Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dance, Dance, Dance @The Senior Fair

Nice sunshine day this Saturday! And like most if not all seniors, Lani and I headed to the Seniors' Fair at the Honolulu Neal Blaisdell Center. Mind you, we're far from being makule but I looked forward to renewing my valuable Zippy's Senior Club Card at the fair. All card carrying members of Zippy's knows the value of this card. Right?!! Anyway, we got to the Blaisdell a little after eleven. Lani likes to browse around and check out each vendor's booth. Me, I like to hit the continuous entertainment on two stages first and then go browsing.

As we entered the Exhibition Hall, the Nanakuli Performing Arts students were on stage #1 singing and dancing. From the way they were performing, you'd think the musical production of FAME was on stage. Great musical score by the boys and girls of Nanakuli High School.

The Step*Taculars were next and Guest Author Salome was on the first number with three other girls and one guy, Bill Doherty. Colorful costumes as usual and entertaining performance.

Stage #2 is at the opposite end of the Hall and I was curious to see what's cooking. Hot Salsa music was cooking and friend Norma K was firing up the stage with a sensuous Rumba with Greg the Salsa Man. The show was billed as "Dancing With Norma K" and danced she did...the Cha Cha Cha and then the Salsa with Greg and Vince taking turns dancing with her. Later Norma invited the audience to a mini lesson on the Salsa. Greg conducted the lesson which was fun. I know 'cause I was the only guy participating with eight ladies. To Norma K, Greg, and Vince...great show!

Stage #1 was beginning to heat up again with the Morning Stars, another song and dance group who performed for and hour and a half. Terrific entertainment.

There were three solo singers and group dancers in costumes you normally see on Broadway stage shows and at the Mardi Gra.

The show spiced up with Flamenco dancing and Hot Salsa. Bill Doherty spun his Cape Dance, too. Man, that guy gets around! The finale was a tribute to America in red, white, and blue. Excellent showcase of good singers and dance performance.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Power Lifting, Ballroom Dancing, and Focusing

"One reason men are so tense on the dance floor is because they're self-conscious," says Dan, an accomplished ballroom dancer and dance instructor.
Okay, I'll buy that if the men are at the Beginner or Bronze level....well not all men. I say that because men who practice dancing their new skills between dance classes develop a lot of confidence in themselves. There's no tension on their part. Believe me, guys, if you're tense, the girls can sense it and they can feel it. Yes they can. Anyway, Dan is not a Competition Dancer nor an Exhibition Dancer....just a plain grassroots social dancer like most dancers who are out there just to have fun partner dancing.

So guys, if your tension is caused by your perception that people are pointing the finger or laughing at you then lend an ear to Dan's cool advice, "To solve this problem, repeat this simple phrase to yourself: To h--- with everyone else. Don't worry about looking bad. Instead pay attention to only one person...your partner. I can tell you as a dance instructor that the more you focus on yourself and your partner, the better dancer you'll be. And the better you are, the less you'll care if other people are watching you". With that concern solved, you don't have to feel like a weenie when you hit the dance floor.
Oh! I forgot to mention that Dan is a Power Lifter, too...with muscles..big, big muscles. So it's wise to lend the other ear, too. Lifting may tighten muscles, Dan says, but dancing helps keep those muscles supple and limber. A strange combination...Power Lifting and Ballroom Dancing...but it goes well together according to Dan.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Where To A $1.11 Per Professionally Instructed Class?

Aloha Students of Dance,
Got this newsletter from Rita from Maui a few minutes ago. If you're planning to vacation October to December on the Valley Isle and want to excel to the next level in dancing without dishing out a lot of moola, then swing down to her dance studio and register for the kick off of this new dance series.

