March/April 2008

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass ...
It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Waltz Time welcomes you to our second newsletter. This monthly communication offers a calendar of upcoming waltz dances and workshops, dance community news and informative articles. We encourage your contributions to our newsletter. Please send suggestions for topics or a story of your own to staff@waltztimedances.org.

You may already know about Waltz Time's volunteer committee that produces the twice monthly Sunday afternoon waltz dances at Glen Echo Park's Spanish Ballroom. But you may not know that you can view the entire year's calendar of dances, workshops, and the annual Strauss Ball at our web site.

Additionally, you may want to become more involved in this growing community by helping to manage the regular Sunday afternoon waltzes or our 25th Annual Strauss Ball at Glen Echo Park. Simply drop us a line at staff@waltztimedances.org or talk to us at one of the Sunday waltzes. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy our newsletter. At the end of this page there are additional links that you can use to forward this newsletter to a friend or unsubscribe.



As you've no doubt noticed, the Sunday afternoon waltzes include dances other than the waltz. The bands typically play three waltzes and then a tango, hambo, schottische, polka or "other" couple dance. Polka, like so many contemporary partnered dances, originated as a peasant dance. Despite its name - and its popularity in Polish-American communities - the polka's roots are Czech. Most historians believe the name is derived from "pulka," the Czech phrase for "half-step," referring to the dance pattern of shifting rapidly from foot to foot.

The polka dance was first introduced to Prague ballrooms in 1835, and in 1840 to ballrooms in Paris, where it was widely, and wildly, popular (but see other early opinions below!). Polka eventually reached England and the United States by the late 1840s. The dance fell out of favor in the early 1900s, due to the popularity of ragtime and jazz and other new dances, but after WWII, Polish-American immigrants adopted the polka as their national dance. However, as anyone who ever visited the late, lamented Blob's Park in Jessup, Maryland, knows, the dance was also favored by many German-Americans and other hyphenates who enjoyed the vivacity of the music and the steps.

Polka may have fallen further out of favor with baby boomers who equated it with the decidedly un-hip Lawrence Welk, but like other folk music and dances, it has enjoyed a resurgence in some quarters of late. Brave Combo's undeniably unorthodox take on polka music (polka versions of Jimi Hendrix' "Purple Haze" and the Doors' "People Are Strange," for example) may have contributed to a re-evaluation of the music and, by extension, the dance.

Whether your roots are Czech, French, Polish, German or "other," you can hop to the beat of a lively polka, put a smile on your face and get a darn good workout!

Sources: Adapted in part from the Independent Lens page on pbs.org.

Tuesday, April 13th, 1844

On this date, the "Illustrated London News" described a controversial dance craze that had emerged in Bohemia in the early 1830s and had reached London in 1842.

It is a waste of time to consider this nonsense. The weathercock heads of the Parisians have been delighted always by any innovation, but they never imported anything more ridiculous or ungraceful than this Polka. It is a hybrid confusion of Scotch Lilt, Irish Jig, and Bohemian Waltz, and need only to be seen once to be avoided forever!

"Punch Magazine" in England also considered the polka a fit subject for one of their tongue-in-cheek satirical pieces. Of course, the French felt otherwise:

La Polka, as danced in Paris and now adopted by us, is elegant, graceful, and fascinating in the extreme. It is replete with opportunities of showing care and attention to your partner in assisting her through its performance.

25th Anniversary: Evening with Strauss, Viennese Waltz Ball
Saturday Evening, April 26, Spanish Ballroom

A Ton of Fun, and a Benefit Dance for Glen Echo Park -- Don't Miss This Night! It's our Annual Strauss Ball and benefit Dance for Glen Echo Park - and it's our 25th!

To our delight, OLD VIENNA will be back again, and they have added another violinist, Elke Baker, to provide an amazing ensemble for our dancing pleasure. Join Dave Wiesler (piano), Alexander Mitchell and Elke Baker (violins), Barbara Heitz (flute), and Ralph Gordon (bass) for a wonderful night of classical waltzes, polka, tango, and schottische.

An introductory Viennese Waltz lesson with Mike Marcotte and Donna Barker at 8 pm is followed by dancing until midnight in the Spanish Ballroom. Enjoy the traditional Grand March led by Ranger Stan Fowler, refreshments, and dance cards; fancy attire recommended, $15/person, pay at the door. Carousel rides until 10 pm, $1. Get a flyer here.

Viennese Waltz Classes

To help you prepare for waltzing in the Viennese style, Mike and Donna are teaching Viennese Waltz Classes at Glen Echo Park's Spanish Ballroom on Thursday nights, April 3 - 24, 7:00-8:00 p.m. Viennese waltz, the earliest couple dance from which all ballroom dances evolved, enjoys worldwide popularity. You'll learn left and right turns and the change step to alternate between the turns.

No partner or prior experience is required. The tuition is $40 for 4 weeks. You may pre-register online or call 301.634.2226. You may also register on site April 3, the first night of the series. For more information, visit Donna and Mike's website.

Workshops with Lilli Ann Carey in the Merry Month of May!

We know you'll still be on Cloud 9 after the Strauss Ball, so take advantage of your energy and head to the Spanish Ballroom one week later, Saturday, May 3, and Sunday, May 4, for workshops with Lilli Ann Carey. Lilli presented a full weekend of workshops here last year, and in response to the rave reviews, we are bringing her back again! On Saturday, she'll teach three progressive workshops in cross-step waltz. The cost is $10 per session or $25 for all three (for intermediate-level dancers). In Sunday's two workshops, she'll teach you how to integrate 19th-century flair into your turning waltz. The cost is $12 per session or $20 for both (for intermediate/advanced dancers). All workshops will be held at the Spanish Ballroom, Glen Echo Park, with payment at the door.

Lilli Ann teaches several nights a week in Seattle and runs a monthly workshop program for Waltz Eclectic in Portland, Oregon. She teaches and promotes dance through her company, Dance For Joy!. She has also taught workshops in Atlanta and is a frequent instructor in San Francisco. She will be assisted by Jamie Shamseldin, a performer for several years with, among others, Danse Libre, a respected vintage dance performance troupe. More information will be available on our web site soon. Mark your calendar!

Upcoming Sunday Afternoon Waltzes*

APRIL 2008

April 6: CONTRATOPIA with Pat O'Loughlin, Patrice Pakiz, Erik Sessions, John Goodin

April 20: TRIO CON BRIO with Paul Oorts, Jonathan Jensen, Elke Baker

MAY 2008

May 4: SQUEEZE BAYOU with Karen Collins, Brian Simms, Matt Levine, Fred Feinstein, Kevin Enoch, David Lopez

May 18: JUBILEA with Mary Lea, David Wiesler, Paul Oorts, Anna Patton

JUNE 2008

June 15: RHAPSODY DANCE BAND with Marty Taylor, Alexander Mitchell, Dave Wiesler, Ralph Gordon

June 29: THE WALTZTRONS with David Knight, Edith Coakley, Barbara Heitz, Liz Donaldson

JULY 2008

July 20: TERPSICHORE with Elke Baker, Liz Donaldson, Ralph Gordon

NOTE: Waltz Time is hosting just one Sunday afternoon waltz in July.

*Sunday Afternoon Waltzes begin with an introductory waltz lesson from 3 - 3:30 pm,
followed by dancing to live music until 6 pm. Cost is $8, including the lesson.

All events are held at the Spanish Ballroom, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, MD and
sponsored in cooperation with the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture, Inc.,
the National Park Service and Montgomery County, Maryland.