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A bourgeois sea: the terrace at Sainte-Adresse

Monets works created in Sainte-Adresse during the second half of the 1860s represent a momentary change in his representation of the sea. Compared with the wild seascapes of previous years (a style that Monet continued in later years), now Monet paints the sea as an instrument of entertainment for the bourgeoisie, in a style that can be related with the paintings created for the Salon des Artistes, a "genre" that the artist had been developing in previous years, finished with the colossal "Le Déjeuner sur lherbe", first exhibited in 1866

"Terrace at Sainte Adresse" is the most representative work of this period. The bourgeois scene is developed under a strong "plein air" light. The clear limits between land, sea and sky divide and hierarchies the composition, vertically organized by the two flags fluttered by the ocean breeze. The painting is so delightful that we are immediately tempted to sit on one of the empty chairs to enjoy this sunny Sunday afternoon. A similar theme, but with a very different composition, is found in "Sailing at Sainte-Adresse" (1867, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art).

 

Art is free... but not at the Museum

A museum is an institution that houses and cares for a collection of artifacts and other objects of scientific, artistic, or historical importance and makes them available for public viewing through exhibits that may be permanent or temporary. Most large museums are located in major cities throughout the world and more local ones exist in smaller cities, towns and even the countryside.

So, Art is free... but not at the Museums. This article discuss the rise of Museum's admission fees around the world

One of the most publicized ideas by all the Ministries of Culture, Museum Patronages and similar is to approach the Art to the great public. Nevertheless, and contrary to this intention, most of the greatest Museums of the world have increased in the last years its admission fees in a notorious -and in many cases exaggerated- way.

This infamous tendency is international. In the United States, the controversy has been intensified with the decision of the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York about increasing from $15 to $20 the money that the museum "suggests" its visitors to donate before enjoying its collections (the New York Times recently published the misfortune of one of its journalists who had the occurrence of offering 50 pennies), identical sum that the one demanded by the MOMA to see the more important collection of Modern Art in the world. Now add the $15 necessary to enter in the Guggenheim, and you'll obtain the total sum that a tourist who wanted to see the typical three New York Museums (Metropolitan Museum- Museum of Modern Art - Guggenheim Museum) will have to disburse: a huge $55.

In Europe, where the museums are traditionally more accessible, this ascent of prices has -nevertheless- reached tragic levels.

In Spain, the two greatest State Museums (Prado Museum and Reina Sofía Art Centre) had doubled its admission fees early this year, and now every visitor must pay ?6 (add another ?6 if you want to enter the Thyssen Museum, which is highly recomendable). Precursor of this madness was the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, which doubled in 2004 its admission fee of ?6, which now is of ?12.

In France things are a bit more moderate, and the increases of admission fees are made in a small percentage every few years, which can be justified by the increase of the standard of living. At the present time, the ticket to the Louvre, surely the most famous and visited museum of the planet, costs ?8,50, being reduced if it is visited only at afternoon.

From Italy spectacular rises are still to come: the government announced last year that the costs of the tickets to its main monuments and cultural centres could increase "to improve the safety measures".

But, luckily, we still have the example of the United Kingdom: two of the best museums of the world - British Museum and National Gallery of London- still have an "admission free" politic. God save the Queen.

 

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Keep Dancing

You should keep dancing all the time. If this is a foxtrot, a dance slow, quick, quick keep moving to the rhythm. You are really marking the time, waiting for a cue that will sink in, but, until it comes, you are dancing and enjoying your partner and moving to the music. Do a little box in place, maybe a vine. If your partner appears to know what's going on, aim your steps in that direction. Go with the flow.

If you are able to do this, by the time the next meaningful cue comes along, you will be able to blend smoothly from your primitive choreography into the intended choreography, like merging into traffic on the interstate. If one of the missed cues was a transition or a chasse, then you have the wrong foot free just do a subtle close/point now you can blend and merge, and off you go.

