Welcome to my life on the ballroom D - list



























Sunday, November 13, 2011

Veteran's Day 2011


This weekend we celebrated Veteran's Day weeked at Glen Echo Park. We attended the WWII Canteen Dance with the Eric Felton Jazz Orchestra.




We were surprised by all our friends from the Studio who came to support the event. Hundreds of dancers were in attendance.






The ballroom was decorated in a patriotic theme, which included vintage WWII posters and a giant parachute suspended over the dance floor.




After a fun night of dancing, we ended our evening with a much needed visit to Tastee Diner.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

An OZ Halloween



This weekend the Studio celebrated Halloween with it's annual costume ball. We certainly made improvements over last year, with a record number of people attending in costume. Here we can be seen in our Halloween best, as The Scarecrow and the lion.
.
Chimi made such a great Lion!





 I think the success of this weekend's party was the shot in the arm that the studio desperately needed.


Life is worth celebrating!
"let's do it with dancing!"

I think our goal for this Halloween weekend, was to restore some excitement to the studio. We've been planning it for weeks, to create something for people to be excited about. My dear friend, and former professional dance partner, Shaelyn Jae, was coming into town this weekend. Together we planned with  Chimi to make this Halloween Weekend incredible. We decided to do a Wizard of Oz theme this year
.
Shea came into town on Thursday evening, and we started decorating the studio at 6pm, and the effort continued until 7am the next morning. I don't think the studio has ever looked this spooky and elegant in recent memory.

 We really tried to pull out all the stops
.


Togther we held a terrific party this weekend with over 11 professional dancers attending, and over 85 dancers participating in the event. The studio felt like is had awoken from a dreary slumber and was once more filled with life again!

Probably my biggest highlight of the weekend was our surprise visit by Terry Chasteen, who dropped by at the party for a demo of Michael Jackson's Thriller routine
:Dance Factory Halloween Ball Thriller demo

Talk about role model's with postive energy. Nearly everyone involved with this weekend's party put in volunteer hours to make it possible. In total, we accumulated 60 hours of volunteer work between 11 professional dance instructors to pull this weekend's party off.

 Here are a few more photos of our fantasic Halloween weekend:)


Monday, October 24, 2011

The Pennsylvania Ballroom Scrimmage 2011


 
The Dance Factory just returned from the 5th Annual Pennsylvania Ballroom Scrimmage, held in the Lancaster Marriott and Convention Center. The studio took a record number of participants this year, with over 30 people making the journey from the Washington area to Lancaster.

For Roxi and I, this was our third year in attending this event, which has proven to evolve each year into a new experience. It's never been the same event twice. Traditionally this event has been small, and newcomer friendly. We've always enjoyed the hospitality of the event staff. Each year this event continues to out perform the competitions held in the local DC area in terms of hospitality.  This competition offers a non-threatening environment, where dancers can focus on having fun. There's no fear here of being run over by an aggressive competitor.
The good news to report is that our students danced splendidly. Most of the events were uncontested, but the venue was a wonderful opportunity to gain experience on the competition floor. Those attending the event included:

Mike Baris
Roxi Holloway
Dmitri Dolgolpolov
Gabby
Jean Fulton
Suzi Smith
Joyce Wren
Kasia DeBuc
Sally & John
Lorena Montrenec
Morgan Montrenec
Danielle Roeber
Lauree Dockery
Alice Williams
Carol Caruso
Azhar Manipady
Julie Manipady
Amy Leahman
Lola Black
Sophia De'Angelo
Miguel Ramos
Simone Donee

With Special guest appearances by Anne-Marie Lund, Michael Simms, and the World Famous Terry Chasteen.


The weeks leading up to the event were definitely a frenzy of activity at the studio. This is definitely what we call a "team event" and organizing such a large group to travel this year was no easy task. For many of our dancers, this would be their first time ever on the competitive dance floor. The weeks and days leading up to the event consisted of several last minute trips to the beauty supply store and of course, several hours of emergency dress shopping.

Even though Danceposrt is in itself, a hobby to focus on one's personal progress, the really fun thing about the Dance Factory is that we assemble  in mass to get things done as a team. This year we really had everyone working together. Although the term "Scrimmage" lacks the suggestion of glamour, it does make one think about team sports, and that's exactly what we were this weekend, a "team".

