Thursday, February 2, 2017

Moving Van Williams

Six years and two days ago, the first post of (questionable) substance went up on

It was a review of the, then new, Green Hornet film.

I thought it would be neat to mark the anniversary with my daughter’s thoughts on that movie since enough time has passed that she’s old enough to see it now.

Unfortunately, her views only make up a short paragraph:

For most of the first half she absolutely hated the spoiled doofus Britt Reid as played by Seth Rogen to the point that she would have turned off the film.  The quality of the action, explosiveness of the stunts and awesomeness of Kato kept her watching, and she admitted that Britt did mature in the end into a more responsible and tolerable person, but didn’t ever become a true super hero.

Basically she had the same view as I did.  So instead of retreading the ground, I’ll use the rest of the space to say nice things about Danceworks again.

Yes, that whole pointless introduction was to give me a pun for the title, so there.

This past weekend, Anabelle finished her fourth year as part of the spectacularly community oriented Danceworks performing group known as the Moving Company.

Once again I find it hard to avoid repeating myself.

The selflessness of the company in performing for those in various centers that cannot get out to see entertainment on their own is still admirable.

The performers’ ability to adapt to a variety of areas not designed as a stage is still astounding.

The subtle tweaks and alterations that make every performance slightly better than the last is still inspiring.

The ability of some dancers to move their heads, shoulders and hips as if they are not connected to each other, yet in time with the music is still flabbergasting.

There are still audience members past the age of caring what people think that sing along with numbers from their youth.

There are still other audience members past the age of caring what the singers think that yell, "SHAATT AAAP!" at the singers and are, fortunately, ignored.

Miss Chris still manages to organize a series of shows to execute near perfectly despite them occurring in locations never designed for hosting, viewing, or providing parking for shows without any visible signs of her (or her husband) having a mental breakdown.
(Although they both vanish off the grid for a stretch of days after Moving Company Season ends. There may be a connection.)

And the realization that the senior members are dancing their final Moving Company routines is still bittersweet.

The bitter sweetness was more personal this time around, since it was my daughter’s final year in the junior company and she’ll be graduating out of the middle school group next year.

Don’t mind me, I’ll be over here in the corner weeping and aging into a pile of dust.

This also marked my niece Aurora’s first year in the Moving Company, and due to their age difference will be one of a tiny number of Great Conjunctions where everything lines up and the cousins get to dance together, ramping the sweetness up above the bitter a tad.

Instead of rehashing all the wonderful generalities of Danceworks, its teachers and students, I’ll hit a few specifics that I may have noticed in passing before, but never focused on.

Yes, I am getting more observant and knowledgeable over the years.

For example, due to choreographer changes, this year had a slant to some of the dances that I would describe as more in the Modern type.  Not only can I appreciate this style now, I also will not refer to it as “artsy-fartsy.”

In addition, I was aware of the awesome vaudeville roots of the tap number.  The old school show biz style of the routine made my heart sad that my attempt to learn tap was a short lived disaster. The pain in my knees from just watching it, however, made the rest of me very happy I gave up.

During the shows each dancer at one point or another drew the audience’s attention.  This is because all the performers have some combination of the “Three P’s” – 
Poise, Precision, and Pizazz!

Note- I still really have no idea what I’m talking about. I just made up the whole “Three P’s” thing.

Back to specifics-

Miss Chris has truly made the studio a home away from home for the dancers.  With the ever increasing number of classes my daughter takes, this has become more and more obvious the more time I spend there to drop her off or pick her up.  Dancers frequently hang around together in the studio, before, after and between classes. This includes the young women old enough to have drivers’ licenses that could easily go out to grab dinner, or hang out somewhere else in the interim time. The greetings for each other tend to be at the same level of enthusiasm one would expect for people who haven’t seen each other in months, not dancers who share lessons on a daily basis.

On a similar note, whenever a group of performers comes out of one of the classrooms, before gathering their stuff,or checking their ever present phones, almost to an individual they look up on the monitors to check what the other classes are learning, how their friends are doing, and what routines they recognize from their past, or are looking forward to in their future.

I WILL repeat myself saying how proud and happy I am that my daughter has become a part of this culture

To keep somewhat on topic, and talk about the Moving Company itself, a major note on the professionalism of these young performers.

In past years, they danced on Black Friday at the Denville Open House, at what was normally a highly chilly performance.

This year, the event was moved forward a couple of weeks into December, and the temperature took a dive like a jobber facing Hulk Hogan in the Eighties.  (Had to get a manly reference in all this dancing stuff somewhere.)

I was shivering so badly by the end of the show; my video recording looked like I was standing on a previously undocumented major fault line that finally gave way under the double yellow line on Broadway.

The dancers, however, performed a series of outstanding numbers, not on the mat they usually use for outdoor shows, but up on the mobile aluminum stage.  Along with the slipperiness factor, it was clear that it was painfully sucking all of their body heat out through their fingers for the numbers they had to start squatted down.

Not only were the physical movements of the dances at every show  clearly filled with my made up “Three P’s” but the expressions of the dancers were as well.

During that firidgid night, at the angle I was at I could see the performance faces (detailed below)  disintegrate into expressions of “GOOD LORD I’M FREEZING TO DEATH” when they pirouetted away from the crowd, but they always returned to show biz mode when they spun back to the audience

An additional, if pointless, observation.

I previously believed there were only two specific dance expressions that each performer had their own interpretations of-
“Disney Face Smile” for snappy, peppy numbers,
And the “Serious Dance Face” for more artistic bits.

Apparently there is also an “Octopus Move Face” which stands on its own.

The conclusion of the year party truly highlighted the wondrous connection Danceworks fosters between all its students.

On the Sunday night of a weekend that had three performances, they all gathered in the studio to celebrate the close of another amazing season.  They celebrate by spending an hour and a half sharing snacks together while attempting dances from the just ended and previous years that the individuals hadn't done before.

After ninety minutes of additionally exhausting themselves, most had donned their coats and were ready to head out.

Until two of them started up the junior company jazz dance.

Coats immediately went flying as shoeless dancers from both junior and senior companies ran in from every direction to celebrate a final encore of their bond created through movement to music, and have one last Octopus Move Face together..

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