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Archive for December, 2014

New Year’s Eve at BDBR

Before I started dancing, New Year’s Eve was not something that I often got excited about. For all the hype of the holiday, I had never encountered a very interesting way to celebrate it. It seemed like the only way people knew how to observe the new year was to throw a house party or go clubbing. Don’t get me wrong – mingling with friend’s is certainly nice. But since you can throw a house party any old time, it doesn’t really make for a spectacular way to spend your New Year’s Eve. Clubbing is much the same, except with added noise, poor lighting, pressing crowds, and a lot of shaking – none of which especially appeal to me. Other than that, it was difficult to find a different way to celebrate the new year without spending a good bit to do it – at least in the Baton Rouge area.

Then, of course, I discovered ballroom dance. The art and community have many great qualities – several of which I mentioned in my “Holiday Shopping Made Easy” post, and several more of which I plan to elaborate on in the future. Not least among these are the special events. Halloween at BDBR involves costumes and our Thriller line dance. For Christmas, we have our Winter Showcase, complete with catering and our Christmas music selection. And at BDBR, I have discovered a classic way to celebrate the New Year with food and friends. We begin with the food, setting out appetizers and drinks. The first few hours of the party are spent mingling and dancing. As midnight approaches, we begin the countdown to a champagne toast at the new year, as well as a balloon drop, followed by Auld Lang Syne. We follow this with more dancing and end the evening with a light breakfast on the new year. Of course, intermingled with all the festivities are New Year’s decorations, hats, and horns. No New Year’s party is complete without a bit of glitter, after all!

Overall, it’s one of the best ways to spend New Year’s Eve that I have ever encountered. It is romantic (for couples and singles both!), it is vibrant, it is timeless. So if you’re looking for something to do to welcome 2015, what better way than to come celebrate with us!

Johanna Collier
Dance Instructor
Courtney Black’s Ballroom Dance Baton Rouge
johanna@ballroomdancebr.com

The Calm After the Storm – Post-Showcase Repose

As many of you know, we hosted our annual winter showcase last weekend with stellar performances by staff and students alike. There was eating, drinking, dancing, cheering and overall a wonderful and rewarding atmosphere created by over one hundred friends and family-members. All in all, it was awesome.

If you have ever performed on stage (or in our case, on floor) – whether in ballet, ballroom, theatre, or anything else – I am sure you are familiar with the pre-show rush. You know, the week before the big night, during which you scramble around doing all the prep work that you promised yourself you wouldn’t wait until the last minute to do and then promptly waited until the last minute to do. Costume alterations, last-minute choreography changes, hair, nails, shoes, and the list goes on! Yeah, showcase week gets a little hectic.

Of course, that’s nothing compared with showcase night. That’s when the real magic happens. On the floor, all is calm. The audience is enchanted with beautiful costumes, brilliant choreography (if I do say so myself), and the grace and poise of practiced dancers. But back in the dressing room, chaos. It is a whirlwind of people ranging from fully dressed to all but naked. Shoes are thrown, feathers fly, santa hats are tossed – there is no telling what you will see. It’s a six-hour emotional roller coaster of joy and frustration, laughter and tears.

And it is so worth it.

When the lights dim after the last performance is done, the emotional whirlpool fades leaving one thing – an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. No matter what happened – wardrobe malfunctions, music mishaps, choreography mistakes – you did it. You got up in front of an audience and shared your joy, fear, and excitement. People cheered for you and laughed with you, and now you’re done. You can relax, have a drink, take a load off. Enjoy a week of sweet repose after a job well done.

So to all of our dancers who performed on Saturday: Congratulations! Take some time to yourself and enjoy some time with friends and loved ones. You have more than earned it!

Johanna Collier
Dance Instructor
Courtney Black’s Ballroom Dance Baton Rouge
johanna@ballroomdancebr.com

Holiday Shopping Made Easy – Give the Gift of Dance

Every year at about this time, I start to get a little stressed, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one. Holidays usher in all kinds of wonderful things – time with family, traveling, holiday gifts, and shopping for instance. But they also bring with them a lot of stressful things – time with family, traveling, holiday gifts, and shopping for instance. Family and travel? Well there’s only so much we can do about either of those. But holiday shopping presents an ever-evolving problem. Budgets change, people’s interests change (Oh you’re not playing guitar anymore? Guess I just wasted a few hundred dollars). Not to mention there are about one-point-one million other things that we’ve got to do besides Christmas/Hanukkah/Whatever shopping.

Well, I’m going to give you a cheat this year. Consider it my gift to you to make your holiday shopping a little bit easier. You probably haven’t ever really considered giving dance lessons before, but ballroom dancing is a great gift, and I’ll tell you several reasons why.

1. The Bucket List – I cannot tell you how many people I’ve talked to who have “always wanted to take dance lessons,” but never got around to it. And I’m not just talking about women! Especially after Dancing with the Stars and movies like Take the Lead and Shall We Dance, ballroom dancing is becoming ever more popular and ever more accessible. Most studios offer an affordable introductory package so you can give your loved ones an experience that they can take with them for the rest of their lives, and you don’t have to break the bank doing it.

2. New Year’s Resolutions – Everyone wants to get back in shape after all the holiday eating, but no one wants to go to the gym (at least no one sane). Ballroom dancing has some really great cardiovascular benefits and is awesome for toning muscle groups all over – I mean, have you seen Sharna Burgess? How about Derek Hough? Plus, going to a dance lesson is way more fun than going to the gym. It’s like having a personal trainer who not only helps you keep in shape, but also teaches you a skill that you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

3. Social Life – Here’s the best thing about the ballroom dance community, and something I wasn’t expecting when I first started: everyone is nice. Everyone is friendly. In fact, it’s probably the most welcoming community I’ve ever been a part of – not in any way the snobbish environment I was expecting. Now, that’s not to say there are no exceptions, but they are few and far between. In my experience, no matter if it’s your first day or if you have been dancing thirty years, everyone you ask is happy to dance with you. You’ll end up with friends of all ages, and the environment is always upbeat and uplifting.

4. Everything Else – Okay, I might be getting a little bit lazy with this one, but I simply don’t have the time to write a paragraph about every reason dancing is awesome (and you probably don’t have time to read an article that long), so I’ll give you the highlights. I’ve touched on the physical side of dancing, but there is more to it. In addition to getting in shape, dancing corrects posture, improves balance, and helps keep you young. There are mental benefits as well. Ballroom dancing helps prevent the onset of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease (you can check out this article and many others online). Plus, it’s one of the best ways to connect as a couple – I’ve even had couples tell me that the most fun they’ve ever had together was when they were dancing.

So, your holiday shopping just got a little easier, right? And while you’re out there dealing with all of the holiday fuss, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. You may want to add some dance lessons to your own wish list!

Johanna Collier
Dance Instructor
Courtney Black’s Ballroom Dance Baton Rouge
johanna@ballroomdancebr.com


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