “exotic” dance (belly dancing and, dare I say it, lap dancing) is the perfect form of exercise thanks to all those belly and hip rolls. ~ Your bones with become stronger Dancing is a weight bearing exercise and as such, will help strengthen your weight bearing bones (tibia, fibula and femur). This can help prevent, or at least slow down, the loss of bone mass (osteoporosis). Unlike high impact exercise, such as jogging, running and high impact aerobics, there’s little risk of injury involved in dancing. ~ You’ll have healthier joints According to the American Journal of Medicine, the best way to avoid arthritis or remedy joint discomfort is to use the joints in a controlled manner through regular exercise. The rotating motions of dance help spread synovial fluid to the connective tissue and joints, which goes a long way towards keeping them healthy. You don’t even need to do strenuous forms of dance to enjoy these benefits; a slow waltz, when performed properly, is a splendid way of maintaining healthy joints. ~ You’ll feel better “in yourself” * Dancing releases endorphins, which are mood enhancers. Whenever you see dancers returning from the dance floor, they’re almost always smiling. * Humans are, by and large, social creatures. Dancing is a social activity that can help contribute towards improved self-esteem and a more positive outlook on life. * Unlike many forms of exercise, dance doesn’t consist of continuous, repetitive movement. You’ll need to use your mind to concentrate on steps/movement. Exercising the mind is good for you, and makes you feel more capable of tackling those everyday mundane duties. Obviously, the more “strict” the dance is, the more you’ll need to concentrate, but even freestyle dancing demands
are certain amount of concentration. * Dancing can bring couples closer together through the intense concentration on their own and their partner’s body movements. * When you’re on that dance floor and you can see that impressed look on the faces of onlookers, it gives you a huge buzz that does wonders for self-confidence. Although dancing is a very natural form of exercise, as with all exercise, there is some risk involved, depending on the amount of oomph you put into it. If you have heart disease or other serious medical conditions that you believe may be effected by this type of exercise, consult your GP before taking up dance as a new activity. Otherwise, keep the following points in mind: 1. Warm up Spend a few minutes stretching before you start to dance. Do a few easy dance steps to prepare your muscles for the activity ahead. 2. Ease in gently To avoid straining a muscle, begin with a dance that isn’t too demanding – nice easy rhythms, and build up to the more strenuous, faster tempos. 3. Know your own limits If you feel tired or short of breath, take a break and sit out the next number or two. Dancing the night away doesn’t have to mean dancing ALL night. People of any age or ability can enjoy dance. Although some people will argue that they have two left feet, this isn’t entirely true. We all have natural rhythm in our bodies that’s waiting to be released. We won’t all make professional standards, but does the fact that you’re not an F1 driver stop you from using your car? Dancing’s fun. Whether you’re doing a sexy salsa or do-si-do-ing to the calls or a barn-dance caller (yepp, I’ve tried that too), you’ll be having fun while doing something that’s great for your body. Dance classes are run in all areas of the country, some in professional dance studios, some in the village hal
l, covering everything from ballroom and line-dancing to disco and flamenco. Wherever you are, you’re bound to find one near you. If only I had a dancing partner….. ~~+~~+~~
Anyone remember the Dawson’s Creek episode where Andie convinced her then boyfriend Pacey along with Joey and Dawson that they should all go to the dance by promising them that a few hours there would lead to, well, sex? And how she used the “classic” movie “Footloose” to back up her arguments. We did Footloose once at Blackpool Opera House, but let me tell you, nothing like that happened in the dressing rooms afterwards. Anyway, dancing. That’s what this subject is, and so that’s the topic about which I’m going to write. As you might know if you’ve read my op on Ballet, I started dancing to improve my gymnastics. Ironically though, I carried on with the former years after I quit the latter. I’ve tried many types of dancing over the years – Ballet, Modern, Jazz (there’s a difference), Greek, National, Acrobatic and more. To me “dancing” means this – the way I spent 6 or 7 hours a week for over 10 years of my life. It is a structured thing in my mind – something you are taught at a school, something you practice and something you improve at. It’s a subject where achievements are recognized with certificates and awards. I’m aware however, that this is not what it means to everyone – to some it’s just what they do when in a club, to others it’s an undisciplined way of letting off steam after a tough day but to me, as I said, it’s an education that takes place in situations similar to an academic school. Some people claim to be taken over by the music, or that they become at one with it and have to dance. Unfortunately, after hundreds of lessons and shows and exams and competitions, I never felt like this. It was just something I liked doing. Occasionally when a song comes on the radio I’ll put down whatever I’m working on and dance around my room, but I’m sure this is partly if not wholly due to the fac
