When I was a girl, my mother took me to the ballet. She didn’t take me to the typical “first ballet” for kids — Nutcracker Suite — which mommies take their little girls to see. Instead, she took me to the New York City Ballet Company, while Balanchine was still its choreographer.

It was magic. Extreme magic. I left the theater sure I’d found my future. All I needed were a few lessons, a pair of those cool ballet slippers and I could leap and twirl on my tiptoes, just like the stars at the ballet.

I had not accounted for the klutz factor. I was young and sure that wanting it badly enough would make it happen.

Sadly, I had no talent for dance. It wasn’t for lack of trying. I had a go at ballet, tap, jazz — even belly dancing. All had the same results, yet somehow,  I survived the disappointment.

I was simultaneously coping with the realization I was not going to become a cowboy, either.

For one thing, I wasn’t a boy. For a second thing, I was living in New York, didn’t own a horse, wasn’t likely to ever own a horse and pretending the fence rail was a horse was not going work out long-term.

For anyone who likes dance … even if you don’t … check out the  delicious parody of classical ballet from the original Disney “Fantasia.” No matter how many times I see it, it always makes me laugh. You have to love hippos in tutus.


Hot Summer Dancing, by Rich Paschall

Summer is in full swing, just like your dance moves.  The nights are hot and the days are sweltering.  We can tell by the sweat running down your flushed face that you are not just a Hot Child in the City, but that you have the Dance Fever.  It happens to many so do not be five alarmed.  In The Heat of the Night, you just have to get up and move.  We are not handing you a Hot Line, just our top ten HOT dance tunes.

If our last top ten list of Dance Songs did not get you out of your chair, we think these will do it.  They are hot, really hot.  In fact, they are so hot all the titles tell you so.  Yes, they all have heat (or fire) in the title.  Since you have heat in your shoes, get up and bust a move to these dance tunes. Click on any song title for the song and video, or get the entire playlist at the end.

10.  Hot Blooded, Foreigner.  Sometimes dancing is not enough in the 1978 hit.  “Well, I’m hot-blooded, check it and see / I got a fever of a hundred and three / Come on baby, do you do more than dance?”  The single sold more than a million copies and also appeared on the Double Vision album.

09. Heat Wave, Martha and the Vandellas.  There are many hot versions of this song, especially this one by Linda Ronstadt, but we thought it was best to go with this Classic version by Martha Reeves.  The 1963 release went to number one.  Yes, it was a hot hit.

08. Just Like Fire, Pink.  “Just like fire, burning out the way / If I can light the world up for just one day / Watch this madness, colorful charade / No one can be just like me any way.” And no one can be just like you on the dance floor.  Get up and groove to this 2016 pop hit.

07. Heat of the Moment, Asia.  This was a 1982 hit for the alternative rock group.  “It was the heat of the moment /Telling me what your heart meant /The heat of the moment shone in your eyes.”

06. Hot Fun In The Summertime, Sly and the Family Stone.   We can see that you are starting to pant, so it is time to slow the playlist down for a couple of songs before we have a scorching hot finish.  This 1969 hit added a bit of funk and a bit of soul to the hot tune.

05. Too Hot, Kool and the Gang. The smooth 1979 R&B hit should add some soul to your step.  “Oh it’s too hot, too hot, lady / Gotta run for shelter / Gotta run for shade.”

04. Hot Stuff, Donna Summer.  By 1979 the disco queen was rocking up the tempo with this single from her seventh studio album, Bad Girls.  “How’s ’bout some hot stuff, baby this evenin’ / I need some hot stuff baby tonight.”

03. Hot, Hot, Hot, Buster Poindexter.  This infectious dance tune got an over-the-top performance in 1987 by singer David Johansen as Poindexter.  It will add a bit of calypso to your dancing feet.

02. The Heat Is On, Glenn Frey.  This tune was recorded for the 1984 movie Beverly Hills Cop.  It received a Grammy nomination for Frey and a lot of air play.  The music video was very popular in the early days of MTV.  “The heat is on (flames are burning higher) / The heat is on (baby can’t you feel it) .”

