DANCE THROUGH HISTORY

DANCE THROUGH HISTORY

Dance through history . . .

Gail Ingis & instructor Henry Skopp at Foxwoods competition. Gail got 1st place in Waltz and Foxtrot.

Dancin’ feet! Do you know the latest dance? Bet you would if you could . . . dance. “Tom,” I said, “For my birthday, come on, dance with me.”

Now that we got ourselves onto the dance floor, I began to wonder about the history of ballroom dancing. Dance history is difficult to access because dance does not often leave behind clearly identifiable physical artifacts that last over millennia, such as stone tools, hunting implements or cave paintings. It is not possible to identify with exact precision when dance became part of human culture. I suspect millenniums. We do know though, early dance, like 18th century sequence ballroom dancing in Jane Austen’s world, was used as a method of healing and expression. That has not changed.

Dancing with the Stars: https://youtu.be/nTWNrvnm2J8?t=20

Dancing with the Stars, Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough

Dancing with the Stars, Jennifer Grey & Derek Hough

Modern ballroom dance has its roots early in the 20th century, when several different things happened during and after World War I. The first was a movement away from the sequence dances toward dances where the couples moved independently. This was foreshadowed by the waltz which had already made this transition. The second was a wave of popular music that led to a burst of invented dances. The third event was a concerted effort to transform some of the dance crazes into dances which could be taught to a wider dance public in the US and Europe.

Vernon & Irene Castel

Vernon & Irene Castel, early ballroom dance pioneers, 1910-18

Here Vernon and Irene Castle were important, and so was a generation of English dancers in the 1920s. These professionals analyzed, codified, published and taught a number of standard dances. It was essential, if popular dance was to flourish, for dancers to have some basic movements they could confidently perform with any partner they might meet. Here the Arthur Murray organization in America, and the dance societies in England, such as the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, were influential.

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

Later, in the 1930s, the on-screen dance pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers influenced all forms of dance in the USA and elsewhere. Much of their work portrayed social dancing, although the performances were highly choreographed, meticulously staged and rehearsed.

Our Instructors: Henry Skopp and Monika Barska

Henry Skopp and Monika Barska, our instructors at Southport, Fairfield, CT Fred Astaire Studios

Ballroom dance may refer to almost any type of partner dancing as recreation. However, with the emergence of dancesport in modern times, the term has become narrower in scope, and traditionally refers to the International Standard and International Latin style dances. The styles, while differing in technique, rhythm and costumes, exemplify core elements of ballroom dancing such as control and cohesiveness. There are variations that are popular: American Smooth and American Rhythm which combine elements of both traditional Latin and Ballroom dances.

Competitive dancing

Young couple competiting in Chez Republic

Talented children dancing cha-cha-cha at a junior Latin dance competition in the Czech Republic. You should see kids like this dance live, they are terrific. Studying dance is hard work. For these competitions, it takes hours and hours and hours of lessons and practice.

Dance to the music

Dance to the music

Competitions, available for the ambitious, are sometimes referred to as Dancesport, range from world championships, regulated by the World Dance Council (WDC), to less advanced dancers at various proficiency levels. Most competitions are divided into professional and amateur, though in the USA pro-am competitions typically accompany professional competitions.The International Olympic Committee now recognizes competitive ballroom dance. It has recognized another body, the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF), as the sole representative body for dancesport in the Olympic Games. However, it seems doubtful that dance will be included in the Olympic Games, especially in light of efforts to reduce the number of participating sports.

dance swingdance

 

Swing . . . one of my favorites. I also love the Waltz, it’s dreamy. We dance three days a week, private, practice and group. An amazing exercise. The benefits are astounding.

My ballroom gave me a surprise birthday party!

Personalized too! Birthday surprise for me at our ballroom dance party! And Tom next to me did it, went from never danced in life, to dancing with his wife. That’s me.

Tom and Gail

What’s your favorite dance?
Thanks to Wikipedia!

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MARCH OF THE PAST: ST. AUGUSTINE

MARCH OF THE PAST: ST. AUGUSTINE

Casa Monica twin towers

Casa Monica twin towers

The Casa Monica Hotel, its history and culture flaunts the visitor to St. Augustine, Florida, where the city is celebrating the past 450 years. The Spanish founded it in 1513, but by1564 the French took over, only to step back in1565 when the Spanish arrived again. They conquered the French garrison on the St. Johns River and held the coast of Florida. The garrison remains, and you are welcome to walk on the grounds of those that came before.

