Posts Tagged With: ballroom dancing


These first two days in Mt.Vernon, I’ve swam, walked the grounds, rested and re-oriented myself to life in a motor home. Today, we will Ferry to Orcas Island and explore. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my pictures from China that I rescued from my old Mac.

As we approach the Temple of Heaven, we see street scenes like this, mobs of bicycles. From our bus we notice tired commuters trying to catch up on their sleep. The Chinese people work very hard under difficult conditions.

Entrance to the grounds is through several gates; an openness the Chinese people  treasure after the ring of three  feudal system walls, the Mongolians erected, were torn down by Chairman Mau. He replaced them by three ring roads, in all the cities that had the walls.

The grounds surrounding the temple is a huge complex with squares, grassy park areas and woods. The first square we come to is filled with ballroom dancers. This is early morning, and nearly all Chinese exercise in the morning, together, in public areas like this. Our guide invites us to join the dancers if we like. One man asked me to dance and I did. Like us, a senior with gray hair, but  strong and muscular. You rarely see a fat person in China.

Michal joined the single dancers on the next square over.

Part of the joy of visiting the Temple Of Heaven was strolling the beautiful grounds and watching the people. Here exercisers perform a  swirling banner dance with graceful ballet like movements.

At this square the people were clapping their hands and changing positions in a very rhythmic  fast-paced way. We enjoyed several groups of  typical tai chai movements.  One group did tai chai while holding balls and paddles. Amazing. Here houses are small so big body movements are only possible  in the parks. They don’t appear to have gyms as we know them.

And, finally, the temple itself. Everything here is so huge, it is difficult to get a picture up close, at least with my camera. This temple is a UNESCO (World Heritage) site. At one time, animal sacrifices were done here and the meat cooked and eaten in the “great” kitchen. The temple is the tallest round building in the world.

Carved column and rail as on the temple stairs.

In the vast interior of the temple, your flash is almost useless. Instead, we were astounded at the beauty of the building; the priceless labors from ancient times that went into building and designing it.  Some things are enjoyable but do not translate to a camera such as mine.

The outer facade of the temple. Not difficult to understand why it is a world-class heritage site. The Temple of Heaven was the province of the Emperor, his family, consorts and servants. The public did not worship here.

And the long hall is really, really long.

A roof corner decoration detail.

We repaired to a Chinese restaurant for lunch.

No matter where you are, the appeal of little children is the same.

But only in China will you find a roof  like this.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Yesterday, we went to Greenfield Village in Mesa to watch Jim’s pal, Aaron Canvasser, dance. This is considered round dancing and ball room dancing, waltz, in fact. But, its nothing like the waltz our parents used to do. The moves are graceful and intricate and the dancers use a caller to call out the moves, as in round dancing. I guess one would have to say its a combination of ball room and round dancing. The levels begin at one and end at six. This is round dancing at the highest level.

The instructor demonstrates the new steps for this particular waltz from the floor. Then the dancers get up and learn the steps.

The moves are open and close, twirls, and weight shifts. Hand positions are also taught. The dancers concentrate fully on the technicality of the moves, first without the music and then with the music.

Aaron’s partner is Judy Priest whose husband is recovering from surgery. Aaron’s wife is unable to attend this season and has had to stay at home. It kind of reminds me of old square dancing days. It was always said, you drag your husband to the dance, then, when he realizes how much fun it is, he will attend even if you stay home.

And like square dancers everywhere, this group was friendly and open. Many came by to ask us if we wanted to dance, where we were from and so on. Made me wish I was still in a square dance club.

Many people in this group have danced together for 15-20 years, I was told. Longevity is a hallmark of this type of communal dancing. They help each other, change partners when one is tired or temporarily or permanently incapacitated, they share, they learn with and from each other. A wholesome activity for all ages, though this is a senior group of retirees. Several women danced solo along with the couples to keep their skills up to date.

The music plays, the dancers practice their new skills so they can flow gracefully about the floor at the next dance, on Friday night.

Posted by Mary Matzek at 6:11 AM
Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fred Astaire, Jr????

In my last two Blog entries, I mentioned my good friend Aaron, but I did not tell you what he is doing in this area. For a number of years he has spent January through March of each year…Ballroom Dancing!

Yesterday Mary and I went to Mesa, AZ (about 12 miles from our location at Apache Junction) to watch him dance. He was at a two-hour, level six (the highest level of expertise) dance lesson with his friend, Judy. There were more than 50 couples in attendance.


To see a short video of Aaron and Judy in action…click this link…

All original material Copyright – Jim Jaillet 2011
For more information about my three books, click this link:

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



Aaron Canvasser is one of Jim’s, in his words, weirdest friends. Aaron and his wife Cheryl are ballroom dancers. They follow the ball room dancing circuit in Mesa and enjoy the intricate, challenging part of the dance. Aaron goes nowhere without his dog, Shaka. Cute, endearing and friendly, like Aaron.

Shaka made herself right at home in the motor home. Cheryl, however, had to work this season, and Aaron does  the dancing circuit without her. (That might be the reason he is weird, or different.)  She stayed home and Aaron has had to dance with partners whose husbands or partners are out of the competition.
I  planned to go find a place for a haircut. Aaron offered to cut my hair for me. Naw! I don’t think so.  His wife Cheryl confirmed over the phone that Aaron cuts her hair for her and is good at it.  He  charmed me into it. He cut my hair and did a credible job. But, the haircut was secondary to the laughter we shared. Every passing walker and driver either smiled or cat called and asked when it was their turn. Jim insisted on a picture.

The hair fell, I brushed off, we laughed a lot. It wasn’t the best haircut I ever had, but it was the most fun haircut I ever had. After all, I reasoned, the difference between a good haircut and a bad haircut is about a week.

Then, much to my surprise, Aaron asked me to cut HIS hair. I’m game. I cut my boys hair when they were kids. I warned him I hadn’t cut hair in about 30 years.

He was game. So this time the guys passing by were cat calling and asking when the next appointment would be.

Aaron left less shaggy than when he arrived. I guess it was a credible job as well. If I ever come back to this life a second time, I might try barber as an occupation.

Who would have thought that trading haircuts could be so much fun?

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at