I have been the dancemaster
for the annual San Juan Bautista Ball for close to twenty-five years.
Here, we have developed a repertoire of Old California dances,
many from the Spanish and Mexican periods and some with decidedly American
and Western European influences. These simple, fun dances are not danced enough.
My wife, Marilyn, has been my charming assistant for at least the last fifteen
years. We have outlasted several bands. For the last five years or so we have
worked with Rachael Bennett and “Legacy” who will join us for the
Miners’ Ball in Placerville in May 2008. We will also have a couple of
challenging dances for this knowledgeable crowd. Have you ever danced the California
Coming from the point of
view of an improvisational actor rather than a dance
teacher, my focus has been more on the “big picture”, the atmosphere.
When I look out across the dance floor, I am more interested in seeing smiling
faces than perfect feet. As much as I enjoy those perfect feet, it is the social
success that I seek. When people are not smiling, I feel I am not doing my
job. This is especially true when trying to recreate the feeling of a nineteenth
ball for a twenty-first century audience. I want the dancers to think about
their great, great, grandparents and the people who lived and danced in those
they got out on the dance floor and had fun!