Dance the Night Away

I’e discovered a new venue for dancing. Last week I wrote about the Red Dress Dance at the Spanish Ballroom at Glen Echo Park. What a beautiful space with tall ceilings, a large stage for a big orchestra, and beautiful wood floors for doing everyting from the Lindy hop to a waltz. The only drawback was it was very cold. The temperature was only in the 50s and some of the ladies were wearing gowns held up with spaghetti straps. Oh those cold shoulders. I never took off my sweater. It is just too expensive to heat such a large open building. To stay warm, my husband Peter and I just kept dancing for three hours straight. We were even dancing to the taped music when the band went on break. Towards the end of the month I hope to be back there again. Here’s some of what they have scheduled.
All Things Blues Dance
Friday, February 25, 2011 – 8:00pm – midnight
in the Ballroom Annex
Admission: $10 before 9pm; $8 after 9pm
Swing Dance
The next evening return to dance again to the wonderful sound of the Tom Cunningham Orchestra from 8:00 p.m. to midnight, In the Spanish Ballroom, admission is $15.
And on Sunday afternoon there is a tea dance!
Join the Hot Society Orchestra of Washington for an afternoon of dancing, featuring music and dances from the 20s, 30s and 40s. Dancers will enjoy foxtrot, two-step, waltz, cha-cha, rhumba, swing and more in the Spanish Ballroom. A basic dance lesson at 3 pm for all levels is followed by dancing to wonderful live music from 3:30 – 6:00 pm. This month’s dance lesson is the basic Rhumba provided by professional dance instructors from Dushor Dance Studios. Admission includes the lesson. No partner or prior experience needed.


Dancing Date in Red

Our top story on the What’s Up? website is all about “Dancing Dates” and a quick look around the region for dances this weekend caused me to zero in on Glen Echo in Montgomery County managed by the National Park Service. The location of a number of weekly dancing events, on Saturday night February 12th they are having a “Swing Dance and Red Dress Ball” from 8:00pm – midnight, presented by Flying Feet Enterprises in the
Spanish Ballroom. Admission is $15. If you need some brushing up on your dance technique they will start off the evening with a beginning swing lesson from 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm, and then the Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra (complete with a romantic male crooner) will take the stage for your dancing pleasure until midnight. Ideally all ladies should wear a red dress. If you don’t own a red dress for dancing, perhaps some red shoes or a red rose behind the ear will do! While the picture I selected shows a Flamingo Dancer, inspired by the location of the Spanish Ballroom, more appropriate would be attire reminiscent of the 1940s,50s, and 60s. A full skirt that swings is always fun to wear when you are dancing the jitterbug. At any rate, the Red Dance Ball sounds like fun, so that is where I’m planning to be on Saturday night with my valentine. Happy V-day.

Van Gogh in Annapolis and Mardi Gras on the Horizon

Tonight I’m going to the premiere performance of Inventing Van Gogh and I’m excited about seeing it this play, because I really enjoyed Shooting Star by the same playwright Steven Dietz currently being performed at Everyman Theatre in Baltimore. You can read my review on the What’s Up Website.
Inventing Van Gogh. playing at Colonial Players, deals with the question of what is unique in the world of Art and does the “Master” overshadow his creation. I’ll be posting my review of the performance on Monday. But if you don’t want to wait until the reviews are published, the second ticket is half price when you go with a friend this weekend as well as on the evening of February 13th. Call their box office at 410-268-7373.
Saturday night there is a Mardi Gras benefit for Opportunity Builders a wonderful organization that provides work opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities by providing vocational training, employment services, recreational activities and support services. Tickets are $50, include a buffet dinner and silent auciton.
If you are looking ahead as far as making plans, The Mardi Gras Gala to benefit the Arts Council is coming up on February 19th and it is a glamourous and festive evening at the Loew’s Hotel downtown. Just think, if you don’t get around to celebrating Valentine’s Day on Monday the 14th, you can wait until Saturday the 19th. Tickets are $150 each and include dinner, drinks. dancing, and a silent auction ALL to Benefit Arts and Historical Preservation groups in Anne Arundel County. Visit their website You can dress in formal attire, a costume, and/or wear a mask! It may be cold out, but we’ve got a lot of fun things to do.