Maui, HAWAII – The Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit features Maui’s ONLY Professionally-Instructed Ballroom & Latin Dance classes, hosts their Registration Night on Wednesday, October 7th to kick off their new dance series for Oct-Dec; there will also be a potluck dinner and social dance that evening and everyone interested in learning to dance is welcome to join this Guinness World Record holding class! Dance Professional Rita O’Connor, N.D.C.A., will instruct students in Salsa, West Coast Swing & Waltz held every Wednesday at the Kihei Community Center from 6:30 – 9:00 pm; open registration throughout the quarter. The total 3-month course is $40 per person if registered by October 14th; that’s only $1.11 per professionally instructed class! Take 1, 2, or all 3 classes! Open registration throughout the course. No partner necessary! Singles and couples welcome! Teens through adults! Beginners through advanced dancers take the floor! Visit or call 879-0055 for more information.

The Aloha Ballroom Dance Academy (“Academy”) is also the state of Hawaii’s largest Latin & Ballroom group dance class. The Academy is a charitable, educational non-profit Latin & Ballroom dance organization which offers kama’aina and visitors professionally instructed weekly group classes in Latin & Ballroom dancing. Visit their website at:

This new dance series highlights two of the hottest, hippest dances: Salsa & West Coast Swing - ideal for Maui's dance places and spaces - and the Waltz is a classic favorite, so sign up early to secure a space in the classes! “We are trying to make partnership dancing a fun and social event for both couples and singles,” says Brian. “It’s a wonderful way for couples to build upon their relationship and share a new activity together in a relaxing atmosphere. Similarly, singles or those without a dance partner for the evening can enjoy the company of others who want to learn to dance without feeling social pressure to have a steady partner in order to do ballroom dancing.” “Ballroom & Latin dancing has changed with the times,” explains dance professional Rita. “The success of “Dancing with the Stars” TV program has prompted a resurgence in Latin & Ballroom dancing. I enjoy featuring contemporary music selections as well as the traditional songs to make it easier for people to recognize a dance. Our students range from young adult to mature adult and crosses all cultural barriers!”

Ballroom & Latin Dance Professional, Rita and co-founder, Brian created the "Academy" to give back to the Maui community through the arts & cultural of partnership dancing and to promote quality ballroom dancing through professional instruction on Maui! Rita also has Keiki & Teen dance classes and has been professionally competing, performing and teaching Latin & Ballroom dancing in large and small group classes and private lessons for over 20 years and is an award-winning competitor in the International & American Style dances in Latin & Ballroom; she also instructed at 3 of New York City’s top tri-state area dance studios and coaches Maui’s top dancers!
(Photo: Salsa Performance by Noe Garcia Robles and Rita O'Connor)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First Night Rhythm Dancing @ Ali'iolani CSA

This past Monday was our first class teaching the Cha Cha and Swing Jitterbug at Ali'iolani CSA. Traffic was a bit heavy heading towards Kaimuki from East Honolulu but Lani and I got to our destination with 15 minutes to spare before start time. As the students trickled in, Lani checked their names on the student attendance roster while I got the audio equipment booted up. Most of the students were new faces..a few from Nick's Absolute Beginners Class...and a good number of returnees. After the orientation...DOE school rules on what is permissible, safety concerns, and "you cannot do" stuff, Lani and I covered the basic components of the Cha Cha. Three minutes of Cha Cha Aerobics followed just to get the students' footwork in rhythm with the music. I'm going to fastforward here 'cause all you dancers know the beginners drill. With the tempo on "Manzanillo", and "Place In My Heart" the students were dancing the Side Basics, Progressive Basics, Crossover Breaks, and Ladies Underarm Turns. Lani added some styling to the Cha Cha which the girls picked up, and of course my job was to teach the guys how to lead the girls into different patterns with Latin flavor. Not too bad for the first session.

