Dance Spotlight: The Scandalous Waltz

March 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

medium_3966577401As with most dances, the exact origin of the waltz is a little murky. There are references to peasant folk dances that seem to be early forms of the waltz as far back as 13th century Germany, but these references are more prevalent in the 1500s.

The waltz was originally viewed as a very scandalous dance since this was the first time dancers were seen holding in a close embrace. A man reaching his hand around a woman’s waist in public was unheard of, but by the late 18th century, the 3/4 time waltz had become more mainstream and was finding its way into the more formal halls, ballrooms, and even the royal ballrooms. Since it was still viewed as an immoral dance, it of course, quickly grew in popularity and made its way over to the United States in the mid 1800s. The dance slowly became more accepted, and by 1900, over three quarters of dance programs were just waltzes. The style of the waltz has changed through the years and has become a more relaxed version in later years. However, once the Foxtrot hit the scene around the time of World War I, the Waltz almost died out completely. It still managed to stay around, though, and popularity began to eventually rise again to carry the dance through today.

Even though it is far from being viewed as a scandalous dance anymore, the waltz is still seen as an elegant and romantic dance. Characterized by a graceful rise and fall, the waltz sweeps around the room with smooth, elegant steps and rotating movements. It is still the highlight of many ballroom competitions in the smooth division. While some moves require you to stay in one spot, the waltz is classified as a traveling dance and generally flows around the floor. Waltz is typically the dance people think of when they hear the term “ballroom dance” and is still very popular at weddings and more formal events. There are variations in style between American and International waltz, as well as variations between regions.

Photo Credit: Double–M via photopin cc


National Dance Day

July 24, 2013 § Leave a comment


It’s that time of year again! Every year on the last Saturday in July, the country celebrates National Dance Day. This Saturday, July 27th marks the day of fun this year, with dance events going on around the country. EVERYONE is encouraged to do some sort of movement to celebrate the day – dancer or not. Many communities are hosting several events if you want to get out and dance, but if you’re a little too shy to be dancing in public, the Dizzy Feet Foundation (the originators of the event) have provided a couple of instructional videos for you to practice in your own home. Go to the Dizzy Feet Event Page for more information on these routines as well as the history of National Dance Day.

If you’re going to be in the LA area, or are looking for a reason to be there, you can also buy tickets to the Celebration of Dance Gala hosted by the Dizzy Feet Foundation. This is a great event that will feature some fantastic dance performances from So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, the American Ballet Theater and many others, as well as a black tie supper.  Tickets start at just $34 so the Gala is accessible for everyone that wants to come out and celebrate for National Dance Day!

Here are  two of the official National Dance Day routines that you can learn right at home!



Be sure to check out what your community is doing for this fun day that seems to get bigger and better every year!

Are you hosting an event in your community, or know of some of the events going on?  Post your community’s events in the comments section here and let’s get a list started!

Happy Dance Day!

Picking a First Dance

May 1, 2013 § 1 Comment

First SongborderSpring is here and that means that wedding season is starting to kick into full swing. The big day is coming soon and now is the time that many couples start panicking about their First Dance.

Some couples know what song they want instantly. Others can never seem to find just the right song. And regardless of what they will end up choosing, all of the couples just want to make sure they don’t look stupid.

It’s easy to get into panic mode at this point. Everything is starting to snowball these last few months, and yes, it can wear on your nerves! But try not to let choosing your song become one of those annoyances. This should be a fun and special event for you two to do together. Yes, sometimes there seems to be a lot of pressure on that first song, but hopefully the following tips will help take some of that pressure off.

If you already know what your song is then you’re almost done! Now you just need to put together your dance. If you’re going to work with a professional, try to give yourself at least a month or two to prepare. Those last couple of weeks get crazy and you don’t want to be stuck trying to learn new steps at the same time. Other tips on making sure you’re prepared for your first dance will be posted soon, so be sure to check back!

If you still need to find a song, start by deciding what’s more important to you: Are you looking for a song with words that are just right regardless of the type of music? Or, do you want a certain sound (i.e.: slow & romantic, big band, Latin style, show tune, dramatic, rock, etc.)? Or maybe you know you want a certain style dance – like a tango, swing, or waltz. Once you decide what aspect is most important to you, you can narrow down your search.