Annapolis is Lucky to Have Brian Ganz

Brian Ganz in performance
The first time I ever heard Brian Ganz play the piano was at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis, where I am a member, and I knew I was hearing something special. Many talented musicians are members of the congregation and give freely of their time to perform as part of morning services and to also accompany hymns, but when Brian’s fingers touched the piano keys, the percussive stringed instrument began to sing. The phrasing of the notes, the pressure on the keys, and soulfulness of whatever piece he was playing told me a story. I was in love. I immediately wanted to know who was this pianist and when was he going to play again.
Over the years, Brian has treated the UUCA to concerts raising money for a variety of causes and he has been accompanist for The All Children’s Chorus, and the last half of 2010 he filled in as accompanist for the UUCA choir (too bad I’ve had to drop out of the choir due to lack of time to attend rehearsals). He does this all in addition to his teaching posts at St. Mary’s College, Peabody Conservatory, and his regional concert performances.
Now Brian has embarked on a new endeavor–performing ALL the piano works of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849) within a ten year period. He got off to a good start this past Saturday evening at The Strathmore in North Bethesda. Pairing early works (some written by Chopin at the tender age of seven) with mature works in the same musical form. While he began with Waltz in E Major, written when Chopin was 19, and paired it with Waltz in E-flat Major, Opus 18, written just two years later; later in the performance he moved on to the Polonaises in G minor and B-flat Major written when he was seven and paired it was Polonaise in A-flat Major, Opus 53, written when he was 33.
Brian took a great deal of time, in between pieces, to share his knowledge with the audience. While some may have found this annoying, I enjoyed learning more about what I was going to hear. His next performance at The Strathmore, with the National Philharmonic, will be the Grieg Piano Concerto on March 12th. Take note that all children attend National Philharmonic concerts for free. As for another Chopin concert, you’ll have to wait until February 2012. Remember that everything is committed to memory, and it has to be exquisite. Read more about the Chopin project on our website.

Arts Council Annie Awards Start New Decade

The Eleventh Annual Annie Awards took place last night at the Severn School in Severna Park. Created and produced by the Anne Arundel County Arts Council, the awards endeavor to highlight and support the achievements of local arts patrons, educators, performers, writers, and artists. One category sadly missing, is one to credit the work of historians and preservationists in our county rich with colonial era history. That omission was remedied last night when Donna Ware, current Executive Director of Historic Londontown and Gardens was given the lifetime achievement award. I have Donna’s book,Anne Arundel’s Legacy, The Historic Properties of Anne Arundel County on my bookshelf and I still consult it often, even if I don’t have as much time as I once did to write on historical subjects. Donna has many accomplishments, too numerous to list in this blog, but looks to young to be honored for “lifetime achievement” since she is still vitally active in her field and has many working years ahead of her. But, she greatfully accepted her award and the honor, as did all of this year’s winners, who each had meaningful and entertaining remarks to share with the audience.
Having been a past and founding member of the Annies Committee for nine years, and a recipient (in the literary category) last year, it was a treat to sit back this year in the auditorium and be an observer. I was impressed by the number of sponsors, including the providers of food and drink, and the large attendence. Particularly moving, and remarked upon by many afterwards, was the poem read by this year’s Literary Annie recipient, poet Temple Cone, an Annapolis resident who teaches literature at the U.S. Naval Academy. I longed for more sharing of the various winners’ talents as part of the entertainment and slideshow. But maybe next year. Well done work, Arts Council and Annie Committee. When we get all the photos, we’ll post them online at But until then, mark your calendars for their Bag Lady luncheon and Sale next month, Sunday November 7th at the Loews Hotel. You’ll probably see some Annie winners there!