t that often I just need a break from NLP or Prolog or whatever fascinating topic I’m supposed to be studying that day. Types of Dancing Sooooo many. I searched on Yahoo and it gave me the following, although I’m sure the list is not 100% complete : · Ballet · Ballroom · Break Dance · Butoh · Capoeira · Ceroc · Contemporary · Contra Dancing · Country Western · Exotic Dancing · Flamenco · Folk and Traditional · Foxtrot · Jazz · Line Dance · Merengue · Middle Eastern · Modern · Religious and Sacred Dance · Renaissance · Salsa · Samba · Scottish Counry Dancing · Square Dance · Swing · Tango · Tap · Waltz Clothing It’s often the shoes rather than the clothes that are important for dancing, especially when learning and not performing. For Ballet you need leather, canvas or satin flat or pointe Ballet shoes, for Tap, plated tap shoes, for Character, heeled Character shoes. Can you see a pattern developing here? And although I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – tie your hair back and remove any jewelry The +s of Dancing (of any kind) · It keeps you fit · It relieves stress · You meet new people (if you do the class thing) · It makes you more graceful (or it helps at least) · You learn new skills · It’s free – bung on the radio and you’re away Where you can dance You don’t have to take lessons, although some people, like me, prefer it. If you want to, look in the yellow pages for schools near you. If there aren’t any specialist dancing ones, contact your local leisure center. Manchester Aquatics Center, for example, run several classes each week for all levels of dancer. Alternatively, look up your local language school (don't laugh) since they o
ften offer lesons too - here in Manchester this is certainly true of the Spanish Institute as well as other places I can't remember. To find out more Check out any or all of the links from this site http://uk.dir.yahoo.com/arts/performing_arts/Dance/
Bearing in mind a vast percentage of the british public are overweight - wouldn't it be great to get more of us out dancing? I'm not talking about clubs but propper venues where you don't need to be half cut before you set foot on the dance floor. I've been going to various classes for years. It doesn't matter whether it's salsa or rock and roll - the trick is not to take it too seriously and you'll probably laugh off more calories than you sweat off. It's a terrific social scene, whether your single or not. Because it's a class there's no chance of being a wall flower and you'll get to meet enough people as you pass from partner to partner to be able to pick and choose who you chat to or dance with later in the evening. It's rare to find an active hobby that doesn't hurt, get your clothes muddy or need to be pre-booked and that you can turn up to by yourself without looking like a nigel-no-mates. I say, pick one and give it a try - you've nothing to lose - except a beer belly and some inhibitions.
My daughter Xanthe has been Disco Dancing for about a year and a half now. What started of as one lesson a week fo £2.75 has now turned to two lessons a week at £2.75, one practice session a week at £2.50,at least one competition a month at £6 per ticket plus travelling expenses, practice leotards,5 different competition costumes ranging from £30-£100 each,scrunchies,tights,shoes, the list goes on and on. The more she dances the more expensive it gets. Every competition you go to the costumes get better and better and I think there is almost as much competition between the parents over who's child has got the best costume as there is with the actual dancing skills of the child. As much as I am complaining about the cost I have to say what a great day out these competitions are. The team spirit between the kids is brilliant and they all cheer each other on as it is all glory for the individual school. Performing and competing gives these kids a natural high, better than anything they will ever get from drugs or drink. Getting one call back in a competition gives them such a buzz and getting into the finals and knowing they will be coming home with a trophy is like giving them the earth. So although I may have to remortgage my house to cover the expense I have to say it is worth every penny to see their faces light up when they hear their number called out. The benefits far outweigh the expense. It keeps them fit,teaches them how to be part of a team and the discipline and commitment that involves. Go the Disco Dancers.