The gang all arrived on Saturday evening, after a scenic drive through the country side on a beautiful autumn day. I'm always amused by Roxi's reaction to the autumn leaves and the farmland. She's such a city girl. Roxi was sad this year during our commute to PA. We left Chimmi with a sitter back in DC, after reading in reviews that the Lancaster Marriott is not exactly pet friendly.

After our arrival on  Saturday afternoon, Roxi set right to work at the hair and make-up station. Leave it to Roxi to make friends with the English bellman at the reception desk, who catered to her every need. The room looked like a scene from Monty Python's flying circus, She was tasked with over a dozen heads of hair to style this year, which required her to begin styling on the eve of the competition, followed by a 3:30 AM wake up call the next morning, to recommence with eyelash application and face painting.

While Roxi went to work with hair styling in our upstairs room, I watched with amusement as our entire studio struggled with the operation of the hotel elevator, which restricted the permissions of travel between floors. It's funny, but ease of travel within the hotel walls is something I shall no longer take for granted. Following several comical scenes in the elevator, including an encounter with a furry stow-a-away of a different hotel guest, I journeyed down to the Vine Street Lounge with what I thought was enough entertainment for one evening. I was sadly mistaken. On my way down to the event welcome party, I discovered that one of Terry's students had slipped and fallen down the Marriott's luxurious staircase. While Terry called for an ambulance I  went down to check in at the party all alone. The room was nearly empty, and I was able to quietly check in at the event's welcome desk. Checking in at the events' welcome desk went very smoothly, until I discovered that I had forgotten the music for my showcase number with Amy Leahman. I had checked and double checked to have all my essential items on my packing list, only to discover that her CD was missing from it's case when I arrived at the hotel. No music would mean no show,and Amy and I had been rehearsing the number for weeks. I asked the Registrar, Leraunt Van Loon, for assistance, and also to keep the matter private. I then sent a message to Kirill back at the studio, and asked him to wire us a back up copy.

Leraunt went out of his way to  help me with this dilemma, and offered to copy me a back up of Amy's Song. Forgetting a student's music is an unforgivable mistake. Amy and I had selected a song from the  Little Shop of Horror's Soundtrack.


It was a hard to find mambo number that wasn't available on Itunes. I was hoping that the back up music would be made available before morning. I knew that with Kirill I would be in safe hands.

Once we settled in at the welcome party, our arrival at the PA Scrimmage became a bit more sobering. There were very few men at the welcome party for this event. Most of the visiting gentleman professionals declined to participate. There were a few there, but not many working the floor. Miguel Ramos stepped in to work the floor, he's one of Dance Factory's leading Amateur competitors. The party lacked energy, and several students left unhappy. I was unaware of a few exchanges with the event staff  that offended some of our most easy going students. I was shocked to discover the welcome party as an unpleasant experience, especially as this was a ticketed event with paid admission. We appreciate the feedback from everyone who attended the welcome party this year. The event organizers will use it in a positive way, and pledge to make it more exciting for next year. Our first night in Pennsylvania was a thud, but the Dance Factory gang quickly turned things around with  cocktails to end the evening in the hotel's upstairs lounge. I turned in early for bed, or at least I tried to. Roxi was still burning the midnight oil with hairstyling and costume repairs that the girls needed done before morning. We also stayed up late making sure that Terry had returned safely from the ER with his student. It was a miracle that she returned without any broken bones. It was a frightening distance that she fell.

Shortly after 1am, Dmitri and Gabby returned to our hotel room. Dmitri had been celebrating his birthday with those who were wise enough to leave the welcome party early. I chose not to join the crowd in the upstairs lounge, but Dmitri ended the evening surrounded by students and friends who were visiting Lancaster for the event. My student, Amy Leahman, was present there with him when Leraunt joined their table. Dmitri and Gabby overheard Leraunt when he addressed publicly that I was missing my showcase music. Oh well, so much for keeping s secret...The matter I had asked to remain private was made known to everyone at the bar, which traveled to my hotel room just moments later.

