David Bruce: Dance Anecdotes

Early in his career, tap dancer Gregory Hines used to watch tap master Teddy Hale perform three shows at the Cotton Club. He did one act for the first show, then a completely different act for the second show, and then a third show that was completely different from the first two shows. Mr. Hines marveled and thought, “That’s what I want to do. This is it! I don’t want to repeat the same routine night after night.” Of course, Mr. Hines did learn from masters. He once did a new and very hot step in his act, and the audience loved it and he felt great. About four years later, he saw an old Gene Kelly movie and Mr. Kelly did the exact same step, and Mr. Hines realized that he had seen that movie when he was in his late teens. Of course, although Mr. Hines has developed his own dance style, his dancing shows that he has been influenced by many other dance masters, He says, “I realized it only after watching a video of myself dancing, but I recognized flashes of all my teachers and dance influences.”

One of dancer Nick Florez’ biggest boosters was Sandra, his big sister. At age six, he loved to dance, and so Sandra, who was 14 and had no driver’s license, drove him to town from their chicken farm in Texas (the distance was too great to walk) and signed him up for dance lessons. Later, when Nick was 13, Sandra learned that the Chuck E. Cheese restaurants in Dallas were looking for children to dance in videos that the restaurants would show. She let Nick know about the opportunity, and he became one of the children to pass the audition. Nick said, “We filmed about eight videos. By the last ones, I was helping choreograph them. I’d make up some parts on my own and show them to the producers. They loved it.” Nick has danced on tour and in music videos for such stars as Janet Jackson, Jordan Knight, Selena, Smashmouth, Will Smith, Britney Spears, and others.

When Ruthanna Boris was a young dancer, she was second to Marie-Jeanne, who danced solos. One day, after complaining to her mother, she (and especially her mother) decided that she should ask choreographer George Balanchine for solos. She did, and she started crying. Mr. Balanchine told her, “Don’t cry, and don’t tell me what your mother wants. And don’t ask me for solos.” Then Mr. Balanchine, who Ms. Boris says spoke in parables, asked her, “Do you know how to make a Caesar salad?” For 30 minutes, he explained how to make a Caesar salad, starting with obtaining fresh ingredients. When he had finished instructing her, he said, “You see how long it takes and how much you have to know and how you have to work to make a Caesar salad?” He then said, “Now go away,” and let her contemplate what the parable had to say about learning to dance.

Russian bass Feodor Chaliapine studied under Professor Usatov, who was sometimes very severe and even hit him with his baton. In self-defence, Mr. Chaliapine sometimes stood behind the piano, which was close to the wall. Because Professor Usatov was stout, he was unable to get close enough to Mr. Chaliapine to hit him. One day, however, Professor Usatov was so angry that he shouted, “Come out of that, you young devil! Come out! I know your game!” Mr. Chaliapine came out, Professor Usatov beat him with his baton, then they continued the lesson. (Professor Usatov was actually very kind, giving Mr. Chaliapine voice lessons for free and even teaching him table manners.)

Merrill Ashley and other young students at the School for American Ballet were excited and nervous when George Balanchine gave them a class. Of course, they wondered if they would be able to do what he wanted. Very quickly, they found out that they had a lot to learn. He looked at them when he entered the room and announced, “Nobody knows how to stand.” Merrill thought, “We hadn’t done anything, and we were wrong already!” Mr. Balanchine taught them how to stand before he began to teach them how to dance: “Chest out, shoulders back, head high. Look awake and alive.”

When Maxim Beloserkovsky was a youth studying ballet in Ukraine before perestroika, he sometimes was able to watch bootlegged videos of such stars as Mikhail Baryshnikov who had defected from the Soviet Union. Because of the dancers’ defections, students weren’t supposed to watch these videos, but dance coaches sometimes showed a dance video of poor quality—because it had been copied so many times—to students and say, “Look how they do this movement.” Young Maxim would go home and marvel, “My God, I just watched Baryshnikov!”

Master choreographer George Balanchine worked much with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. Another ballerina, Maria Tallchief, understood why when she gave a dance class that Ms. Farrell attended. Ms. Farrell was a little unsteady while holding her leg out to the side, so Ms. Tallchief corrected her, saying that she could steady herself by raising her leg higher. Ms. Farrell immediately raised her leg—almost above her head. Ms. Tallchief was astonished: “Oh, my goodness, I thought at the time. Now I see. This is the material George wants to work with.”

