Welcome to my life on the ballroom D - list











Dancing is not just a hobby, it's a lifestyle! I use this blog to post about my news and travel in the dance world.















Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Hollywood Ballroom




The Hollywood Ballroom

Saturday Nite Social Dance July 16th
lesson from 8-9
General Dancing from 9-11pm



This Saturday Nite, Roxi and I will be dancing at the Hollywood Ballroom in Silver Spring, Maryland. Lessons will be offered in the Samba Line Dance, Mambo Shuffle, and Bosa Nova.

We will be joined by dancers from several local studios, including Chevy Chase Ballroom, along with Longtime local dance teacher, Terry Chasteen.

The Hollywood Ballroom Singles has been an elegant destination for social dancing in the DC area for many years. The founder of the Hollywood Ballroom, Bobbie, started the venue  with a vision of having a fun and friendly place for singles (and couples) to meet and dance. It is the oldest continuously running dance venue in the area.





This is Bobbi's farewell month, and the future of the ballroom is uncertain. We hope to enjoy the venue's 7,200 sqaure foot floor while we can, with great music and friends. We will be dancing there this month on July 16th and also on July 31st.

For more info:
www.hollywoodballroom.com

Location:

2126 Industrial Parkway
Silver Spring, Maryland  20904  (U.S.A.)
301.622.5494


It is best to use mapquest or GPS to find the ballroom.

This venue has been a second home to many of us for years. If you have never been to the ballroom before, it is well worth the visit. The Ballroom has a enormous floating maple floor, and is decorated with beuatiful paintings of great Hollywood Dance Scenes, some of the most memorable dance images in Hollywood history are displayed on the walls.




 It's and end of an era. We all have many fond memories of dancing at the Hollywood Ballroom. It's not a studio, or a place that offers competitions or private dance lessons. The Hollywood Ballroom has always been a neutral venue where dancers go purely for FUN.




 

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Providence Fred Astaire Dance Studio

I was just going through some old photogaphs when I stumbled across some photos are our last visit to the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Providence, and next to them I had some recent photos of Dushor Dance studio in Maryland, and then noticed that they have something in common.

When I was in Junior High School, I use to take the city bus downtown into Providence for dance lessons at the local Fred Ataire Studio. I had a part time job at the East Side Checker Club, busing tables. The Checker Club payed me under the table at $3 an hour. I earned enough money there to take lessons downtown at the old studio with Anne Delmar, the owner.

In 2008, Roxi and I went back to visit Ms. Delmar and her longtime partner Earnest. their studio is one of the longest operating Fred Astaire Dance Studios in the country. Roxi and I are pictured here with Ms. Delmar. The studio no longer hosts social dance parties, but this couple continues to teach well into their semi-retired years. The studio is still an active, beutiful location overlooking the marquee of the Loews Theater, located just across the street.


 




Inside of Lobby of this studio there is an old lite box style sign that says "Dancing is Fun"
Here we are in the lobby of th Providence Fred Astaire Studio



 This very same sign hangs in the stairwell of Dushor Dance Studio in Maryland, pictured here:


The old Providence Fred Astaire Dance studio is lcoated on the 2nd floor of this building 205 Weboysett Street in Providence, RI



FRED ASTAIRE DANCE STUDIO - PROVIDENCE, RI
The Loews Grand Theater is located just across the street,
rebranded as the Providence Performing Arts Center.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Doris Day to release a new CD?

For Some reason, I've been hearing Doris Day's music more than usual lately. It's seems like all the Dance Factory staff have been using her songs during lesson time.




It also seems like I can't make a trip to the grocery store without seeing Doris Day getting slammed in the Tabloids, as she's been a target of the trash mags for many years now. The good news is that Doris is about to relaease a new CD, which will be her first release since 1994, and if this prooves true, I'll be the first in line to buy it. It's always good to hear news about Doris Day.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Miracle on Peabody Street, Discovering Chimi Choo



For years, Roxi has been asking me to adpot a Chihuahua, and for almost five years I wouldn't agree to it. It's been a long standing joke between us for several years.

It's doesn't help that Larinda McRaven and David Parry both have famous dance pets, which have served as a source of inspration to Roxi, who loves animals.