Perhaps it was not a big problem, but it was a series of little problems that occurred throughout the evening, that lead Roxi and I to make an emergency visit to the hotel lobby and lounge in our night clothes and slippers, all in the name of damage control and keeping the troops happy. People always get nervous before major dance events, but in the end there's always fun to be had and memories to be made. Altogether, I think our Saturday evening in Lancaster was a memorable experience. One that left us with only two hours sleep before the start of this major ballroom event, with just a few logistical problems that will remain off the record.


ON SUNDAY MORNING WE ALL WOKE UP, AND IT WAS A PERFECT DAY!!!!

Despite a rocky start. The Scrimmage really was a perfect comp this year. The event itself ran very well. Even though there weren't a great deal of competitors, the event was a huge success. There was an impressive sized dance floor, which was divided into two sides this year. For several of our students, this was their first ever event, and for others, their first time dancing in open categories and championship rounds. Our newcomer dancers included Kasia DeBuc, Lola Black, Lauree Dockery, and first time Bronze student Carol Carsuso. Everyone looked and danced their very best. Lauree Dockery made it our on the floor for her first ever competition in less than 6 lessons. Lola made her debut in the smooth division in a beautiful custom Peacock feather dress, For Carol Caruso, it was her first ever event and she danced in 8 fresstyles. It was a weekend of many "firsts" and exciting results. For Alice and Sophia, it was their first time dancing in Silver.  Roxi and I had 5 students place in the championship rounds, including Danielle Roeber, Sophia De'Angelo, Simone Donee, Alice Williams and Miguel Ramos. In the Silver division, the gang had a great time watching Dmitri dance with Jean.
Roxi also danced with Azhar Manipady, who we all agreed was most improved since last year's event. Anne-Marie Lund was on hand for some surprise photographs. We're still waiting for the dance results to be posted, and for a link to be share for official photos by the PA Scrimmage official event photographer. We'll share the news as it comes in.

Alhtough this event posed several challenges to us in terms of hotel arrangements and planning, the actual Sunday event went so smoothly that it more than made up for any bumps in the road. We had a lively crowd and cheering section,  and friends  from the studio to support us in the audience, along with very friendly deck captains. JTmade a special appearance as deck captain this weekend.
 



The highlight of my day on Sunday was being greeted by Julie Manipady, who with the help of Kirill, saved the day with Amy Leahman's music. Amy and I danced the last solo entry of the event, and it went wonderfully. Normally I'm not a big fan of dancing showcase, but Amy really knew how to make it fun. Joyce Wren had Amy's showcase number taped for her. It was a special gift to top off a nearly perfect day. Nearly everyone was happy that they attended this year's  event. After dancing, the gang all went to change into evening clothes for the event's dinner and awards session.

This year's Scrimmage was concluded with a dinner dance with live music and an awards presentation. On hand for this awards ceremony, was Sally Skislek, the Dance Factory Office Manager. For the last fifteen years, Sally has worked at the Dance Factory, and has never been on hand to watch a dance event. This year's Scrimmage was Sally's first (ever) event. She attended with her husband, John. It was a very special evening for her. The Pennsylvania Ballroom Scrimmage presented Sally with a special award in her honor, for all her dedication and commitment to the Dance Community. Barbra Synder, the owner of the Pennsylvania Ballroom Scrimmage, made this special award  to Sally possible. We're very thankful to Barbra.

Here we see the gang posing with the Awards Trophy for Top Studio! We know that for some Dance Factory students, this event was the first of many to come.In a bittersweet way, for others this event served as their last in a career of many successful competitions. We're very thankful to everyone who helped make this possible.

The trophy an awards ceremony were naturally the highlight of dinner conversation, but other topics included the debate on amateur vs. professional status of dancers at this event.During dinner it was debated whether the registrar for this event danced in professional status during last year's competition, only to be seen this year dancing as an amateur at Captial Dancesport. To clarify, I called the event organizer, who informed me that he danced as an amateur competitor last year.  In general, these situations become hot button issues. Those who dance as true amateurs (who do not teach) seek forums and events that focus on fairness. I don't know the specifics of this particular situation, but it in general, this is a subject of frequent debate at the Dance Factory. Both amateurs and professionals have strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Without doubt though, students notice these situations. Luckily the subject quickly changed to dancing and the band.

