Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I have been so busy teaching I haven't blogged in awhile! I miss it!
Camille and Jonathan just did lessons, and they looked great1

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Everything is easy, once you know how, whether you want to recreate a dance or create your own unique wonderful moment, learning how to dance for your wedding is a fun part of the wedding planning. Oh, and you'll pick up a life skill you will use frequently, I hope!. The thing to remember is that, if you can walk, you can dance!

Peter Jones
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Katherine and Mark took their last lesson last night getting ready for the big day. Michael Bouble's Everything is a fantastic Foxtrot which we combined with a Swing break, and a fast-paced piece of choreography in the middle when the song's dynamics kick into high gear. They look good after only 3 lessons, unfortunately spaced out over about 2 months! They look good, and have promised me pictures from the wedding, so I'll get the professional shots up as soon as I get them.

Peter Jones
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Laura and Jason have decided to go back to At Last for their first dance. We're putting together a rumba/salsa mash with an uptempo style to match their personality, balanced on the slow beat of the music.
They were off to see Alan Cummings' Macbeth last night. (I'm a little jealous...) But they are doing an amazing job. (pics to follow)

Peter Jones
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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Choosing a dance studio or instructor

Choosing a quality Dance Studio or instructor takes some research and common sense. If you are shopping around and are looking for the cheapest thing you can find, keep in mind that you generally do get what you pay for - you may learn a few steps, but you might not be learning how to dance.

Some of the factors you might consider include professional certification. Some studios employ teachers who are not certified. Certification is simply a professional affirmation of a skill level, and is always nice, but perhaps you are not looking for an instructor that will drive you to winning competions in a few months.

One of the things I have noted in the past is that students work best when they are comfortable and relaxed, so be sure that you actually like your instructor! That should be the first thing you decide when you start your lessons. Take advantage of a Trial lesson, which is either low cost or free. (But be prepared for the interview afterward, when the instructor or studio presents their comments and recommendations, and of course the Pitch. After all, the Studio does want to sell you lessons - it has to, to stay in business. But do not let a hard sell trap you - if the studio has to resort to being a used car salesman, it may not have a lot of confidence in its instructors.)

Know what you want, going in. Do you want the personal attention you get in a private lesson? Do you want a slower paced Group lesson? You will learn faster in a private lesson, but group lessons are much less expensive, and can be a lot of fun. Would you prefer to have a small group of your friends come in together and make a private Group lesson? There are always lots of options.

Look for atmosphere. Are people friendly? Is the Studio clean?

And always have fun.

Peter Jones
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The real partner dancing pointer!

The most important thing is to remember to have fun when you're dancing. Specific step patterns and rhythms are just tools you use to make the dancing (communication between two bodies) easier.

Peter Jones
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Ballroom dancing points and positions

Just some general notes

Some basic ballroom dancing points and positions
In traditional ballroom dancing, the male dancer is the lead and the female dancer follows. In all these dance positions, the lead directs the follow with body language and initiates the motion. The follow should never try to lead, nor anticipate the lead's next move.
These moves are all written in terms of the actions the lead initiates.

Dancing in a Closed Dance Position
The lead's left hand should have straight fingers pointing to the left with thumb up. The right hand rests on the follow's shoulder blade.
The follow's right hand should hook onto the lead's left hand. The left hand rests on the lead's shoulder.
The lead's right arm and the follow's left arm should touch at the elbows. There should be a small amount of pressure between the couple's arms so the lead can signal to the follow.

The Promenade Position
The leader should link the left thumb around the follow's right hand. Both dancers’ palms should face out.
The lead's right hand should rest on the follow's shoulder blade, exerting direction/ pressure with the heel of the palm . The follow's left hand rests on the follow's shoulder.
Both partner's hips should face out.

The Open Dance Position
This is a more relaxed position where the lead's hands are at waist height. The thumbs should be up and the fingers should face inwards. Take care not to wrap the thumbs around the follow's hands. The follow should hook both hands over the lead's hands.

The Apart Position
Dancers are not touching each other with their hands, and there is no point of contact between their bodies

Peter Jones
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We're married! Thanks for ALL of the dancing help (and pre-marital counseling) at times ;-) As the dip attests (How about those arm stylings!) the first dance went GREAT, thanks to you! All of our family and friends were duly impressed! Thanks for everything!

-Maureen and Tom

Peter Jones
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How do you do the Waltz?

                      Waltz is a dance in 3/4 time. 

