chimerically: (Default)
My next competition, after a whole quarter with none (thankfully, given how crazily busy I've been), is the regional championships next Saturday, June 9, in the San Jose Civic Auditorium. (This will qualify us for Nationals in August.) The first round of my event is scheduled for 9:35pm, give or take half an hour or so, and with subsequent rounds after that -- I'm guessing there will be at least three (a quarterfinal, semifinal, and final, and possibly an octo-final too).

In addition, the kids I've helped coach in East Palo Alto will be dancing in a special event (listed on the schedule as "Special Junior Rhythm & Smooth Presentations") -- they'll dance American-style waltz, foxtrot, cha cha, and swing. They're scheduled for 3:42pm (again, give or take half an hour). I'm incredibly proud of them, frustrating as they can be at times. (Luckily I remember all too well how cheeky I was around their age and can relate and deal.) Anyway, I'd love for them to get all the support and encouragement they can get, so if you're at all interested in coming, please do!

Spectator tickets are $25 for "adults," $20 for college students, and $12 for anyone under 18 years old.

Also, on Sunday, June 17, a week after the competition, SBDT is hosting a charity ball (with lesson, desserts, and showcase) for the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation at Metronome Ballroom in SF. It's appropriate for all skill levels (intro tango class at the beginning) and all proceeds go to a good cause. This one is $25 adults/$15 students, +$5 for the lesson. I'll be out of town, unfortunately, but lots of other ballroom dancers should be there. Details behind the cut ... )
chimerically: (goldenrod)
Wow -- someone combined cultural studies and ballroom dance in this book, published last November. (Guess I can't do that for my dissertation. ;~))

Chronicle of Higher Education review )

The Amateur International Standard community, of which I am a part, doesn't have the same characteristics as Latin (the super-dark fake tanner) or of Pro-Am, but I do wonder what she says about it. Certainly I sometimes feel like the ballroom community is very alien and insular, and as a social scientist I can't help but try to deconstruct it.
chimerically: (ballroom)
I'm kicking the quarter off with a competition -- my last one in a few months. (Just as well, because this is going to be a VERY busy quarter for me.) It's hosted right here on the Stanford campus, and if past experience (and what I've heard about the preparations) is any guide, it's going to be awesome. I compete in the evening session, which is also when the team match and show are. If you're free and interested, consider coming by! General admission is free for Stanford students, $10 for the general public. After the show will be general dancing for those of you who would rather get out on the floor yourselves than watch. Also, [ profile] stellae, David B., and others will be competing, so if you don't come for me, maybe come by for them. :~)

Speaking of competitions, last weekend I competed against my former dance partner, who now lives in New York. That was interesting. I put up some pictures from that on my Flickr page (shiny yellow dress!).
chimerically: (ballroom)
Someday I'll post about how much I love my classes and what else is going on in my life. Someday. This isn't just a dance blog, really ...

For those of you in the area, I'll be giving a showcase with my new ballroom partner at 10:30pm on Saturday, February 24, at the Allegro Ballroom in Emeryville. More information at or

my dance partner and me

Also, I'm helping the other SBDT officers organize this year's Cardinal Classic on April 7. We're flying in a world-class ballroom dance couple, Blackpool Professional Standard semifinalists Linas Koreiva and Ieva Pauksena, for a showcase -- I'd come just for that if I were you, but as added incentive, I'll also be dancing at that along with one of the best amateur standard couples in the United States and lots of other great dancers. There'll also be a silent auction, ballroom vendors, and even private and group lessons with Linas and Ieva. More information at or

Linas and Ieva

Hope to see you at one or both!
chimerically: (ballroom)
As many of you know, I'm back on the ballroom dancing circuit, and I'm in a competition tomorrow -- conveniently just a few miles from where I live! If you want to check out ballroom dancing or see me and some other [ profile] bab5ers compete, it's a great opportunity. My event is at 10:30pm or thereabouts (Championship Standard). It's all at the Palo Alto Elks Lodge, 4249 El Camino Real.
chimerically: (goldenrod)
It's nearly two and I'm not tired and for once I have no urgent assignments to finish, so perhaps I should write a bit about how my life is going. I haven't updated in -- how long has it been now? -- well, either mid-summer or the end of spring, depending on what you count as an update. In that time I've passed the quarter-century mark; moved to Palo Alto; started blues dancing; tried hanggliding and waterskiing; participated in a wedding (as a bridesmaid) at the Grand Canyon; performed with a lindy hop troupe; finished up my internship at Yahoo! Research, helped write two papers for CHI, and started classes at Stanford all in the same week; mobilized my incoming PhD cohort to collectively buy a printer, provide cheap snacks, and have a social email list like my last two departments did; bought and built a fancy new desktop computer for data storage and processing; started competitive ballroom dancing again with a new partner and won second place in a recent competition; went backpacking with first-timers [ profile] stellae and [ profile] zestyping; presented at two conferences (one with [ profile] dag29580863!) ... in short, I've been insanely busy and that's why I haven't been posting, even though I have millions of things I want to write about.