Garth Fagan, the choreographer of the theatrical version of The Lion King, learned an important lesson from Martha Graham: “Do it till you get it right!” She requested that he simply walk across the floor. He did it 12 times before he realized that she wanted a walk that did not say, “LOOK AT ME! AREN’T I GORGEOUS!” When he did the walk correctly, Ms. Graham told him, “I think you’re going to go places.” As the head of his own dance troupe and as a Broadway choreographer, he did.

Dance is sometimes liturgical. At a Catholic Church, a young female dancer rhythmically moved down the aisle, then laid a lily at the bishop’s feet. The bishop joked to the pastor, “If she asks for your head on a platter, she can have it.”

© 2016, David Bruce, All Rights Reserved

David Bruce has written lots of collections of anecdotes, plus other books. Take a look at the list here:

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/david-bruce-books/

Most of the anecdotes are funny; some are thought provoking.

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Tay-Tay with a Strap-Strap-On-On

taytaygood

David Bruce has written lots of collections of anecdotes, plus other books. Take a look at the list here:

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Most of the anecdotes are funny; some are thought provoking.

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David Bruce: Anecdotes About Animals

All life on Earth is connected in a web. What happens to one species affects what happens to other species. For example, the dodo, a large, turkey-sized bird, is now extinct — there are no living dodos in the world. In 1507, Portuguese sailors discovered the small island of Mauritius in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The dodos lived only on that island, and they were plentiful there, but by 1680, the dodo had become extinct, in part because sailors and settlers killed them, but also because the pigs and monkeys that settlers introduced to the island ate the dodos’ eggs. All that remains of the dodo are a few drawings and paintings, and a skeleton or two. Three centuries after the dodo became extinct, people on Mauritius grew alarmed because there were no young Calvaria trees. In fact, the youngest Calvaria trees were 300 years old. Knowing that the dodo had become extinct 300 years ago, scientists theorized that the seed of the Calvaria tree had to pass through the gut of an animal before it would grow — enzymes in the animal help the seed to germinate. Previously, the dodos had performed that function, but now there were no dodos left and no other animals on the island were big enough to swallow the seeds. Therefore, the scientists fed Calvaria seeds to turkeys, and fortunately, after the seeds had passed through the gut of the turkeys, they began to germinate.

Canadian figure skater Toller Cranston once lived in a house in a very bad part of Toronto. On the street outside his house, prostitutes freely worked their trade. One day, Mr. Cranston’s pet dog, Minkus, an English setter, turned up missing. Mr. Cranston was frantic, and as he searched the neighborhood, he enlisted the help of every prostitute and every street person he could find. He remembers one Danish prostitute telling a john who tried to buy her wares, “I can’t. I’m looking for a dog,” as she teetered down an alley on stiletto heels. Eventually, the dog, which had been stolen, was found, and Mr. Cranston had a cocktail party for all the prostitutes and street people who had helped him in the search. At the party, all the guests — men and women — were on their best behavior, saying, “Can I pass this?” and “Can I wash that?” Even though the house was filled with works of art — Mr. Cranston is an artist and he was a collector — nothing was stolen.

Bob Denver once had a pygmy marmoset as a pet. She was only four inches tall and for food ate a grape a day. On a flight to LA, Mr. Denver put the box containing his pet in the overhead, then a man placed a box in the overhead. Mr. Denver rearranged the boxes so his pet could breathe, then the man rearranged the boxes. Mr. Denver rearranged the boxes again, then the man rearranged the boxes again. Finally, Mr. Denver said, “Listen, I have a tiny monkey in my box. I want to be sure she’s getting air.” The man said, “I’ve got three live Maine lobsters in my box, and I’ve got the same problem.” Fortunately, the two men were able to arrange the boxes in a way satisfactory to both.

Polar bears spend time each autumn on the western edge of Hudson Bay as they wait for the water to freeze solid. The town of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, is located there, and polar bears often walk right into town. While polar bears are in the area, none of the townspeople go out at night, and children are escorted to school by police officers to make sure they are safe. Tourists come to Churchill to see the polar bears — they can watch the polar bears from the safety of tundra buggies, which are vehicles the polar bears can’t get into.

Some animals are very good at mimicking human voices. A German woman once got on a train and put a cage in the luggage rack. Later, some other people joined her and started talking to her. During a pause in the conversation, a voice was heard coming from the luggage rack. The other people turned on the German woman and accused her of putting her child in the luggage rack. Smiling, the German woman reached into the luggage rack, took out the cage, and showed the other people the source of the voice — an African grey parrot.