The second hour turned out to be a scorcher. Went through the beginners drill after Lani and I danced a Jitterbug demo. As a starter, we taught the Close Basic, Throwout, One Hand Open Basic, and Whip To Basic, all single time patterns. I think the students began to sizzle when they started to dance the patterns with the jumping jive "Reet Petite" and "Trickle, Trickle". We didn't want any burnouts for the first session, so I slowed the tempo down to "Rock Around The Clock". It was enough of a cool down for the students which had them laughing with satisfaction as the last few minutes ticked away.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Singer, The Hula Dancers, and The Lion

Kine da bit early for your weekly blog, eh Frank? No huhu, guys and gals! I didn't want to wait and then put you to sleep with long winded talks....just the facts..the way they use to say in "Dragnet". Got word from Maui that my nephew Darren was going to dance the hula at the Victoria Ward Warehouse stage on Sunday.

Sure 'nuff he was there (Darren far right in photo) with five lovely ladies and two other guy dancers, and Uluwehi Guerrero (the man with the golden voice) who sang all the Hawaiian tunes and a Japanese song, too. The hula dancers (the guys included) were from Halau Hula Kauluokala. Their hands and body movements were like the palm trees being swayed by the gentle flow of the wind. Okay you know what I mean.
Uluwehi told a short story about his experience in Japan while on tour with the hula troupe. Besides his extraordinary singing, it kept the audience glued to his every word. It was amusing as he told how he had composed the Japanese song that he was about to sing. It was showtime again and sing he did, strumming his rich tone ukulele as the lovely hula dancers in green danced with grace.

It was only a one hour show but it had class and certainly entertainment.

Night came but the sky was lighted with orange hue as Lani and I headed for the Kapiolani Lions Ballroom Dancers shindig at the Palladium. Small crowd but very friendly dancers. Okay, don't go looking for the Lion. This is it!
We were welcomed by Walter, Kay, and Ruby at the reception desk.

I couldn't resist taking a pix of those hard working friendly faces at the desk and the ladies who work the kitchen detail. (L-R) Richard Kazunaga, Ruby Kazunaga, Jean Young, Kimber Nelon, Bob Young, Kay Mita, and Walter Mita.

It was good to see Margie Liu and Peggy Freeman who were the DJ's for the evening.
Good tempo music for dancing although the volume could have gone a few decibal higher which it did before the snack break. Sweet and ono snacks were donated by Arthur and Joan Oda of the New Aala Bakery.

Exchanged dances with Susan and Richard who Lani and I sat next to.
It was a rare opportunity for the Kapiolani Lions Ballroom Dancers to host a dance at the Palladium. Hopefully they can persuade the Mayor to give them a spot at the Palladium maybe once a month. Anyway, if you're ever in Central Oahu, check out Richard and Ruby's dance classes at the Waiau Rec Center.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

This Week @CenterStage, The Elks, and Kaiser CSA

Got to catch the Step*Taculars opening number on Ala Moana CenterStage this past Tuesday. Yes siree, they are still going strong as Salome mentioned. Five fabulous ladies and Bill Doherty dancing on stage while the other members were backstage awaiting their turn to get on stage. Had a previous appointment, so I couldn't stay for the rest of the show but did get a pix of Salome dancing in the first number.

Wednesday morning, Lani and I cruised over to the Elks Club in Waikiki to take in the Elks Hawaii Singers and the Na Kupuna Hula Dancers show. They put on a good performance for the Kokohead Seniors Club which Lani is a member and I was a guest. Terrific Hawaiian music from the group especially from the little lady lead singer with a dynamic voice who belted out most of the tunes. The Elks Hawaii Singers is an instrumental group also. A lot of hula dancing by five dancing ladies spiced the show. Then there was an invite to the audience to join the pros in dancing the hula. Lani couldn't resist the call, so she hula-d in with the pros. Did pretty good considering she's been away from dancing the hula in public for a long stretch.

The Elks Hawaii Singers played and sang some oldies but goodies, also. Wasn't until the end of the show when they played a triple swing melody that got Lani and me on the dance floor. Just the thing to break a sweat and say, "It was a good day at the Elks".