My many reasons for not wanting a dog was concern over time to care for it. Seeing that we've made several moves in recent years, in an effort for both of us to stay employed in the dance business, it didn't seem like a good idea. We've also been working 7 days a week for several years now, to recover from a botched move to Delaware, which nearly tore our relationship apart.

Our move to Delaware was a turning point in our relationship, in many ways we had a lot of positive experiences there, but we were working for a boss who never thought we'd amount to anything. The experience made me think, and rethink the point of haivng a dance career. We're still trying to resurfuace from botched experience of studio moves, and working two jobs or 7 days a week seems like the only solution.

Having been engaged for over a year now, Roxi and I have discussed the possibility of having children , and she (emphatically) doesn't  want any. It has been a saddening point for me, but also a sobering dose of realty. It only makes sense if we want to continue dancing together, and have time to work and recover from the ill fated studio moves that we have made in recent years.

So this spring we went on a scenic drive through northwest DC, and had a long talk about life and dancing. Roxi's 30th birthday was approaching, and she wasn't at all happy about it.

I told her:

" Darling, you can have whatever you want for your birthday this year"


her relpy was:

"I want a walk-in closet and a baby chihuahua"
At that particualr moment we got lost on Peabody Street in Northwest, and ended in front of the Washington Animal Shelter:
Video of the Washington Animal Shelter click here

The Peabody continues to be my favorite dance, and there must be something lucky about thw word. For Peabody Street lead us to the shelter wit Chimi Choo.
We spent several hours discussing how we now work opposite schedules, and are working in a stable dance studio with a caring staff and a reliable, honest boss. Furthermore the management at the dance factory is dog and family friendly. Roxi made her way into the Washington Animal Shelter like a little girl in a candy store. I swear she wanted to adopt every last one of them, until her eyes were drawn to Chimi Choo.

It was love at first sight.




So Chimi Choo became part of our dancing family, an Roxi got her birthday wish.

A Walk-in Closet with a baby chihuahua:


Chimi is not actually a baby. He's estimated to be 8 years old. the shelter gave us a seniors discount for him. He's a wonderful little dog, and he's brought healing and joy to our relationship and to the studio!

Here he is dressed up for Anne-Marie's Lund Memorial Day Dance:






And he also joined us for the Virginia Beach Dance weekend.



here he is in the mouth of a Hippo at Mini-golf.



So that's how we discovered Chimi, the new addition to our dance family:

 

Castle House

 

So still, after a long time of searching, I have not come up with any information on Castle House. I was recently outbid (again) for an image of the iconic dance studio on Ebay. There is little mention of  Castle House in Vernon and Irene Castle's wikepdia bio, but a friend tells me that there is a recently published book on the famous dance couple that may give some info.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Castle Walk

The Castle Walk




I've always been fascinated by Vernon and Irene castle, America's first ballroom dance couple. When I first started teaching, Francesca Cartwright gave me this book. I had just started teaching, and she helped to inspire me.

An original copy of Vernon's obituary was inside the book,
in a newspaper clipping from World War I











This year I had the pleasure of recreating the Castle Wak with Suzi Smith. We danced the Castle Walk at the 2011 Yuletide Ball and the 2011 New York Dance Festival. The most famous recreation was done in the RKO Film "the Story of Vernon and Irene castle"

Click here to see the Fred and Ginger version:
"The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle"

For Coparision, here's the clip of me and Suzi
http://youtu.be/H4LI2LininI





To learn more about Vernon and Irene Castle, visit them on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vernon_and_Irene_Castle


Ups and Downs with the Vegas Open 2011

Ups and Downs with Vegas Open

Straight off our heels from ....New York...., Roxi & I attended the Vegas Open this weekend. The Vegas Open was enjoyable. It started with a thud, but the comp was packed with energy. The Organizers were super friendly, but support staff was terrible. We had a really difficult time at check in when we arrived for the event. The support staff was unfriendly and at times hostile towards teachers and students alike.

We attended the event with Miguel Ramos and Simone Donne. We spent out first night in Vegas at ....Caesars.. ..Palace...., before heading over to the Las Vegas Hilton for the event. So our first night in Vegas was the fun night. Miguel made arrangements with the front desk to have our room upgraded. It came as a surprise to us. Just look at this room:














On our first morning, Miguel and I enjoyed the pool at Caesars.