When Irène Curie, the daughter of Nobel Prize-winners Pierre and Marie, was very young, a family friend named Eugénie Feytis took her to a natural science museum, where she saw the tooth of a mastodon. Irène asked Eugénie, “Have you ever seen a mammoth?” Eugénie replied, “No. The beast lived a long time ago.” Irène thought for a moment, and since she wanted an eyewitness account, she said, “Very well. I shall ask GrandPé.” (“GrandPé” was her grandfather.)

President John Adams enjoyed telling a story about a con man who sold flea powder. After some ladies had bought the flea powder, they asked the con man how to use it. He advised them to catch a flea, then pour the powder down its throat, and that would kill the flea. One of the ladies asked, “Since the flea is between your thumb and finger, why not squeeze it to death?” The con man gravely replied, “That would do as well.”

When world-class gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi defected from Romania to the United States, he worked like a dog to earn whatever money — usually very little — he could. Often, he and his wife, Martha, ate a pretzel as their food for the entire day. By the way, they did have a dog. The dog ate better than they did, as Mr. Karolyi would feed him table scraps he had gotten from the restaurant where he worked as a cleaner.

The voice of Chewbacca, a tall, furry character in the Star Wars movies, was created by combining the sounds made by a bear, a lizard, a seal, a tiger, and a walrus.

Basketball player Chris Mullen of the Golden State Warriors certainly loved his dog, Kuma — sometimes he even fixed Kuma hot meals.

© 2016, David Bruce, All Rights Reserved

David Bruce has written lots of collections of anecdotes, plus other books. Take a look at the list here:

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/david-bruce-books/

Most of the anecdotes are funny; some are thought provoking.

Download Romance eBooks by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)

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singh_sahil24:  What’s the Kindest Thing a Stranger has Done for You?

Here are some answers:

1) PolkaDancingPig wrote this:

“In June, my husband and I learned that his grandmother was dying. We were told to get home as soon as possible.

“He was 8 hours away, doing a training thing. He got home the next day, and we sped to the airport to try to make our flight. (It’s about a 12-hour drive from where we live to our hometown, so flying was the best option.)

“I learned the first flight was delayed, and we’d miss the connection. I got in line to talk to the agent, and the guy in front of me let me cut in front.

“By this point, I’m near tears. The agent told me there was nothing he could do. We rebooked the flight for the next morning, I lost it. The guy who let me cut in line told me there was another flight leaving and told me the terminal, and we ran as fast as we could to that gate.

“We made it, and the agent listened to our story. She asked us to sit down, and she’d find seats.

“She found us seats. We got there in time.

“She passed away early the next morning. If it wasn’t for those two people, we wouldn’t have made it.”

2) Onocentaurus wrote, “I have a few mental health issues, and am prone to bouts of brooding and staring into space when waging war on the demons in my head. I was sitting at a table outside of a grocery store at night waiting for a friend to get back to me about hanging out and happened to get lost in thought. I have the male equivalent of resting bitch face and as a large hairy mansquatch, I apparently can come off as quite intimidating. So here I am, in the dark, staring off into space when this adorable young woman, maybe 18 or so, walks by with a box of pizza. (She worked at the pizzeria.) She notices my 1000-yard stare and just stops. She looks at me, and without provocation [encouragement] says, ‘Hey, man. I don’t know what’s going on in your life right now, but pizza usually helps with anything. Please, have a slice. I got it for my family but you look like you could use a slice.’ And she handed me a slice of delicious and fresh pepperoni pizza. I was shocked, but managed to eek out a thank you and flash a nervous smile as she smiled and walked off. It was such a random and small act of kindness but with where I was in life at the time — it’s still one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. I’ll never forget that. Little things really can make a big impact. Whoever you are, pizza girl, I owe you one.”

3) Bmac977 wrote, “I was driving from Buffalo, NY, to my parent’s house on Long Island (about a 7-hour drive) on Thanksgiving day in 2003. I got a flat tire somewhere just before Binghamton, which was about half way. It wasn’t just a flat; the tire basically shredded. I was able to get a donut on there and limp into a nearby town, hoping beyond hope that something was open so I could change my tire. NOTHING was. I even stopped in a police station, and the cops basically told me I was screwed and that I should find someplace to stay the night. As I was driving around some more, the donut blew and I was on the rim. I left the car on the side of the road and just started walking to this house, hoping to use their phone to let my parents know. The elderly woman who lived there invited me into her home, let me use their phone, and then called her son who owned a used car lot. On Thanksgiving, this woman and her family took 2 or 3 hours of their holiday to tow my car to this used car lot, replace the wheel for free, and sent me on my way with some pie.”