Despite the prevalence of social-sounding events in that list, what has been consuming most of my time is classwork. I'm loving my courses down here, but they really do keep me busy every spare moment with readings and assignments. I've found my Theory of Communication class, though focusing more on psychological measures and political communication than I (currently) do in my research, fascinating. We've discussed emotions and cognition, attitudes and persuasion, verbal and nonverbal communication, interpersonal and mass communication, and political communication, and will be talking about news, campaigns, and the Internet before the semester quarter is over.

I have two other classes which I am particularly enjoying, one on ethnography of virtual communities (taught through the anthropology department) and one on qualitative research methods (taught through the sociology department), which is a lot like a class I took at Berkeley except more structured. I have a list of at least fifty other classes I would like to take in the next few years, which of course I probably can't really do. I think I was at Berkeley long enough -- seven years altogether -- to exhaust most of the classes I wanted to (and was allowed to) take, except for the new and exciting one-time offerings through SIMS the iSchool. It's great to be in a place with a different (though similar in many ways) intellectual tradition and a whole new set of course offerings and opportunities. I have so many sociology and anthropology classes that I want to take that I may end up getting PhD minors in both (if I'm allowed), and maybe even getting a Master's in sociology along the way. The inimitable Jean Lave gave me the names of about twenty professors who she really likes at Stanford, and their course offerings all sound fascinating. I'm having trouble keeping the number of units I want take each semester quarter (eventually I'll get used to the new nomenclature) below the maximum.

My advisor Fred is fabulous, though he's been very busy this quarter promoting his new book -- which I guess is just as well, because I've been preoccupied with classes myself. I really look forward to interacting more with him and with others in the Communication department and beyond, though. And I'm also excited to do what I can to help forge more ties with Berkeley's iSchool, something several of the folks in Communication are interested in doing but lack the time to actually implement.

Aside from classwork, I've also become quite involved in several dance communities around the Bay Area. A good friend in the Stanford Ballroom Dance Team invited me to be their teacher training coordinator, so I set up a program for them at the beginning of the quarter. A fellow Yahoo! Research intern introduced me to blues dancing over the summer and I was hooked, and am now helping with R.A. Blues, a blues dancing venue in the South Bay. I've also been helping Julia Minson with her Mad Hot DanceSport program, teaching elementary school kids how to ballroom dance once a week and choreographing their end-of-year cha-cha/swing medley performance. (Stay tuned for more about this -- this will probably be Dec. 9, and the more who attend, the merrier.) Finally, after a four-month break, I've started dancing competitively again, this time with a Googler who recently moved up here from Southern California. So far it's going great -- though it was really important for me to take a break from ballroom dancing to rehabilitate myself, I've found that I have really missed it. Other kinds of dance, though they all share features, just can't make me as euphoric as International Standard danced at a high level. *contented sigh*

Well, there's a lot more to write -- I have a dozen outlined or half-written posts in my blog.txt file. But it's now approaching three and I'm finally starting to feel tired, and I have to get up early for physical therapy tomorrow (Stanford's health center is SO AMAZING! You Stanford students who complain about it don't know how lucky you are), so for now I'll sign off and leave my midnight railings and political rants for another day.
chimerically: (tango white)
I'm helping a friend, Julia Minson, teach a ballroom dance program in an East Palo Alto elementary school this year, similar (though smaller in scope) to the program featured in the movie Mad Hot Ballroom. I'm also putting together a snazzy website with information on the program for others who want to do similar things. Trouble is, neither Julia nor I can come up with a catchy name for the program. Here are the ones I've thought of, though I'm not really happy with any of them. Can you help me?
  • DanceSportKids (sporty but playful)
  • Dancers without Borders (a play on Doctors without Borders)
  • DanceSport without Borders
  • (something related to the Dance for Health program Charlotte Jorgensen is involved with)
  • Mad Hot DanceSport (taking advantage of the recognition of Mad Hot Ballroom)
  • ... others? Add in comments!
chimerically: (ballroom)
I'll be teaching a seven-week "Swing Essentials" class at Stanford this July and August (a reprise of "Swing Essentials" classes I've taught over the years for UCBD). Feel free to join! It's a beginning class but I hope to cover a lot of ground. You'll learn the basics of East Coast Swing, Jitterbug, (ballroom) Jive, Lindy Hop, and West Coast Swing, and how to use the same concepts and moves in all the styles. The cost is $30/students, $60/nonstudents for all seven weeks (a steal!). No partner or experience is necessary! You can preregister online, or come to one of the first two weeks of class to register at the door (come early!).

I'm teaching with my colleague Simon, a great blues and lindy dancer, who has been very involved with Friday Night Blues in San Francisco. He brings a very different perspective to dancing and teaching. While most of my training has been formal and competitive, his training has been on the social dance floor (though he's also done swing performances) and he's a very "intuitive" dancer. He has a lot of teaching experience too, so I think we'll make a great team (even if we don't always agree :~)).

