Dance Humor/Human Interest

I recently read that the chemicals that are released in the brain when people laugh, are actually good for their health. So here are a few dance-related anecdotess to give you a chuckle.

  1. True story: I was teaching a Casino Rueda workshop to beginners. We went over the first several basic moves extensively, as many people were having trouble with them. One of the students suddenly made a loud sneeze. Another student immediately said, "Enchufla!"

  2. This is another true story.  I was at a club and a few Rueda dancers were forming a circle.  We needed one more follower, so we looked around and asked a very strong woman dancer if she'd mind stepping into the circle even though she didn't have much Rueda background. She spoke Spanish and had lots of Salsa experience; we figured the leaders could get her through the steps.  So we started dancing and she was doing fine. Then the leader called "Beso" and she suddenly ducked!!

    Above: Casino Rueda Demo at First Night Annapolis, 12/31/05

  3. I have a cartoon on my wall that depicts a primitive-type cave man and woman in a tropical paradise. They are in a tango-like dance position, and the caption reads: I think you misunderstood.....I said "I'd like a mango."

  4. This is also a true story.  I arranged for a few advanced Rueda dancers to do a demo at a club some years back.  There were two couples and as is the custom, the caller was making very sure that the other leader heard the calls over the loud music.  So the caller looked right at the other lead, yelled the calls really loud while gesturing the hand signals very broadly.  After the show, I asked the guy who wasn't leading what his family thought, since they'd all come down to see us.  He said, "My mother liked the dancing, but she asked me why the other guy was yelling at me the whole time!"
  5. One day in my Catonsville class, I was teaching Kentucky Complicado which is a very nice but pretty complicated step.  A guy in the class who is very funny commented after mastering the move that in basic training for the army, if someone did something against the rules, their commanding officer could yell:  "Give me 20 Kentucky Complicados!!"

    Here is a similar story:  Students in my credit class at the U. of Maryland were reviewing for a skills test.  One said to the other, "The move where you push her back is Enchufla Doble."  The classmate responded, "When I go over the step names, I feel like I'm ordering off at Taco Bell menu!"
  6. I have Rueda de Casino dance friends in New York City who complain that the "on 2" Salsa dancers there predominate, and let it be known that they feel their style of dancing Salsa is the best.  The Rueda folks feel a bit "put down" by this attitude.  So I got an email once that was addressed to a bunch of mostly New York dancers, in which the writer was blowing off steam about the matter.  He said, "Do you ever wish that "on 2" remained in our language solely as a preposition, as in "Get off the high horse you got ONTO"?!!

  7. When I first began dancing Casino Rueda, I constructed a "Rueda Trivia" quiz for someone's birthday. They were to call out the questions and the dancers in a circle would dance the answer. Here are some of the items:
    Home of a horse-racing derby Kentucky
    A very large hill Montana
    A car gets ahead of another car Pasea
    A car weaves ahead of several cars Pasea complicado
    A swear word Dame
    A swear word and a drink Dame con coca cola
    The fourth prime number 7
    Used when a fencer takes a jab El sabor
    Do this with a hot iron La presa
    Bottles of beer on the wall after 9 choruses 90
    Summer fruit El melon
    Scant bathing suit Enchufla bikini
    First name of a weight loss program La Jenny
    Sherlock Holmes called her "Your Majesty" La Victoria
    Rueda step with an obscene hand signal Dedo
    Wedding night fun results in this Bebe
    Four of them make a dollar La cuadra
    Shalom Adios

  8. I have a fond memory of taking a family trip and one of my boys got a book at a gift store where we were visiting to read in the car. It was titled: The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said. He sat in the back and giggled for the rest of the trip. Periodically he'd read one of the entries aloud to the rest of us and they really were hilarious.

    So when I was planning a road trip with some of my dance friends, so we could collaborate with a Philadelphia Rueda group, I threw a few books in the car to keep us occupied. To my delight, one of my friends did exactly what my son had done. He laughed and giggled reading the book, and occasionally read some entries out loud.

    So for your entertainment, here are a couple of them:

    "There has been no exclusion. We have simply excluded all the women." This was said by Nicolas Romanoff, descendant of the last Czar of Russia to explain why no women were invited to a meeting to form a family foundation.

    Here is one Yogi Berra said, to explain why he didn't want to go to a restaurant: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded." (This could be said about some Salsa Clubs, and everyone would know exactly what was meant!!)

    I think this was our favorite: "Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country." That was said by Mayor Marion Barry of D.C.


  9. I saw a cute T-shirt at a Salsa Club. It said, "If there's no Salsa in heaven, I'm not going!!" And there was a picture of a devil below that.

   10.  I assembled a group to work on a routine and we were adding body rolls and ripples in various places to Rueda moves.  The group consisted of one guy and several ladies.  They guy left as we were still going over the technique for these rolls.  As he exited through the door, he looked back and said, "Normally I have to pay for this type of entertainment."

