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:

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!

Print book, eBook, Audiobook.








Welcome to Junior’s!

Hail a taxicab anywhere in New York City and tell the driver, “Take me to the best cheesecake in New York.” Odds are you will end up at the corner of Flatbush and DeKalb Avenues in Brooklyn, at Juniors. Junior’s landmark restaurant is known as the home of New York’s best cheesecake. For decades, Brooklynites (and other New Yorkers) have come to eat, laugh, and kibbitz (argue) over cheesecake. In the 1950’s, an entire generation came of age at Junior’s, that’s me. Their cheesecake was as important as the Brooklyn Dodgers…the Fox Theater…Coney Island…Brighton Beach. Today loyal customers still come –from all over and all walks of life. Famous mayors. Presidents. Hall of Fame athletes. Authors, singers, like Frankie (the crooner) and Eddie Cantor (Mammy), movie stars. In fact, it’s as true today as it was 60 years ago when they started, “You haven’t really lived until you’ve had cheesecake at Junior’s.”
Christmas Swirl

Inside Junior’s at Foxwoods




All dressed up for the holidays, The Original New York cheesecake swirled with real strawberry puree, topped with red and green chips and wrapped with yellow chiffon cake on the sides with a beautiful Christmas tree pattern. Junior’s and cheesecake are synonymous. You say cheesecake, and you knew you would be dining at Junior’s. You say Junior’s and you knew your would be eating cheesecake.

Here come the cheesecake

Here come the cheesecake

Junior’s is a restaurant chain with the original location at 386 Flatbush Avenue Extension at the corner of DeKalb Avenue in Downtown Brooklyn, New York City. Other locations include Times Square area and the lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel in the Foxwoods Resort in Ledyard, Connecticut. The restaurant was founded by Harry Rosen in 1950. According to the restaurant, it was named Junior’s after Rosen’s two sons, Walter and Marvin.

Coney Island mural

Coney Island mural inside Junior’s

According to GO Brooklyn, “At that corner of Flatbush and DeKalb avenues in Downtown Brooklyn, there has been a diner run by the Rosen family since 1929. In 1950, the name was changed to Junior’s, and it has been serving its famous cheesecake and other goodies ever since.”



Rosen worked with master baker Eigel Peterson to create the cheesecake known today as “The World’s Most Fabulous Cheesecake”, based on a recipe that was in the Rosen family for three generations. In addition to cheesecake, Junior’s features deli sandwiches (particularly corned beef and pastrami), ten ounce steakburgers, cheese blintzes, and unique onion rings. Fans of the restaurant are not limited to Brooklynites. A Kuwaiti prince was known to have taken several of Junior’s cheesecakes back with him.

So what’s better than 1st place? Cheesecake at Junior’s, that’s what’s better than my dance competition placement. Well, almost. I had no idea there was a Junior’s restaurant at Foxwoods. Tom, my hubby said, “We’re going to have breakfast at Junior’s. I had no idea that was the famous Junior’s, and neither did my mid-western husband. We rounded the bend from the smoky casino, and low and behold, right in front of me was my most favorite New York restaurant that I ate at for years and years and years.

The waiter gave us menus. I looked it over and with sad eyes, I looked up and asked the waiter, “Where’s the potato pancakes?” He said, “On our lunch menu.” I named lots of other dishes that I remembered. He said, “You know Junior’s. Impressive!!!” I kid you not, I remember it well, just like the song sung by Maurice Chevalier. They have Junior’s in Florida and of course I ate there too. So I asked him if I could have a potato pancake with my breakfast, with sour cream. A big breakfast later, I asked, “Will you wrap up cheesecake to take away, and how about one of your New York bagels with cream cheese and tomato?”



bagels bagel-w-stripes

Happy Thanksgiving! Remember to have cheesecake.






Now that the holidays are here, maybe you will have time to enjoy a good book. Here’s a little bit about my novel:

If you like romance, and you like rip-roaring adventure, Indigo Sky is for you! Shopping at Tiffany’s, getting caught up in the New York Draft Riot, the Civil War, and the wilds of the Great Plains. Enjoy the holiday with Gail Ingis’s Indigo Sky. Sign up for my weekly blog by December 17th, and three of you will win a copy of my ebook.

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Double Dutch jump rope

Double Dutch jump rope

Competition begins in Kindergarten:   Where you compete in jump rope, remember double dutch?

Relay races, finger painting pictures for the teachers to tack to the bulletin boards.

Kids fingerpainting

Kids fingerpainting

In third grade you compete in spelling bees, in high school you compete in basketball, baseball and tennis, etc., etc., etc. Compete in art, compete in music, compete in academics. Our grandson majored in engineering and pulled a 3.8 GPA through college. He was honored at graduation. Now that’s a competition that really paid off, got a fab job before he even graduated.