The ability to "fudge" is sometimes not given the respect it deserves. No one doubts the value of our ability to keep time to the music, to execute the hundreds of different figures in our round dance repertoire, and to lead and follow and so dance with our partners. But sometimes we will lose it, and the ability to fake it can go a long way toward making our round dancing smooth, comfortable, and fun.

"Man chasse, woman roll left to shadow." There are lots of opportunities for problems in that little cue. First, the man might hear the first part but not the second, so he leads a thru chasse for both. He does this with a little extra tone, a little extra lift in his frame, causing her to add the "skip," the syncopation, to her steps. But now you're in semi-closed, rather than shadow, with trail feet free. Or, you might both hear the cue, but the woman (if only subliminally) registers the "chasse" too. So he raises lead hands, and she rolls, but she syncopates her roll. Now you're in shadow, but again, trail feet are free, rather than right feet for both.

Round dancing is not simple. We are trying to move to the beat, listen to the cuer, feel by heart where our partner is (and keep half and eye on other dancers), and think about rise and fall, arm movements, and upper body rotation. And we might even be trying to chew gum, too.

We will lose our way occasionally. It's inevitable. But you don't need to stand there, letting traffic pile up behind you, and causing your partner to wonder if you just don't want to dance with her anymore. Instead, develop the ability to shift into a simple freestyle sequence and to do a quick "change/point" adjustment when the proper foot just isn't free. And work on an anti-panic strategy. When you are lost in a dance, it is not the same as being lost and alone in a dark and snowy forest. Don't panic. Just keep dancing something.

 

Dancing Is Not Walking

Do you ever feel that you are just walking through your dance patterns - little plodding, less than smoothly artistic? Two strategies to make your movements feel more like dancing are the anticipation/preparation and the rise/fall.

In our usual walking steps, we accelerate a little as we push with one foot and we decelerate as we land on the next foot - go, stop, go, stop. Walking has a regular up-and-down motion to it, too, as we push off (and up a little), swing a leg forward to catch ourselves, and then land on that foot - up, down, up, down. When we dance, we don't want the "go, stop" or the "up, down." We want our bodies to move across the floor at a smooth rate, as if we were gliding on ice skates. Our feet may be scooting about beneath us, but our bodies should be floating in a dignified and stately way above it all. To do this, instead of launching the body forward and then taking the step and catching our weight, we want to reach out with the foot first, begin to transfer weight, contact the floor, and only then fully transfer weight.

Similarly, we must not see the end of a figure as a goal - "If I can only get to the end of this Double Telespin!" We must look beyond that last step, prepare for it in terms of position and alignment, and so maintain the smooth flow. Consider the Open Telemark. If you only think of the individual steps in this figure, you will likely take the third step with a little jerk of arrival. The Open Telemark is a discrete figure, but it is only a small part of the dance, so do not feel that you have arrived or finished anything. If a Maneuver is coming up, begin a little right-face body rotation on the last step of the Telemark. Don't wait for the first step of the Maneuver. Get that trail foot moving, push off and continue the body flow.

Second, dancing should not be flatfooted, level locomotion around the floor. There are rhythms that are mostly flat, without much rise and fall, but much of our favorite dancing - waltz, foxtrot, and bolero - includes conspicuous up and down. The "dancing river" not only flows counter-clockwise around the hall; it also crests and breaks in smooth and regular wave-like patterns.

The general rule is that you lower at the end of one measure and into the beginning of the next. Soften the supporting knee (bend it a little) and at least touch the heel to the floor. Lowering accomplishes two things. It allows you to reach out farther with the free foot, without bumping into your partner. She feels the lowering and is ready to step back before you really start to progress. Then from the lowered position, your first step will be longer, smoother, and more gliding. From an up position, it is more short and abrupt.

Cha-Cha-Cha

Often, we dance the cha-cha-cha as a simple chasse, with the second step a closing step side-close-side, forward-close-forward, back-close-back but there are other ways to cha that add variety to our dancing and that help us connect with our partner and dance more smoothly and comfortably. Lets do common sequence: Open Hip Twist, Fan, and Hockey Stick.

