Monday, March 01, 2004

So, I failed to blog about Viennese Ball. No more! For those of you who are curious, it was fabulous.

Opening went really well. I was particularly glad that the actual performances went well, since the floor was very slippery (as advertised) and we didn't have the nice defining lines of the marley to work from. Also, I had phenomenal partners. Dancing with them was way fun. And even the waltz went well, I'd say, which I was relieved about because while I could do the polka in my sleep, I could only do the waltz when I wasn't distracted. This was not a function of my partner, just a function of time: the length of the waltz choreography meant that it was encoded in my head as three distinct parts, and I simply wasn't able to stitch them together seamlessly in time for the ball. That meant that I might actually make mistakes during the waltz, and that would be bad, because, you know, I wanted to be a good partner for Esther Selene.

Opening in general was just really good this year. I really liked the choreography that Shanah, Rose, and Eeyore came up with, and I really liked the folks I got to dance with, both my partners specifically and the members of the committee generally. Additionally - and I think this is what made it particularly so fun for me - I felt like Opening was very well led. The teaching was good and I felt like our choreographers worked well together. From my perspective at least logistics were very well taken care of. I was also quite pleased with discipline during rehearsals. I felt like it served its proper role: namely, reminding us all that it was important to us not to fail our choreographers. When that happens you know something has gone right.

And after the Opening performance I had a really good time. For a while there I was sort of afraid that I'd spend the entire time saying to people, "Oh, hi! I didn't know you were here! I really like your dress, are you having a good time?" and watching performances. Now, don't get me wrong, I like seeing people at dance events and I really did think people looked good in their formalwear (I love dressing up for events like that), and I saw some very good performances. But, you know, dancing. Fortunately I think Esther was either feeling the same way and/or noticed that I was, and we got a decent amount of dancing in.

I really like dancing with Esther. I like dancing with Stanford girls in general, partially because the Dance Master has imparted to this crowd his passionate love of partnering, and partially because people up here think that acceleration, and especially centripetal acceleration, is key to a lot of dances (this is not the case everywhere, as I learned last summer). But there are some girls I really like dancing with, and Esther is one of them. Partially of course that's because, you know, I like her in other ways. But I also feel remarkably comfortable dancing with her, which I consider noteworthy given that in my estimation she is both flashier and more accomplished than I am on the dance floor. I also tend to feel more adventurous with her than normal - in terms of improvising figures, sure, but also in terms of timing and footwork. Hopefully I don't feel so adventurous as to be annoying, but from my perspective at least that all makes dancing with her a lot of fun. Of course she doesn't schottische, but that's okay, because I don't really do salsa. Anyway I felt like we had a very good time dancing and just sort of floating along (Viennese is like scuba diving; the key to having a good time is to just relax). We didn't get to dance the last dance together, but that was okay because she had promised someone a dance and that was the last one, and it is good to honor that sort of thing when at all possible. Also at the last minute they changed the last waltz from Erin Shore to something else, and I thought that was a nice sort of thing for God to contrive. That made me feel very special.

In addition to fun dancing, there were two performances which stuck out in my mind as particularly worthwhile. The performances are one of the things about Viennese that can annoy me the most, because they fly pretty thick, and sometimes I feel like they break up the dancing unnecessarily. Generally speaking I felt like the performances this year were worth watching, but two especially so. One was the Alaskan and her two male cohorts performing their Martial Arts Tango. I saw that last year of course, and it was good back then, but clearly rough. This was not. This was way cool. Way cool fails to describe it, but I'm afraid I lack the technical vocabulary to provide a more adequate picture. Suffice it to say that the Alaskan has surprising depths of allure that she can draw on when the performance context calls for it, the choreography has been vastly improved (over something which was already way, way cool), and the actual performance was jaw dropping. The other performance I saw that was especially memorable was Swingtime's. I always like watching Swingtime perform but I felt like at the ball they were really at the top of their game (ironic given that one of their dancers really hurt his knee during the aforesaid Martial Arts Tango). Their new solos were really good, and there was just a lot of panache and energy to their dancing. They were really, really good.

This might be the last ball on this scale for a while; I don't know. I hope not - we lost something like $11,000 owing to a nonsensical constitutional provision and a certain newspaper editor's stupidity or vindictiveness; I'm not sure which. It doesn't seem to me like $11,000 would be impossible to raise - I mean, I think if you asked people whether they'd rather have the Ball in Roble (i.e., Jammix in tails) or pay $20 to have it at the Hyatt Regency in Burlingame, most people would opt for the extra ticket price. But I don't really know much about it; I'm not close to the financial situation at all. If this was the last ball on this scale for the forseeable future, though, it was a good one.

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