May is “Showers of Flowers” month at In Step Dance Academy. On Sundays, May 6, 13, 20 & 27, Foxtrot will start the line-up at 2:00 p.m. Argentine Tango, with emphasis on the new Arthur Murray syllabus, will follow at 3:00. Lindy Hop ‘made easy’ for beginners will take place at 4:00; and Shuffle, which is a slightly different version of Swing- on-the-Move, will proceed at 5 o’clock. All classes are designed to meet dancers at their level & give everyone something new to work on.
Foxtrot is one of the favorites among the smooth/slow dance category, with its versatile patterns. It can be danced in a casual manner or spruced up into a more formal affair. Although it is often associated with the style of Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers, the Foxtrot was actually introduced into the mainstream by Vaudeville actor Harry Fox in 1914. It ultimately became the most popular and lasting dance of the twentieth century, but not before going through many stylistic changes. It is noted for being the first dance to introduce the “slow” count, before which time the popular dances such as the Waltz and the One-Step had only a single-count rhythm.
Foxtrot is an extremely versatile smooth dance, traveling around the line of dance. It can be danced to a variety of tempos and musical styles, such as: Linda Ronstadt’s “Am I blue”; “Cheek To Cheek, by Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald; “Orange Colored Sky” by Natalie Cole; John Denver’s “Country Girls inParis”; and Frank Sinatra’s CD of “Music for Swinging Lovers”. I am also reminded of many Nat King Cole favorites, like: “Love Is Here to stay”, “You Leave Me Breathless”, and “Walking My Baby Back Home”.
Argentine Tango had its beginnings in the brothels of turn-of-the-centuryArgentina. The intermixing Spanish, Italian, British, Polish, Russian and native-born Argentines resulted in a melting pot of cultures, and each borrowed dance and music from one another. Traditional polka, waltzes and mazurkas were blended with the popular habanera fromCubaand the candombe rhythms fromAfrica. In this period of late 1800’s through the early 1900’s, the wailing melancholy of the bandoneon (an accordion-like instrument imported toArgentinafromGermanyin 1886) became the main instrument of Tango music.
The worldwide spread of the Tango came in the 20th century when wealthy sons of Argentine families made their way toParisand introduced this dance into a society eager for innovation. No dance was accepted by Europe or theU.S.until it was made a ‘standard’ by the French. Since anything French was automatically ‘cool’, the dance was soon found inNew Yorkand had become an international phenomenon by 1913. The Argentine Tango reached the pinnacle of popularity inArgentina, when Juan Peron rose to power in 1946. Both he and his wife Evita, embraced it wholeheartedly. Today, you can learn this romantic and innovative dance even in the small city of Pagosa, just as it is danced in most major cities across the United States.
This Argentine Tango course at In Step will offer beginners, and more advanced dancers, the basics in slightly different patterns as formatted by the Arthur Murray Dance Association. The intent is to supplement and compliment, not to discredit the fine teachings of Mr. Les Linton, who originally brought, and continues to teach Argentine Tango in our area.
In Step’s ‘swing’ dance of the month is Lindy Hop-Made-Easy. Inspired by the Rourin’ 20’sCharleston, it was the very first swing dance invented. It was named after Charles Lindbergh, and introduced inNew York Cityin 1927. Since it is both a ‘circular’ and a ‘slotted’ dance, all other swing dances were evolved easily from it. Lindy Hop became very popular in the 30’s, and continued through the 40’s and into the 50’s; and is recently making a comeback. It can be dance to many styles of music, but the most popular comes from the big band sounds; which incidentally are also making a comeback.
Turning most of the ‘hopping’ action into an easier-to-do 3 to 4 inch lowering in the knees creates a bouncing action that resembles a ‘hop’. It’s a technique, that once mastered, can be great balls of fun. The main characteristic of this dance is the 8 count phrasing of 1, 2, 3&4, 5, 6, 7&8. In some of the patterns the man’s & lady’s footwork differs, but in other steps the two sets of footwork ‘mirror’ each other.
Shuffle was originally called “Progressive Country or Progressive Swing” inTexas; but the name “Swing on the Move” has shuffled itself from the east to the west coasts. It was designed primarily for competition, and is called the “Shuffle” in Arthur Murray, Fred Astaire, and other dance organizations; but the dance is seen growingly in ballroom style studios throughout the country. It has been introduced as Swing on the Move here in Pagosa, and continues to flourish among country western dancers locally. Whatever you call this swing-type country style, it’s a dance of dancers, envied by the two-stepper, three-steppers, and double two-steppers alike. This versatile arrangement of steps can be danced to contemporary or Rock & Roll music and basically uses ‘swing’ patterns danced in the country western fashion of moving counter-clockwise around the floor.
Deb Aspen is offering the somewhat easier basic and some different patterns from Arthur Murray’s version, and prefers referring to this dance as the “Shuffle” only because it’s a much shorter name; nothing against Swing-on-the-Movers in general. So, if you enjoy cruising around the floor doing lots of spins, neck wraps, waist wraps, and traveling patterns; join us for the Shuffle in May.
As usual, all classes meet upstairs in room 3F in the Momentum Fitness 24/7 building,450 Lewis St.down town Pagosa. To cover rent and furnish bottled water and refreshments, etc. the cost per person is $5.00 per class. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that have smooth or split leather soles, and do not leave black marks or mud. Partners may be preferred, but not mandatory, and anyone 16 or older may attend.
In an effort to give all dancers an opportunity to dance socially on a great floor and in a nice atmosphere, there will be an Open Dance Party on Friday, May 25 from 7 to 10:00 p.m. at the same location. It is for anyone 21 or older, so BYOB and a snack to share. We will dance to a wide variety of CD music, and you are welcomed to bring your own favorite tunes and visiting friends or family as well.
Call Deb at 731-3338 for more information.