If it’s only all about the words, then buckle up – you’ve got a long ride ahead. There are so many great songs with meaningful lyrics, but only you will be able to tell if they mean something for your relationship, so you’re going to have to sit down and listen to a lot of different songs to try out the lyrics.

If you want a certain sound, you can plug that style in to a YouTube or iTunes search to get a good starting point. Then work your way down the list to find something that fits the feel you’re going for and will meld with the theme of your wedding.

If it’s all about the dance, then you may want to talk to a local studio, dance teacher, or professional dancer. They work with a plethora of music and will be able to give you an idea of what kind of music will work best for the type of dance you want. Here is a link to a good starting list to look at from a local studio. There are, of course, many more to choose from – this is just a sample to get you started.

Don’t know what the heck you want, but do know you want to do some kind of dance? Then you might want to schedule a time to meet with a teacher in your area. You can use your first lesson to hear different types of music and try out a couple of basic steps for different styles of dance. This will give you an idea of what feels more comfortable to you, or what you think may flow with your special day the best. At that point, you can go home and search through that kind of music only and it’ll be much easier to find a suitable song.

It sounds stupid, but the key is to relax. Chances are, unless you know a composer, you probably won’t find a song that is absolutely perfect in every word, tone, length, style, etc. But if you decide which aspect is most important to you, you’ll be able to make the rest of it work. You don’t want to get too stressed out about it and make it too much of a chore. That will show in your dance if you do, and no one wants to watch that. Remember, your guests likely are not going to remember the song itself, but they will remember watching you dance if they can see how special the moment is to you.

The most important thing is that this is the first time you get to dance together as a married couple. It should be all about this private moment between the two of you (forget about the fact that all your guests will be watching). All the planning, stress, craziness, stops for this 2-4 minutes while you get to do nothing but dance, hold each other in your arms, and celebrate your lives finally becoming one. That moment is a memory you can’t re-do, so enjoy it. Treasure it. It doesn’t matter if the music is perfect. That one moment between you two is all that’s important. The rest will come!

Photo Credit:
kennymatic via photopin cc

Beginning Ballroom Dance Class Openings

July 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

Jenna’s Beginning Ballroom class is back at the Saratoga Savoy Center of Dance!

Register today and receive a 10% DISCOUNT!

Class runs for 8 weeks, every Tuesday night 7:00-8:00pm, and will cover a variety of dances – both smooth and Latin style.  For more information, contact

Register online at:

To the Stars on Dancing with the Stars:

March 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

STOP WHINING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wow, second week into Season 10’s competition and already most of you stars are fighting with your pros. Honestly? You look and sound like a bunch of stereotypical, spoiled, Hollywood brats!

For those of you that have not seen the show yet this week, almost every practice clip showed the stars yelling at their pros, whining, crying, and generally being difficult. And the pros, for the most part, well… handled it like a pro!  It’s hard enough to teach, to try to find the right way to convey your message to your students.  But to also have to come up with a well-choreographed routine in just a couple of days, and teach it to a beginner dancer – not just the steps, but style, technique, and polish – adds a whole new layer of difficulty and pressure that most people do not even realize. Then, to top it off, to have a spoiled brat that knows nothing about dancing or dance competitions, yelling at you and trying to tell you not only how to teach, but how to do your job…. well, I don’t think that’s really part of the contract. And they definitely do not get paid enough to have to deal with that crap. A very reliable insider informed me that while the stars get paid regardless of how long they are on the show, the pros are only paid for the weeks they are in the competition.

I was happy to see that judge, Len Goodman, finally said something while critiquing Erin Andrews & Maksim Chmerkovskiy’s Foxtrot: “A lot of the couples are really having a go at your professionals, and I’ve got to say we’ve got some of the best pros. Three key words – TURN UP, KEEP UP, AND SHUT UP! Get on with your dancing, trust your pro!”

“Turn up, keep up, and shut up.”  Those are words to live by – dancing or not.  Anytime we learn something new, we need to respect our teacher. Be it in a school classroom, a training session at work, in learning a new hobby, or out on the dance floor.  Our “teacher,” or “leader,” or whatever the title is of the person you are following, is the expert in that particular subject. They don’t care if you own your own business, if you’re a big CEO,  a multi-million dollar athlete, or a big Hollywood star. Just because you’re good in one thing, or perhaps know a lot about a certain subject, does not mean that you are an expert in everything. I think we all need a reminder of that every now and then.