During dinner I had a great time hearing all the stories about the weekend. So many fun things happened both on and off the floor! We received a  flurry of ideas for adventures to come next. We ended our weekend in Pennsylvania on a high note. Sally has the Top Studio Trophy on display at the Dance Factory front desk.

The 5th Annual Pennsylvania Ballroom Scrimmage

Friday, October 14, 2011

MONDAY NIGHT VARIETY CLASS, DANCE & LEARN PARTY

NEW ON MONDAY NIGHTS!Beginer Ballroom Class from 8-9pm

Variety Class:
Dance and Learn Party from 9-10pm
Classes Start Monday October 24th at the Dance Factory.

4 Week course FEE: $69/per person

Call the Dance Factory for more details:
(703) 528 - 9770

Monday, September 26, 2011

Packing List for Ballroom Dance Competition

Preparing for Ballroom Dance Competition


Here's a helpful list of information to use when preparing for a ballroom dance event.


- MARK LIKE ITEMS: Programs, shoe bags, and jackets all look alike, please mark your name on items left in common areas.
- Gentlemen do not wear wrist watches during comp
- NO GUM CHEWING during the event.
- NO SNEAKERS OR BLUE JEANS IN BALLROOM
- REMEMBER YOUR TICKETS & PROGRAMS
- NO Private video taping in the ballroom
- Please set your cell phones to silent in the ballroom

VIDEOS:
Talk to your instructor about sign up for professional video services. This is optional, and sometimes not recommended for your first event.

CAMERAS:
Bring them! Take pictures!

Here are a few reminders for what to bring, this is not an all inclusive list, but just to name a few:

PACKING LIST:

********************* GENTLEMEN ********************
Remember your dance shoes!!!!
WRIST WATCHES are not worn during comp.
Please remember Black Socks !!!!!!
Yellow Highlighter for your program
Scissors
Black sharpie
Pen
shoebrush
Extra pair black shoe laces
Cuff links & studs (if needed)
Small index card & pen (to make a pocket sized heat list)
Optional: a Full Back Black Vest
Black or White dress shirt
Black or white tie
Black pants
Rhythm/Latin Shirt (if needed)
Optional: Jacket for evening dinner session
Sewing kit with pre-threaded needle
Safety pins (small)
Small tube (super glue)
DON'T FORGET YOUR DANCE SHOES!
- If you are dancing with a belt, make sure the belt is solid balck.

Men's tip: bring a black pair or (street) dress shoes if you have them, to transit the hotel when your not dancing.

***************** DANCE WITH EMPTY POCKETS****************
It's helpful to bring your jacket to the comp, and use the jacket pockets for storage while you're on the floor. It is NOT recommended to wear and "off the rack" tuxedo jacket during dance competition. Professionally made jackets or "off the rack" full back black vests are recommended for ballroom/smooth/standard divisions.

************************ LADY COMPETITORS ****************
Before you start packing, make an appointment with a stylist for hair and make-up.
Sewing Kit (pre-threaded needle matching your dress color)
Scissors
shoebrush
Highlighter for program
Stitch remover
Super glue
Shoes: ballroom and latin, spare pairs if you have them
all costumes, remember to include underwear required.

stockings and spares

Warm up clothing: a  robe, to stay warm in the ballroom

Dressy clothing for Evening dinner session
all jewellery and hair pieces
Jewlery should not be vaulable, in the event it is lost while dancing.

hair brush, comb, hair spray, mousse, glue, gel

spare nails, spare eyelashes, glue
If you are booked with a stylist for hair and make-up, they typically provide your make-up and eyelashes, it is best to verify this before deleting these items from your packing list.

first aid kit: gel plaster kit, knee supports, paracetamol,bandaids, blister pads

Tickets any other paperwork
 make up remover

slippers - they are great when then shoes start to hurt!

Steamer if needed ( for your gowns)


water bottles and snacks

Optional: Fishnets

Optional:
Hairdryer: Most hotels have a hairdryer in the room, sometimes the hotel hairdrayer is less than ideal. Always verify that the hotel has both iron and ironing board.

Eyelashes
Hairspray
Bobby pins
Hair net (if needed)
Makeup
Makeup remover

If you have any questions about hotel amenities, please call them directly, prior to the event

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Windy City Open 2011




Roxi and I just returned from the our most enjoyable event to date, The Windy City Open, held in Chicago.
 The Dance Factory took home the Top Studio award for this event, and we are deeply grateful to our students and the event organizers who made this event possible,with a special thanks to Michelle Carpentier-Lazarz who organized our studio entries for this event.

