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Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)

Joe Offer 28 Dec 15 - 12:00 AM
Murpholly 28 Dec 15 - 04:15 AM
Mr Red 28 Dec 15 - 05:06 AM
Mo the caller 28 Dec 15 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Dec 15 - 11:42 AM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Dec 15 - 02:55 PM
CupOfTea 28 Dec 15 - 07:35 PM
Murpholly 29 Dec 15 - 06:03 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 29 Dec 15 - 03:37 PM
Joe_F 29 Dec 15 - 06:04 PM
Dorothy Parshall 29 Dec 15 - 08:46 PM
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Subject: Why Can't I Dance?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Dec 15 - 12:00 AM

My wonderful wife loves to dance. She's done all kinds of dance, ever since she was a kid taking tap dance lessons in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. She and her late second husband started the contra dance in this area, and she goes to contra dances twice a month if she can.

My friend Larry always reports how he danced with my wife the other night.

So, I go to contra dances three or four times a year, to make sure my wife doesn't get too thrilled with Larry. But it hurts to dance, and so it isn't much fun. I've been to contra dances enough that I know the moves and I can do it reasonably well, but I tighten up and then my muscles and joints ache like hell, and I get out of breath because I think I'm doing things in a way that takes too much energy. It seems to me that if I could just loosen up, all this wouldn't hurt so much and wouldn't tire me out.

Oh, and then there's waltzing. I've taken a number of waltz classes, and each one seems to make it more difficult for me. At our wedding reception almost 14 years ago, I took my bride out on the floor without instruction and it was a lot of fun waltzing to "I Can't Help Falling in Love With You" to the dulcet tones of the St. John Vianney Men's Choir. But now that I've had a few lessons, waltzing hurts.

So, how can I learn to waltz and contra dance without it hurting so much?


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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: Murpholly
Date: 28 Dec 15 - 04:15 AM

I used to folk dance alot as a teen and in my twenties but then work interfered (full time youth worker so always on duty in evenings). Now I am retired and can no longer hop on right foot and suffering back pain. Husband used to Morris Dance. Now we are retired we have taken to much more sedate Playford and enjoying it tremendously. No awkward moves, generally slower rather than faster and a wonderful crowd. If you search around you can always find some form of dance that suits.

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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: Mr Red
Date: 28 Dec 15 - 05:06 AM

Go with Playford. It may be a shallow learning curve for both of you. Doing things together and oxytocin - and all that.
Avoid anything with the word zesty in it.
As a keen ceilidhnaut I regard contra as more sedate but that may be the way we do contra in the UK.
We do French & Breton and the Breton Hanter Dros, and Andros are easy on the body (think snakes/sedate farendole) though some like Kost ar c'Hoat require a plenty of agility.
Once a year there is a Swedish dance we go to and they do a sedate farendole that I describe as a limping dance - having said that most Swedish and French nights involve a lot of partner: watltz, schottishe, polka etc but if you don't mind waiting for the slower farendoles and maybe a Rondo - worth a thought.

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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: Mo the caller
Date: 28 Dec 15 - 11:32 AM

In American they describe Playford as English and I think they clubs that do that don't do Contra.
Here the dance clubs do a mixture, Playford, Contra, Squares, Ceilidh, and Contra is danced at some of the clubs without all the twirls that the 'zesty' experts put into it.
If it is hurting you are dancing with the wrong people, especially if the force/expect you to put in more frills than you are comfortable with.

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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Dec 15 - 11:42 AM

Are you taking small steps? I used to folk dance, and your teacher said many times that folk dancing uses small steps. They are easier on the body and not as tiring.

I've been playing for country dancers, and we finish each session with a couples waltz. Usually a boy grabs a girl and drives her over the floor with yard-long strides. This is a lot more athletic than romantic and has to be hard for the girl that's wearing heels.

It's true that in the movies, waltzers set across the dance floor with great swirling strides, but those are trained professionals selected for talent and long legs. They aren't the norm; they're a special case. I suspect that that kind of dancing is more fun for the onlooker than for the dancer.

If I were you, I would try using small steps for waltzing, then try it for contra, too. I bet the other dancers will learn to accommodate you.

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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Dec 15 - 02:55 PM

Here's a youtube of dancers in Princeton. First they dance to 'Red-haired Boy' and we see how accomplished they are. Then they waltz, and notice that most of them, though young and fit, are taking small steps.

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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: CupOfTea
Date: 28 Dec 15 - 07:35 PM

Dear Joe,

If it hurts to dance, that takes the whole reason for doing it out of the equation.
Dance SHOULD = joy. I had to give up contra dancing when bone spurs in the heel & the sudden gasps of pain gave my partners concerns and m'self a desire to quit. English Country was possible to navigate without the pain, until I smashed a knee. When I had to quit dancing, I became part of the band(s). If you are determined to dance, have a consult with an orthopedist, rheumatologist, or physical therapist - whichever is most qualified to diagnose the source of your dance pain, and help you find ways to avoid it. That waltzing became more difficult with instruction sounds like the instructor was not attuned to your needs.

Much of the style and speed of the dances, contra, waltz or otherwise (polka or schottiche), depends on the makeup of the crowd. As the median age has crept up and up, the dances have ecome more sedate. Many of the folk who do English Country Dance (as we say in the US) are older, and have trouble keeping up the pace of contras.

Your options aren't limited to going dancing and suffering. Unless CA is vastly different, there is a dance community with places for the "support staff." Have you thought about being part of the band? Can you do sound? Someone to take money, greet and answer questions at the door makes it possible for the band members to not have to do that. Become part of the social fabric of the dance world. And, here, the only truly significant dance is the waltz, particularly the last one, when everyone is expected to dance with their darling. A goal of denying Larry that pleasure, which should be yours, seems like a good idea. I do hope you find a solution to this, for dancing with your best beloved can be just as pleasurable as the Methodists feared!

Joanne in Cleveland

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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: Murpholly
Date: 29 Dec 15 - 06:03 AM

Just another thought from the dim and distant past. I remember doing a demonstration to wheel chair bound youngsters back in my youth, who then wanted a turn. Luckily it was live music and we managed to get them through a square dance and what I would call an English longways. Anything is possible if you really want to participate!

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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 29 Dec 15 - 03:37 PM

You've gotten some wise advice, Joe. I guess it boils down to, do you really *want* to dance, or do you just feel you *should* dance? There is a rich and vibrant dance culture in No CA, and I'd be happy to put you in touch with Bay Area contra and English folks who are aging and dealing with physical limitations. But Joanne is right, you probably want to get vetted by a doc before you try balance-and-swinging again. Just as they recommend before joining a health club, or taking up running.

If you do want to, and you get your doc's approval, there are specific stretches for dancers, for before and after dancing. It's a wonderful pastime!

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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: Joe_F
Date: 29 Dec 15 - 06:04 PM

This Joe thinks he was not intended to inhabit a human body.

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Subject: RE: Why Can't I Dance? (Contra/Waltz)
From: Dorothy Parshall
Date: 29 Dec 15 - 08:46 PM

What Allison said.

I have found dancing to be extremely healthy myself. I started with International folk in my 60s - wonderful people. Also enjoyed waltz but NOT contra - my brain does not get it. A ten year old girl helped me move in the correct directions! But I LOvE to dance.
"We should consider every day lost in which we have not danced once." Nietzsche

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