2009-2010 Officer Elections

It’s almost time to elect new officers for the 2009-2010 schoolyear!

The Officer Election Petition is available for download. If you’re going to run for an officer position, you need to fill out a petition and return it to us!

Elections will be held in late March.

We’ll publish the Constitution online before elections. In the meantime, you can read about the officer positions here:

The PRESIDENT shall…

  • set a schedule for RSDS events
  • have final responsibility for the organization of events
  • along with the Vice-Presidents, act as a liaison to the Rice Administration and the US-ABDA
  • convene and preside over meetings of RSDS
  • have the power to appoint committees and determine their membership


  • along with the President, act as a liaison to the Rice Administration and the US-ABDA
  • perform other duties as determined by the President

The TREASURER shall…

  • keep up-to-date and accurate records of RSDS finances
  • act as a liaison to the Rice Administration on matters concerning RSDS finances
  • be responsible for developing a budget
  • administer fund-raising activities

The SECRETARY shall…

  • be responsible for maintaining membership records
  • handle all other recordkeeping necessary for the operation of the RSDS
  • be responsible for RSDS publicity


  • be responsible for organizing all events, such as practice dances, cotillions, competitions, milongas, and socials
  • perform other duties as determined by the Presdient
  • NOTE: We allow up to three (3) Events Coordinators, to serve the Ballroom, Swing, and Tango programs. However, all the events coordinators will be responsible for contributing cooperatively to support the entire RSDS community.

If you have any questions, talk to Michael or Emilia (rsds@).

Muscle Memory Minders

Last week in the beginners’ swing class we went over some of the most important things we think help your lead/follow, technique, and all-around skillz, plus said a few things specifically for the follows. These are things just to keep in the back of your head and sometimes think about consciously, until you can really get it into your muscle memory and do them naturally. Here is the list in full:

Muscle-Memory Minders:

  • Footpatterns — you won’t have time to be distracted by trying to make your feet do the right thing.
  • Frame fundamentals — keep your arm in front of you with a slight bend (i.e. do not let your elbows push back behind you nor let your arms outstretch).
  • Follows, let your Energy Flow — that is the life blood of this dance!
  • Create and Respond to changes in Energy with Counterbalance (not muscle).
  • Lead with your hips as you move… letting your shoulders ride above them, moving as one piece — If we are moving “away” then with our counterbalance we would ease into a “sit” (keeping shoulders above the hips, not leading/preceding the hips) as energy is arrested.
  • Follows, Return (compression, tension, counterbalance from the Lead) In Kind.
  • And it’s corollary, to Respond to Energy from the Lead, not just to the tension or compression inherent in your position (i.e. don’t bounce).

Follows’ Skills & Secrets:

  • RELAXING does Wonders! — If you MUST think while dancing, try to focus on your own technique (e.g. sit back in his arm, frame, flow, etc.), not anticipating his leads or moves.
  • Be on top of your foot wherever you step to — try to step and move all your weight to that foot as you follow the guy’s lead. There will be a temptation to transfer your weight to the trailing foot as it comes up; but be patient, leave your weight on the foot you were led to and leave your trailing foot free as the dance continues. This means that you’ll always be on one foot with the other free, never resting on both feet with your balance split (unless your lead actually takes you there).
  • Keep your shoulders back (as opposed to letting them slump forward) — doing this helps with connection, frame, and grace.
  • Always look at (or at least, be able to look at) your hand when you’re being led in a turn.
  • Do not release the connection with your partner. You certainly don’t want to grasp but neither do you ever want to pull your hand away.
  • We start by asking you to follow a little “heavy” to be sure you don’t anticipate and that you’re letting your leads move you — but as you get more comfortable you’ll find that you can still be patient in your follow and you’ll never-the-less be able to respond and follow much more lightly.
  • There are lots of places where the Follow can play in Swing. Let’s look at where/when you can find those opportunities.

Officer Meeting minutes

Meeting Minutes
2009-02-09 RSDS Officer Meeting

- Houston Tango Festival
- upcoming officer elections
- drop-in rates for dance classes
- the performance team
- schedule changes
- Jazz Soiree

meeting convened:

in attendance:
Emilski “el Presidente” Stepinski, Michael, Natalie Weber, Paul Anzel, Hannah Thalenberg, Heather Elliott, Vica Papp, Lez Tang, Emily Watkins, Tal E., Sriram Eleswarapu, Yang Hu, Autumn Allen, ZZ-pops, Joe, Becky

Thank you Betty Crock– er, Becky Saunders, for the delicious cookies. Tal is taking over Swing unless somebody else wants to. Straw poll: nobody else wants to. OK, Tal, it’s all yours. Lots of people from tango and swing. W00t! Paul inserts shameless plug: Oil for Jazz is good stuff. Laura Liem is Emily Watkins’ sister. Pam == Super Awesome Team Mom.