After our first day in Vegas, we checked in at The Las Vegas Hilton. It is a rather dated hotel, but none the less a fun place to stay.


Roxi enjoyed that the hotel was filled with Elvis nostalgia. By day the hotel was just fine, but by night it was a different story. Our wing of the hotel had a dance club by the elevators that hosted a nightly 90's ghetto dance party. It was slightly horrifying and as Roxi would say " Comedy Gold!" all at the same time. The Las Vegas Hilton seems to attract a rather less distinguished sort of clientele during the evening, and we were forced to walk through it each night on our way to the hotel room. Imagine navigating your way through a room filled with cowboy hats and NASCAR t-shirts, and booty shaking with women my mother's age, donning ill appropriate gaudy, tight fitting clothes, with Salt-n- Pepa blasting loudly in the air.


Loud enough to make your ear drums bleed. That's the Las Vegas Hilton Nightlife! I admit that although despite the gaudiness, we were bold enough to jump on the dance floor a few times. Roxi, Miguel, Simone & I stepped out for the Cupid Shuffle, which was the most recent song played in the mix. Note the men's restroom at the Las vegas Hilton. the woman pictured far right is holding a ruler.




During our first night out on the town, we went to see Jersey Boys. It was a fantastic Show. It was great to see a Live Broadway Hit.



The Show was held at the Palazzo.




Miguel Ramos at ..Jersey.. Boys.





Out first night out on the town ended early. Roxi and Simone had to wake up the following morning at 5am for hair and make-up! We prepared the next morning for the American Smooth session and dancing went well. Miguel and Simone both danced really well. This pair has been dancing for less than a year, so I was really impressed with their performance in intermediate bronze freestyles and the scholarship. Together we danced about only 25 entries, so we had plenty of time to spectate and enjoy the sights and sounds of the event. There were several larger than life personalities on the floor during this event. Spectating was highly entertaining and educational, especially during the bronze divisions. I also witnessed some odd behavior that I've never witnessed on the comp floor before. The Smooth Day at Vegas was fun, but it took second seat to the evening we had.

After our first day of dancing, we went to visit ....Paris..... Roxi & I explored the wedding chapel there.

NO, we are not married yet.

We just went up there for some ideas.

After our chapel visit, we visited the sky deck of the ....Eiffel.. ..Tower.....




Later in the evening, Roxi and Simone went shopping. Roxi went shopping until she dropped.


She nearly sunk our gondola at the Venetian, as it was overflowing with shopping bags, which nearly fell into the canal. Nearly every store that Roxi walked into was having a sale.

We had a day to spend between dance events at the Vegas Open. So during our day off from dancing, we spent most of our time by the pool at the Hilton. Most of the American style Pro/am dancers were poolside at the Hilton during our "off" day, with their teachers in tow. None of the dancers mingled. Dancers at this event were socially exclusive. Polite introductions were ignored when I attempted them in the Ballroom, so once poolside we focused on enjoying the hotel amenities and the perfect March weather that Vegas had to offer. It was warm enough to Swim!!!

For our second night out on the town, we went for dinner at The Wynn. We went for dinner at Okada, an upscale Japanese restaurant with views of a waterfall and Lagoon.


It had the most surprising and spectacular view! Dinner cost more than half a weeks pay, but it was worth it... Earlier in the trip, the girls had allowed Miguel & I to make one visit to the buffet at the ..Rio.. (funny in so many ways), so a nice dinner at the Wynn was the task at making up for it.

After Dinner we explored the Wynn, which is luxurious at every angle.





We made our way to the ....Wynn.. ..Theater...., to catch the evening show. The hotel is hosting a New Dance Show, Sinatra Dance With Me. The show entertained us with a spectacular evening of music, all real Sinatra Vocals, accompanied by a LIVE Big Band.





The show was worth attending based on the music alone.

The Dance component of the show was an absolute train wreck, slutty would be the most polite way to describe it. The dancing was completely out of theme with the music. Imagine hearing a classic Sinatra Foxtrot... one would expect a dapper gentlemen in a suit or tuxedo? Would one expect to see dancers dress to the 9's.

