LEARN WITH LISA
LINE DANCE INSTRUCTOR
NOW TEACHING IN FLORIDA
Last year at this time I had the very great pleasure of announcing that Don't Stay, a dance I co-wrote with Brenda Shatto of California, had won first place in the choreography competition at the Las Vegas Dance Explosion. This year, Brenda entered a dance of her own and won again! That's great news, but perhaps even better is that Scott Blevins, who was one of the judges, told her that he would teach her new dance, I'm Mad, at Worlds in Nashville. That will give the dance tremendous exposure, and perhaps give her talent the recognition it deserves.
In an email to me after her solo triumph, Brenda was generous in sharing the credit for this win when she said "Thank you for your part in setting me on this journey. I am forever changed by your friendship!" Wow!
I have just published two new dances to a holiday track by Rod Stewart titled "Red-Suited Super Man." One is low intermediate and the other is beginner, so they can be danced as floor splits to accommodate dancers of different skill levels. Direct links to the step sheets and videos are on the beginner and low intermediate pages.
Beginning in January 2014, I will publish the recaps here on my website instead of sending them by email. This will simplify the process, and will reduce the amount of email in your inboxes.
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REPORT FROM TAMPA
Patty and I got back from the Tampa Bay Line Dance classic Sunday afternoon (I've posted a few photos and videos).
It was a wonderful weekend, with tons of line dancing and socializing. We were able to check in early and unpack, then headed downstairs. Registration wasn't open and the dance floors were not down, so we stationed ourselves in the lobby to act as unofficial greeters. There was a steady stream of fellow dancers and instructors from The Villages, and many friends from elsewhere in Florida and around the world.
While we were "on duty" I noticed a lone young woman who seemed familiar, but I couldn't place her. Finally it dawned on me that I was looking at Rhoda Lai, who has choreographed local favorite dances Twinkle and Shining In The Night, and who I've seen in videos countless times as I've taught myself or practiced her dances. I introduced myself and we chatted a little. If any of you read the recent article in the local paper about the event, you saw my quote about how accessible the "famous" instructors are to the rest of us. My lobby conversation with Rhoda was a perfect example.
Not only is she a talented choreographer and a champion competitive dancer, Rhoda is a gifted teacher who made all of our classes fun learning experiences. The last workshop I took from her this morning was her 80-count, 2-wall dance called Love Bachata. It was at the end of the long weekend of learning and the first class at 9:00 in the morning (we'd only had three hours of sleep). But all of the students were smiling as she broke the dance into manageable "chunks" and added championship-level styling as well. It doesn't get much better than that.
Other new staff instructors this year were Shaz Walton from England and Fred Whitehouse from Ireland. Fred is enthusiastic and friendly and his accent (who knew the Irish say "youse?") is charming. Unfortunately, Shaz had to cancel at the last minute due to a medical emergency. I don't know the details, but all of us wish her well.
One of the dances she was scheduled to teach was Azonto, her bouncy phrased dance to the track by Fuse. Word got around that I had taught it, and Jennifer Cameron, the event director, asked if I would step in to teach the workshop. I agreed, thinking that the class wouldn't be so very different from teaching in one of the big ballrooms here at home (thanks Betty and Cheryl for giving me that experience!).
Then Jennifer said, "And you'll do the demo tonight as well, right?"
Uh-oh. That's another story--demonstrating another choreographer's dance in front of the entire ballroom full of professional staff instructors, directors, and eager students who PAID to take workshops. How would they feel about a last-minute substitution by an unknown.
I'd already agreed so I gritted my teeth and smiled and said "sure" in my most confident voice.
I took the step she offered and headed upstairs to my room to practice and psych myself up. Then I had an inspiration, and ran downstairs to track down Rhoda. She didn't know the dance (and had never heard the music). But she agreed to help me and quickly learned the steps, which I taught her in an empty space in the hall. So with her by my side (and knowing that everyone would be looking at HER), I was able to get through the entire 30 seconds of demo without disgracing myself. Whew!
Then when it came time to do the teach the next morning, I imagined that I was in front of my own students here in The Villages, and felt comfortable enough to get through unscathed--almost. At one point I lapsed into doing my beginner version of the dance, but Patty raised her hand and asked, "Are there sambas in there somewhere?"
Why yes, Patty, there are! That put me back on track, and I think it went pretty well. After the teach, one woman came up to tell me that she hadn't intended to take the class, but changed her mind because I had made the demo so much fun.
Woo hoo! Fun is what it's all about, right? Sometimes we (I'm inluding myself) can get so focused on the steps and being "right" that we forget that we're supposed to enjoy it, too.
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TYRANNY ON KICKIT
Kickit is a step sheet archive website. I have used it for many years, and have been a subscribing member. When choreographers submit their step sheets for publication on Kickit and click "agree" to the terms and conditions, they authorize Peter Blaskowski, who runs the site, to make any changes he deems necessary.
Last year, Peter decided that all step sheets posted on his site would be correct--according to HIS idea of correctness.
In the case of my step sheet, he made several changes, including redesignating the RHYTHM of the music I used. In protesting, I compared the rhythm to the music for two other dances which he did not change, and after telling me that he "didn't listen" to the songs I mentioned, he made this reply, printed in its entirety (the underscores are mine):
"Both of these dances appeared before October 1, 2012, which is when I started curating the line dance archive, rather than just dumping into it whatever was sent me. I now care about accuracy and precision in step sheets. So dance rhythms are identified correctly, language is converted to a standard simple vocabulary, similar rhythms are displayed in a single format, misspellings and typos are removed, counts match the number of steps shown, etc.
"If someone wants to just look at a ton of step sheets, he or she can visit any online step sheet website (all of which originally built collections by simply grabbing the entire un-curated Kickit collection). If he or she wants accuracy, precision, and consistency, then Kickit is the place to go.
"Working backward through all of the old step sheets before October 2012 is a huge task. I have been able to automate some of the updates, but, by-and-large, step sheets added before then are going to be left to languish forever. Realistically, 99.9% of them are never viewed or danced anyway, so it is hardly worth anyone's time to go back and update old step sheets."
How do I know? Because I DID NOT SUBMIT THAT STEP SHEET TO KICKIT, and therefore I never agreed to his terms and conditions. Peter Blaskowski appropriated MY step sheet from another site, edited it, and posted HIS version on Kickit.
If he did it to me, I must assume he does it to others as well, and in fact, I have heard from several choreographers who have said they NEVER send their step sheets to Kickit, and yet all of them appear in the archive.
Therefore, I do not trust step sheets that appear on Kickit and do not use any that are posted there. Furthermore, I never send my step sheets to Kickit. If you have one with the Kickit logo, it should be destroyed because it may not be the choreography as I wrote it.
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Lisa and Peter
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