That’s it, its official, I’m starting a social club! The Dance Your Ass Off social club will meet once a month at a local dance club. We’re not going to drink, or pick up a new partner, we’re just going to have fun. Each month will have a new theme, or style, and the only requirement to be a member is that you have to want to dance.
Our first stop will be a country/western bar – the next stop is up to you! Post your suggestion for next month’s style, and a nearby club, in the comments below. Voting begins next Monday, and the top 3 locations will be on our itinerary for the next 3 months!
I was catching up on my favorite reality show, So You Think You Can Dance, and realized that today is National Dance Day!
National Dance Day was originally launched by Nigel Lythgoe, co-creator of So You Think You Can Dance and co-president of Dizzy Feet Foundation. The mission of Dizzy Feet Foundation is “to improve and increase access to dance education in the United States through grants which support programs serving low-income populations and educational institutions working with talented individuals.” National Dance Day was first introduced in 2010, and has continued each year to promote health, wellness, and fun, through dance.
Every year, Dizzy Feet Foundation creates at least 1 short routine for dancers of all levels to perform. I spent time browsing current and past National Dance Day submissions, and was continuously amazed at the level of talent and enthusiasm demonstrated around the world. Check out some of my favorites, and feel free to start practicing your routine for next year!
One of my favorite forms of dance to perform is Irish dance. I was first introduced to Irish dancing in high school, when my theater teacher (a fellow redhead) added it to the curriculum. I was taken with the music, the precision…and maybe the amazing wigs that take up an entire zip code.
While I was in school we performed step dancing, in two styles – hard shoe and soft shoe. Hard shoe dancing is very similar to tap dance, in that is it performed wearing heeled shoes with a wooden box on the toe. Hard shoe dancing focuses on rhythms and patterns, and tends to be a bit more grounded. In the 1990’s step dancing became popular internationally, through performances like Riverdance. Soft shoe dancing has a bit less flash, but is my favorite. Soft shoe dances are performed in lace-up slippers, very similar in design to ballet slippers. A captivating soft shoe dancer looks like they’re floating – right when you think they’ll come down from a jump, they pause just one moment more, like they’re caught on a breeze.
I think what entices me most about Irish dance is the challenge of artistry in your feet, legs and expression while keeping your arms and torso still. Its not an easy feat to look relaxed while dancing with half of your body immobile.
While I don’t have video of my most recent Irish dancing escapades, I’d like you to enjoy this video I created on jibjab.com, which demonstrates hard shoe Irish dance. Click Here to view.
Thank you to BBC.com for ‘A Short History of Irish Dance’ – to learn more, you can Click Here
One of the best habits I kept, from many, many years of dance class, is stretching. As a dancer, you are taught to be aware of your body, because it is the only tool you have. According to http://www.mayoclinic.org, “Stretching can help improve flexibility, and, consequently, range of motion in your joints. Better flexibility may improve your performance in physical activities or decrease your risk of injuries by helping your joints move through their full range of motion and enabling your muscles to work most effectively.”
Although my dance classes are few, and far between, I find myself stretching every day. Just a brief stretch can give me a boost to get out of bed in the morning, re-energize me after a long day, relieve tension, and improve my mood. Most people have a standard routine when they do stretch, but it may not reach the muscles that need it most. I’d recommend taking a look at the article on http://www.dancespirit.com, ‘The Best Stretches You’re Not Doing‘ for some easy, and effective additions to your stretching plan.