   11. Check out these adorable videos of dancing dogs!!

   12. Go to the link below and watch what the notes do. Try making really fast circles with the mouse.

   13. This is a dance-type video of guys on treadmills that is really clever and hilarious. Don't miss tickling your funny bone with this video clip! 

   14. Check out this hilarous video titled the evolution of dance.

   15.  I don't know if this qualifies as humor, but check out this inspiring video with the same dance sequence repeated in countless countries of the world by all the peoples of the world. I think it's beautiful and heart-warming.  If you like that video, don't miss the "outtakes"--clips that didn't make it into the final cut of the main video.  The outtakes are nice, too, and funny!!

And now, he has yet another wonderful video with similar theme.  If you have time to watch only one of these videos, make it this one:

Matt has become a worldwide sensation, and he has now created a video explaining how he got all the folks in the videos to dance with him in so many countries: 
He also has a lovely video on how children react to watching his video:

  16.  One of the students in my class is quite a wordsmith and created a website for creative endings to letters.  The list is in the hundreds, and includes such choice endings as:
Who loves ya baby?, Type at you later;  Until gossip do us part;  Rock on;  Peace and blessings;  May you have your best day yet;  May you live in interesting times;  Love, laughter and chocolate;  Love ya like a sister (LYLAS);  Love and light;  Love and more;  Love and pizza;  Love and unconditional personal regard;  Love endures;  Live, laugh, love;  Later bro;  Keeping it real;  Ease on down the road of life; and:  Can’t believe you read the whole thing.

  17.  In October, 2009, I was asked to do something fun---judge a "Dancing with the Professors" contest sponsored by the Ballroom at Maryland group of the University of Maryland.  Several professors had agreed to working with a dance coach on a short ballroom routine and the coaches were advanced ballroom students at the school (they did a great job!)  There were three judges; we all taught either in the Dance Dept at the University or the Arts and Learning Center.  I sat next to Karen Bradley who not only taught dance but did analyses of political figures after debates and other speeches, studying the way they moved and what their body language indicated about them.  Karen sent me this link, on her TV and media work as I inquired about it: Check it out; it's really interesting!!

 18.  Check out the link below.  It's Malcolm Gladwell, author of the ground-breaking book Blink giving a talk.  It's amusing and also very interesting!

  19.  Years ago, one of my colleagues, Victoria Hadar, who teaches Cuban Salsa in NYC, told me about a modern/ballet choreographer named Emanuel Gat who was very taken with Cuban Salsa.  He saw it danced somewhere kind of by accident. Anyway, this famous choreographer had his professional dancers learn our style of Salsa and choreographed a modern dance using the moves.  It's danced to Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring," a famous, old classical piece of music.  Take a look at this video--I think it's incredible!  (Talk about fusions!!)

   20.  Here is a joke that, as a dance instructor, I like very much:

A man is walking in the streets of NY City and stops someone to ask, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?"  The second person answers him, "Practice, practice, practice!"

Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Outliers" says that practice makes perfect. The best way to achieve the highest caliber of expertise (leading potentially to international stardom), Malcolm asserts, is to spend 10,000 hours honing your skills.  I believe that is 20 hours a week for 10 years---do the math and check me out on that!  In other words, endless hours of practice and drill make people good at things.  He exploded the myth that most of what we see in experts in any field is due to innate talent.  His point is that as people practice, they develop the skill that can look like natural talent.  That is encouraging for dance students, as it is for students in any field, as it suggests that expertise is within our grasp if we care enough to work that hard at it!!

  21.  Ah!  New York City---where you see everything!!  There was a video of a man dancing with a dummy in Times Square, NY--with some acrobatic flourishes!  The video was removed, but you canwell imagine this scene in downtown NY!

  22.  Check out this absolutely amazing video of "precision walking."  This is apparently a competitive sport in some places.  Watch:

  23.  Music lovers will love this video which is also amazing:

  24.  Check out this video on the funniest flight attendant who makes great use of rhythm and rhyme:

  25.  Check out the dance humor below!

  26.  On Nov. 24, 2012, I went to see Tap Dogs, a fabulous group of male tap dancers, perform at the Strathmore.   Their show was out of the world---one of the best i've seen in my lifetime.  They tap danced suspended by ropes upside down, on tilted floors, on beams with empty spaces between, on a wet surface---splashing water into the front rows of the audience, with basketballs to aid in making rhythmic sounds, with footballs, etc etc.  The show was so imaginative and the skill so fantastic, I thought website readers might enjoy seeing some of the performance clips...  overall introduction   dancing on beams    the show's introduction---"legs"    a short overview

27. This video shows life size Michael Jackson puppets dancing.  One Michael Jackson style human dancer is dancing with the puppets to your favorite MJ songs:

28.  Dancing often brings laughter and expresses joy…. Check this out:

29.  This is a very creative use of dance and shadows:

30. This was a short article in "The Week," a popular news magazine from March 7, 2008.
"Twenty policement in Timisoara, Romania, are taking dance classes from two former members of their city's ballet company to help them direct traffic more effectively. The idea is to make the cops' signals clearer and to help them catch the attention of drivers.... Instead of having robots guiding the traffic, we can have very graceful agents doing the same thing."