Another competition! Haven’t I had enough competitions in my life? What possessed me to even think about a competition? My ballroom dance instructors, Monika and Henry, that’s who.

Dress up, best part of the competition.

Dress up, best part of the competition.

I managed to say no for over a  year. As you can see I relented. Alas, this crazy world of dance competition costs a small fortune. Fees for everything: Fees at the dance hall, judges fees, fees to  watch others dance, and what about professionals doing my hair and makeup, like I don’t know how, really? Special dance shoes for smooth steps; my dress, alterations, I got that one, after a consultation with a seamstress. Thank goodness I know how to sew. Then there’s the  hotel and food. It’s like taking a world cruise.

Rolling my eyes, I ask, what will I get from my dance competition?

Not so difficult or sad or bothersome if we make it fun, a learning experience to reach higher heights, better competency. How far do we take anything we do? Pardon the cliché—anything worth doing is worth doing well, or doing poorly until you learn to do it well.

Cinderella for one night

Cinderella for one night

So yes, I have been working towards a ballroom dance competition, but it’s no different from working hard to be a better dancer. Did you know that these dance studios work with a syllabus like they use in academia. Scoring from the judges are between proficiency and advanced. I love learning.

I don’t need to compete. I don’t need a trophy. I don’t need a certificate of accomplishment. I only want to be the best I can be. Am I where I want to be? No, I’m never satisfied. So I am also studying ballet to learn how to create a body structure that will enhance my performance in ballroom dancing. I am exercising to limber up my joints. Health improves. My ballet teacher is actually a trainer. I will keep dancing no matter the outcome of the competition. I especially enjoy dancing in the clothes specifically designed for this purpose. Do you love dressing up?

News: To bring you up to date about my novel, some good news: On Amazon, October 29, 2016, I am happy to report my book, Indigo Sky, made #16 in the top 100 category free Historic Fiction.

#16 in Amazon's top 100 category free Historic Fiction




Cyclone, Oh What a Ride 12x24 Oil

Cyclone, Oh, What a Ride 12×24 Oil-on-Dibond

I have so much going on, there’s barely time to breathe. My Coney Island art project, past and present, is finally installed, and can be viewed until September 30th. The reception, sponsored by Investmark, will include a book signing of my newly released novel, Indigo Sky, and a dance demonstration by a master ballroom dancing duo inspired by the 1960s music once performed at Coney Island. Appetizers generously provided by Susan Kane, Catering. Come to the shindig on Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:30-7:30 at Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, 295 West Ave. Norwalk, CT 203-838-9799.

Back Cover Blurb: In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband. When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on a  chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger–she learns hard lessons of murder, kidnapping and more that almost destroy her.

indigoSky-Soulmate-805_805x1275-2Check out the 5-star reviews on Amazon,, and Goodreads, for Indigo Sky!

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Are you coming to the shindig, Thursday, September 8, 2016, 5:30-7:30pm? You can let me know here in comments, or on Facebook.



abcbe26bf3ea48e94a7326b5f24ca723 bachata_danceBachata musicians and dancers have overcome many struggles over the course of the genre’s often overlooked history.

Dance, all kinds, always fun, challenging and curious. Where did it all come from? All the dances have history, but I was curious recently, when I was asked if I knew the Bachata. I asked, “What is that?” It’s a rhythm dance. Born in the Dominican Republic, where the music also was born, it has a history that’s rich and stretches back to the beginning of the 20th century. Upper-class Dominicans looked down upon Bachata as a style that was considered too backwoods and low class, holding back its popularity.

marin-bachata-lessonIn  the Dominican Republic, censorship was rampant under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. Bachata music remained in the closet. In 1961, after Trujillo was assassinated, music loosened up but Bachata remained in the Dominican society until the 1980s when it began to move into other countries as a beautiful, sensual rhythm dance. It has become popular in ballroom dancing. I began embracing ballroom dancing in the last year, where, last week, I learned about Bachata. There are many more dances to learn, dances that I didn’t even dream existed, like the Salsa and the Hustle.1347907244.jpg

It was in the 1980s when Bachata really began to take off as a popular dance and music style. The music began to appear on the radio and eventually even on television, and parts of the upper class that had looked down on Bachata began to accept it as a positive aspect of Dominican culture.

bachata1Bachata continued its growth into the 1990s and 2000s, and today is one of the most popular and still fastest growing Latin styles. Bachata has emerged successfully! What fun to dance to its music.

So you want to dance?

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