In an Open Hip Twist, the man steps forward on his left foot and recovers right, and the woman steps back right and recovers left. Now, instead of doing his first cha as a little back chasse back/close, back he could try a Slip Chasse. He reaches a little farther back on beat 3, pulls the right foot toward but not up to the left on the &, and then closes with the left. This slip imparts just a little forward movement to his body, movement toward his partner rather than away from her, as she dances her cha toward him. If he tones his lead arm, his body movement gives a little push and so leads her Hip Twist at the end of her cha. Notice that he doesnt push her with his left hand. It is overall body movement that is transmitted through the lead arms. The result is more gentle. Here, at the end of beat 4, her Hip Twist will just happen; she wont even have to try.

In this same Open Hip Twist, the woman might dance her forward cha not as a forward chasse forward/close, forward but as Locking Chasse forward right/lock left in back of right, forward right. To give the Locking Chasse a Latin touch, dont lock tightly, with the instep of one foot against the heel of the other. Instead, lock with the toes of locking foot turned out and the ball of the locking foot against the heel of the forward foot, forming a "T." The angling of the feet will tend to angle the body and contribute to hip movement.

Both men and women if you are dancing forward and back, try the Locking Chasse or the Slip Chasse for a more Latin look and to stay more connected with your partner.

Finally, to begin the Hockey Stick, the man steps small forward left and with pressure through the lead arms leads the woman to close right. He recovers right and the woman steps forward left. Once again, on the cha, he might just do a triple in place, as she dances her forward Locking Chasse. But he might try a Ronde Chasse sweep the left foot in a small counter-clockwise arc and cross left behind right, close right to left, and step small side left like a little Sailor Shuffle. You have yet another little Latin effect so much nicer than just stepping in place.

Any time you are dancing to one side or the other, instead of step/step, step, or side/close, side, try a Hip Twist Chasse or a Ronde Chasse. They are fun, and they can improve partner connection.

 

Animal Figures

In the early 1900s a whole flock of "animal dances" were briefly popular, formed out of the earlier Two Step. There was the Squirrel, in which dancers assumed closed position and took small, mincing steps. The Duck Waddle involved quick walks swaying the upper body left and right. In the Snake, dancers walked sinuously to banjo with a dip and then to sidecar. There was a Fish Tail, Lame Duck, Chicken Shuffle, Turkey Trot, Eagle Rock, Kangaroo Hop and a Grizzly Bear.

Now, a hundred years later, we are more sophisticated. We dont do animal dances, but we do have quite a flock of animal figures.

Chicken Walks are common in Jive. In left open facing position, the man facing line of dance, lead hands joined, the man walks backward four steps, and he leads the woman to walk forward, gently pulling and causing her to swivel a bit with each step. She steps with her right and swivels the foot a bit to the right, turning the toes out or really turning the heel in, then steps left and swivels left on ball of the foot so the toes point out again, and so on. He leads her to make these little swiveling turns by turning her lead hand left and then right. He turns hand in the direction that he wants her to swivel. The men can dance this figure with soft knees and maybe a kind of "coaxing". You have to play around with that sort of styling.

In Jive, we have Flea Hops, which are little syncopated movements1/a, 2/a, We might be in open, shadow, or tandem position, with the left foot free for both. We hop on the right foot by lifting the left knee up and to the left. This action will cause the hop and a slight slide to the left. Close left to right. On the second beat, repeat this action with the right knee: hop/close. On the third beat, hop on the right sliding left and then tap the left toe near the right foot. Hop and then close left to right. On beat five, hop on left sliding a little to the right and tap right. Finally, hop left and closes right.

More familiar is the Cucaracha. In Rumba, we step to the side, recover, and then close (with either foot). These side steps are pressing steps; full weight is not taken. So in the first measure, you might step to the side with your lead foot, press with the ball of the foot, but don't lower the heel and don't raise the heel of the trail foot. A little rotation of the ball of the lead foot would be appropriate. Then recover full weight to the trail foot, and close the lead foot to the trail foot. Cucaracha is Spanish for "cockroach." It's not an entirely attractive image, but we kind of like the idea of squishing a roach to the left and then to the right?

 

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