Letters 10-24-2016

It’s Obama’s 1984 Several editions ago I concluded a short letter to the editor with an ominous rhetorical flourish: “Welcome to George Orwell’s 1984 and the grand opening of the Federal Department of Truth!” At the time I am sure most of the readers laughed off my comments as right-wing hyperbole. Shame on you for doubting me...

Gun Bans Don’t Work It is said that mass violence only happens in the USA. A lone gunman in a rubber boat, drifted ashore at a popular resort in Tunisia and randomly shot and killed 38 mostly British and Irish tourists. Tunisian gun laws, which are among the most restrictive in the world, didn’t stop this mass slaughter. And in January 2015, two armed men killed 11 and wounded 11 others in an attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. French gun laws didn’t stop these assassins...

Scripps’ Good Deed No good deed shall go unpunished! When Dan Scripps was the 101st District State Representative, he introduced legislation to prevent corporations from contaminating (e.g. fracking) or depleting (e.g. Nestle) Michigan’s water table for corporate profit. There are no property lines in the water table, and many of us depend on private wells for abundant, safe, clean water. In the subsequent election, Dan’s opponents ran a negative campaign almost solely on the misrepresentation that Dan’s good deed was a government takeover of your private water well...

Political Definitions As the time to vote draws near it’s a good time to check into what you stand for. According to Dictionary.com the meanings for liberal and conservative are as follows:

Liberal: Favorable to progress or reform as in political or religious affairs.

Conservative: Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditions and limit change...

Voting Takes A Month? Hurricane Matthew hit the Florida coast Oct. 6, over three weeks before Election Day. Bob Ross (Oct. 17th issue) posits that perhaps evacuation orders from Governor Scott may have had political motivations to diminish turnout and seems to praise Hillary Clinton’s call for Gov. Scott to extend Florida’s voter registration deadline due to evacuations...

Clinton Foundation Facts Does the Clinton Foundation really spend a mere 10 percent (per Mike Pence) or 20 percent (per Reince Priebus) of its money on charity? Not true. Charity Watch gives it an A rating (the same as it gives the NRA Foundation) and says it spends 88 percent on charitable causes, and 12 percent on overhead. Here is the source of the misunderstanding: The Foundation does give only a small percentage of its money to charitable organizations, but it spends far more money directly running a number of programs...

America Needs Change Trump supports our constitution, will appoint judges that will keep our freedoms safe. He supports the partial-birth ban; Hillary voted against it. Regardless of how you feel about Trump, critical issues are at stake. Trump will increase national security, monitor refugee admissions, endorse our vital military forces while fighting ISIS. Vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence will be an intelligent asset for the country. Hillary wants open borders, increased government regulation, and more demilitarization at a time when we need strong military defenses...

My Process For No I will be voting “no” on Prop 3 because I am supportive of the process that is in place to review and approve developments. I was on the Traverse City Planning Commission in the 1990s and gained an appreciation for all of the work that goes into a review. The staff reviews the project and makes a recommendation. The developer then makes a presentation, and fellow commissioners and the public can ask questions and make comments. By the end of the process, I knew how to vote for a project, up or down. This process then repeats itself at the City Commission...

Regarding Your Postcard If you received a “Vote No” postcard from StandUp TC, don’t believe their lies. Prop 3 is not illegal. It won’t cost city taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal bills or special elections. Prop 3 is about protecting our downtown -- not Munson, NMC or the Commons -- from a future of ugly skyscrapers that will diminish the very character of our downtown...

Vote Yes It has been suggested that a recall or re-election of current city staff and Traverse City Commission would work better than Prop 3. I disagree. A recall campaign is the most divisive, costly type of election possible. Prop 3, when passed, will allow all city residents an opportunity to vote on any proposed development over 60 feet tall at no cost to the taxpayer...

Yes Vote Explained A “yes” vote on Prop 3 will give Traverse City the right to vote on developments over 60 feet high. It doesn’t require votes on every future building, as incorrectly stated by a previous letter writer. If referendums are held during general elections, taxpayers pay nothing...

Beware Trump When the country you love have have served for 33 years is threatened, you have an obligation and a duty to speak out. Now is the time for all Americans to speak out against a possible Donald Trump presidency. During the past year Trump has been exposed as a pathological liar, a demagogue and a person who is totally unfit to assume the presidency of our already great country...

Picture Worth 1,000 Words Nobody disagrees with the need for affordable housing or that a certain level of density is dollar smart for TC. The issue is the proposed solution. If you haven’t already seen the architect’s rendition for the site, please Google “Pine Street Development Traverse City”...

Living Wage, Not Tall Buildings Our community deserves better than the StandUp TC “vote no” arguments. They are not truthful. Their yard signs say: “More Housing. Less Red Tape. Vote like you want your kids to live here.” The truth: More housing, but for whom? At what price..

Home · Articles · News · Features · Dance Therapy
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Dance Therapy

Anne Stanton - May 4th, 2009
Dance Therapy
Anne Stanton 5/4/09

Partner dancing. Fun, but come on. Does it really change lives?
When you talk to a group of students and their college dance instructor, Mykl (pronounced Michael) who goes by one name, the answer is an overwhelming “ohmygodyes!” Their enthusiasm is so great about Mykl’s unique style of partner dancing—an intimate style of ballroom dancing, which looks very graceful and altogether normal—they believe that it can become a movement. That it has the potential to spread like a virus (a good virus) throughout the world, and awake the weary worker bees who have lost their joy of living due to the hum drum struggle of survival.
In fact, they are making a feature movie about this dance style and are calling it Be Here Now.
They have little money, but so far passion has carried them a long way. With a barebones budget, they have written a 90-page script, filmed secondary scenes and put together a cast, production crew, and music. All that thanks to people who have generously given of their equipment, time and talent, said movie producer James Weston Lynne.
Even so, Westonfilm needs money to complete the project—up to half a million dollars. Filming is scheduled to begin in June and wrap up this fall. Westonfilm is looking for donations of any size and will be holding a fundraiser on May 13 at the InsideOut Gallery at 7 p.m.
Bring your dancing shoes!

