Persephone has been teaching dance since 1997, and has appeared in Friday Night Waltz, where she DJed its first 3 years. Then she started the first (and only, so far) year-round weekly Vintage waltz class in the Bay Area. With her creative DJing she was the first to bring waltz into the SOMA nightclub scene, a trend that is still growing. But these accomplishments are not nearly as important as how well she treats her dance students. People love her classes and come back over and over, sometimes for years. She is patient, articulate, and inspiring.movies and television, as well as run dance perfomance troupes. She co-founded a waltz venue in Palo Alto,
Q: What kind of waltz is "Vintage waltz"? Is it the kind I've seen before?
A: We call a dance form "Vintage" when, by having passed out of mainstream popularity since before our parents' time, it becomes a novelty to rediscover. The most common form of Vintage waltz is Rotary waltz: it's mostly spinning and swirling moves, and mostly clockwise. It became popular in the1840s, though it is still done all over the world, especially during festivals. A couple of generations later, it became popular to waltz in Reverse, spinning counter-clockwise; this is still done in competitions under the misnomer Viennese Waltz. A couple more generations and waltz slowed down, and adopted a box step like the Fox Trot which was so popular then, in the 1930s-40s. This last style is the most likely to come up at senior tea dances and Arthur Murray type ballroom studios. We do not typically cover box step waltz in our classes, as it is incongruous with the other forms of waltz, using music at less than half the normal tempo, and completely different body positions. All the forms of waltz we do cover, will travel rapidly around the edge of the room, and involve turning.
Q: Where did you get the BPM (beats per minute) for all your songs?
A: No magic trick; I look at the clock and count the beats for each one. I have seen automatic BPM counters as part of DJ equipment, but since our music doesn't have a thumping bass, they don't give accurate readings.
Q: I just found a CD in my classical music collection that is full of waltzes, should I practice to that?
A: Not usually. Often things were labelled "waltz" because they were originally written in 3/4 time; this does not always mean it is performed at a consistent tempo enough to dance to. Especially, beware of Chopin, as musicians love to interpret his pieces into wildly changing tempos and rhythms.
Q: Can I stay for intermediate class?
A: No, since it's only your first [or second, sometimes third] day with us, please practice what you've learned and come to beginning again before you try intermediate.
Q: But I think I am good enough.
A: I am glad you have confidence, but you also need for your technique to get closer to the level of the people in the intermediate class before you can join them.
Q: Why don't we have dance cards at our local waltz dances?
A: There are several reasons organizations choose not to issue dance cards. For some, they like to announce dances as the come rather than have a posted list; that way they can fill requests, adding and subtracting from their sets as they go. For others, they want to avoid the competitive nature of filling one's dance card, especially in a venue where the women outnumber the men 2 to 1. Imagine arriving a little late to the dance, to find that all the men are booked the rest of the evening.
Q: Oh no, what would I do!?
A: Learn to lead. When everyone knows both the leader and follower parts, it becomes less of an issue.
Q: I took a class with another teacher and his advice was very different than yours. Why is that?
A: I cannot explain or justify another dancer's choice of movements, only my own. I can always explain, in as much detail as you like, how and why I came to the techniques I use. You are welcome to try it "his" way for one evening of dancing, and then try it "my" way the next, and you may discover which works better for you. Also, different teachers have different goals for their students. What another teacher is trying to accomplish, I can't always tell. What my techniques are trying to accomplish, I can tell you: I am trying to help you understand your body, and become a good dancer in the long term, including good timing, control, and aesthetics.
Q: Can you burn me a CD of waltzes?
A: I don't want to say yes to everyone and pirate all that music, so to be fair I say no to everyone. There is a list here on the site of recommended music you can download or look for in the library. Also you are welcome to ask me after class about music, you can name bands you have or tempos you need and I can recommend songs to practice to.