If that doesn't mean anything to you, it doesn't matter, because anyone can do a Box Step! 

Step Timing
The leader steps Forward on left foot.
Follower steps Backwards on right foot.
The leader steps to the side with right foot.
Side with left foot.
Close the left foot to the right.
Close right foot to left.
The leader steps back on the  right foot.
Forward on left foot.
Side with right foot.
Side with left foot.
Then closes the right foot to left.
Close left foot to right.

Peter Jones
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Ballroom Dancing can kill you!!!.... NOT.

Ballroom Dancing has become huge in the US and the world in recent years. Tangos, waltzes, swing and foxtrots on (the still going strong) Dancing with the Stars, there was the amazing "So You Think You Can Dance,"and numerous others... In addition to being fun and social, Ballroom dancing also significantly improves both the mind and the body.

So, you wanna dance?

You're probably not going to train full time for months with a top professional dance partner, but you can still get a good workout. And keep in mind, anyone who can walk can dance.... so:
Is ballroom dancing exercise?

Of course it depends on the type of dancing and your skill level, but once you get your heart rate up, you're certainly going to get a great cardio workout, whatever you do. Dance builds bones, and is wonderful for your upper body and strength. If you have a health problem, be careful about throwing yourself into a really fast dance style, but even if you aren't in perfect shape, be willing to go for it! Just start slow and make sure you are comfortable.

Dance is a "moderate activity" say the USDA's physical activity guidelines. The g
uidelines say adults should get at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity daily so it doesn't take much, and it is always so much easier to stick to a weight loss or health program with fun activities. Take, for instance, maybe ballroom or Latin style dance.

You might feel muscles you don't know you have! Ballroom dancing works the backs of the thighs and buttock muscles differently than many other types of exercise.
How can ballroom dancing help the brain?

Increased blood flow to the brain results from any physical exercise and there's less stress, depression, and loneliness from dancing's social activity part. There are mental challenges (memorizing steps, working with your partner) making it a complex activity -- it's not just physical. 

So, how should I get started dancing?

* Look for a good teacher who emphasizes what you can do, is positive and works at your pace.
* Don't think you have to be perfect. Professionals aren't; why should you be?
* Dance is for everyone, so it doesn't matter if you sometimes worry about your size.
* Get into the music, as well as the movement.

Gaining any new skill brings confidence.
So have some fun, and get confident!

Peter Jones
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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Brooke & Michael

Brooke & Michael working with Peter Jones on their Texas 2-Step for their First Dance. They soak up an amazing amount in their first lesson... and its the day after he proposes! How romantic is that!!! 

Peter Jones
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Friday, February 15, 2013

Asmena and Fahim started dance lessons for their wedding only a week before the day. Their song is "Misty Blue," a Viennese Waltz. In this first hour, we started out with a simple hesitation step, added a separation break, plus a turn! Everything is easy once you know how! (and a little practice.) We'll see how things go in their next lessons, but I am certain we'll be able to put together a great, simple dance in only a few lessons.
(Update: They are off to their wedding in India. and in their last lesson, they looked great! Elegant, fluid, relaxed and happy! Hopefully they'll be able to send a video!)

Peter Jones
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Music tells you how to dance!

It's your song which determines what type of dance you do!
For instance, salsa, foxtrot, swing, bachat,... are all specific dance styles that're appropriate for specific songs. The word Waltz is often used as a generic term, for a wedding dance, e.g. Wedding Waltz, but it is actually a specific type of music in 3/4 time (Moon River, Journey's "Open Arms" or Norah Jones' "Come Away With Me" are waltzes.)

Peter Jones
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rumba /Salsa combo! Beginners

I'm teaching Alexis and Kerry, in only 3 lessons, a beautiful Rumba /Salsa combo for the wedding next week!

Peter Jones
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Dancing together is truly a beautiful, fulfilling experience. It is a perfect metaphor for any couple, especially a couple getting married, as in the learning how to do it, whether its Latin, Ballroom or Rhythm dance, its all about give and take, the constant flow of communication, creating a beautiful unity.

Peter Jones
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Rumba - the most useful dance to learn. Some history

Continuing my series of blogs about current social dances, their origins, etc....

The rumba is my default social dance, a box step in 4/4 time, that while primarily a slow Latin dance, can be done to many different styles and tempos of music. It will be the dance you use more than any other when you go dancing.

 Some background and a brief rumba history!