4) PmMeSteamGiftCards wrote this:

“I was in a bookstore a few years ago, and while walking through a store, I passed a group of girls. One was telling the others a story. In the middle of their conversation, she just stopped, looked at me, and said, ‘You’re cute,’ then continued talking with her friends.

“That was maybe 3 years ago, and I still remember it, just because of how random and kind it was.”

5) NikkoE82 wrote, “When I was 13 or 14, my step-dad took me for an eye exam to get new glasses. After the exam, I’m alone with the optometrist for a little bit while he shows me some new lightweight, titanium frames. I think they’re pretty cool. My step-dad comes in and starts belittling me in front of the optometrist because our insurance won’t cover frames like that. As if I was supposed to just know that. The optometrist then gets out this clunky, wooden box with the few cheap frames our insurance would cover. I pick some frames and figure that’s that. Then the optometrist pulls me aside and asks if I want the nicer titanium frames. I tell him yes. He paid for them. I never really got a chance to thank him for that, and I never saw him again.”

6) pdeaver9018 wrote, “Not me but my brother. When my brother was in 8th grade, they had a class trip to Disney planned where they’d be staying for a few days. As you can imagine, that’s a pretty expensive trip. Well, our family was never really well off. We didn’t have a lot of money to just throw around, but my brother really wanted to go because all of his friends were going. Also, going to Disney with your family is one thing, but going to Disney with just your friends… that’s a whole new level of excitement and fun. Well one day, my mom gets a call from the school saying that someone had paid off my brother’s fees for the trip. My mom didn’t have to pay a cent. We never have found out who paid it off.”

7) Isohedra wrote, “One time I got a pure strain of the flu… I was driving to school (hour-long drive) before I realized I was really sick. I almost swerved out of my lane with onset of severe nausea and dizziness and had to pull over on a busy highway. A police officer (Juarez) instantly appeared and I was like, ‘Oh, sh[*]t, what did I do?’ but he was genuinely concerned. I started projectile-vomiting and he held my hair back for me for a good while, while I vomited my guts, and then drove me to the nearest ER ASAP [Emergency Room As Soon As Possible] where I needed an IV and drugs for two days. I was 125lbs before and 112lbs after that flu… I love you, officer J, and don’t think I’d be alive if not for you.”

Source: singh_sahil24, “What’s the kindest thing a stranger has done for you?” Reddit. 20 September 2016 <http://tinyurl.com/znakqgq>.

Download Free eBooks, including The Kindest People series of collections of accounts of good deeds, by David Bruce here:

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FilthyMrClean: “Just some James Fridman gold”

fridman

Source: FilthyMrClean, “Just some James Fridman gold.” Imgur. 20 September 2016

http://imgur.com/gallery/t5Y4L

Romance Books by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)

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Free PDF book: William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/free-pdf-williams-shakespeares-measure-for-measure-a-retelling-in-prose-by-david-bruce/

Free PDF book: Honey Badger Goes to Hell — and Heaven by David Bruce

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Weresquirrel: Writing Skills Matter in Every Career

Writing Skills Good.png

Source: “6 Words You Wish You Listened To By Any School Year’s End.” Cracked. August 12, 2016

http://www.cracked.com/photoplasty_2224_our-best-advice-new-school-year-in-six-words/

Romance Books by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/smoothie2003

Free PDF book: William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: A Retelling in Prose by David Bruce

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/free-pdf-williams-shakespeares-measure-for-measure-a-retelling-in-prose-by-david-bruce/

Free PDF book: Honey Badger Goes to Hell — and Heaven by David Bruce

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David Bruce: Anecdotes About Language

Marvel comic-book maven Stan Lee always had a sense of humor. For the cover of the 17th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, he wrote this warning: “If you don’t say this is one of the greatest issues you’ve ever read, we may never talk to you again!” He also started a Marvel fan club, but at first he revealed only the initials—not the name—of the fan club: MMMS. He allowed readers to try to guess what the initials stood for, but no one got the right answer: the Merry Marvel Marching Society. Mr. Lee’s letters pages in his comic books were also entertaining and informal rather than stuffy. The letters written to him started with “Hi, Stan” instead of “Dear Editor,” and Mr. Lee always responded with “Hey,” followed by the writer’s name. He also threw around a lot of phrases such as “Hang loose” and “’Nuff said.” When these phrases started to appear on the letters pages of non-Marvel comic books, Mr. Lee started using “Excelsior!”—Latin for “Higher!”