31.  A movie named "Akeelah and the Bee" has a great deal to say about how we learn.  It is the story about a girl who enters a spelling bee contest.  At one point, she is stumped on a word.  She had studied a lot while jumping rope, saying the letters rhythmically with the jumps. Akeelah decides to start spelling the word again, but this time she pretends to have a jumprope in her hand and she jumps in rhythm while saying the letters.  The spelling then seems to flow effortlessly from her, and she gets the word right.  

This touches on an important point about learning.  When a physical action is paired with learning, engaging in the physical action helps promote recall.  And the same principle applies if what is being learned is a physical skill itself.  Doing the action the exact same way it was practiced makes it easier to recall.

So, when a Salsa move is learned to a medium tempo music, it can be harder to recall the move while dancing to very slow music.  How many dance teachers have you seen try to illustrate a move slowly because that makes the action clearer, but then they pause and remark, "I can't do it slowly"?  In truth, sometimes the momentum of the movement helps make the action possible.  But in addition, slowing something down, means to run it differently than the way it was memorized.  A dancer has to know a move very well to do that. 

Moreover, knowing something is not an all or nothing proposition.  Students often make the mistake of thinking they know something after the first time they do it correctly.  But, particularly for physical skills, that is just the first level of "knowing."  The next week they may not recall the dance move, and have to re-learn.  And this happens many times before something is learned really well---to the point where it can be done cold with full recall, at any tempo, dancing with an experienced dancer or a beginner, etc, etc.  When a move can be done in all those conditions, then it has really be learned.

This concept is helpful to understand in all endeavors.  For one thing, it keeps us humble.  We know that whatever we learn can generally be learned better, understood more deeply, and executed more smoothly, with continued practice.  And the willingness to drill and practice a rote skill says something beautiful about the sheer joy that is gained from the drills.  This is what musicians who practices playing scales are doing.  The drill enhances our skill, deepens our understanding, and ultimately is done for the sheer joy of the practice.  When someone learns something and can achieve this outlook, they will become a master of their art.

I have to say that as a dance teacher who teaches by chanting the action of a move rhythmically, Akeelah's "gimmick" of jumping and spelling in rhythm, really moved me.   The videos below are heart-warming….and brilliant!

32.  This father-daughter wedding dance is great!

33.  Finding a way to have fun during hard times is a great skill..... There was a video up that was removed, but it showed a woman dancing wildly and joyfullly with the hospital staff right before she was to go under anesthesia to have an operation to remove a cancerous breast.  It was inspiring--showing that courage and even joy can be found in stressful situations. 

34.  And here is a wedding dance that is essentially the same as a scene from Dirty Dancing with Patrick Swayze:

 35.  Dance Routine Used in Protest March.....
In 2011, thousands of Chilean students demanding education reforms added a dramatic touch to their protest. They did a mass reenactment of Michael Jackson’s Thriller routine in front of the Chilean presidential palace. 
1.  This Latin American channel explains the protest and has some footage of the dance routine…   
2.  The video below captures a good shot of the Michael Jackson character in front of the dance group:  

36.  Musical basketballs
This link has a series of funny videos that you can search through.  Keep going forward until you see the musical basketball video. It is amazing.

37.  Babies and Children Dancing
This shows babies moving to music and this is a very talented little girl doing some serious hip hop: .  These are priceless.

38.  Does How You Walk Make You A Victim?
On Nov 5th, an article came out linking how someone moves to criminals' perception of how easy that person would be to victimize.  Criminals in prisons were asked to watch videos of people walking and rate who would make an easy victim.... Professional dancers were then asked to use the Laban Movement Analysis Method (a way of studying movement) to determine how coordinated the people in the video were.    Those who moved slightly awkwardly were rated as easier targets of crime---and more likely to be mugged! 

39.  Check out these amazing kids dancing!

40.  Here is a video showing a man putting his pants on with out using his hands…really funny!

41.  In this video, we see how a dad manages his daughter’s hairstyle in 17 seconds:

42. Parent Alert:  Funny video about getting ready to go back to school:

43.  A few funny videos: unique cop’s driving test  hilarious effort to move athletes in a stretcher   This is a hip hop video that is very cool

44.  And here is another wedding dance, complete with videos from the couple's coaching sessions! 

45.  Check out this incredible dance video on a subway platform.  It is amazing and unique: 

45.  Don't miss this hilarious video of TV personality Conan, learning to do Cuban Salsa and Cuban Rumba on a visit to Cuba: