Pat Blythe – Dance!

little-red-headed-dancing-girl

Nazareth and Razamanaz; U2 and The Miracle (of Joey Ramone); Peter Gabriel and Red Rain; Diana Ross and The Supremes and Baby Love; Taiyo Cruz and Dynamite, Tommy James and the Shondells and Mony Mony  (one of my all time favourite dance tunes).Then there’s Dirty Loops, Jordan John and Xprime. I dance….slinking, skipping and sashaying through the kitchen into the dining area into the living room. Thank heaven for open concept design!

dance

Some of you have been in my home so you know what I’m talking about. When the pathway is clear (I’m undergoing renos at the moment) I have a great dance floor and I use it….all the time. With my Sony speaker blasting out the tunes I can bop from one end of the house to the other. When I dance I really do feel like I could take on the world.

Take on the World – Dirty Loops

There are literally millions of songs to dance to….slow, fast and everything inbetween. Dancing is my first passion and has been since I was very, very young. Lifelong hip problems prevented me from making dance a career but I’ve more than made up for this by gliding, sliding, boogying and two-stepping on hundreds of dance floors in hundreds of clubs right across Canada and in the U.K…..underage, legal age and now the “golden” age, or as I refer to them, the “arctic blonde” years. Yep, I’m (mumble mumble) going on 18 all over again. Dancing keeps you moving, it keeps you young, it makes you happy….and I love happy.

Happy – Pharrell Williams (Despicable Me 2)

I’m not a fan of overcrowded dance floors. You’re stuck swaying from side-to-side in one spot, praying you don’t step on anyone’s toes (and they don’t step on yours). No, I like to DANCE. Use up space, swing my arms, move around, throw in a few pirouettes. In the heyday of disco in the 70’s (remember?), we learned “dance steps”. You worked with a partner, practiced the proper moves alone and as a duo ala Saturday Night Fever. It was important to do it right AND have fun. …and when you got it right, when the two of you just merged together seamlessly and it just worked…. such a feeling. I imagescould just about lift off like my feet had wings. You felt like you could soar. What a sensation!! The emotional content goes right off the proverbial Richter scale.

Yes, music is a passion, but dance….honestly you don’t always need music. You just need a beat. But, add music to the mix and some part of my body starts moving (like right now to Magic Carpet Ride). It’s impossible to sit still. When Spirit in The Sky started playing for the opening scenes of Guardians of the Galaxy, I could barely contain myself, desperate to get up and move. My son’s hand, pressed forcefully on my knee, kept me in my seat and from making a fool of him. Didn’t stop my arms from flailing around though (or singing along). …and yes, he is still seen in public with me. Remaining in my theatre seat while watching Oh Canada What A Feeling took every ounce self control. The raging desire to start dancing in the aisles was overwhelming although the continual bobbing up and down in my seat helped somewhat. During the encore, the cast invited people to come up to the stage and dance. Didn’t have to ask me twice. I shot out of my seat like a cannonball. I was fortunate to see this show twice and both times the reaction was the same.  I’m “the crazy woman” to Nick at the camera store; the wild, mad sister, maybe even a bit daft. To others my nickname is Zippy, full of energy, much of what I get from dance. Yes, I do sleep.

Spirit in the Sky – Norman Greenbaum

So, where did dance come from?

Music is Life

Like the chicken and the egg, which came first, dance or music? Did the beat of our hearts or raindrops tapping out a rhythm on the ground tune us into an internal drumming that translated into movement to match the tempo? If you stop and listen closely, there is cadence everywhere, and unconsciously we may find ourselves tapping our toes in time. Even the indicators in your car, the click of the subway cars, the tick tock of the clock, the blinking lights on your alarm clock. Rhythm is everywhere. Sometimes a particular tempo reminds us of a specific song. Now you’ve got an earworm.

