Gina & Luca Ball Room Dancing

About

“Dance the Night Away” on February 2017: Gina and Luca have coordinated this fundraiser for the Good News Center every year for the past 11 years.

Our book has been out, and Gina is working on Book 2!

 

Our book on Ballroom Dancing titled, “Slow Slow Quick Quick: A Scrapbook Approach To The Ballroom Scene in Central New York” is finally out and selling very well. Thank you so much to those of you who bought it and spread the word to other dancers.

The photo-filled book is a chronicle of the rich history of ballroom teachers, dancers and events in the Central New York area that date back many many years as more contemporary vignettes that celebrate dancing as we have known it and been integral to it for the last fifty years.

Many fine dancers will find themselves photographed or mentioned in the book and will find that fun to be immortalized in print that way. Other though not in this first volume which was finished before they entered of were totally involved in dancing will find themselves in the next one. We certainly have enough material and more for the one and now that we have put this one out there the positive feedback has been so encouragig that we will not hesitate to continue the writing as well as the dancing.

Here are some comments from those who have bought the book and are enjoying it:

“Gina and Luca Esposito have written a beautiful story about their lives and dancing in central New York. It is a love story as well as a journal of years of dancing. The people they have met and places they have danced may read like a “whose who”. Rest assured, this heart warming book will put a smile on your face and delight your soul. As a senior myself, it has brought back many memories I shared with my parents, who took dance lessons in the 50’s. Treat yourself to read this book and enjoy the many pictures. I am so glad Gina and Luca found time to write, organize and publish this book. It is a treasure.”
-Carla

“Congratulation on your book, very well done. I especially liked the layout.”
-Wayne

“I love the book. The scrapbook style is perfect because dance is a lot of things – music, changing styles, footwork, venue, history, partner – that all come together to make something which it might sound lofty to describe this way but is a transcendent experience. Dance is also very personal – personal history, personal preferences, personal location – so the personal stories of your family and including things like Fred Ashforth’s hilarious inside joke song is just spot-on.

I would say I want more, more, not because your book is the least bit short in any area, it’s just like when a child doesn’t want the party to end.”
Thanks,
Vincent

“Gina and Luca Esposito have written a beautiful story about their lives and dancing in central New York. It is a love story as well as a journal of years of dancing. The people they have met and places they have danced may read like a “whose who”. Rest assured, this heart warming book will put a smile on your face and delight your soul. As a senior myself, it has brought back many memories I shared with my parents, who took dance lessons in the 50’s. Treat yourself to read this book and enjoy the many pictures. I am so glad Gina and Luca found time to write, organize and publish this book. It is a treasure.”
Sincerely,
Carla

How the dancing all began.

(An excerpt from our book called “Slow Slow Quick Quick: A Scrapbook Journal of Central New York’s Ballroom Dance Scene”)

For us, dancing was a part of our very introduction, our chemistry, our first date, our connection, and continued connection for the last forty plus years.

It began at Power Dam, a local swimming hole where families and singles would go and swim, and feel like they had a mini-vacation since there was a sandy beach, diving boards, a low part for kids to kick a round in, and a real dock and swimming area for those who could really swim. I hope there was a life guard-but I really don’t remember one. We all went there as kids with our families for an outing that was great, but a little less great than going to Sylvan Beach or Oneida Lake.

Well, I had just returned from “New York” after four years at Pratt Institute, where I had just graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts. I was spending a hot summer day home at my parents’ house adjusting to being back in Utica when my sister Marie invited me to go to Power Dam with her and her boyfriend. I did not want to go but she insisted, so I gave in and went to the swimming hole, where my fate was about to turn in the direction of Luca Esposito. I was Gina Trisolino at the time and expecting to work in the family Bridal Shop because that was what my father and mother insisted I do rather than remain in New York City after my graduation.

Luca was there with his friends on this hot summery beach day, and he just happened to know my sister Marie Trisolino in two ways, from Proctor High School, where she was a couple of years behind him in age and grade, and from ballroom dancing, since they were both instructors at two different studios. Luca was at Arthur Murray’s where Marie had received her first formal training in ballrool dancing. At this point in time Marie had worked with Tony Ferrone and Ron Medici who were both her partners and co-teachers. Ron also taught ballet, tap, jazz and all forms of dance to children. Our youngest sister Julieanne, who was about twelve at the time, was one of their prize pupils who even assisted them in teaching the younger students.

Marie had been designated as “best dancer” in her graduating class at Proctor and was famous for her jitterbug style at the Huddle and the Campus Inn which were two high school hang-outs for dancers and smokers, which, although it was not considered the health hazard it is now, was still taboo in high school (on school grounds anyway).

