Dancing with Dummies

Dancing with DummiesNo, you didn’t misread the title to my little piece here. This isn’t an informative piece on how to move your feet. Today I want to talk about dancing with dummies – and I mean this in the most literal sense possible. Grappling dummies, such as these, are perfect for people practicing the martial arts. They’re about the size of a person, typically the weight of an average adult male if not a bit lighter, and made to take a beating. All of these qualities which make them good for combat drills also make them good for dancers everywhere who want to practice their moves too.

You’re not looking to beat up the dummies like you would be if you were practicing martial arts moves, but that’s not the point anyhow. Because they’re so durable, they can stand up to you tripping or falling over them, or stepping on them, or kicking them while you practice dancing. Well, I’m getting ahead of myself. It’s probably not a good idea to assume all combat dummies are really durable, exactly. I’m sure there are better and worse brands out there, just like for every other product, good or service you can imagine. Shop around, just like anything else.

You could practice any type of dance too – you aren’t limited to a waltz or minuet or other specific type of dance. Classical dances and more modern contemporary stuff are also possible, though I don’t know how much practice you really need to bump and grind like people do at clubs these days. You might not think it from a glance, but dancing is actually a highly demanding activity for your body. You will find out very quickly if you’re fit enough to hit the floor, or if you need to spend some more time practicing or thinning out before you try to make your debut.

I know what some of you are probably thinking – because you won’t be carrying your partner throughout your dance, training while carrying a dummy like this is excessive. However, while you won’t necessarily be carrying your partner through a dance, having the ability to do it will save you in those times when your partner is less skilled or dedicated than you. Also, nobody ever complained about being too strong or having too much endurance, did they? Since it’s a desirable thing anyhow, don’t go out of your way to find reasons not to have it!

These combat training dummies are useful for several other applications too. Similar to dancing, you could use them to practice moving around other people in other situations, like while playing sports, or trying to squeeze into a space, or anything else. The point is, if you’re looking for some way to practice your dance moves and you don’t want to embarrass yourself by dancing poorly in front of other people, then you can probably get most of if not everything you’re looking for from a combat dummy instead. You can even kick them around a little when you’re done if things don’t go so well.


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How I Safely Traveled to India with These Tips

How I Safely Traveled to India with These TipsRecently, I embarked on the wonderful and fulfilling adventure – a trip to India. All in all, it was one of the most amazing trips I have ever taken in my life. Looking back, though, there are several things I wished I would have known ahead of time. So, to save you from learning the hard way, I’ve put together some of my top tips for traveling safely and having an amazing time in the great country of India.

Tip #1: Be Safe

Being safe is the most important part of any trip, and while traveling to India can be entirely harmless, there are several key precautions you will want to take.

First of all, you’ll want to be careful about flashing money around. Pulling out a wad of cash is an invitation to would-be muggers.

Another thing to keep in mind is to always keep your passport and other important papers of your person, not stowed away in your luggage or hotel room. You never know when you might need them, so keep them close to yourself.

Finally, you will want to be careful about drinking the water. Indian water can contain many different forms of bacteria that are not easily filtered out. It’s a good idea to carry your own water, but if you have to purchase it there, be sure to stick with known, reputable brands.



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Tips on How to Become Smarter  

Tips on How to Become Smarter   No matter your current intelligence level, there is always room to enjoy the benefits of a sharper mind. Thankfully, there are several ways to increase your mental health and wit. In this article, we’ll take a look at the top five methods and rituals that will help you become a smarter person and, therefore, a better dancer too.

  1. Maintain Your Physical Health

Most people would believe that mental health and physical health are two entirely different things that are completely independent of one another, but the truth is – they are largely interconnected. To begin, your diet is crucial to maintaining you mental health. To function properly, your brain needs a large amount of fatty acids and omega3s. These can be found in fish and flaxseed oil. Getting enough oxygen is also crucial to a healthy brain, making exercise such as dancing can be a powerful way to become smarter.

  1. Meditation

Not just for Buddhist monks, the peaceful act of meditation can be a great way to improve your brain’s functioning. While meditation differs in definition from person to person, it almost always involves quiet, relaxed breathing that allows you to put your mind into a calm, tranquil state. Research has shown that spending prolonged amounts of time in this relaxed state improves focus, memory, attention span and all-round mental function.