Wednesday evening and it was time to go to work....well not really da kine that you want to play hooky. Lani and I got to Kaiser CSA in time to meet Richard and Yvonne who have been assisting us in the dance classes at Kaiser CSA. A lot of new faces as the students trickled in and some returnees, too. The boss-man at Kaiser said that we had 32 students signed up for the Foxtrot and Tango. That's a good number to keep Lani and me on the payroll for this session. We started with the "One-Slow-Step Basic in the Foxtrot with three variations. That was good enough for the students to practice the dance positions, holds, footwork, timing, leading and following in tempo with the music during the first hour. My assistants keep a watch-dog eye on me to make sure I don't speed things up before all the students can show that they can dance the step patterns satifactorily.

The second hour went just as well with the Tango. I think the students (especially the guys) enjoyed learning the Tango much more because they had to put more emotions and grit into the dance. So guys, although in the American social dance world the girls are always right (because they start with their right foot and you're left with what's left), in the Tango you gotta be the man... the predator.... the tiger in the jungle. A little GRRRR can really inject passion in your dancing.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

If You Can Walk, You Can Merengue

The Merengue is the easiest Latin dance to learn. It's so simple that even a caveman can do it. (Ooops, sorry Geico). No, I kid you is the one dance that anyone can chassse' on the dance floor and dip with the upbeat music. There's no slows and quicks like the other Latin dances....just numbers for each footstep.

So where did the Merengue originate from? Well, I've heard three versions of how the dance originated. The most popular legend is about a Dominican high ranking war hero who was the guest of honor at an official party. When he rose to dance, his one wounded peg leg dragged after each step taken with his good leg. The other guests sympathetically emulated his limp, thus creating a new dance.

The second legend comes from Haiti which describes a crippled son of a ruler who loved to dance and would drag his lame leg along the floor to the music. The courtiers, either from courtesy or demand, took to emulating the prince by dancing as though they suffered from the same affliction.

And the third legend is that the dance orignated with slaves who were chained together and were forced to drag one leg as they cut sugar cane to the beat of drums.

Now you may think with the above history that the dance is a bit of a drag (pardon the pun). But if you can walk with a lame-duck limp you'll find the Merengue easy to master and lots of fun.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Stepping Out In September?

Put on your glad shoes and waltz over to the Palladium because there's a lot of dancing cooking up for this month. With eleven dance organizations hosting on the schedule, you're bound to find one that will meet your needs for Stepping Out on the weekends. I'm glad to see that the Kapiolani Lions Ballroom Dancers has kapu a spot on Sunday. Richard and Ruby, KLBD instructors, have been teaching Ballroom dancing for many years. There's more dancing in the afternoon,too, starting at 12 noon Tuesday to Thursday. Check it out and go have fun dancing!
(left click mouse on graphic to zoom in)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Simply Waltzing @Kahala Nui

Lani and I have known Sandy Zook for many years and we know that she has many special talents especially in the field of dance. Well, this morning I received the Kahala Nui Newsletter. (No! Lani and I are not ready for Senior Living). Anyway, there's a nice article on what Sandy has done for the Seniors at this Community in Kahala. Hopefully, I'll be able to get Sandy to share more info and photos on social dancing with the residents of Kahala Nui.
(Clip from Kahala Nui newsletter)

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

No Thursday Dance Class This Session

Sorry, guys and gals. The Kaimuki CSA informed me that we came up short on the minimum of 20 students required to hold the Foxtrot and Tango dance class at Ali'iolani CSA on Thursday. Those who had signed up for the Thursday night class were given the option of going to Kaiser CSA for the Foxtrot and Tango, or switch to Swing and Cha Cha on Monday at Ali'iolani CSA. There's another option if Thursday is your only free night.....Nick's Absolute Beginner's Dance class on the Waltz and Rumba at Liholiho CSA. Whichever class you choose to sign up, you can be sure that ....well let's put it in the way a Star Trek logo says it...."Make It Fun To Learn How To Dance Is Our Prime Directive". Aloha fo' now!