Monday, January 14, 2013

What Rhapsody Means to Me: Rapture

Fran & Rich Cooperwasser
Essay Contest to Celebrate Rhapsody’s 20th Anniversary

Honorable Mention Winner: Fran Cooperwasser
Her Mom, Rose, always urged her and her husband, Rich, to go to Rhapsody Ballroom, a place she loved to go, but fuddy duddy music and an older crowd filled her imagination.

“Who’d want to go to the same place her mom goes, anyway,” she thought. However, it was a tempting idea since she and Rich loved dancing.

One day, losing her direction, she drove past a large sign that said “Rhapsody Ballroom!” An omen?? She turned around to check it out. Wow, was she impressed! She saw a big, beautiful, wooden dance floor, and on it a teacher instructing a large class. Not only was the music upbeat, but surprisingly the class was a mixture of all ages!

Well, from that day forward, she may have been lost, but was certainly found!!

Their first appearance on a Wednesday gave Rose such joy! They were proudly introduced to all her friends, and over time, everyone became like a second family to them. That was their first blessing – how great is more love in your life?

Rhapsody broadened their knowledge of dance and music, adding to their repertoire. How fortunate that Rhapsody was so close and so reasonably priced as well!

“Who are such generous owners?” she wondered. When she met them, Richard and Laurie Collett, she then realized why Rhapsody was thriving and now celebrating 20 years!!

Yes, the Rapture of Rhapsody, where you can exercise with excitement and creativity, meet with loving friends, hear terrific music, learn from expert instructors, and pay reasonable prices. Best of all for her, this was not only a place to share an activity with her husband but with her 91-year-old mom, Rose!

What was she thinking? How fortunate she is to still have her mom in her life and share with her this little slice of heaven called Rhapsody! How lucky is a mother and daughter dancing away the night with fun and laughter, making their bond only stronger?

She’s lovin’ all that Rhapsody has given her and…that she…is me.

by Fran Cooperwasser

Monday, January 7, 2013

Jump, Jive an’ Wail – Florida Orchestra Review

Minn Vo & Stephanie Klausman

Swinging into the New Year with the lively music and dancing of Jump, Jive an’ Wail was an auspicious beginning to 2013! Guest conductor Victor Vanacore entertained us with several of his own unique arrangements of swing and big band standards, not to mention with his light-hearted banter. 

Something’s Coming Blues, based on the song from West Side Story, was one of my personal favorites, along with Over the Rainbow and Great American Blues (Bassie Salute).

The orchestral blend added new life and richness to old favorites – I was pleasantly surprised at the incongruous Viennese Waltz string section in Take the A Train! On the other hand, the classic Opus One failed to get my toes tapping, perhaps because the tempo seemed a bit draggy for a jive.

Both solo sax artists were exceptional, as was the drummer, Vanacore’s son, He was the heartbeat of every song, pumping the life blood of rhythm into each orchestral piece.

But of course, the centerpiece of the evening was the dance team of Minn Vo and Stephanie Klausman. This pair, known for their authentic period stylings of dances from the swing era, shed new light on the distinctive characteristics of each dance. In today’s world of social and even competitive ballroom, there is a tendency for dancers to do the same family of swing or fox trot steps regardless of the music being played.

Not so with Minn and Stephanie, who danced a beautifully synchronized, true fox trot with a series of hops in closed hold that fit perfectly to the tempo and light-hearted feel of Almost Like Being in Love. Big band arrangements of songs like these are usually too fast for an American style or standard fox trot, yet too slow for a quickstep. Although this type of choreography is seldom seen any more on the ballroom dance scene, it would be a useful addition to the social dance curriculum for venues featuring big band and Swing Era music.

Also enhancing the orchestra were Minn and Stephanie’s renditions of Charleston, Lindy Hop, and West Coast swing. All in all, Jump, Jive an’ Wail gave us a glimpse back into the legendary era of swing and made for a delightful evening. 

© 2013 Laurie Collett

Sunday, December 30, 2012

What Rhapsody Ballroom Means to Me: Transformed

Egland & husband Frank Sliwa at Rhapsody

Essay Contest to Celebrate Rhapsody’s 20th Anniversary
Grand Prize Winner: Egland L. Alfaro Roman (Egland Sliwa)

There are few moments in life when we are able to say that we have experienced some ecstasy in our lives. It is hard to remember sometimes how long the rapture will last in our lives; yet we are always searching for joy in one way or another. 

Paradoxically, we can travel only a few miles, and actually have great joy in a place such as Rhapsody Ballroom.

The first day I entered Rhapsody Ballroom, I was welcomed with a loving smile and a wise bit of advice, “Smile and never say no.”  Since then, I have found myself smiling and never saying no to a dance or two. This place has seen me grow as dancer and as a person. I have lived moments of sadness, like the loss of my father; and I have experienced moments of happiness such as my marriage, and the blessing of good friendships.

But no matter what is going on in my life, I know that when I set foot in Rhapsody Ballroom, I am there to receive the blessing of dancing, the gift of a smile, the ecstasy of knowing that God lives in my heart and that every movement I do, I do it with and for Him. In Rhapsody Ballroom, I have cried; I have loved; I have learned that there is good and bad, but most of all I have lived and learned that dance is a celebration of life.

The owners, Richard and Laurie Collett, by the way they reflect the rhapsody in their faces, a rhapsody that combines the ecstasy of God’s love and the joy of dancing, are definitely an inspiration to all of us. Thank you very much to them and for giving such an appropriate name to a ballroom where so many lives are being transformed.

by Egland L. Alfaro Roman

Egland & Edie D'Oliveira, volunteers at MidSummer Dance Classic