01. Hotter Than Fire, Eric Saade.  The Swedish pop star scored so big with the 2011 dance tune that there were actually two official videos.  The first one featured pictures and graphics, while the second one had Saade dancing through many sets.  You might be cooler than ice, but your dance moves are Hotter Than Fire.

Play the entire hot playlist with Bonus tracks here.
Related: Can’t Stop The Feeling


Being at Karoun the other night and watching the amazing belly dancer brought back personal memories of my brief foray into belly dancing.

I am not much of a dancer. I didn’t usually humiliate myself too much as a kid, but no one was awestruck by my abilities. The Frug and the Pony? I could do them. I could even do a pretty good Lindy, though by the time I learned it, it was 20 years out of date. I badly wanted to dance. I took tap and ballet. There were worse kids in the class than me, but not many. I moved on to jazz where I wasn’t nearly as bad. But “not nearly as bad” is not anything like “good.”

I had dreamed of being a ballet dancer. Despite silly rumors that all you need to do to make it happen is “keep at it until you get it right,” I wasn’t going to be a ballet dancer. Or, as far as I could tell, even a moderately acceptable ballroom dancer.

As I hit my mid twenties, I found myself working for a couple of technical photography magazines … and one of my bosses taught belly dancing in her “off hours.”

Belly dancing. It wasn’t what I’d had it mind, but I was assured that I could do it. Not a lot of flying feet, air leaping and it was apparently okay if you were a little bit rounder than the average dancer. I figured … why not? I signed up.

It turned out I had a real knack for belly rolls and all the hip stuff. I could do a surprisingly good back bend and I just loved twiddling with the Zills, (zils), or finger cymbals, (from Turkish zil, “cymbals”). Those are the tiny metallic cymbals used by belly dancers and they make a delicious little miniature clanging sound.

I was having fun. Although I didn’t see myself morphing into a serious dancer, I was having a good time. I discovered there were more uses for belly dancing socially than I had ever imagined. Even for me who had only taken a few lessons. Men really like that hip movement.

Then, along came the shimmy. I knew from painful past experience I cannot shimmy. As a girl, all my friends could shimmy. I couldn’t and it wasn’t for lack of trying. My shoulders wouldn’t shake. My hips would shake. I could probably have done a full hula, but was hopeless at making my shoulders move. My instructor told me to try doing it sitting down. I made the chair shimmy, but not me.

I failed the shimmy.

Belly dancing had been my last hope for finding my place in the world of dance. Not long thereafter, I got more serious about learning to ride horseback. That went much better and although I never was ready for the Grand Prix, I became a reasonably good rider.

Watching the belly dancer the other night brought back all the memories. What startled me most was that this brilliant dancer — Melina really is brilliant — didn’t use a single shimmy in her long and extremely complex routine. It was all hips and belly rolls. So maybe I could have skipped the shimmying and moved ahead. I guess I’ll never know.

If you or anyone you know might be interested, Melina has a dance studio in which she teaches not only belly dancing, but acrobatics called the Daughters of the Rhea.

Additionally, she and her husband, Czech circus star Sacha Pavlata, direct the Moody Street Circus, a belly dance and circus studio for all ages in Waltham, MA. Moody Street Circus’s mission is to joyfully share the Pavlata family legacies of circus arts and belly dance to wonderful students of all ages, and to foster friendly community, strengthen bodies, hone skills, fuel joyous dreams and imagination, and promote positivity and fun. .


lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

The poem I’ve written below is based on the “Five Principles for Getting through the Trump Years,” given by Alice Walker in her speech at a reading in La Manzanilla, Mexico two nights ago on February 20, 2017. I was fortunate enough to be at that reading where she and four other excellent writers also talked about subjugation, prejudice, inequality, poverty and the importance of kindness, open-mindedness, acceptance and education in bringing our country to a better level of fairness to all.

I’ll talk about some of the other poets and storytellers who told their tales in a later post; but for today, and since it fit in with today’s prompt, here is my take on Ms. Walker’s wonderful talk.


Rhythm Method

You’ve got to listen to the beat.
Shake your booty, pound your feet.
If you want to survive the day,
the rhythm method is the way.
It’s been said by smarter folks than I
that it’s the way that we’ll get by
in times we think we won’t survive—
the way we stay fully alive
in spite of voters who were hazy
and voted in a man who’s crazy.