Horse & buggy ride popular

Popular are the horse & buggy rides

The architecture of the Casa Monica, built in 1888, and very much part of the history of this city, was the best of Moorish and Spanish designs. Built to serve as a hotel, it opened January 17, 1888. Franklin W. Smith, amateur architect and entrepreneur developed the poured coquina (shell aggregate) concrete and built the Casa Monica in a layered type of construction.

Ambience of the dining areas

Ambiance of the dining areas

According to my research, what makes this work of architecture interesting is that the material was first used to build forts in St. Augustine in the 16th century. The coquina is made of ancient shells bonded together to form a type of stone similar to limestone. The idea was that because it was a soft material, cannon balls would sink into it, rather than crash through it. I have to wonder about that philosophy, but that’s what I found when researching this material.

Guest room

Guest room

The hotel is recognized as one of the most impressive public architectural complexes of the late nineteenth century of American history.

Street view

Street view

Located on the corner of Cordova and King Streets, Casa Monica is a U-shaped building with five towers, some battlemented, some with hip roofs, where all sides slope gently downwards to the walls. The large corner tower boasts a superb exterior spiral column. There are small hotel shops at street level on King Street.

casa_monica_2013_35When it was built in 1888, balconies were numerous, some with turned spindle posts and small balconets, which in Seville were called Kneeling Balconies, allowing the faithful to kneel during religious processions.

IMG_2664 (3)Tiles, imported from Valencia, Spain, were set in panels in some of the exterior walls. Inside, on the first floor, many rooms were arranged for the pleasure of the guests; sun parlor, drawing room, ladies waiting room, main dining room and private dining rooms. IMG_2637 (8)Three hundred guests could be seated at one time. There were 200 rooms, gas lighting, steam heat and electric bells to call for service and one bath on each floor. Metal rings were attached to the walls under the windows and tied to a rope long enough to reach the ground in case of fire.

Typical fashions

Typical fashions

Casa Monica has gone through growing pains in its 128 years. By 1900 the hotel was converted into an apartment building; in the 1920’s, it served as a low budget hotel. And in 1932, the depression forced its closing and it was idle for thirty years.

Casa-Monica-Hotel-St-Augustine-FL-Nights-of-LightsIn 1962, it was used as a courthouse; by 1997, it was sold to Richard C. Kessler and then restored. Today, Casa Monica is an elegant, upscale luxury hotel, and is included in Marriott’s Autograph Collection. The building has kept its architectural and interior Moorish character. The interior is flanked with mahogany columns, Moorish arched doorways, stenciled beams and wall sconces. The furnishings, gleaming chandelier, fountain and numerous palms and ferns give it that Victorian ambiance.

Casa Monica is listed on the National Register of Historic places and recipient of the AAA Four Diamond Award.

Fort photos

Fort photos

florida+st+augustine+sp+fort matanzas_cannon_5x3 st_augustine_fort_8 st-augustine-fort

Services in the Casa Monica are exemplary, including the bellmen and parking garage attendants. Thank you goes to  Kayley at check-in and to Holly and Tarrah at check-out. A special thanks to the Assistant Front Office Manager, Matthew.

Our room had strange sounds. Imagine? But I slept well. It wasn’t until the morning . . . when at the bar . . . I met Mr. Parrish . . .

Tune in for more next week . . .

 

 

NEWSY NEWS about “INDIGO SKY”

NEWSY NEWS about “INDIGO SKY”

Indigo Sky book cover

Indigo Sky book cover

Okay, okay, so this is a pitch for my new book . . . but it’s not out there yet . . . First let me tell you what’s going on—my editor from Soul Mate Publishing released my final draft to the publisher Monday, September 14. That probably means we’ll stay on schedule for the release, Wednesday, October 21, 2015. If you don’t know what writing is about, let me tell you that it’s about rewriting and rewriting again and again. Yup, the whole manuscript got rewritten numerous times to hopefully, a sweet, sensuous and spirited read. This week, my blog was going to be about women’s adventures in the Civil War, instead, I’ll give you a little excerpt of my heroine, Leila, when she bumps into her long lost school friend Cornelia.

INDIGO SKY excerpt:

Certainly her mother had made it clear that Leila committed a serious breach of etiquette by joining her husband on a bachelor spree, and people could talk about her unladylike conduct.

I don’t care what my mother or anybody else says. Leila pouted. Anyway, what’s one more scandal? Rumors surrounding Hank’s excesses and philandering had plagued her marriage from the outset.

She poured more tea and took a sip of the hot brew, casting a glance at Hank. Millburn’s shoulders were twice the width of her husband’s, and he was a head taller than Hank. They seemed well ensconced at the bar. She sighed and contemplated returning to her compartment.