The family of Times Herald Record columnist Beth Quinn, like many families, sometimes makes up its own words and its own phrases—words and phrases that have their own known-to-family-and-friends-only meanings. For example, her family, which loves dogs, uses the word “eardo” to describe a dog that has one long ear flopped up on top of its head instead of hanging down as it should. And her family will sometimes use the phrase “Here! Have a kipling!” to say that something is really huge. This phrase originated when Beth’s grandmother asked Kathy, one of Beth’s friends, for her kifling recipe. A kifling is a small, delicate cookie that is supposed to be no bigger than your pinkie finger. However, after getting the recipe, Beth’s Grammy created a batch of huge kiflings, each of them bigger than her hand. Staggering into the living room under the weight of the tray of huge cookies, Grammy told Beth and Kathy, “Here! Have a kifling!”

As a young man, long-nosed Jimmy Durante (later a famous comedian) studied with an Italian music teacher who loved a much younger woman who knew English but not Italian. Since Mr. Durante knew both languages, he was put to work translating the teacher’s passionate letters from Italian to English, and translating the young lady’s replies from English to Italian. Somehow, the young lady found out what Mr. Durante was doing, and she fancied that she might be in love with him. Unfortunately, when she saw him, Mr. Durante says, “She took one look and dropped me out of her afflictions.” (Mr. Durante occasionally misused words, often with humorous and wise intent; the expected word would be “affections.”)

Film critic Jim Emerson met famed director Robert Altman by accident in a hotel. Mr. Emerson had recently returned from Europe, and he was telling a publicist how he “found it exhilarating and liberating to be in a strange city, and to be out in public, and not understand the conversations that are taking place all around you.” Mr. Altman was nearby, talking on a telephone, and when his telephone conversation was over, he came up to Mr. Emerson and said, “I heard what you were saying about being in Europe, and that’s exactly the way I’ve felt! I lived in Paris for years and never learned French. You realize there’s just so much extraneous bullsh*t you don’t have to listen to if you don’t know the language!”

In his essay “A Ballet Master’s Belief,” which appeared in Portrait of Mr. B, Lincoln Kirstein wrote that George Balanchine could be blunt when bluntness was needed. For example, an overbearing stage mother asked him what he was going to do for her dancer son. Mr. Balanchine replied, “Nothing. Perhaps, only perhaps, he can do some little thing for himself.” On another occasion, a young male dancer over-reacted to some temporary failure in his dance technique during a morning class, and he savagely bit his lip. Mr. Balanchine told the 17-year-old boy, “It is you who chose to be a dancer. I didn’t choose for you.”

Language changes over time and so can cause misunderstandings. Carolyn Alessio once taught Stephen Dunn’s poem “Biography in the First Person” to a class of inner-city children who misunderstood Mr. Dunn’s line “My father a crack salesman.” The children were sad because they thought that Mr. Dunn’s father was a drug dealer, and even when Ms. Alessio explained that when Mr. Dunn wrote the poem, the word “crack” meant “crackerjack” or excellent, they declined to believe her because they thought that she was cleaning up the poem for them.

Children’s misunderstanding of the meanings of words can be funny. Marty, editor of Bartcop Entertainment on the WWW, remembers that when she and Johnny, her brother, were little, their father had varicose veins that needed to removed surgically. Because the varicose veins were about the size of small walnuts, Marty and her brother called them “nuts.” Johnny was in kindergarten, and Miss Pat, his teacher, asked him, “Why is your daddy in the hospital?” Johnny replied, “He’s having his nuts cut off.”

When Mem Fox, the Australian young people’s author of Possum Magic, was less than one year old, her parents moved to Southern Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) in Africa. This meant that she became fluent not only in English, but also in Ndebele, the local African language. Her knowledge of Ndebele did have what she considered an advantage—she was able to be cheeky to her mother in a language that her mother didn’t understand. Her mother would have to ask a native to translate what her daughter had said: “What did she say, the little monkey?”

George Balanchine knew what he wanted, and he knew how to describe (and often to demonstrate) what he wanted. While choreographing Scotch Symphony, he told his dancers that he wanted them to form a rhombus—a word that everybody paid attention to. Allegra Kent writes in Once a Dancer …, “Everyone had perked up at the unusual word. What had interested me was his precision and exactness. Any old parallelogram would not do. He wanted an equilateral parallelogram.”

© 2016, David Bruce, All Rights Reserved

David Bruce has written lots of collections of anecdotes, plus other books. Take a look at the list here:

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/david-bruce-books/

Most of the anecdotes are funny; some are thought provoking.

Download Romance eBooks by Brenda Kennedy (Some Free)

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/smoothie2003

Check out the rest of 

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/

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