Dancing and Flowers:
Other than the fiery, passionate tango, and the traditional red rose that goes with it, usually depicted as the woman clenching the rose between her teeth, few of us have come up with matching other flowers and dances.
I belong to a Garden Club, a very serious one, that is non-profit and with good by-laws. We meet once a month for ten months of the year and we are very active in our community, from our Mayfair Bazaar each year held at our local Yacht Club where we also have our meetings and luncheons each month to participating in the summer and Christmas decorating of our town, the capital of the State of Maryland.
For two years I was on the Board of Directors of our club as Vice-President in charge of programming. It wasn’t easy to come up with twenty exciting programs, but I tried my best and shoving all humility aside, I think that I did a great job. I also had a wonderful Board of women who were always ready to help me.
For one cold February Valentine’s Day, I came up with the following program that I’d like to share.
The two dancers were wonderful and Kathy is like a sister to me. My only regret was that for the tango, I couldn’t talk Ray into holding the rose in his mouth. He absolutely refused; graciously, politely but firmly refused.
But, if you care to read on, here it is; and you have to imagine the two dancers swirling around on the dance floor that the Yacht Club so helpfully provided us with, thanks to a lovely lady from the Yacht Club.
“Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.“ William Wordsworth, “Daffodils” (1804)
Cha Cha is becoming more popular for wedding dance music reflecting our society’s current fascination and romance with Latin culture. Originally an offshoot of the Rumba, the Cha Cha was the rage in the 50’s and is probably the most popular social Latin dance in America. It has an infectious rhythm that has been used by many musicians. The rhythmical “split beat” of the Cha Cha and the many open movements add surety, poise and style on the dance floor.
Just like the cha cha, the marigold is a very precise flower and is becoming more and more popular in wedding bouquets. The flower has a lot of history. The Virgin Mary is where the name Mary’s Gold comes from. It grows in clusters and like the Cha cha it requires space to show off its variety of blooms and colours.
originated in the United States from African-Americans in the early 1930s. It was originally presented to the public as ‘Jive’ in 1934 by Cab Calloway. It is a lively and uninhibited variation of the Jitterbug, a form of Swing dance. Characterized by a carefree, relaxed style. It has a light, bouncing quality that makes it look easy, but jive is actually extremely challenging to dance.
And what better flower to associate the jive with than the wildflower…care-free, it comes in all shapes, forms and colors. There is nothing more appealing to the eye than a meadow filled with wildflowers. Like the jive they bounce in the winds happily in a relaxed way not caring who their neighbors are.
originated hundreds of years ago in Bavaria, Europe. In the twentieth century, the waltz took the form of two quite different forms. One being the Slow Waltz which you are about to see and the other being the Viennese Waltz which will come later. The Waltz was imported into America by European immigrants. It was, however, popularized in Boston and New York by the legendary Vernon Castle who introduced a particular version palatable to American society and appropriate to high level social gatherings of the time. This version was known as the Boston, characterized by the slow tempo and the long flowing steps. The Modern Slow Waltz was derived from the Boston and continues to be one of the most romantic and elegant dances of all times. It is also the waltz danced by debutantes at their coming out party. The young ladies don their magnificent white ball gowns and glide around the dance floor. With long sweeping movements constant rotating with stylish poses, the Waltz definitely commands attention on the dance floor.
The flower we have paired with this waltz is the simple and elegant long stemmed daisy. They grow in clusters and gently sway with the early summer breezes. The daisy pretends to be a simple flowers but is far from it. It is actually a composite of several different parts joining to form the flower, just like the waltz with its rotation and stylish poses. Traditionally, a daisy is white with a yellow centre and through-out history has been featured in myth, literary work and legend. The most popular variety is the Shasta and African daisies and in this instance we had the Shasta daisy in mind. The daisy symbolizes sunshine, happiness and innocence.
So, music please and lets’ enjoy the Waltz.
Next, we will see the Tango. It evolved from the Argentine Tango popular in the early 20th century. While the Argentine Tango was and is a very soft private dance, with visual emphasis on the leg movements, this dramatically changed in Paris in the 1930’s where the dance was combined with the proud torso of the other ballroom dances and given a staccato action. This moved the visual emphasis to the torso and head, a characteristic which remains to this day.
Tango is best described as fierce in character, an intensely powerful dance, the dance of Now and Immediately with sharp snaps and twists.
Of course we didn’t have to pair the rose with the tango. Through-out the years others have done it for us. The handing of a rose by the gentleman to the lady, the rose held in the mouth while dancing.
The intensity of the deep red and black rose can easily be matched to the intensity of the Tango, the fierceness of the thorns with the power of the dance.
And like the Argentine Tango is soft and private there are a number of roses like the floribundas that are happy and soft with much less long sharp thorns. Overall there are more than a 100 species all native to the Northern Hemisphere.
The Viennese Waltz:
This is a fast Waltz having originated in Germany and taken from there to France by Napoleon Bonaparte as part of the spoils of war. The English, who were at war with France and not wanting to be outdone, forthwith adopted it and in true Anglo fashion ultimately put it through a process of discriminating analysis.
Finding its way to America, the dance enjoyed a great deal of popularity at the turn of the century. Besides being recognized as the “mother of Social Dance,, it served an important role in the development of theatre dance frequently utilized in theatrical and Hollywood productions.
The word “Waltzen” Derived from the Latin Volvere meaning to revoleve describes the key character of this picturesque dance, particularly when viewed from an elevation. Perhaps one of the most breathtaking spectacles of a Dancesport event is the panorama of 30 or 40 couples , beautifully attired in traditional tails and ball gowns revolving collectively around the ballroom in harmonious effusion.
And now imagine groups of cosmos with their own dance and movements swaying to the breezes. The cosmos is native to Mexico and come in shades of pink, purple and white. Its foliage is finely cut into threadlike segments and when flowering the plant can become top heavy. The cluster solves its problem by interlocking the bipinnate leaves, and the colony supports itself and creating its own dance movements to the gentle guts of a summer wind.
Just imagine the thirty to forty couples revolving in unison around the dance floor and the clusters of colorful cosmos swaying gently in unison.
Foxtrot and orchids. The Foxtrot is reputed to have originated in 1913 when a vaudeville performer by the name of Harry Fox performed a little trot which fired the imagination of the social dance instructors in New York and the foxtrot was born. Since then the dance has undergone considerable evolution. From the speedy erratic expressions of the WW1 era, the Foxtrot has matured to a smooth unhurried embodiment of fluid controlled musicality.
Based on natural movement, it has developed the simple function of walking to a deceptively easy looking action which in reality is one of the most demanding of all dance skills.
Like the Foxtrot, the orchid has evolved greatly over time and continues to evolve. They are slow to grow, some taking 5-7 years to mature and produce flowers. But the reward is great when you admire its magnificent blooms, precise yet carefree. Some orchids grow wild, some underground, some high up in the trees, and some are cultivated in window sills and greenhouses. They are most popular for corsages. But no matter where you see them, the admirer is awarded by their unhurried beauty.
The next time we’re out there ballroom dancing or gardening, think of the flowers and enjoy the beauty of it all.