The show's dancing offered anything but sophistication. During the show, the dancers stripped to their underwear, and crawled on the floor. At times they rolled on the floor, and did sporadic modern dancing throughout. The Dancing looked like a Half Naked Yoga class, combined with Jazz


.

Watching "good" bad dancing is one of life's greatest pleasures. It was so odd to watch such talented dancers, perform such distasteful choreography. I didn't understand the concept of a modern dance style strip show in front of a 17 piece big band. Especially with the dancing and clothing so out of touch with a classic Sinatra Theme.

The Show was attended by a mostly old generation of audience. Many took offense at the show's content and walked out. I'm glad we stayed under the end. We all really enjoyed hearing the music and the Live big band. It almost felt like Sinatra was there singing along. The vocals and the music felt real.

The Bad Sinatra Dance Show was one of my favorite moments in Vegas. But if I had to pick my favorite part of the trip, it would be walking through the lobby of the ....Wynn.. ..Theater.....That was (for me) the biggest highlight. Our weekend was elegant, restful and fun, and our walk through the ....Wynn.. ..Theater.... was symbolic of that.




I'm happy and grateful to have had Miguel and Simone with us for this event. They helped us test the waters for West Coast Dancesport events! The experience is very different. I'd definitely attend this event next year with experienced dancers. The comp was not newcomer friendly, but it's definitely worth repeating with dancers who can take the heat & know the ropes.

- Mb

New York Dance Festival 2011

New York Dance festival 2011



Just off the train this morning...so this is written off the cuff without proof reading (as per my usual).



A good time was had by all this year at the 2011 New York Dance Festival. The Dance Factory of Arlington attended the event with three professionals and 16 amateur dancers. Dancing participants were:

Mike Baris
Dmitri Dolgolpolov
Roxi Holloway

- with -

Linda Burkert
Chris Carroll
Bettina Camcigil
Simone Donne
Doug Drob
Joy Pryde  Haskins
Anne Leary
Azhar Manipady
Julie Manipady
Christa Mason
Miguel Ramos
Danielle Roeber
Suzi Smith
Jin Wu
Bill Ziesel

Also in attendance were Michael Simms with pro/am dance partner, Anna Boyd.  Other DC area dancers included Catherine Noblitt and Renaldo Perez. The DC Ballroom Yahoo Group has created a photo album for this event and is currently seeking photos! Group members are invited to upload photos to the album.

The Festival took place in ..New York..'s historic Roosevelt Hotel







The Roosevelt Hotel is located on Madison Avenue in midtown ....Manhattan..... The dancing was held in the hotel's grand ballroom. The Grand ballroom was enormous, although I do admit it looks much larger on television than it does in real life.  The ballroom featured elegant chandeliers hanging from its ornate ceiling. There was a balcony level with detailed iron balustrades. The hotel was built during the 1920's and had authentic features throughout, along with updated room accommodations.


Lobby of the Roosevelt Hotel.




Every aspect of this event went smoothly. I think a lot of it was due to the efficiency of the Festival's celebrity deck captain, J.T. Thomas. No photography was permitted inside the ballroom; so unfortunately, we have very few pictures to share! I think this was my first ever event with a zero tolerance policy against any type of photography at all. The rather harsh enforcement of the no-photo policy did little to dampen our sprits during the weekend.   Hopefully we'll find the photo ordering info soon from the event photographer. The photographer was difficult to find during the event. I chased him up the stairs for a group Rhythm photo for our studio, but he was unavailable when we needed a group photo for Smooth.







