Lit 'N Latin Lunch

Help. I’ll usually find an intriguing-looking book on a blog or at a bookstore, then order it online at NYPL and have it delivered to my local branch. It often takes a matter of weeks, sometimes even months, to arrive, but somehow this time they all came in at once. I now have two weeks to read all these books, and I’m still only about half-way through the Kavanagh.

Anyway, the book on the bottom left, The Epicure’s Lament, is not an NYPL order, it was actually just given to me by my friend, Dee, when I met her for drinks Saturday night. She was raving on and on about the author, Kate Christensen, whom I hadn’t read. Now, I see that today, one of my new favorite lit bloggers, Maud Newton (whom Terry Teachout led me to) has posted a short interview with the author. Funny, Dee actually told me she likes Maud too (though my friend never reads my blog! It’s okay, she’s not a dancie… 🙂 )

The book in the top middle is a collection of Laura Jacobs’s dance writings from The New Criterion. I think it’s such a lovely title, “Landscape With Moving Figures,” because that’s one really nice way of looking at dance: a painting, but one with moving instead of still figures. I was led to the book after a dance writer friend pointed out to me, regarding a recent ranting post of mine, that a NYTimes review just can’t be compared to the longer, in-depth articles the New Criterion allows. So, I decided to check out those articles. Will post more as I read along, but so far am really enjoying it. Her prose is very poetic and it really immerses you in the world of dance; she calls the arabesques of the great dancers “more than a pose … a phenomenon…”

Last night I went to Dance Times Square‘s biannual pro / am showcase, at the Danny Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College. It was sadly Pasha and Anya-less, although maybe I shouldn’t be too sad: if Pasha was still there, I’d be spending loads more money that I don’t have on exorbitant privates. Happily, though, there were some new teachers, lots of new students (and a lot more men, which is great to see since ballroom classes are usually quite women-heavy), and some really cute routines Tony and Melanie designed that perfectly showcased the students’ varying levels of ability. In the pro section, Jose DeCamps and Joanna Zacharewicz, the new national Rhythm champs, performed a couple of fast fun Latin routines, likely in Pasha & Anya’s stead. I’m sad that Andrei Gavriline, former U.S. Latin champ, is no longer teaching at the studio, because it was always hugely exciting to see him and his partner, Elena Kruychkova, perform. There were a lot more people in the audience than before, likely because of Tony and Melanie’s now regular stints on So You Think You Can Dance (people behind us were definitely new to the showcase as they kept saying things like, “yep, yep, that’s her, that’s the one that danced with Pasha on the show!”), so it seems to me this is a great opportunity for all the ballroom pros to be seen by a larger audience than just the regular dancesport fanatics (like me). I know they’ve been on Dancing With the Stars before, but that show just doesn’t highlight the professional dancers so much. Now they’re having Jennifer Lopez on tomorrow night. She’s not a dancer. I knew continuing the streak of Savion Glover-caliber results-show performers throughout the season was too much to expect.

Speaking of that show: I found it very frightening when Marie Osmond fainted. Ridiculously, I was sitting there on the edge of my couch all throughout the commercials waiting and waiting to see what happened. Right before the show returned, I realized I was watching a tape and could have hit fast-forward. I’m glad it was nothing. I was very annoyed how the judges were harping so on Helio. I thought his rhumba was so cute, so sexy in its own charming way. Why can’t a smile be sexy? And why can’t rhumba be romantic or beautiful or soft and sweetly lyrical instead of some kind of lust-filled mating dance where everyone has to make goofy sex faces at each other? It’s just not natural for some people; let them be themselves. And that car, that car, THAT CAR 😀 I still worry about him getting hurt, but when he pulled up in that thing to scoop Juliana Hough off to the beach…ooh la la! Also, Mark Ballas is starting to annoy me. He’s such a show-off, doing all those cork-screw jumps and high kicks and snake dive things all over the floor while his partner dances by herself. A ballroom man is supposed to be the frame, not the picture, or the picture and the frame. And it’s just my pet peeve when pro men out-dance their female students like that. I was so glad when he went to do some crazy trick and the camera homed in on Sabrina. Thank you, camera man.

Okay, that’s all for now. Sorry this post is so all over the place.


  1. Haha, I remember abandoning my seat halfway up the rear mezz for the very last row, and doing exactly what you did on one of my first visits to City Center! The first and last rows are the only ones with any view at all in the rear mezz.

    Glad to hear that ABT opened with a bang, I’m going tonight.

  2. Tonya,

    Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your thoughtful commentary on all forms of dance. I agree with you about Mark Ballas, and am glad that someone is pointing that out. He just bugs me, both for the reason that you mentioned, and because he seems to mention so frequently who his parents are in the ballroom world, instead of telling or showing us who HE is. It feels like name dropping to me, and it makes me bristle. Keep up the good work!

  3. Hi Susan! — funny you had the same idea. I never thought of it. Have fun tonight!

    Hi Sharon — thanks for commenting! And thank you so much for the nice compliment 😀 I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that about Mark. Yeah, he does talk a lot about his parents — they are rather huge in the ballroom world, but 99% of people watching the show don’t know that, and even so, you’ve still got to stand on your own two feet.

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