Attendees included:

Jean Fulton
Suzi Smith
Christa Mason
Sophia De' Angelo
Miguel Ramos
Simone Donee
Sandy Hecker
Bill Zeisel
Gabrielle Friedenberg
Dmitri Dolgopolov
Roxi Holloway
Mike Baris

The studio took several top student awards, with Simone Donee, Suzi Smith, and Sophia De'Angelo in the top 20 line up. Sohpia took the top bronze student award and overall top student award. The Dance Factory had several students make finals in both Smooth and Rhythm Championship Rounds and Scholarship Rounds. The Dance Factory took 5 medals home from this event. We're very thankfull to everyone who helped make this event a huge success. We are also mindful of those who couldn't join us at this event, thinking especially of Doug Drob and his wife, Betinna, who was recently diagnosed with Breast Cancer. We're keeping them both in our thoughts, and are confident that our studio family will all be together next year to celebrate life with dancing at the Windy City.

The event was held at the Hyatt Regency at McCormick Place in downtown Chicago. The event started on Thursday evening, which was quite a luxury. The gang had all of Thursday daytime to enjoy the hotel's many amenities.




Following a fabulous dinner in the hotel restaurant, Roxi got to work on hair and make-up. I got to catch Gabby in mid-process at the hair and make-up station, where typically no camera's are allowed:




On Thursday evening we enjoyed a fabulous evening of competition, with Miguel and Sophia placing in Championship and Scholarship rounds in the Rhythm Division. At the conclusion of the session, we got to spectate for the novelty dances including Salsa and Hustle, including a fantastic open bronze hustle by Christa Mason and Dmitri. As luck should have it, the DJ played "I'm Too Sexy", which may be Dmitri's unofficial theme song.



On Friday, the dancing continued in the Rhythm Division in the Silver Level. Suzi, Christa, and Jean all earned medals in their respective categories, and they all had outstanding competition.
As the competition continued on, Roxi and I ventured out into Chicago to enjoy our day off in the city. Together we walked with Miguel and Simone, enjoying the sights and sounds of Chicago, walking along busy streets with elevated trains. Together we made our way to the Eleventh City Diner for breakfast.




Once we arrived at the Eleven City Diner, we were eager to order their famous Dill Pickle and Tomato plate. While it looks like and odd breakfast appetizer, we were all unanimous in enjoying it! There's a reason why it's one of their famous dishes, cuz it's really good!



Friday was definitely our fun day, which included a walk through Millennium Park and a visit to the Famous Bean! Here Roxi and I stop for a photo:






our next stop was a riverboat architectural tour on board the First Lady of Chicago. I had a splendid time on this adventure, enjoying the tour, but the girls found it to be rather dull and less adventurous. Luckily they had vodka lemonade to entertain them. The highlight of our cruise was the discovery of Suzi and Christa on a passing riverboat, about midpoint during our tour. Roxi was so excited to see them that she nearly fell overboard. She interrupted the tour to wave and shout to them, and nearly fell over.


Friday was a day full of fun, and to top off the end of a perfect day, we had dinner with the gang on Chicago's historic Navy Pier.


We ended the evening with an adventure on the Navy Pier's Ferris wheel. I was looking forward to our Ferris wheel ride throughout the weekend, but our adventure took an interesting turn when our gang exploded into a rather comical situation inside the Ferris wheel cabin. The Ferris wheel adventure was documented on video in four parts. The ensuing dialogue would be perfect for reality television, but Roxi may never authorize it's release. Only part one is made available for viewing enjoyment:

The Ferris Wheel Part 1: Gabby asks a question about Ferris Wheel Safety
The Ferris Wheel Part 2: Miguel Shouts "This is Fun!" while Gabby & Roxi begin their doubts
The Ferris Wheel Part 3: Roxi has a Meltdown filled Panic and laughter
The Ferris Wheel Part 4: A safe return to earth, with a slight use of profanity

The View from the Ferris Wheel offered a spectacular View, which Roxi later admitted to enjoying between moments of panic.





