October 2008

I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.

by Friedrich Nietzsche

Greetings from Waltz Time! This newsletter offers a calendar of upcoming waltz dances and workshops, dance community news and informative articles. We encourage your articles to our newsletter. Please send your story or suggestions for topics to staff@waltztimedances.org.

Waltz Time is an all-volunteer committee that produces the twice monthly Sunday afternoon waltz dances at Glen Echo Park's Spanish Ballroom. The October and November waltzes are listed below or view the entire year's calendar at our web site.

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 to unsubscribe.


Free Two-Step Workshop, October 19

On Sunday, October 19, Waltz Time sponsors an afternoon of country-flavored waltzes and couples dances with local western band the Oklahoma Twisters. Most of the afternoon dances will be waltzes, as usual; however the band is sure to play a number of two-steps. To help you enjoy this wonderful dance style, dance champions Linda and Mal Zerden will teach a two-step lesson.

For those not familiar with this dance, two-step is perfectly suited to the 4/4 time music common in many western ballads as well as more up-tempo western swing. The Zerdens have actively competed in national country dance competitions (UCWDC) since 1993. They are two-time Diamond Showcase World Champions, with their most recent world title won in the Netherlands in January 2002. The two-step lesson, from 2 - 3 pm, will be followed by the usual half-hour beginner waltz lesson, and then by the Oklahoma Twisters from 3:30 - 6 pm. The cost of the either or both lessons is included in your paid admission to the waltz that day ($8 as usual).

Free Hambo Workshop, November 2

Don't stand around and watch other dancers glide and pivot through the hambo anymore! Learn this Swedish folk dance from experts Lisa Brooks and Dan Kahn, who will lead a FREE hambo workshop on Sunday, November 2, prior to that day's waltz with Rose by the Door.

The lesson runs from 2 - 3 pm, and the cost of the one-hour lesson is included in your paid admission to the waltz that day ($8 as usual). There's no registration - just show up at the Spanish Ballroom around 1:45 pm. BTW, we will still have our regular beginner waltz lesson at 3 pm, so stick around for that too - if you already know how to waltz, your expertise will surely help our new dancers and give them a fine introduction to the friendly spirit of our dance community.

A Balanced Life

In his book Balance: In Search of the Lost Sense (pub. 2007) Scott McCredie makes a very good case for balance being the sixth sense. Starting with Aristotle and moving through the centuries to the present, he documents his case effectively with case studies, experiments and theories conducted and formulated by persons past and present. The crux of his argument is that vision, proprioception ("...[the] system by which the body senses its own motion....") and the vestibular system or inner ear ("It constantly measures our body's position in space, relative to gravity....") are three systems that input information to the brain so a body can maintain an upright posture with perfect balance as a goal. His research brings to the fore the work of others that suggest good balance not only can minimize falling, especially in old age, but also sharpens the brain's ability to think and remember, making it less likely that an individual will develop dementia. (There are, however, respected, credentialed professionals who argue that the three sensory system inputs to the brain do not minimize dementia.)

McCredie goes on to say that three of the best ways for a person to develop and maintain good balance are one-legged exercises, walking on uneven surfaces (grass and stony paths, especially with thin-soled shoes) and dancing - the last of which applies to waltz in general and (for the purpose of this synopsis) the folk waltz style specifically.

Folk waltz, with its many spins, turns, changes in position and direction and progression round the dance floor, constantly incorporates all of the elements necessary to trigger the three sensory systems (mentioned above) to provide data input to the brain to develop and maintain good balance: unending eye and head movement for spatial awareness relative to other people and things, constant awareness of one's own motion and position in space, and continually measuring body position relative to gravity. In waltz-speak this means: at every turn adjusting one's path of progression round the dance floor to avoid contact with other dancers and objects; endlessly maintaining proper position and distance with one's partner (especially when executing spinning and turning moves), while changing speeds to stay one with the music; and unceasingly keeping one's weight over one's feet so a good, constant, stable frame is always presented to one's partner whether in closed or open position.

Of course, the above applies to other types of dancing as well. Still, if all the dancing one does is folk waltz, then that person is doing at least one very good thing to develop and maintain good balance and quite possibly is engaged in a preventative measure to guard against poor memory and dementia. And one has fun while doing it! I found McCredie's Balance interesting, well written and documented, insightful and useful. Reading it was time well spent.

Upcoming Sunday Afternoon Waltzes

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.


October 5: NIGHTINGALE with Keith Murphy, Rebecca Tracy, Jeremiah McLane

October 19: THE OKLAHOMA TWISTERS: An Afternoon of Western Waltzes with George Welling, Jeff Reynolds, Ira Gitlin, Dave Giegerich, Bill Mason, Tom McLaughlin


November 2: ROSE BY THE DOOR with Andrea Hoag, Marty Taylor, Liz Donaldson, Ralph Gordon

November 16: WALTZ MAGIC with Alexander Mitchell, Barbara Heitz, Liz Donaldson, Ralph Gordon

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.