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Keep on Dancing

For as long as book history goes back, people have been around with dancing. It’s an act that is securely ingrained into past and present nation that it’s impossible to fully study a civilization’s culture without looking into their specific styles of dance. In this article, I’ll talk about the lustrous history of dance, the different styles of dance that exist today, and the top ten benefits that you will enjoy from a dance filled life.

The History of Dancing

As amazing as it sounds, dancing can be traced back to times when civilization was in its cradle. Archeologists have discovered evidence of dancing in cave portraits and tombs that date back as far as 9000 years ago. Originally, the purpose of dance was a method of healing. Many considered it as a sort of medicine, and it was a precursor to trance state healing rituals.

Ironically enough, often times these dances led to the sick dying of exhaustion due to the lack of endurance.

Over the periods of time, dancing slowly evolved into a form of expression, used in the performance and telling of stories and myths. In Homer’s Iliad he described a system of dancing that the Greeks used to express their passions. Greek philosopher Aristotle said that dancing was like writing – it could be used to express a wide array of customs, emotions, and actions.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, dance began to progress into the ballets of European culture, and after this came the roots of the contemporary dance we see today.



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All About Bitcoin

My dance studio has recently started accepting Bitcoin as payment. What I’ve found is that most people don’t pay in Bitcoin, but almost everyone has a question about what it is and how you pay with it. I want to clear up how Bitcoin works, and why I’ve started accepting it as payment for my dance studio. By the end of the article, you may want to get some Bitcoin of your own!

What IS It?

Bitcoin is what’s known as a “cryptocurrency.” A cryptocurrency is a type of money that is encrypted and kept safe, much like an online bank account is. Your identity is stored as a series of numbers, without any personally identifying information. One common myth about Bitcoin (we’re going to call it BTC from now on) is that it is anonymous. That is not true! You CAN be identified by your transaction number, and therefore could easily be caught if one of the vendors you spent money with was to reveal your account information. However, if you just make payments from person to person you’re pretty safe.

How Does It Work?

Bitcoin works through a technology called “blockchain.” This is an enormous public domain ledger of all transactions that take place. It is stored on thousands of computers worldwide, which makes the system impossible to hack by brute force. Every time someone makes a transaction with someone else, it has to be verified by 6 other computers in the system, to make sure that the information they have matches up with the information you have. If all the information matches, the computers will “sign off” on the transaction and it is finalized. For example when you buy nursing gear from nightingaleknows.com, 6 computers will verify that the amount you sent and the amount the website receives are the same. This stops anyone from scamming the system. Since the computers doing the checking work are totally randomized, you can’t hack a few of the computers and hope to scam some money. Those computers would be recognized as wrong by the others.

How Do You Get It

You can buy Bitcoin at exchanges, like ItBit or Coinbase. You just use your card to buy it, and it sits “in your wallet.” I put that in quotes because technically, the wallet your Bitcoins are in isn’t really a wallet like you’d think of it. It’s just an identifying code, stating that x amount of BTC are yours. Bitcoin exists only on the blockchain, which is why it’s so secure.

Here’s my word of caution: don’t buy BTC you can’t afford to lose. It’s an experimental, VERY liquid investment. It gains and loses value every single day. Don’t put all your money in it; diversify! But it’s always good to have a bit in it, especially because it’s gaining value all the time. It used to be worth about 1 BTC = $16 USD. Now at the time of writing it’s about 1 BTC = $7000 USD.


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Impact of new lighting systems on dance

Impact of new lighting systems on danceThere was a time when lighting designers were nothing more than part of the backstage assistants. The situation is entirely different now. Even the most expert choreographers look to the lighting designers for their work. The lighting innovations used in dance on stage are certainly a significant part of the success of the performance.

Lighting has endless number of possibilities and power. It can turn even the most mediocre performance into an enjoyable one. Since dance is my favorite hobby, I have spent a lot of time trying to get more information on the lighting systems used in dance and their effect on the performance.

Certainly light is used innovatively in present day dance performances. Light is not just a way to make the performers visible. Now lighting has become a key part in making or breaking the performance. It has become a type of choreography, which cannot be ignored easily now.

Dance audiences have begun to see entirely new ways in which lighting can influence a performance. The invention of LEDs and other sophisticated lighting systems has surely brought about a big change in the use of light. Now you can even use the LEDs to grow plants.