Rumba's two primary sources are Spanish and African, and it developed primarily in Cuba.
The "rumba influence" came in the 16th century with African slaves. The native Rumba folk dance is essentially a sex pantomime danced fast with exaggerated hip movements, the man's sensually aggressive attitude countered by a defensive one on the part of the woman.

As recently as the second world war, the "Son," a modified, slower and more refined version of the native Rumba. Very small steps are taken, with the women producing a very subtle tilting of the hips, alternately bending and straightening the knees.

The American Rumba is a modified version of the "Son", and while the first serious attempt to introduce the Rumba to the United States was by Lew Quinn and Joan Sawyer in 1913, real interest in Latin music didn't begin until the late 1920's when Xavier Cugat formed an orchestra that specialized in Latin American music.

In 1935, George Raft played the part of a suave dancer in the movie "Rumba", a light weight musical where the hero finally wins the heiress (Carol Lombard) through a mutual love of dancing.

In Europe, the introduction of Latin American dancing (Rumba in particular) owed much to the enthusiasm and interpretive ability of Monsieur Pierre (London's leading teacher in this dance form). In the 1930's he and his partner, Doris Lavelle, demonstrated and popularized Latin American dancing. Pierre and Lavelle introduced the true "Cuban Rumba" which was eventually established, after much contention, as the official version in 1955.

Rumba is the heart and soul of Latin American dance and music, and it's fascinating rhythms and bodily expressions make the Rumba one of the most popular ballroom dances.

Peter Jones
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Friday, January 4, 2013


Took the day off yesterday taking care of my sick little boy  :-(
Back tonight with 3 new couples! Happy New Year!
(Last days for post Xmas special -

Peter Jones
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

How do you do a Foxtrot?

Foxtrot is a casually elegant dance invented sometime between 1910-1914 by  Harry Foxvaudeville dancer and comedian. For social dance purposes, the Foxtrot, as it is currently done, is a travelling dance... that is, a dance which moves around the dance floor -- as opposed to a "Spot" dance, a dance which stay in one place.

1. The Leader takes a step Forward: (walk forward with the left foot);
2. Then steps Forward with the right foot
3. Place your left foot to the Side with a small step
4. Close your right foot to left, transferring weight to right foot.
The Follower takes the same steps, moving backwards, starting with the Right foot.

You often dance the Foxtrot to standards such as The Way You Look Tonight, Fly Me to the Moon, etc, but you also use it in contemporary songs.

(We can talk about the Rhythm pattern - 4 steps in 6 beats of music, and various styling a little more later, but that's it, basically.)

It isn't complicated:  just walk two steps, take a small step to the side, and close your feet together with the 4th step! (Animation of the above step.)

(Compared with today's standards, the original Foxtrot was moderately fast, simple and unrefined. It was the rise to fame of  Vernon and Irene Castle's exhibition dances that led the elite of the dance world to try to capture the fox-trot's unusual style of movement, but it wasn't until the early 30's that Foxtrot began to take on the smoother and more flowing quality we recognize in today's dance.)

Peter Jones
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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Social v. International Style dance

Partner social dancing, whether Standard Ballroom dances like Waltz or Foxtrot, Latin styles such as Rumba, Salsa/Mambo, Meringue or Tango, or Swing and all its variants is most importantly about communication, consideration and respect between to people.

American or Social style dancing is different from International Style, used primarily in competitions culminating in the World Championships at Blackpool England.

They are totally different worlds: one social, relatively relaxed dancing and the other the more rigorous and precise styling required by competitive standards.. I teach American style, primarily with wedding couples in mind.

Peter Jones
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Anna & Rad

Anna and Rad had a little experience, so I was able to choreograph a beautiful waltz! They took the choreo and made it their own in really quite a beautiful dance to a great rock standard!

Peter Jones
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Fiona and Wilson's amazing First Dance

I put together a dynamic wedding dance for Fiona and Wilson as a highlight in their incredible Reception. Fiona and Wilson are a great couple who love to have fun. They wanted a mellow intro then to break into a Broadway Show-style dance. I choreographed the first part as a more traditional first dance, then directed a fun, upbeat Bob Fosse-style dance as a great surprise to their guests  As you will see it turned out fantastic and both Fiona and Wilson clearly had a great time!
(The "surprise" Fosse choreography kicks in at ~ 3:30!)

(The original Bob Fosse Choreography: below)

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a healthy and prosperous new year!

Peter Jones

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