As part of the class, I highly encourage students to attend outings to local swing clubs. The best (if not only) way to really learn swing (and all dance, in fact) is to get out there and do it. These outings will also serve as an introduction to the local swing community and to other swing resources. I'll coordinate the details of these outings through the class mailing list. (If you're in the class but not on the mailing list, email me and I'll add you: ljswingmorganyaorg.) Note that most of the optional outings are to Swing Central. This event draws a big crowd, and repeated visits give everyone a chance to get to know a particular swing community. But going every week, and also visiting other swing clubs in the area, may be too much of a time commitment for some students, so I've prioritized the outings into official ones and optional ones. I'll also show up 30 minutes before classes 2-7 to answer questions and review steps from last week, and recommend that students attend, since we don't have time for much review in class.

In the true spirit of collaborative learning, I'm "open-sourcing" my proposed syllabus, which I also hand out to students at the beginning of the class (and again in revised form at the end, based on what we did cover). I do want to focus on teaching the technique and the "feel" of swing dancing more than the memorization of specific moves (but I also want to keep everyone moving during class!). I'll revise this post as the syllabus changes. Syllabus behind the cut ... )


May. 23rd, 2006 08:27 pm
chimerically: (curly smile)
I know what I want to do with my free time and creative energies after I've stopped ballroom dancing. The epiphany hit while I was listening to the radio in the car -- it was one of those "driveway moments" when I couldn't tear myself away until the piece ended, even though I was squirming for a bathroom. When the piece did end, I wanted to cry from catharsis, the music was so intense. And I decided: I should play piano again. I used to practice favorite pieces for hours and hours, because piano was my emotional outlet through most of junior high and high school: teen angst, parent's divorce, conflict, confusion -- it was all expressed in my piano pieces. Though I never had the skill to execute a brisk Mozart sonata flawlessly (and never even heard of piano competitions until college, thankfully), I put my soul into my playing. I never got beyond the stress of playing correctly for violin (so many more aspects of the music I'm responsible for!) and always had social hang-ups over dancing (especially with a mother who was a professional dancer and a sister who was also very good), but with piano I could let loose and enjoy the playing. It's no wonder I gravitated toward Romantic and Impressionistic composers, those moody bastards.

Ballroom gives me the opportunity to perform, which I will miss, even though I often thought that the expectations of competitive ballroom were both artistically and socially restrictive (especially at higher levels). Piano doesn't offer many performance opportunities, especially for adults, unless you're really good. Because there are lots of "good" people out there. I haven't performed a piece publicly since Rhapsody in Blue for my senior recital (and I definitely can't play that one anymore), and I don't see many opportunities to play for others in the future. But the times I enjoyed piano most were when I was just playing for myself, anyway, so maybe performance doesn't matter so much after all.

I'd love to learn more jazz and improvisation, but nothing will ever compare to my favorite Romantic and Impressionistic piano pieces. Improv is fun and playful and unpredictable and all, but most people can't get the emotional complexity and intensity in a piece unless they rehearse it and really explore all of its intricacies. Even jazz players often have their pieces more or less fixed to be able to start drawing out the interesting details. ([ profile] zestyping may disagree -- I kept meaning to write my own rebuttal to his assertion that classical music is boring and rote, but never found the time, as usual. But my playing certainly didn't feel "dull and uptight." And most of the improv I've heard is emotionally dead in comparison to my favorite works of the great Romantic and Impressionistic composers, in my opinion.)

I'll have to invest in a weighted keyboard (or even a real piano, though that's unlikely) at some point if I really do want to do this -- my touch-sensitive keyboard serves me very well, but it's just not the same. But I really do need some music back in my life, and piano used to fill that void so well. I hope it can again.
chimerically: (Default)
I've had trouble sleeping in my room, between streetlights and morning light coming in my windows, so today I made window shades. Two yards of blackout fabric, two wooden dowels, four three-inch nails, and a dozen staples make two shades for about $7 each. Better than the $33 price quotes online! I just need to add some string to raise them. My housemate helped me saw off the dowels and cut the material, and in turn I introduced him to Cheese Board pizza.

Next I have to figure out what to do about the noise ....

I've almost finished organizing my room, aside from books and wall decorations still in storage, and the occasional heap of stuff on shelves or the floor. I found that my bleach leaked, burning holes in my new corduroys and in my paper globe, and making interesting patterns on my favorite pair of pants ... but it could have been much worse.

I danced with a potential Standard partner for a couple of hours today. He seems headstrong and prone to impatience, but he's very good. Unfortunately, he has had a partner for a couple of months now, though he says I'm a better match for him. Hopefully we can work something out; I haven't had any other leads, so to speak.

Well, this is a somewhat boring entry ... I'll post more of my controversial class notes over the weekend. :~)

Results of silly personality tests:

Ichi - "That one with wisdom"

I'm either an Accountant (last night; can't remember the acronym and can't re-create it), an Administrator (Submissive Extrovert Concrete Thinker), or a Mastermind (Submissive Introvert Abstract Thinker), depending on what I put for questions that I feel ambivalent about. Interestingly, if you don't fill in anything you're a mastermind.

I have design taste like fanlain, apparently: Introspective, Sensitive, Reflective; also somewhat Down to Earth, Well-Balanced, Harmonious.

That's all, folks!


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