If you attend dance performances frequently, you would understand the ways in which they have transformed the art form.  In fact, in some instances it is difficult to view the movements and light as separate entities. With the sophisticated lightings, it is possible to enclose glowing halos to the dancers or add pixelated coloring for more realistic portrayals of fantasy scenes that involve celestial spaces or those that feature fire, or smog. In fact, lighting is considered right from the beginning of the work instead of being added as a final addition.

Dance light duet

Dance and light are intermingled in a way that each affects the impact created by the other. A performance with light as an integral part can be dense and mysterious as well as form an airy and radiant performance.

New concepts are being tried consistently now to capitalize on the effect of lighting.  I would say that the true potential of light on dance is yet to be used fully.  Lighting improvements have brought about changes in several aspects of our life.

As I mentioned before, lights are used in growing plants more effectively. The revolutionary plasma light innovation such as the ones you find at Plantozoid.com are truly beneficial for growing plants indoors, when compared to other forms such as LEDs, fluorescent bulbs etc. There is more research underway on using lighting systems effectively not only in agricultural field but also in several other fields.

Changing times

It is well known that change is the only constant factor in our lives. Earlier everything in a performance involved paperwork, which has now changed over to computer records. In dance too, lights are used in a smart way. LED lights, for instance, help in blending color with video footage in an incredible way.

When compared to the traditional lighting systems, you can experiment a lot with the new lightnings present now. Light can be turned into a character in performances. You can make it organic and textured, so it can flow, dissolve or change into a different form.


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Excelling in landscape photography

Excelling in landscape photographyCapturing nature in its essence is what drew me to photography originally. Although I had moved on to portraits and other specialties in photography, landscape remains close to my heart and my first passion. Nature has really amazing beauty that changes every second. You need to be alert to get the right shot you want.

Patience is an important virtue, if you want to excel in any type of photography. You need to be quiet, scope out the region for the right angle and wait patiently for the ideal shot and shoot it before the light changes it completely. Here are some tips that help you make good headway into landscape photography.

Maximize field depth

The general approach in landscape photography is to get as much possible of the scenery into focus, even if you would like to infuse some creativity or experiment using narrow field depth. The simplest way to achieve maximum depth is to make the aperture setting smaller as with smaller aperture the depth of your field increases.

But with small apertures, the light exposure to the image is reduced. To compensate this deficient light, you need to lengthen the shutter speed or increase ISO or do both.


Tripod paves the way for stable shots, irrespective of the type of photography you are involved in. In case of landscape shots, this is more important. When using greater field depth the long shutter speed used for compensating the small aperture necessitates complete stillness of the camera during the long exposure. Even when the shutter speed is fast, the tripod is of great help. A wireless shutter release or cable would be even better for maximizing the camera stillness.

Focal point

Excelling in landscape photographyAny landscape shot needs some sort of focal point. Without a focal point, the shot will end up looking empty and will not appeal to the viewer. And in natural scenery shots finding the right focal point is more significant. It could be a stunning rock formation, boulder, a beautiful tree etc.

While shooting in a farm setting, I came upon this large boulder, which I was sure would look stunning but a huge tree branch was blocking the light needed for the shot. The owner of the farm lent me his efficient cutting saw. This made it easy to clear the low-lying branches and get the shot before the light changed. Sometimes you may have to manipulate the settings to get the right image you have in mind.


To make the landscape shots impressive, you need to focus on the foreground and include some appealing points in them. This will make the viewer a way inside the image, while creating considerable depth in the shot.

Since sky is a part of any landscape shot, you need to factor it into the shot appropriately. The shot should either have a dominant sky or foreground failing, which the shot can end up being monotonous and lacking in substance.

If you feel the sky is bland, make the foreground dominant. Make the horizon form the upper third portion of the shot. On the other hand, if the sky is looking spectacular with great clouds and colorful background, place the horizon in the lower third. You can enhance the effect of skies using filters or in post-production stage too.


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Bouncing Around

Many, many years ago I used to holiday with my family every summer at our little shack in the Wynndean holiday resort near the seaside. The name of the place was Ocean Grove, a name, by the way, that left you in no doubt as to where you were. It was a lovely place to spend 6 – 7 weeks of your summer holiday. The beach was just a 200-metre walk on little tracks through melaleuca trees and typical sand dune vegetation.