Ambedo – Xprime

(pay attention to the lyrics — Don’t let this time pass you by)

According the Canadian Encyclopedia “Dance is the term broadly used to define human behaviour characterized by movements of the body that are expressive rather than purely functional.”  It goes on to say, “it is the social, cultural, philosophical, spiritual, religious, emotional and intellectual motivation that distinguishes dance from purely functional movement.” There is no definitive period in remembered history when dance started. I’m sure the cavemen was frolicking around the fire to some internal beat thousands of years ago. “Dance is an ancient human practice which might have begun as an instinctive response to such naturally occurring cycles as night and day and the beat of the human heart. This perhaps explains why dance c78d106186e00050d6d3051046be1406often has a rhythmic basis, according to context. Dance arose from the same impulses that gave birth to music and, while dance is often though not invariably accompanied by music, it remains unclear which expression came first. As long as people have inhabited the land…there has also been dance, or organized movement, as a form of  cultural expression.”

Take your pick — solo, group or partner, ballet or ballroom, hip hop or jazz, waltz, cha cha or rumba, swing, tap, rave, disco, or your own mash-up. Dance is freedom….of expression, of feeling, of emotion. It can be acrobatic, sexy, provocative, daring, complex or slow and graceful. It can explore the limits of the human body. It is a form of visual communication. It is a method of healing. It’s a creative outlet. It’s fun!

How To Dance Properly to Get Lucky

History class….

When did dance become part of human culture? Dance leaves no trace. It does not leave behind physical artifacts. Movement somehow became incorporated into our civilization, became part of our way of life….part of our customs. Whether it was used to appease the gods, thank Mother Earth, lead us into battle or keep history alive by telling a story, dance has followed us through the millennia and continues to grow, evolve and become ever more entrenched in our society.

During the Elizabethan era in the 16th century, dance and music received “unprecedented attention, advancement and refinement that allowed it to become one of the most popular ways for socialization and exercise, and a foundation for the creation of all modern dance.”

“The influence of Queen Elizabeth on the dance culture was profound. She herself was proficient in many instruments, and practiced many style of dances every day…because of that, she demanded her entire court to know the intricacies of musical and dancing arts. Popularity of dance went to such degree that some of the great political and romantic court battles of that time were fought not by political means, but on the dancing floors of London Court.”

The Galliard

Galliard_dance_pattern

Galliard Dance Pattern

Famous in the Elizabethan court, the Galliard was not a dance to be improvised. Dancers combined patterns of steps occupying one or more measures of music. In one measure, a galliard typically has five steps; in French such a basic step is called a cinq pas and in Italy, cinque passi. This is sometimes written in English sources as sinkapace. One special step used during a galliard is Lavolta, a step which involves an intimate, close hold between a couple, with the woman being lifted into the air and the couple turning 270 degrees, within one six-beat measure. Lavolta was considered by some dancing masters as an inappropriate dance.”  By today’s standards (if there are any), that’s exceedingly tame. By Elizabethan standards, the Lavolta was completely risque.

igallir001p4

Why do I focus on the Galliard? Because of its intricacies and its influence down through the ages to today’s modern dance. During Elizabeth’s time, the arts flourished. A lover of music, dance, poetry and theatre, Elizabeth was the “entertainment industry’s” biggest supporter and she herself was a superb and energetic dancer. Light on her feet, Elizabeth was said to have danced the Galliard several times a day, even into old age. She said she felt “young and pretty” when she danced. Elizabeth I was almost 70-years-old when she died in 1603. A very old age in the 17th century, particularly for a women.

The Universality of Dance

Dance is a universal language. A language that transcends cultures and species. Birds compete for mates by showing off their dance moves, no different than the dance floors of today. Dancers are storytellers who share their stories with their bodies. Regardless of which language we speak, regardless of where we call home, we can all find common ground through dance. Dance fosters collaboration and trust by breaking down barriers in a magical way, which is difficult to describe but can certainly be felt by all. Dancing will not cure diseases, will not end famines nor will it fight to bring peace. But as a universal language, dance speaks of joy and a hope that can never be taken away.”

soorya-classical-musicdance-festival

Dance as ritual — to dance before the gods miming significant events; dance to express grief.

Frenzied dancing

Dance as ecstasy — uninhibited, frantic dance exacerbated by a pounding rhythm (and sometimes flowing alcohol or drugs)
hqdefault

Dance as entertainment or display — I don’t think I need to explain this one.

