October/November 2009

To dance is to be out of yourself. Larger, more beautiful, more powerful.
This is power, it is glory on earth and it is yours for the taking.

Agnes De Mille

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. What would you like to know? 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 and the Annual Strauss Ball 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. Waltzes for the year 2010 will be posted around November 1, 2009.

We want to pass on information to you about the Then & Wow Celebration, the annual festival event at Glen Echo Park. Learn all about the history of Glen Echo Park, see vintage cars dating from 1901 - 1960, meet Louis, the Bowie Baysox Mascot, play Skee-Ball, ride bumper cars, learn to juggle, and more! Read all about it below.

Information Needed: For an upcoming article about the origins of waltzing in the Spanish Ballroom, please email us with your recollections, reminiscences, anecdotes, etc. If you have relevant photos, please feel free to send those, too, in digital format, with identification, if possible.

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.


So you think "real men" don't dance?
His moves may be her deciding factor!

It takes less than three minutes for a female to decide if she's going to have sex with a male... if she's watching him dance. According to Robert Kurzban, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, "Although they had three minutes, most participants made their decision based on the information that they probably got in the first three seconds." Although non-dancing men insist that "real men" don't dance, box office mega hits like "Dirty Dancing" (and the results of numerous university studies) may leave them without a leg to stand on.

According to William M. Brown, PhD., a Rutgers University research anthropologist, dancing is believed to be important in the courtship of a variety of species, including humans. Studies indicate that women are especially attracted to men who have bodily symmetry and who move in a coordinated, balanced way.

Symmetry is a primary indicator of health and mating worthiness. R.J. Elder, a British researcher and author of "Background Considerations to Facial Aesthetics" found evidence indicating that problems with a developing embryo correspond to facial asymmetries that show up in the first trimester of pregnancy. If there are random differences between the left and right side of the face, or left and right side of the body (bilateral asymmetry) it may be a sign of stress, as opposed to deliberate natural asymmetry, a benign condition that occurs in some animals.

According to Zaidel's research, higher levels of symmetry are also associated with intact coping systems. Although people might not consciously be aware that they're detecting symmetry, or the absence of it, symmetry has been found to have a subconscious effect on how people perceive beauty.

Symmetry, especially facial symmetry, is one of several traits associated with physical attractiveness and beauty. Authors of the book Facial Attractiveness, Gillian Rhodes and Leslie Zebrowitz, identified other aesthetic traits, including averageness and youthfulness, that are believed to be associated with both interpersonal attraction and interpersonal chemistry. Animal studies show that mothers who are diseased give birth to offspring that show greater asymmetries.

Lack of male symmetry waves a red flag to females. In many species, asymmetry is connected to physical weakness, higher incidents of disease, shorter life span - which also means decreased success in fertility area - crucial for mate selection and the survival of the species. A female will shy away or refuse to mate with a male that she perceives is not healthy enough, strong enough or able to live long enough to have and raise her off spring.

In an effort to understand the relationship between dance and human courtship, Dr. Brown studied the dance moves of 183, 14-18 year old dancers from Southfield Jamaica. He was looking for a connection between a person's style of dance and symmetry. Because the clothes worn by the dancer seemed to influence the test results, he used motion-capture technology (form of animation) to isolate the dance motion from the dancer’s appearance. He was then able to select forty dance animations based on body asymmetry and categorized them from least to most symmetrical.

Dr. Brown then asked a new, entirely separate, group of 153 Jamaicans, to look at the same dance animations, but to rank them on a dance scale. With the animation photography, Dr. Brown was able to mask the identity of the dancers, blurring the specifics, and focusing entirely on the dancers moves. Brown took precautions to make sure the second group was not able to distinguish if the dancers were male or female.

The results were interesting: Symmetry was preferred by both men and women, and symmetrical males were rated as better dancers. Furthermore, not only were symmetrical males considered better dancers compared with asymmetrical males, the rating group also considered them better dancers than the symmetrical females.

Women preferred the dances of symmetrical men. Likewise, men preferred dances of more symmetrical females — however the latter finding was not a strong, which confirms Dr. Brown's theory that "women are more selective in choosing mates."