Bouncing Around

Ocean Grove beach was an enormous beach with a big tide that left acres of beach sand exposed at low tide and as far as the eye could see, both left and right. Barwon Heads to the right and Point Lonsdale to the left. I started my surfing life here at age 13 and it became a big part of my life for the next 6 years.

At the end of the resort, just before entering the beach, there was a trampoline centre with about 6 trampolines, big ones, that had been set up at ground level. That is, they had dug holes and placed the trampolines over them so when you bounced the mat would bend to below ground level. Also, when you fell off or was catapulted off after a bad landing, you didn’t have as far to fall. That didn’t mean there were no injuries, but the place was pretty well supervised even way back then, so there were no serious injuries.

I became fascinated with trampolining and it cost me all my pocket money to book time on them. As I was there nearly every day for at least 2 hours and longer if the weather and waves were ordinary, I got to know the owner operator pretty well and after a couple of weeks, he let me look after the paying customers and supervise the smaller kids. This was a real bonus because on some days there were no or very few clients and I could practise my somersaults, turntables, backdrops and twists to my heart’s content. I never had the nerve to do baranis but I eventually perfected the cannonball, which is a backwards rolling somersault. Awesome I was! Even more awesome was that I was bouncing around on trampolines for free!

Fast-forward to 40 years later and I am purchasing a trampoline for my grandaughter as she is also learning ballet and they say the trampoline is good for strengthening the ankles. Not a professional trampoline like the one I was telling you about and that I used in Ocean Grove, but one of those mini indoor types I found here: http://jumpsportland.com/best-mini-basketball-outdoor-indoor-trampolines-for-kids/ The one I am looking at has a handle so there’s less chance of her falling off. Well, that’s her birthday present done. She won’t be able to practice pirouettes and standing on her toes but it will probably be good for balance and some aerobic work and that all helps with her dancing.


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Useful holiday travel tips

Although holidays are a time to rejoice, meeting family and friends, from experience I know it does take some prior planning to have everything done smoothly. This is especially true, if you are travelling over holidays. You would have to put up with expensive, stressful, and busy holiday traffic. But planning and shopping carefully can help you clinch great deals and save money and time during the holiday season. Here are some tips for travelling by road and air.

Peak travel time

Travelling before or after a holiday, is always a tough job. For instance, in case of Thanksgiving the day before is to be avoided at all costs. But travelling on the day is affordable and you even get dead cheap air fares. Moreover, if you plan to return on any day except Sunday, the cost would be considerably less.

Similarly if you are planning to drive, make sure you avoid the before and after traffic. If you are travelling with family, ensure you have the necessary gear. A proper car seat avoids many hassles, if you have kids. You can search online for flexible dates to travel, so you get the right date combos with best deals without sacrificing your precious vacation days.

Shop for the best deal

For air travel, make sure you compare the prices before you book the tickets. From metasearch sites like Kayak, to auction sites like Priceline, you have plenty of options to use for comparison. And for most travelers the time factor plays vital role than money. Use the adjacent airports or days feature to find the best travel times and fares.

Airport choice

Alternate airports always offer a better deal than the standard airports, which would undoubtedly be busy at peak season time. You can get better parking, transit to and from the airport, hotels etc. Rental cars are also readily available.

For families travelling with kids it is best to have their own car seat than depend on the rental company to provide one. You can easily get good quality and reliable car seats at sites like The Wise Mom in all price ranges and types, so you can avoid the hefty rentals you would have to pay for the seat while using the rental car.


If you are travelling by road, ensure your car is well maintained. Inspect the tires before you embark on the journey. It is best to map the route you want to use, so you can avoid busy traffic hours especially during holidays. Store the valuable items in the car trunk or in a well-covered storage space. And make sure you have contact information on road side assistance handy at all times, so you can get help in case of emergencies. Nowadays you get apps that can be used to get help without even making a call.

If you prepare well in advance, you can easily get rid of stress and celebrate the holiday season with friends and family no matter how busy the time of the year you are travelling in.