Welcome to the Church of Dance

It’s true, dance like no one’s watching, lifting your spirits and your heart. That rush of oxytocin, the “feel good” hormone, will put you in blissful headspace. Healthy for mind, body and soul — dance has a wide range of physical and mental benefits including improved condition of your heart and lungs, increased muscular strength, endurance and motor fitness, increased aerobic fitness, improved muscle tone and strength, weight management, stronger bones and reduced risk of osteoporosis and better coordination.”

Dance is not the answer to every health crisis be it mental or physical, but there is no doubt dance makes an extremely important contribution to mending the human body and mind. For one patient diagnosed with Sjögren’s sydrome, she believes firmly in dance as way of “connecting ourselves to our bodies in elemental ways, leading to improved body alignment, enhanced mood, boosted confidence, and many more physical- and mental-health benefits.” A convert to the “Church of Dance”, she, like many people consider dance as a cure for much of what ails them.

Healing Through Dance

A study of nine participants headed by Joe Verghese, professor of Neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, found that frequent dancing was the only physical activity that appeared to lower the risk of dementia considerably. The findings were published in The New England Journal of Medicine as part of investigations into the effect leisure activities had on the risk of dementia in the elderly.  Professor Verghese is not sure why dancing had such a unique effect, but surmises that, “unlike many other physical activities, dancing also involves significant mental effort and social interactions.” Both intellectual and social stimulation have been shown to reduce the risk of getting dementia.

Dance therapy has been around since the 1940s. Introduced by Marian Chace to the psychiatric patiends at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C., the class was called “Dance for Communication”. Taught to WWII vets, it offered them ways to convey feelings that can be difficult to verbalize. Dance therapy is particularly effective for those suffering with PTSD. Dance can set people free on both a physical and psychological level. “It is a means of expressing oneself without any boundaries.”

Dance is exhilarating. I makes me happy and we all need to do more of what makes up happy. To dance or not to dance….there is no question.

I leave you with some of my favourites. Pour yourself a drink, put on the tunes, turn up the volume…..and DANCE!

Mony Mony – Tommy James and the Shondells

Sexy Girls – Dirty Loops

Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars

Taiyo Cruz – Dynamite

Animals – Maroon Five

Africa – Toto

Bad – Michael Jackson

Cheers!

Sources

The Canadian Encyclopedia, Dance Teachers, AARP, The Gazelle (Xuexin Cai and Lauren Clingan), YouTube, Wikipedia, Dance Facts

=PB=

Pat’s column appears every Wednesday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

dbawis-buttonIn “real” life Pat Blythe has spent the past 32 years as a consultant and design specialist in the telecommunications industry. After an extended absence Pat is now heading back to the GTA clubs, immersing herself in the local music scene, tasting what’s on offer, talking to people and writing once again — sharing her passions and her deep love of music. Together for 34 years, Pat also worked alongside her late husbandpblytheChristopher Blythe, The PictureTaker©, who shot much  of the local talent (think Goddo, Frank Soda and the Imps, Plateau, Buzzsaw, Hellfield….) as well as national and international acts,  Currently making her way through 40 years of Chris’s archives, Pat is currently compiling a photographic history of the local GTA music scene from 1975 to 1985. It continues to be a work in progress. Oh…..and she LOVES to dance!

2 Responses to “Pat Blythe – Dance!”

  1. kevin philip Says:

    Hello bob.
    I am a 45 year old guy living in Victoria. Through out my (small) radio Dj career I have often been noted to say ” I do an awesome impression of the Ice” from q 107. In Toronto. Although I never new your name . q 107 recently told me your actual name. Soooo just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration! And PS. Didn’t you do a small stint in Vic. Or van. As well?
    Sincerely.
    Kevin philip

    • Hi Kevin….I think your message is really meant for Bob Segarini. He was indeed the Ice Man at both Sirus and Q107. Still has the voice too. Segarini is our editor and the owner of DBAWIS. Feel free to message him in his own column when the spirit moves him to post something….like yesterday. Cheers!

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