Luca spies Gina (that’s me) and the story begins. He asks Marie “Who’s your friend?” and she replies, “She’s not my friend, she’s my sister,” which he does not beliece since girlfriends in the fifties were always pretending to be sisters. But Marie finally convinced him that this time we were really sisters. Anyway, he got his introduction and a phone call later that week brought us to a first date on that Friday. So what did our date consist of? A Movie? No. Bowling? No. Dancing? Of course! A beautiful night of dancing mambo, cha cha, swing, waltz, and fox trot at grippe’s nightclub in Frankfort with live music every week. We danced then like we dance now–as if we had always danced together. And that of course set the pattern of all of our dates and our engagement and our wedding and our honeymoon–dance, dance, dance, and more dance with no sign of letting up to this very day.

In Florida we danced to a street band who were advertising a new gas station’s grand opening. We also danced at the famous Fountainbleau Hotel in a fabulous showroom that became a ballroom after the show ended. Forty years later we went to the same hotel and danced in the same magical room and the dance circle completed itself beautifully.

Marie’s partners, Tony and Ron, held gorgeous exhibition dance shows that were unique in that they featured a threesome, one beautiful woman and two handsome, wonderful dance partners.

Our “baby” sister Julie studied ballet, jazz and tap dancing with Ron Medici and while still an adolescent, began filling in as a ballroom teacher for Tony and Ron. This was the heyday of ballroom dancing and the studios all had more than enough students for the number of teachers and hours in the day. Julie went on to study dance at Boston Conservatory and became a lifelong dance performer and dance teacher. Although she primarily fills her slots of teaching hours with ballet, modern dance, and jazz she also has a ballroom dance clientele. She has also run her own dance company for many years in the Washington D.C./Alexandria, Virginia area where she makes her home with her husband and family.

There were also wonderful dance parties at Tony’s house where he had a real dance floor and a real bar. Very impressive parties with loads of great dancers who had taken lessons from Tony, Ron, and Marie. Ron went away to become a college professor, the parties continued and Tony’s many students and friends of dancing were invited. Luca nad I were invited because of my sister Marie and we enjoyed the high level dancing that went on at these private parties.

Many students also belonged to the Top Hatters, which Luca abd I joined after our marriage–after much hesitation, because we didn’t consider ourselves club people nor did we think of ourselves as needing a dance club in order to have occasions to dance. We were busy traveling around and always finding dance venues wherever we went. Some in New York City I knew of personally from my days in the City and others my brother Sebastian who still lived in N.Y. would tell us to try. Some of these were The Alameda Room, Tavern on the Green, Chateau Madrid, all in New York City where we would drive (or shall I say Luca would drive and I would rest) after I had worked all day Saturday at the Bridal Shop and all week as an art teacher at Proctor. Our energy was boundless and endless for dancing and the travel did not deter us from dancing for hours (into the wee hours on Saturday) and all afternoon at the various tea dances or matinee dance sessions on Saturday. Then, late Sunday night, we’d arrive home ready to start the week all over again.

Sebastian surprised us on the occasion of his birthday by arranging for Luca and me to be pulled into the Latin Revue on stage and the Chateau Madrid. It was very exciting to dance with the professional show people, as exciting as the time Luca did the mambo with Abbe Lane, Xavier Cugat’s wife, when the appeared in Syracuse at the Three Rivers Inn. Our only other claim to fame was when we jitterbugged on stage at the Stanley Performing Arts Theatre in our hometown Utica with Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon and other classic fifties singers.

Sometimes it was Albany that we would drive to for dancing and, of course, Syracuse and this we still do at least once a month to support their dance clubs, the Cotillion and the Lamplighters. and of course, Bruce Heffron’s Sunday dances at the Knights of Columbus. We also attend dances where the current craze salsa is featured.

Joinging the Top Hatters turned out to be a very good decision and we have since come to strongly recommend joining and supporting dance clubs. We met wonderful dance couples at the Top Hatters dances and were invited to their houses for “before the dinner dance” cocktails and to “after the dance” breakfasts. We were a tight and fun-loving group, who remained friends for many years before that group grew older, retired and moved to Florida.

The Catskills dance weekends were a definite must for getting our dancing fix and for learning new skills, steps, and patterns. We would dance–and still do–until 3 or 4 am alternating between the ballroom dance room and the mambo room where only Latin would be played. Now they even offer an Angentine Tango salon and a hustle room in addition to the two main offerings, all until the wee hours. Then, get up early the next morning so as not to miss any of the dance workshops given at various levels of experience. All excellent and worth attending–no matter how good you are–since there are always new versions of an old dance emerging to be sampled and digested and added to one’s dance repertoire. For example, Luca and I first saw the West Coast Swing in Los Angeles (where else?). Since then it has come to Central New York and of course everywhere in the country where the dance has had great exposure. Some dancers get deeply into one type of dance only, but Luca and I love all of the dances and don’t like to limit ourselves–as in Argentine Tango to the exclusion of all other tango or all other dances. We love Argentine Tango but would never want to give up the other dances that we also love.

 

Gina and Luca at Dancing With The Stars with Celebrity Dancer Melissa

Gina and Luca with Jeff Ross

Gina and Luca with Jeff Ross

Gina, Luca and their daughter Marla with Mark Balas

Gina and Luca with Star Jones

Gina and Luca with Star Jones

 

-Gina

Healthy Chocolate

© 2013 Gina Luca Dance