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Dancing as a mating and hunting ritual

Many of you are still on holiday. Some of you may not be in great shape right now and need to rest. Those of you who are still going out to dance and jive, I’ll be quite happy to hear your thoughts on your latest excursion. Why don’t you share some of your thoughts with the rest of the readers here? Those who are tired and have stiff legs and arms, sit back and relax and enjoy the rest of this post. I’m sharing some recent thoughts I had during one of my quiet moments on dancing, not just a mating ritual, but as a hunting ritual as well.

Dancing and hunting as a spiritual ritual

Many of you already know that dancing is a ritualistic form of expressing ourselves creatively and out of sheer enjoyment for life. Some of you may be surprised to learn that for thousands of years, dancing was part of the ritual of hunting. Now, why would this be so surprising? For one thing, this ritual, with some rare exceptions, is not normally practiced among men today who are still traditionally the hunters. But during ancient times in most parts of the world, the hunting ritual was a spiritual affair.

To prepare themselves mentally for the expedition ahead, our forefathers’ spiritual leaders would lead them through a ritualistic dance to the point that they would all enter into a trance. That way, they all had a more than even chance of finding prey which would see to their communities’ culinary needs for weeks to come. I have mentioned before that I enjoy being outdoors. One of these days, I will be trying out the hunting experience myself. It will never be the same as it was then, but one thing I will be doing is getting myself quite a good crossbow instead of relying on traditional hunting rifles.

Making love, not war

Recalling one of my favorite Michael Jackson slow numbers, I have to say for the record that I’m a nature lover too. I’d love to preserve things, just as they were then, as far as it is humanly possible to do now. Now, let’s talk a little about the more popular ritual, mating and how dancing fits into this scheme of things. There’s a phrase in that Jackson song that I’m particularly fond of. It goes something like this; I’m a lover, not a fighter. So there you have it. My secret is out.

Anyway, since the beginning of time, dancing has always been used expressively as a form of attracting the attention of the opposite sex. The more conservative among you may also find it incredulous that during these rituals it was mostly the men that were making the overtures.

Proud as peacocks, the more determined dancers won their prize. Shy as some of you may be, make a note in your diary to go out dancing for the next few weeks to get yourselves tuned-up for Valentine’s Day during February, the month of love.


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Dancing With a Musical Instrument; a Worker’s Story

violin-1061240_960_720Around this time of year one is reminded of office parties and sometimes large banquets held on factory floors before their doors are shut tight for the next few weeks. There is lots of food to eat, plenty to drink and workers are all quite excited because their hard year is drawing to a close and they are about to say good-bye to their colleagues or fellow-workers until they meet again the following year. Those who diligently volunteered to stay behind to man the phones and hold the fort will also be relieved because the work environment is quiet.

Musical instruments and their fond memories

Workers put on their best outfits to attend this one last shebang. Sometimes the parties are held in the evening and they bring their wives, girlfriends, husbands or boyfriends to join in the festivities. Other times, a great barbecue is held over the weekend and workers bring their families to enjoy the seasonal feast. This might be a good time to suggest a miniature electric violin for one of your children to learn to play on as an ideal Christmas gift. This is provided your child loves music as much as you do, of course.

Perhaps you noticed this as she readily joined you on the dance floor for another turn. That being said, there is nothing better than having a live band add to the atmosphere of the annual Christmas ball. Purse strings tightened, most small companies merely set up a hi-fi and play an assortment of tracks that workers might be interested in jiving to. But the live event with dozens of couples moving in sync with the band’s melodies always leaves the reveler with fond memories to take home with him.

The dust should never settle

By the time the dust has settled and everyone has gone home to see to their Christmas preparations, everything is dark and quiet and one or two lonely cleaners are left to clean up the excess. But for them it is not all doom and gloom because they too have something to look forward to. Most people, no matter what their cultural background or walk of life, attach themselves to this festive time of year.

And websites like Themusicalstrings leave readers with reminders that music and their instruments have been around men and women for centuries as a necessary accompaniment to their cultural and festive celebrations which almost always included long bouts of dancing. If you are one of the very few folks who have never ever been to an end-of-year party, you may still have impressions of the lively atmosphere created by musical instruments from TV shows or popular dance musicals.

Music, dancing and the instruments that encourage it bring people together and almost always inspire people to lift themselves out of daily strife. I have one lasting impression to leave you with today. An old man is sitting at his piano tinkling his family’s favorite carol while they joyfully gather around closely together and sing the song. Have a happy holiday.


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