Why is symmetry so important? “Perhaps it indicates good coordination or good health, including freedom from parasites," concludes Dr. Brown. He continues, "Attractive dances may be more difficult to perform, more rhythmic, more energetic, more energy efficient, or any combination of these factors."

So, if a woman is on the dance floor, subconsciously searching for a "real man" that can dance to mate with, you'd think Arthur Murray's would be the hot spot, or that the dance floor would be packed with eager new men lining up to audition. That's not the case. No matter what the research reveals, there are still non-dancing males who'll argue that men look stupid when they're dancing ... dancing's not masculine ... and that "real men" don't dance. And that's great ... especially for all the real (smart) men who do. :)

Waltz Time remembers Patrick Swayze, a real dancer.

Free Two-Step Workshop, October 4

As part of Waltz Time's commitment to offer our dancers the chance to expand their dance horizons, we're presenting another free workshop, this time in two-step, on Sunday, October 4.

On that day, we'll present an afternoon of country-flavored waltzes and couples dances with a favorite local western band, the Oklahoma Twisters. Most of the dances will be waltzes, as usual, but with a western flavor; the band will also play a number of two-steps. To help you enjoy this engaging style, dance champions Linda and Mal Zerden will teach a one-hour two-step lesson at 2 pm. There's no need to register. Just show up at the Spanish Ballroom 15-30 minutes before the workshop begins. The cost is included in your admission to the waltz.

For those not familiar with two-step, it's 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 from 3-3:30 pm. The Oklahoma Twisters will then play from 3:30-6 pm. The cost of either or both lessons is included in your admission to the waltz that day: $8.

The Zerdens first taught for Waltz Time's "country-flavored waltz" in October 2008, drawing a large crowd of neophytes and seasoned two-steppers who afterward enjoyed the music of the Twisters. If you missed it the first time around, this is your chance to join in the fun!

Do You REALLY Know All About Where You Dance?

Learn about Glen Echo Park - Come to Then & Wow!
Sunday, September 27, 11 am - 5 pm

Then & Wow is an annual celebration of the Park's past and present! Enjoy a combination of historical exhibits, amusement rides, Skee-Ball, vintage cars and much more:

  • see a vintage car exhibit organized by Robert Patch
  • play Skee-Ball and win PRIZES!
  • meet Louis, the Bowie Baysox Mascot and play T-Ball Extreme
  • enjoy a chronological history of the Park in photo displays
  • learn about the park through NPS exhibits
  • drive a bumper car (really!) in the Pavilion
  • see the historic trolley car
  • browse the resident artists' exhibits
  • learn to juggle and make a balloon animal!
  • learn how to do a magic trick
  • enjoy facepainting, mini-golf, hula hoop play, art projects
  • ride the carousel on its last day of the season!
  • learn about the Park's current programs

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED! Please help us present a fun day for everyone, adults and children alike! Being a facepainter is a real hoot, the kids are so cute, and you do NOT have to be an artist to decorate their little faces. We have a sample book that shows lots of images for simple designs - hearts, rainbows, and smiley faces are easy - YOU CAN DO THIS!

We also need volunteers to handle our prize table, manage the ballroom, teach visitors how to make a balloon animal (we will train you!), and so many other easy and fun volunteer jobs - and you'll get a free lunch and carousel ticket. To volunteer call Emily Mah at 301.634.2233 or email her at emah@glenechopark.org.

The festival is open to the public, free admission. Rides and some activities will require ticket purchase ($1 each or 12 tickets for $10).

Presented by the Glen Echo Park Partnership for Arts and Culture. Call (301) 634-2222 for more information or visit www.glenechopark.org.

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 4: THE OKLAHOMA TWISTERS with George Welling, Jeff Reynolds, Lynn Kasdorf, Tom McLaughlin, Ira Gitlin, Bill Mason

October 18: ELIXIR with Ethan Hazzard-Watkins, Jesse Hazzard-Watkins, Anna Patton, Will Patton, Owen Morrison. Nils Fredland (Bumper Car Pavilion)


November 1: HONEYSUCKLE ROSE with Andrea Hoag, Paul Oorts, Liz Donaldson

November 15: NOTORIOUS with Larry Unger, Eden MacAdam-Somer, Ralph Gordon, Paul Oorts

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.