officer elections:
We need more people involved with the club, contributing to planning, and sharing officer workload. Several officers are leaving next year, so people should start shadowing officers, especially Natalie. Tal, shadow Natalie. Everybody else, shadow Natalie. The rest of you can shadow me. You don’t have to be the super awesomeest dancer to be an officer. You just have to be interested and not a murderous pedophile. Talk to Michael or Emilia if you’re interested in being more involved with RSDS. Alternatively, just start doing stuff. (oh, and Emilia needs help organizing the UT Competition trip.)

jazz soiree:
Live band. Good times. Except we cant find a space yet. Martel is the new object of our desire. Autumn and Tal should bug Maria (Martel coordinator) about our space request.

Harvest Moon Ball:

Space has been requested. Natalie is going to a meeting. Take Tal and whoever else is interested in helping.

Houston Tango Festival:
We had good success communicating with HTF folks this year and getting some good perks for RSDS folks. Next year: performance team at HTF? “That could be cool.” Let’s ask for more beginner classes. Also, an “intensive workshop for just RSDS people” is in the works, tentatively slated to be given in the week preceding the festival. Anzel: “RSDS shoulds how up en masse at Milongas!” Send other ideas to Natalie.

Coming up, March 21-23. Natalie will research prices. Michael Dirk is “international.” Heh.

drop-in rates for classes:
Difficult to keep track of prorated classes and individual payments. Conclusion: not for individual classes, but perhaps for special groups of classes. Straw poll says: Cool.

new swing schedule:
Free dancing, sampler class, semester-long Jitterbug class. Triple your options, triple your fun.

ballroom schedule:
Next semester might be on Tuesdays, due to Continuing Studies programs taking over the Grand Hall on Monday. Stay tuned for updates. Straw poll confirms: Tuesday isn’t quite as nice, but it’s not super terrible, either. Michael’s advice: Just keep your evenings free on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and all will be well.

wannabe music directors:
Talk to Michael if you (A) want to DJ for RSDS free dance on Monday, or (B) need ballroom dance music.

other business:

Silence from the crowd. Conclusion: no other business.

meeting adjourned:
6:14, just in time to squeeze a couple good quicksteps in before lessons.

posted online – http://rsds.rice.edu

Respectfully submitted,
Michael Rog
RSDS Not-Secretary / Music Director

Swing Sampler class, February 5th

Starting this Thursday, the Swing Sampler class will sample a four-week Balboa course taught by Terry and Van. Balboa (or just “bal”) is great for fast songs and is quite different than the other types of swing dance we offer, so check it out.

IMPORTANT: For these four weeks, the Sampler class will start at 7:00. This means the open dance time will begin before either class starts. However, if you can’t come that early but wanted to go over something before the Jitterbug class, you can still come 30 minutes before Jitterbug starts — Hank and I will both be at Bal and can easily step to the side with you to work on something. We’ll revert to schedule-as-usual after Spring Break.

6:30-7:00 Open Dance time (bring music or requests if you got ‘em!)
7:00-8:00 Swing Sampler: Balboa with Terry and Van
8:00-9:15 Beginners Swing: Jitterbug


Terry and Van are alums with three Rice degrees and many years of social dance experience between them. They are active contributors to the local swing dance community. They organize dance events, teach classes for non-profit dance studios, and have performed in shows as part of the Houston Swing Dance Society’s Hep Cats dance team. They are looking foward to their fourth year of teaching Balboa at their alma mater.

What is Balboa?

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balboa_(dance)

“Balboa is a form of swing dance that started as early as 1915 and gained in popularity in the 1930s and 1940s. It is danced primarily in close embrace, and is led with a full body connection. The art of Balboa is the subtle communication between the lead and follow, like weight shifts, that most viewers cannot see. As a result, Balboa is considered more of a ‘dancer’s dance’ than a ‘spectator’s dance’.

Balboa is danced to a wide variety of tempos. Because the basic step takes up such a small space, Balboa can be danced to fast music (over 300 beats per minute). Balboa is also danced to slow music (under 100 beats per minute), which allows more time for intricate footwork and variations.”

Examples of Couples Dancing Balboa:

All Balboa Weekend 2008 – Jack & Jill Competition

All Balboa Weekend 2004 – Randy and Kara

Seattle Balboa Swing Championships 2008 – Group Dance

What We’ll Teach at Rice:

We can’t promise that you’ll look just like those dancers in the videos but we can promise that you’ll have fun. During our four one-hour sessions we will focus on the core Balboa steps that emphasize clear weight shifts, groundedness, and body leads. You can think of this class as teaching you the basics of a popular jazz-era dance while at the same time you are practicing fundamental dance principles that you can take back to your jitterbug, Lindy Hop, west coast swing, blues, Charleston, etc.