Roxi and I arrived at the ..Roosevelt.. on Thursday night, and attended the American Style Congress on Friday, along with Chris Thompson, Daria Zotova, Kirill Gorjatsev, and Dmitri Dolgolpolov. We saw many familiar faces there, like friends Mike Nichols and Sarah Davis. We also saw several famous dance celebrities. The panel for the American Style Congress was amazing. My favorite lectures were by David Hamilton and Marianne Nicole. Marianne Nicole was, in my opinion, the most relatable, entertaining and informative. David Hamilton's lecture was the most interesting and the most sincere. I was fascinated by hearing the panel speak. I have seen many members of the panel over the years on different judging panels at different events. But for the most part they have always appeared as statues to me, holding clipboards with stagnant, unchanging faces. It was fascinating to hear them all speak at long last. I learned a great deal about the current trends in American Style. I was surprised by some of the opinions of the panel. Some of it I agreed with, and other comments left me scratching my head in disbelief. Most disappointing was the notion that some of best dancers on our country want the term "American Style" to be dropped. The positive side of the argument is that the effort will be made towards world wide appeal for the style. Personally I value the American identity in dancing, and would find it saddening to see it removed. Seeing that we got off our return train for ....New York.... early this morning, I have had little time to discuss the conference with my friends here at the Dance Factory, but it will certainly make for several interesting lunchtime discussions this week. I'm very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend the Congress and the event.

Now Back to the Dancing...

Our studio did a fabulous job this weekend. We traveled up after an unusual week. Spirits were high and for many of our students, ....New York.... would be their first ever event. Roxi and I had both been up to spectator at the New York Dance Festival before. We were impressed by our first visit, when we scouted the event. This was our first year attending with pro/am partners. Bettina Camcigil, Doug Drob, Danielle Roeber, Linda Burkert and Jin Wu attended this event as newcomers. They all performed wonderfully and secured many favorable placements with their freestyle entries. One small challenge that we all faced was the rapid speed of the ....Peabody.... at this event. At some points it was a challenge to keep pace with the speed of ....Peabody.... at this event. We typically attend events in the DC area with a slower paced ....Peabody..... The high speed ....Peabody.... was especially difficult for our newcomer and Prebronze students, but I think it proved to be a good challenge for them, and despite a few speed bumps everyone made it  through their routines successfully! From this event we learned that USISTD Peabody syllabus is NOT good for competitive dance routines in the lower bronze levels. The valuable lesson has been noted.

As amateur couples we had Miguel Ramos and Simone Donne dancing together for the first time, along with the first time pairing of Doug Drob and Bettina Camcigil. I congratulate both on a job well done.

In Bronze 1 &2  I had the pleasure of dancing with Joy Pryde-Haskins, Simone Donne and Anne Leary. All of them placed in their freestyle and championship rounds, respectfully. It was my first time dancing with all three of these experienced dancers. Joy was on loan to me from her key instructor, Chris Thomas. It was wonderful to see  all our Bronze 2 dancers return from ....New York.... with medal results for their placements in the Bronze Championship rounds.

In Full Bronze and Silver I danced a few specialty heats with Suzi Smith (on loan from her key instructor, Dmitri Dolgolpolov). Suzi and I also danced a solo routine to the ragtime tune of "Too Much Mustard". We did our own rendition of the Castle Walk, inspired by Fred and Gingers take on the dance in the RKO Picture "The Story of Vernon & Irene Castle". We have a long way to go before the routine is perfected, but it's certainly an enjoyable work in progress.

After dancing all day on Saturday our group went to Swing 46 for a few late night drinks and swing dancing. We made it just in time for a few dance sets with a LIVE band. After we closed Swing 46, Michael Simms and Anna Boyd suggested that we all go out to The Iguana Club for Salsa and Merengue. We danced until 3:30 AM!  After late late late night dancing, Joy, Danielle, Chris Carrol, Miguel, and Simone joined us at McDonalds near Broadway for our first and last meal of the dance day, which lasted for well over 12 hours (dancing that is). It was a spectacular end to a full day of dancing.

On Sunday morning, Roxi and I had lunch at Serendipity with my Aunt Nancy, and her two kids, Sarah and Riley Maxwell. Note the dancers on the menu:










  Riley enjoyed their famous "Frozen Hot Chocloate"


After lunch we attended "Wicked" on Broadway at the Gershwin Theater. I particularly enjoyed the Broadway Hall of Fame photos in the theater lobby, depicting my hero,  Kitty Carlisle Hart. We also spotted a really cool photo of Fred and his sister, Adele.







This barely scratches the surface of all the fun we had this weekend. I'm very thankful to everyone that helped make the weekend such a huge success.