May is “Showers of Flowers” month at In Step Dance. On Sundays, May 6, 13, 20 and 27, Foxtrot will start the lineup at 2 p.m. Argentine Tango, with emphasis on the new Arthur Murray syllabus, will follow at 3. Lindy Hop “made easy” for beginners will take place at 4; and Shuffle, which is a slightly different version of Swing on the Move, will proceed at 5. All sessions are designed to meet dancers at their level and give everyone something new to work on.
Foxtrot is one of the favorites inthe 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 20th 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 in Paris” 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-century Argentina. 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 from Cuba and the candombe rhythms from Africa. In this period of the late 1800s through the early 1900s, the wailing melancholy of the bandoneon (an accordion-like instrument imported to Argentina from Germany in 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 to Paris and introduced this dance into a society eager for innovation. No dance was accepted by Europe or the U.S. until it was made a ‘standard’ by the French. Since anything French was automatically cool, the dance was soon found in New York and had become an international phenomenon by 1913. The Argentine Tango reached the pinnacle of popularity in Argentina 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 town 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 complement, not to discredit the fine teachings of 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 Roaring ’20s Charleston, it was the very first swing dance invented. It was named after Charles Lindbergh and introduced in New York City in 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 ’30s, continued through the ’40s and into the ’50s and is making a comeback. It can be danced 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. In some of the patterns the man’s and 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” in Texas 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 growing 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 and roll music and basically uses swing patterns danced in the country western fashion of moving counterclockwise 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. 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 sessions meet upstairs in room 3F, 450 Lewis St. downtown Pagosa. To cover rent and furnish bottled water and refreshments, etc., the cost per person is $5 per class. Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that have smooth or split leather soles, and thatdo 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 [arty on Friday, May 25, from 7 to 10 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 welcome to bring your own favorite tunes and visiting friends or family as well.
Call Deb at 731-3338 for more information.