Hello! It has been a very long time. I am surprised to say it has been about 2 years since I last posted on this website. Three dance shows, two weddings, and one niece and one nephew later, I am back!
I have been meaning to share this guest post for a while. My friend Kathy Findlay, a fellow ballroom dancer, wrote it and I am sharing it with her permission. More on Step 2, 3, 4’s backstory will be coming in the future!
The Love of Ballroom, and so much more…
words by Kathy Findlay
D-A-N-C-E intertwined with…song…music…rhythm. I had my first taste of this type of art in motion, since—well…I’m certain it was from my days nesting in the womb, and finally emerging with a spotlight on my happy feet. My full-blooded Hungarian parents can be credited for introducing me to their passions for dance, song, and music, as proficient dancers, and as musicians (pianist and violinist). Unknowingly to them, dance and song permeated my veins through osmosis. As a part of this writing exercise, I took a short walk down Memory Lane. It was easy to do just by paging through my childhood photo album. The years of sepia tone snapshots showcased the Harvest Festival dance performances donning the traditional red, white, and green Hungarian costume. Proudly, I wore an embellished crown on my head. It was affixed with two long streamers on either side, which would gracefully flow in the air with each twirl. Around my waist was a starched, white, apron that had a design using thin red and green ribbons to represent the Hungarian flag. As one could only imagine, I was standing in the traditional dance stance with one hand on my hip, and the other arm pointed with a bent elbow upward towards the heavens. If I close my eyes, and truly listen, I can imagine the sounds of the cymbalom in the dance music while visualizing the steps performed.
The pre-teen and mid-teen years still included Sunday afternoon dances at a variety of Hungarian venues. My dance partners, not by choice, included either one or the other of my parents, and on several occasions, my uncle. In the Csárdás—a folk dance—it is quite common to dance with another woman, although, my ideal partner would have been a young and dashing boy nearer to my age! An older sister brought the Mashed Potatoes…the Twist…the Monkey…and the Swim into the living room with Dick Clark and the American Band Stand. I wasn’t nearly as proficient at these dances as she, only because it really wasn’t dances of my age group. I did, however, obtain enough basic knowledge of the dance steps to hang on to them for my later years, when I needed to bring them out of my dance arsenal at just the appropriate times. And then, my true passion evolved in the late 60s. On Saturday nights, you’d find me slipping on another style of dance shoes—figuratively speaking—in order to strut along with the beat of the Temptations, Four Tops, the Supremes, Smokey Robinson, and Marvin Gaye at regular teen dances in my small town. We group of girls R-O-C-K-E-D, primarily because we were some of the rare few that were savvy with all the hand and foot movements. Motown music was in Vogue, and I was loving it!
… come the late 1990s. Enter ballroom dancing. My world of dance shifted from unstructured dances with no form to structured dances with a frame. Initially, regular dance lessons were primarily just a place to socialize, be silly, and have FUN, while walking away with a few new dance steps in place, and several old ones engrained! Ah, but then, it happened. The dance bug bit, leaving me with a slow after effect of its venom. The lessons became more intense. More complicated. More challenging. I developed a thirst for more. Partaking in group exhibitions, were followed by numerous solo exhibitions for not just the local dance chapter, but for out-of-the-dance circle groups and large events. Dance had consumed the catacombs of my psyche, heart, and soul. It became not only the exercise for my skeletal muscles, but for my mind, as well. I came to realize that dance became the song of my body. I could use the steps as an instrument, as I do with my voice in singing. In singing, pitch and hitting the right notes are of the utmost importance. The same hold true for song through dance. I won’t always be perfect or even good. A wrong note might be sung or an incorrect dance step may be executed. No one will laugh or make fun in either case. Dancers share an unspoken understanding, bond, and commonality in knowing that we share the same apprehensions, thirst, drive, and triumphs. A reality check, whether or not I want to go there, is focusing on the approach of the golden years. I’m cognizant of the health benefits that dance will provide in aiding me to age gracefully, control my weight, and remain flexible. I once read that dancing can even make the immune system stronger. I love reminiscing of years—even centuries gone by—and all of the generations who fell in love (with dance) without even knowing it…right on the dance floor.