Aging and Ageism

As our community has grown in recent years, it has attracted many younger dancers – a demographic shift that has altered the dynamic of our scene. The previous generation of dancers is getting older in an increasingly younger scene, and in addition to facing changes in their own bodies, they often find themselves facing changes in their relationship with the dance. To better understand what it’s like to age and mature in our dance community, Eric sat down with two good friends – Tom Paderna (a previous guest of the show) and Gail Jacobson (not related to Eric) – to chat about their stories and experiences. They shared some of their physical limitations and how those affect their social dancing and competitive experiences. They talked about how the community has changed over the years and how their own roles have changed as a result. They chatted about ageism in both social dancing and competition, and they discussed the Masters division and some proposed changes to that division. And finally they shared some thoughts on how we all can create a community that is more welcoming and inclusive of older dancers. Take a listen and broaden your own understanding of what your fellow dancers are experiencing.

footnotes
Mastery of Swing
Implicit Assessment Test

Torri & Maxime Zzaoui

In the last couple of years, there has been a renewed interest in dancing to classic swing music, in large part due to two dancers whose improvisational demos have gone viral on social media. Torri and Maxime Zzaoui embody grace, elegance, and the beauty of swing, and their videos capture their musicality, their playfulness, and their love of the dance. Eric sat down with these two talented, kind, funny, and down-to-earth champions to discuss their backgrounds, their success, and their personal stories. Torri shared her experiences working with Brennar and Benji, and winning Classic and Showcase at the Open in the same year. Maxime talked about his training, why France has some incredible dancing, and his own teaching philosophy. They shared the story behind the now-famous dance at WOTP (where they danced to “Nice ‘N’ Easy” by Frank Sinatra) and what they think about how popular it was. They also spoke candidly about how they develop themselves, the brand they’ve created, and how their brand sets others’ expectations. And of course, they told the story of how they met, became a couple, and formed their partnership. Listen to this heartwarming conversation with two of the most beloved, charming, and amazing dancers and people.

footnotes
Maxime and Torri
Torri Smith & Brennar Goree – Classic Division, US Open 2010
Torri Smith & Benji Schwimmer – Showcase Division, US Open 2010
Maxime Zzaoui & Virginie Perga – Classic Division, US Open 2012
Maxime & Torri Zzaoui – WOTP 2018
Maxime & Torri Zzaoui – Norway Westie Fest 2017
Maxime & Torri Zzaoui – Budafest 2019
Maxime & Torri Zzaoui – Budafest 2020

Personal Development with Courtney Adair

The new year is a time for reflection, taking stock, and thinking about what’s ahead. So for this first episode of the year, Eric sat down with Courtney Adair to talk about her own challenges, growth, and self-development. It was a very personal and honest discussion, and she was very open and real. She talked about her first experience with meditation, why it impacted her so greatly, and how in some ways it led her to dance. She discussed her appreciation of yoga, her journey to get certified as a yoga instructor, and how yoga influenced her as a dancer and teacher. Courtney shared some of her personal struggles, how she learned to embrace some aspects of herself, and how she supports others on their personal journeys, particularly women in our community. Full of wisdom and insights, this is a great conversation to get you thinking about your own personal development in the year ahead.

footnotes
Courtney Adair and Sean McKeever
The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield
Choreo Camp
Westie Goddess Retreat

The Open 2019

We’re back! Sort of. I was planning on relaunching the show in January but how could we not do an episode about the most prestigious event in our dance world? The Open is the most prominent stage for our dance – a showcase of some of our greatest talent and a look at the state of our dance today. So I sat down with a friend of the show, Christopher Dumond, to chat about the Open, what happened there, and what it all means for our dance. We talked about his own experience competing there, the other routines in Classic and Showcase, the judging and results, and yes, we chatted about swing content. We also discussed some of the other aspects of the Open, from the opening ceremonies (“God Bless the USA”?) to the presentations (congrats, Jordan and Tatiana!) to the post-division interviews (oy vey…). So settle in and enjoy this special, super-sized episode about one special, super-sized event.

Outsiders

Many of us at one time or another have known the feeling of being “on the outside.” Whether it’s in our local community or at weekend conventions, it can be hard to find a group of friends to hang out with – and it can be even harder when there are others who seem to have it all. In this episode, we chat about our own experiences being outsiders. We start with a discussion of the “cool kids,” our own feelings about not being one of the “cool kids,” and what it’s like to be “drifters” instead. We chat about our social anxieties, how our upbringing has shaped who we are, and how social media influences our experiences in the dance world. We also look at how being on top isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and how being on top isn’t the be-all end-all of social dancing. This conversation is for anyone who’s ever felt alone, out-of-place, or like an outsider in our dance community (…and also those who haven’t).

footnotes
Last Child in the Woods – Richard Louv
The Mind-Gut Connection – Emeran Mayer