Despite the comical meltdown that Roxi had on board the Ferris Wheel, it didn't stop her from (moments later) boarding the Yo-Yo Chair Ride along with Miguel and Dmitri. It seems as if moments later, she magically became the fearless wonder again. I sat cheerfully on the sidelines as she swung through the air.



After a full day of fun, we all arrived back to the hotel before midnight, when our Cinderella Liberty was set to expire. The girls awoke early the next morning at 5am, to prepare with hair and make-up for Saturday's Ballroom session, and by grace of their efficiency, we were all dressed and ready on the floor by 7:30 am! Saturday's Smooth session ran wonderfully. Dance Factory students placed in both the Pro/am Smooth Championship Rounds and Scholarship rounds, with first time placements for Simone and Sophia in the line-ups. For Sophia, this was her first time competing in ballroom and it was also her birthday! It was nice to see her surrounded by friends and family for the occasion. She had a wonderful cheering section there to support her. Between heats I found time a catch a quick photo of Dmitri and Jean, who looked stunning in her new Jordy ballgown.



Seeing that we just arrived home from Chicago, I don't have many pictures available from this event. The event photographer folded up shop early, leaving me with no opportunity to purchase group photos, but hopefully we'll have them soon! It was nice having the whole team dance during the same session. At the end of the session we got to enjoy Suzi and Christa's open choreography in the Open Bronze and Silver level, which for Suzi, included several daring dips and drops.

After a full day of danicng, the gang celebrated by attending the Windy City's Grand Banquet and Saturday evening show, which included professional competitions in Smooth and Rhythm. Our studio had a ringside table to enjoy all the action. During the awards ceremony, it came as a complete surprise to us when the Dance Factory was awarded the Top Studio Award ! It certainly made for a moment that we'll never forget.

Following the competition, Sunday was a quiet day for us at the hotel. Roxi and I enjoyed brunch at the Hyatt, before an evening trip to the Botanical Garden for a friend's wedding.



Before our departure from the Windy City, we met up with Dmitri and Gabby on Monday for some holiday shopping on Michigan Avenue. It seems perfectly normal that Dmitri was nearly convinced to buy this Panda Bear hat at H&M, but he passed it up in favor of a new velvet suit jacket.



We concluded our Chicago adventure with lunch at Miller's Pub, which has it's place in Dance History for being the popular night spot for Bob Fosse and his dancers.




While Miller's Pub was not the most glamorous stop during our Chicago Adventure, it was fun to visit a piece of Chicago history that was enjoyed by both Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon.The fried food made for an unsettled stomach on out flight home, but it was definitely worth it.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Swing Time, RKO 1936: Showing this Sunday August 7th














The 1936 RKO film starring:

Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Sunday, August 7 at 6:30 p.m. - Swing Time
...

Shirlington Branch Public Library

 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ginger Rogers Film Series at the Shirlington Branch Library

From the Shirlington Branch Public Library...

Shirlington Celebrates Ginger Rogers

Why do we love Ginger Rogers? She did everything Fred Astaire did backwards... and in high heels!

Rogers, born July 16,  1911, would have turned 100 this year. Help us to celebrate her Centennial with a film series at the Shirlington Branch Library highlighting her illustrious career in dance and film, and her partnership with Fred Astaire:

Tuesday, August 2 at 6:30 p.m. - Top Hat
Nominated for 4 Academy Awards, Top Hat is one of the most memorable Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire Films. It is an elegant romantic comedy with a fine film score by Irving Berlin. Highlights include: “Cheek to Cheek,” and “Top Hat, White Tie and Tails.” Not Rated, 100 Min.

Sunday, August 7 at 6:30 p.m. - Swing Time
Considered by many to be Rogers and Astaire’s best film together. Astaire plays a young gambler (with a fiancĂ©) who falls for Rogers, a dance instructor. Many highlights include: the Academy Award winning “The Way You Look Tonight” and the tap tribute “Bojangles of Harlem.” Not Rated, 140 Min.

Tuesday, August 16 at 6:30 p.m. - The Barkley’s of Broadway

Rogers and Astaire reunite after 10 years at a new studio, MGM, for their final film together. They depict the dancing couple, Josh and Dinah Barkley. A warm, comfortable reunion that is their only film in color. Highlighting their performance to “They Can’t Take That Away from Me.” Not Rated, 109 Min.

