"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #133, Thursday, Feb 6, 2003

Dancing Tid-bits
Dancing in Goa/India?

I got many e mails regarding the "Dancing Tid-bits" being off for last several weeks. Many of you thought that I might even have died but rest assure that I am alive and healthy. Each year I take a long vacation from Christmas to end of January and that is why no Tidbits.

Now that I am back on my desk, it seems only appropriate that I give you a report on my vacation and what I accomplished. No! dont worry I am not going to bore you with my stories of train travels, the exotic Taj Mahal or eating Poori-Bhaji at Nathu's sweet house. I do seriously want to tell you how is Ballroom or Latin Dancing in India.

We spent time mostly in Goa which is a beautiful part of India (west coast) with wonderful beaches of Indian Ocean. We were at a resort called "Cidade de Goa", a name inherited from the past occupation of this part of India by Portuguese. So the Portugese culture thrives and people are just so relaxed and friendly. This place is rocking, I mean rocking with Music, Dancing, Fun and Night life and all. That is where the Indian PM Vajpayee and all the foreign dignitaries were partying on the New Year's Eve. I don't know how much ballroom or Latin they did, because Mr. Vajpayee recently had a knee replacement and the American ambassador was struck with Flu.

I was able to find some leads and discovered Jason and Sylvia who were actively teaching Ballroom in this part of the state. We met at a school, to be more specific at the Don Boscoe school which more or less a catholic private school with a good reputation for excellence.

Jason played the first song which was a Waltz and they showed me a routine which had some elements of both basic and some advanced choreography. It is amazing how much they had learned at their own. How? Their answer was "Come Dancing" and "Ohio Star Ball Tapes". They were trying to do all those things that Hiltons, Barrichis and Pierre and Mire do, without really knowing much what was being done. To put it briefly they were a very nice looking couple, good posture, good toned bodies and best of all so receptive and eager to learn. We did some basics with Natural and Reverse Turns and Change Steps to navigate the LOD and they grasped that concept within a few minutes. Remember they did not have any formal training. We worked a little bit on the Natural Spin Turn and so on.

Slow Foxtrot was out of question but their basic social rhythm SSQQ was enjoyable. There was no point doing a Feather Step and all but I did introduce the term Slow Foxtrot and showed a basic Feather, reverse, Three Step and natural Turn.

They were anxious to do a little Tango. I thought I will keep it simple and showed them a little basic American Tango (SSQQS) but they told me that they had a teacher from Pillipines who showed Tango as "this". It looked like 2 walks, Progressive Link and Closed Promenade. I was overjoyed and quickly shifted gear. Within minutes they were doing perfect basics of International tango. After some Cha Cha and Rumba it was time for me to go back to the resort for our final day party and Jason gave me a ride on his motor cycle which was hillarious hitting all those bumps and pot holes.

Back at the resort the Live Band was playing wonderful music. Anything you request from the popular Waltzes to Foxtrots and all but naturally understanding the mood of the general public they shifted gears and started Latin Merengue type Rhythms and the pop Indian stuff. Every one had a ball.

To put it briefly I would say:
  1. India is ready for serious Ballroom and Latin and soon there will be a team to compete in international competitions.
  2. The talent of Music Bands is abundant and unvbelievable in India. It is amazing how diverse it is from hard rock to sophisticated dance music to Indian Music.
  3. Every big city has at least one or two dance teachers/schools anxious to learn and teach.
  4. The TV and the Pop indian culture is more naturally inclined towards Salsa and Merengue and Indian Disco and I dont see anything wrong with that. They are waiting to be re-introduced to good old english dancing.
  5. If you would be interested in doing something to introduce Ballroom and Latin to this crowd, let me know I have some ideas.
If you enjoyed this letter, fine! otherwise my apologies. From next week more serious topics starting with "Syllabus: Old vs. New" or perhaps on "Training to be a teacher".

With best wishes, Max

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits