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There Is No Place Like Home - 060615

There is no place like home. ~ Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz
All you can take with you, is that which you have given away. ~ from the movie "It's A Wonderful Life"
Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be. ~ Jose Ortega y Gasset, 1883-1955, Spanish Philosopher

Sunday night, I went Israeli Dancing in North Miami Beach. This is my old group, one of my favorite groups, and one of the top groups in the United States. They have a great turnout, great facility wonderful leaders and great dancers. It was a joy for me to see so many old friends and acquaintances and to spend the evening dancing with so many people.

At the same time, you were dancing in Gainesville, and I thought of you all and missed our little group.

There are some very special things about our tiny group that you should be proud of, and that are very noticeable dancing elsewhere, and I want tell you about some of them.

In Miami, most of the experienced dancers show up between 8:30 and 9, or later. Beginners show up between 7:30 and 8, which is when I got there. Most people dance for an hour and a half to two and a half hours. In our group, some of us dance from 7 to 11, and many for two to three hours or more.

During their beginner time, every dance they did, were ones we do, Gvanim, Aveinu Shalom Aleichem, Al Kanfei Hakesef, and the like. Only thing is, they do not dance as group. Everyone does the dance independently, and let me tell you, these are not the same dances that way. Aveinu Shalom Aleichem without hands on shoulders? We would not recognize it. And, following Jonathan's incomparable lead of Mocher Prachim, with the bandana, and the billowy shirt and pants, and the flying legs, winding our line around in who knows what direction, is, well, more fun.

Plus all the other dances we do together; we have a really nice comaraderie and connection with our whole group that is not common place.

They did two couple sets. One for five dances in the middle of the evening and another for an hour at the end of the evening. I was lucky to have two great partners, who have been dancing forever and know all the dances. Normally you have one partner the whole night, if you are lucky enough to have a partner, but I wanted to be more sociable, so I only committed to a partner for one set at a time.

Not everyone had a partner, and so a number of people had to sit out during the partner set in the middle, and leave early when the long partner set at the end started. As you know, because we rotate partners every dance, everyone gets to enjoy the partner dances equally, and we all get to dance with one another. Personally, I think our system is much more sociable.

Something else you should congratulate yourselves on is how well you dance the partner dances. As great dancers as both of these women are, and as much as I like to dance with them, it is easier and more of pleasure to dance with all of you.

You all know I have a shoulder injury, and by the end of the evening, my shoulder was aching and I could hardly lift my arm.

They do not have a good system for partner dancing. They have no rules or conventions on how to dance with one another. They teach people the dances, but they do not teach people how to dance with a partner. There is no lead and follow.

There is a constant, underlying struggle going on between the two people. Even when both people know the dance, there is a strain communicating exactly when and what to do. No one remembers every step and executes every step of every dance perfectly, so as soon as anything is the slightest bit out of whack, a micro-wrestling match commences.

For the most part (my little disclaimer), in my opinion: every one of you, in about a year, has learned how to dance with a partner better than many, more experienced dancers at the most experienced group.

You are all easier and more of a pleasure to dance with, than people who have been dancing 10 or 20 times as long. You continue to improve, because you are learning how to dance, not just choreography. You are also able to do more things, such as following dances you do not know, responding to improvisations, dancing with a partner who does not know a dance, dancing well with different people, keeping dancing even when your partner makes mistakes, and generally making a better connection with your partner, with more fluidity and comfort, and without strain.

Of course, I like the way our group does things, because I am in charge and do things the way I like. I hope, you like the way we do things too.

There is no place like home.

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