“Leila?”

She looked up. A tall woman with blond curls pinned high on her head stood beside the booth. A smile touched the woman’s alabaster face. “Leila Dempsey? Is that really you?”

“Cornelia?” Leila gaped at her friend. She and Cornelia Hancock had attended boarding school together for eight years.

“I haven’t seen you in ages,” she bubbled, taking Leila’s arm. “Oh, do give me a hug.”

Leila rose and was enveloped in perfumed arms. “How wonderful to see you.”

“It’s good to see you, too, my friend.” Cornelia dropped into the opposite seat, smiling broadly. “Where are you going? What are you doing in Albany? Last I heard you were in Florida.”

“Yes, well, we’re back in New York, and now we’re on our way west for business with my husband and his partner,” Leila said, eyeing her warily. Cornelia was part of the social circle and would have heard the latest news. Leila suspected she still corresponded with everyone from their class.

“I’m stopping in New York City to meet a Doctor Brown, who works with orphans, then I’m going on to St. Louis to pursue a nursing career.”

“Cornelia, how wonderful!” Leila was happy to have companionship, and her melancholy dissipated with the news from her friend.

***

Read more in my book, INDIGO SKY, to be released on October 21, 2015.

At the time of the civil war, Florence Nightingale inspired women to take control of their lives. Society was against women doing anything outside the home. They were thought to be unintelligent and dependent. My own grandmother, Rose, in the early 20th century, in Russia, was a mathematics teacher. Way before her time. But she and her family were driven out of Russia, and came to America in 1922. That’s a story for another time. Women are competent, multi-faceted and are infinitely capable. Leila, my heroine, is an amazing woman. She married a successful syndicated writer, and believed she had dream marriage. But the marriage turned into a trap of addiction, lies and women. She puts up with him beyond acceptable. Follow her struggle in my INDIGO SKY, coming soon, October 2015.

Do you like to read, and what? Romance, suspense, thrillers, paranormal, fantasy, young adult, women’s fiction, inspirational?

The ebook will be available on Amazon.

Watch for the trailer . . .

LINENPRESS SOLUTIONS

LINENPRESS SOLUTIONS

Linenpress

Storage has been the bane of our existence. Where does this go, where does that go? Throw it in the closet, throw it in the armoire, throw it in the cupboard , throw it in the linenpress. Its tough to part with stuff, so we keep it, throw it somewhere never to find it again. Unless…we get organized, and have a system. Perhaps the linenpress is your answer. This linenpress is a 2-piece storage unit with an overhanging, molded cornice. The upper section has a cupboard with 2 paneled doors concealing 3-5 shelves, possibly with sliding trays or drawers. The lower section is slightly wider than the upper section, with 3-5 full length, usually graduated drawers. This has a molded base with plain skirt and simple bracket feet. Others could have claw-and-ball feet. Paneled, dovetailed, and pegged construction. Lots of space to get organized and store stuff. The woods used are local and could be mahogany, cherry, walnut, or birch. Secondary wood is pine or poplar. The hinges are brass. The pulls are brass mounts or rosettes with bail handles. Escutcheons are matching brass or brass keyhole surrounds. Height: 72-84″ Width: 40-47″, Depth: 17-21″.  Made circa 1770-1800 in New England, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Most show some restoration, particularly inside the cupboard.  For example, in the 19th century, when there were no closets, they were often fitted with hooks to serve as wardrobes. If you hunt for a linenpress as a collectable, make sure that you have a true linen press and not just a cupboard mounted on a chest of drawers.

Cabinets of all types have been designed since the beginning of time to store what we aren’t using at the moment.  We are still struggling with the issue. Here’s some sweet history about the linenpress. It acquired the name back in the 17th century as it was used to press linens. It consisted of a flat bed upon which damp linen was placed for flattening through pressure applied with a large wooden screw. The linen was then stored in the cabinet. The actual press looked like the piece here with the apparatus, the screw, visible. It is Dutch, made in the 17th century in walnut and is typical William and Mary style with its turned legs and stretchers attached to the legs and straight frieze at the top.

Linenpress screw

The phrase William and Mary usually refers to the co-regency over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland, of King William III & II and Queen Mary II. Their joint reign began in February 1689, when they were offered the throne by the Parliament of England, replacing James II & VII, Mary’s father and William’s uncle/father-in-law, who was “deemed to have fled” the country in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. After Mary died in 1694, William ruled alone until his death in 1702.

Where do you store your “stuff.” How do you organize or not?

 

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