Swallow your pride and listen to your teacher. They know what they are talking about.  They’re teaching because they have an appropriate amount of experience in their field. You don’t – that’s why you need a teacher. Remember that. Don’t whine and try to change things to your advantage just because something is hard. Embrace it! Enjoy the challenge! Strive to do something new and better yourself in the process!  As Len says, what’s the worst that can happen? “You go wrong, you fall over, so what… Don’t go down as a wimp – go out fighting!”

And to the current and future stars on DWTS – Remember your pro wants to win just as much, if not more than you. They’re not going to do something to purposely make you look like a fool out there. Everything they’re making you do in practice is so that you can look as fantastic as possible on that dance floor. They’ve been doing this much longer than you.  They each have a list of credits a mile long, and awards to prove it. They are ranked some of the best dancers in the entire world.  Believe it or not, they know what they’re doing. Give them a break. Understand that they have a job to do, and listen to what they’re saying. You may not like it, but it’s the only way to get you one elegant step closer to that mirror ball trophy.  Otherwise, on top of adding extra stress and drama that no one needs, you’ll be going home. It is an ensemble dance show, after all. If you want the show to be all about you, then you need to get your own reality TV show (oh wait, some of you already have…).  How long you stay on the show is ultimately up to the viewers. And frankly, we don’t want to see you harassing the pros. We just want to see some entertaining dancing – So suck it up and just dance!

For more SP blogs on Dancing with the Stars:
-Season 10 Gets Underway
-A Day with Maks & Karina

Dancing with the Stars Season 10 Gets Underway

March 15, 2010 § Leave a comment

The new stars and their partners have been announced!  This year’s lineup is a slightly different mix of stars that are already creating headlines. Not to mention, Brooke Burke, former DWTS contestant is now the new co-host.  Should be interesting to see where the show goes this year. Will it still be as popular as usual?  Or, is America starting to move on?

We’ll find out as the season premires March 22nd on ABC.

The Lineup:

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Hustle Performance team for Albany, NY Area

February 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

Brian Sipe and Bob Englert are forming a brand new Hustle Performance Team. In the next 8 weeks, students will learn a hot new hustle routine and will perform at a variety show on Saturday, March 27th.

Hosted every Tuesday night at the Cohoes American Ukranium Citizens Center, the class will start with one hour of instruction from 7-8pm, followed by one hour of practice time from 8-9pm.

Cost is $50.00 per person.  Bring your own partner.

For more information or to register, contact Bob at…
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Mr. Dirty Dancing, Patrick Swayze, Dies at 57

September 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

What would dancing be without the famous line, “Nobody puts Baby in a corner”?  What would Ballroom dancing be without Patrick Swayze as the cover boy?  Would it still be as popular as it is today without Dirty Dancing in our lives?

Patrick Swayze, son of Jesse and Patsy Swayze, was born in Houston in 1952. Since his mother was a choreographer, Swayze was a part of the dance world from the very beginning. He met his…

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SYTYCD Season 5 Finale Recap

August 18, 2009 § Leave a comment

Expectations were high as this season’s finale kicked off at the Kodak Theater. Over 3500 people were in the record breaking live audience and it was anyone’s game. No clear favorite was leading and the remaining four finalists were all pumped and ready to go. The night started off with a Wade Robson group routine that pitted the “cheerleaders” against the “jocks.”

Jeanine and Evan started the couples portion off with a Sonya Tayeh that started the night off right for the judges. Guest judge, Adam Shankman gave them a bunch of “nevers.” “Jeanine, I never saw…
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Preparing For Your Wedding Dance

August 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

Photo courtesy of Peter Finger Photography

Photo courtesy of Peter Finger Photography

It’s wedding season and many couples are preparing for the big first dance.

In the last couple of years, the trend for couples is to have a choreographed first dance. This trend only seems to be growing, especially with the popularity of shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With The Stars.

When calling a studio to schedule lessons for your first dance, these are the top 10 things to keep in mind….
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