Instead of listening to his bleat,
until the time of his defeat,
first and foremost, kindness will
help us to swallow this bitter pill.
A close connection with nature might
help us stay strong in the fight.
Respect for all those elders who
just might be another hue:

native tribes or Africans
brought unwillingly as hands
to shore up our economy
and build a country for you and me
while they paid the awful fee
in poverty and slavery.
It’s time to set our people free!

Gratitude for human life,
both theirs and ours, will allay strife.
In times like these, less than enhancing,
“Hard times demand furious dancing!”
One wiser and more in the groove
than I am, says that we must “Move!”
James Cleveland sang “This too shall pass,”
Turn on his music and move your ass.

Thousands of people dance along
this wonderful old gospel song
in her mind’s eye and I agree.
While we are waiting, you and me,
for enough others to see the light
and step in line to wage the fight,
we have to keep the joy in us
in spite of this unholy fuss
that seeks to keep us frightened and
prisoners in our native land.

Instead of knives and swords and guns,
defeat the tyrant with jokes and puns.
Comedians will save the day
and keep us laughing on the way.
But in the mean time, move your feet.
Feel the rhythm. Feel the beat.
If this nation has a chance,
perhaps we’ll find it in the dance.

The quotations above are all from Alice Walker’s talk. In prose form, here again are her five principles for getting through the Trump years (or hopefully, months.)

1. Kindness, which can keep us going through these unkind times.

2. A close connection with nature.

3. Respect for our oldest biological ancestors including native Americans (specifically those at Standing Rock), Africans  (who survived the fierce physical brutality of slavery) and Europeans such as John Brown and Susan B. Anthony.

4.  ‘Move!  Hard times demand furious dancing.’ Reverend James Cleveland sang, “This too shall pass.”  Get a recording of it and dance to it! She has an image of thousands of people dancing to this wonderful gospel song.

5. Maintain gratitude for human life.

She ended by relating the importance of meditation, which she described as a means “to rediscover the blue sky that is our mind,” and by stating that one way we can overcome the constant bad news with which our oppressors drug us is to learn the bad news first from comedians. This, perhaps, is one way for us to get through this dark period in our history.

The prompt today was rhythmic.

Please read the original post on Judy Dykstra’s brilliant site: Rhythm Method



There’s rhythm and motion all around us. This week, capture some of it in a photo.


I participate in WordPress' Weekly Photo Challenge 2016
I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2016



BaryshnikovWhen I was a girl, my mother took me to the ballet. Not the classic Nutcracker Suite that mommies take their little girls to see, but the New York City Ballet Company, with Balanchine still at the helm. I left the theater  feeling light as a snowflake, sure that I’d found my future … that all I needed were a few lessons, a pair of those cool ballet slippers and I could leap and twirl on my tippy toes just like the stars at the ballet.

bolshoiI had not accounted for the klutz factor. I was very young and sure that wanting it badly enough would make it happen.

But, I had no talent for dance. I tried everything from ballet, through tap, to jazz and belly dancing — with the same results. I survived the disappointment.

For anyone who likes dance … even if you don’t … check out the  delicious parody of classical ballet from the “Fantasia.” No matter how many times I see it, it always makes me laugh. You have to love hippos in tutus.

If this doesn’t make you laugh, maybe you were replaced by a pod while you slept.


Margo Ballerina

Although I am currently a senior citizen with extensive arthritis, my life goals remain unchanged. I am planning to be a ballet dancer. Everyone tells me I should never abandon my dreams, no matter how hopeless, unrealistic, or just plain stupid. I figure I merely need a better walker.

Marilyn by Cherrie

When I was a girl, my mother took me to the New York City Ballet productions when George Balanchine was at the helm. I would leave the theater  feeling light as a snowflake, sure that I’d found my future. All I needed were a few lessons, a pair of those cool ballet slippers and I would leap and twirl on my toes into a golden future.

In between, I did a few other things, but we all know, because everyone tells us so, that anyone can be whatever they want. You just have to keep trying. You have to try and try and try until you succeed or die. Never give in, never give up. Never find something else at which you could be successful.

That’s why I’m sure I will eventually be a ballet dancer. Don’t laugh at me. I’m serious, here. Hey, you, I see you smirking …