Sunday, August 21 at 6:30 p.m. - Story of Vernon & Irene Castle

Synopsis: Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire lend their special panache to playing the renowned historical couple, Vernon and Irene Castle, trendsetters in dance and fashion for the years preceding World War I. The last RKO film by the Rogers and Astaire; the famous duo at their best! Not Rated, 93 Min.

The Fabulous Ann Southern and Lucille Ball

The Fabulous Ann Southern and Lucille Ball
I discovered this video clip of Ann Southern appearing on an old episode of Here's Lucy. It reminded me of Roxi Holloway on her now infamous Girl's Night out. Thank you Jemma for linking me to all of these hysterical clips. My dear friend, Jemma, has (for years), posted as the beloved Maisie on Yehoodi.com, and it's easy to see why she admire's Ann Southern's work so much, a gifted actress and comedian. These two funny ladies enage in similar situations to my better half, Ms. Roxi Hollway, who may at times, depict these clips with her girl friends as a true life Hollywood Story!




Lucy and Ann Southern get drunk. Video Clip

The Friendship Gardens

A Walk through the Friendship Gardens


My Recent trip home was a nice break from dancing, which offered me time for reflection:
Recently I had to take an unexpected trip home to Rhode Island. It was an sudden break from dancing, which came at a most inconvenient time. In light of delaing with the unexpected emergency, I found the some time at home for relaxation. Even the darkest cloud has it's silver lining. I had a restfull trip at home with family and friends, and even found time to visit one of my favorite places, the Friendship Gardens.



The Friendship Gardens were originally constructed as part of the Works Progress Adminstration during the 1930's under President Franklin Roosevelt. The gardens were designated on land in Slater Park, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The gardens were designed as a Shakespearean Garden, containg every variety of flower mentioned in Shakespeare's works. A marvel of it's time, the gardens were unique by design, and attracted visitors from around the world. It was an unusal place in it's day, and located in the most unlikely of places, sticking out like a diamond in the rough of an old mill town.



The garden's designer was Lawrence Corente. He envisioned a garden with moats and flowering water. Birtch Tree bridges connected a series of small islands, each unique with plantings and water fountains.

Time has past since the gardens heyday, and years of neglect have taken their toll on this once beutiful destination, but it's still a fun place to walk through during my time at home, and on this recent trip it was a nice quiet place for reflection. It was fun to walk through the crumbled ruins of what was once the most beutiful spot in New England. Long gone are the flowers and plantings of yesteryear, but the cobblestone walls and remains of the water fountains are still in clear view. Here's a look at how the gardens appear today. The gardens appear today as a sort of haunted labyrinth. A walk through the gardens today will lead you through  an intricate combination of weeded paths and muddy passages in which it is difficult to find one's way out. It's still fun though, a perfect place to ponder life's challenges, and the passage of time.










 

Update in June 2014

I recently discovered a 1936 newspaper clipping, which listed many ( If not all ) of the plants that were mentioned in Shakespeare's works.

They are:
Anemone
Balsam
Bluebell
Box
Broom-flower
Camomile
Carnation
Clover
Columbine
Cowslip
Crocus
Crow-flower
Crown-imperial
Cuckoo flower
Daffodil
Daisy
Diana's buds
Fennel
Fern
Flower-de Luce 
Gillflower
Gorse
Harebell
Holly
Honeysuckle
Hyssop
Ivy
Laurel
(True laurel was not know in Shakespeare's time)
Lady-smocks
Lark's heels
Lark's spur
Lavender
Lily
Long purples
Mallow
Mandrake
Marigold
Majorum
Mint
Mistletoe
Monkshood
Myrtle 
Pxlip
Pansy
Pomegranate
Poppy
Primrose
Rose
Rosemary
Rue
Samphire
Savory 
Sweet hym
Sweet marjoram
Spear grass
Thyme
Violet

This newspaper article was pieced together and is not complete:
The article is probably from the 1936 Pawtucket times, and is undated 





Update, in July 2014, I was fortunate enough to tour the Shakespeare Gardens in Central Park, NYC. It had a more natural format, compared to the manicured islands of the Friendship Gardens.