Old California Dance
Jim Letchworth
Sunday, June 10, 2012, 1:00pm
Dance 3 -- The South Gym

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 Waltz Jota?

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 century 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 times: they got out on the dance floor and had fun!