The movie’s story line focuses on the lives of seven people who take a dance class from Mykl, a free-spirited dance instructor, who shares his philosophy of dance and its metaphor for enjoying life.
The characters are troubled—a journalist, for example, was nearly blinded while on assignment in Iraq; she has serious questions about her ability to continue her life’s work. The characters’ lives interweave throughout the movie; as they progress through the dance classes and learn to trust, their sense of isolation and fear melts away.
“Your ability to learn how to trust as you dance is something you carry into your life,” Mykl said. “ You can’t help it. I see it so often, and it’s the impetus for the film. It’s all about growth and the potential for transforming your life. Fear turns to love and joy into creative dance. It’s the only way you can do it right.
It affects anyone who gets into it. I’ve seen the shy, nerdy boy hanging out in the corner. And, how after he learns to dance, he’s out there talking to a girl. Not just any girl, but the prettiest girl in the room.”
Mykl believes that dance isn’t supposed to be a rigid set of complex steps, with the man leading and the woman subserviently trying to follow. His approach is to get the students to walk out the beat and ultimately to dance, following the passion of the music. The next evolution is the most important—for the partners to balance their weight and dance movements against each other. It’s as if the “balance” becomes the focal point, the real “lead” between the two dancers.

Mykl said he was subconsciously inspired by watching Fred Astaire movies when he was younger. Later as a dance teacher, he saw that most people were intimidated or felt boxed in by a rigid set of steps. They quit, and he felt like doing the same.
Instead, Mykl decided to teach another way—to instead show students a basic framework for the steps of a particular dance within which the dancers improvise, such as in the three-beat waltz. But whether it’s a swing, salsa, tango or blues dance, the concept is the same. Feel the passion, dance to the rhythm, and let the balance and the music lead you.
It’s even bigger than that, say the actors who are gathered in a downtown Traverse City apartment to explain the movie. As the dancers move, they must be absolutely present in the moment and fully aware of their partner. That moment feels magical, said Jamaica Lynne Weston (James’ wife), who has studied modern dance for years.
“I was scared, really scared the first time I tried it. I’m used to dancing alone, and I felt intimidated. But I pushed through it. And I loved it. Ever since then, that’s what I want to do. You’re learning to dance in an equal partnership. You give some, they give some,” she said.
George Michaelson, the production’s still photographer, says that dance helps people lose their sense of isolation.
“Somewhere along the way, people lost their passion to live life as it’s meant to be lived—taking the time to enjoy the look, the touch of another person, the smell of a rose,” he explained in a video promoting the film.
Dance revives the passion, he said.

James Weston Lynne, 22, said he started dancing with Mykl three years ago at a time in his life when he was questioning his life’s direction. He had started attending college at the age of 16 and began working as a flight instructor at the age of 18. A year later, he was feeling rushed and wondering if flying was truly his life’s work. About that time, he had returned to Traverse City and decided to visit a dance club held Wednesdays at Northwestern Michigan College at 9 p.m. The club attracts up to 80 people, most of them in their 20s and 30s.
“I thought it was going to be more like a Streeter’s with a lot of kids with really loud music, lots of hip thrusting, arms waving in the air,” he said. “It turns out, it was an absolute stark contrast to that. There was much more warmth, the music was beautiful. I had no concept that could even exist. There is no drinking, we don’t even have drinking at our events. You have to be present to dance, and alcohol just gets in the way.”
After dancing at the club for four months, Lynne decided to take a class from Mykl. Over time, he began spending less time as a flight instructor and commercial pilot, and more time building his new company, Westonfilm. “Through dance, I learned that I loved the arts and being creative,” he said.
Over the past three years, Mykl, his partner Carrah Buckel (who is in the film) James and Jamaica—whom he met at the dance club—have become dance ambassadors of sorts. They travel all over the state to conduct workshops and hold dance events. Former students often invite them to their college campuses and organize the events.
Mykl came up with the idea of an instructional video to take his dance style national, but Lynne talked him into making a full-length feature film, which could better convey the transformational power of dance. The movie title, Be Here Now, came from one of the first inspirational books that Mykl read in his early 20s. “Its philosophy was very profound for me.”
The talent fell together, drawing on an underground of a younger crowd with a spiritual and environmental bent, including musicians from the Earthwork music collective—Breathe Owl Breathe, Chris Dorman, and May Erlewine and Seth Bernard, Susan Fawcett, founder of Fox on a Hill Productions, and the environmental group, Little Artshram, which is assisting with fund raising.
The stories in the film are based, in part, on real stories of dancers.
“There are so many stunning stories of being changed and transformed,” Lynne said.
The only thing left now is to come up with a name for the dance. The idea of “unity dancing” was suggested.
“Yes, we like how it sounds,” Mykl said. “In the past we’ve been calling it ‘freestyle shared partner dance,’ but we think that’s kind of long... so yes, how about we call it ‘unity dancing.’”

(If you’d like to make a tax deductible donation, go to www.littleashram.org. To find out more about the movie, go to www.beherenowthefilm.com. To sign up for Mykl’s dance class, call NMC’s extended education office at 995-1700.)

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