Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO

Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO

by Patrice Tanaka


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Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO by Patrice Tanaka

Becoming Ginger Rogers is one woman's inspiring journey to reclaim her life during the dispiriting days of New York City in the aftermath of 9/11, the unraveling of a successful business she co-founded, and the prolonged illness and death of her beloved husband.

In this delightful memoir, Patrice Tanaka shares her story of how, at age 50, she started ballroom dance lessons to satisfy a lifelong dream of dancing like Ginger Rogers and, through it, found her way to unimaginable joy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781936661039
Publisher: BenBella Books, Inc.
Publication date: 09/06/2011
Pages: 271
Sales rank: 829,269
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Patrice Tanaka is co-chair, chief creative officer, and whatcanbe SM ambassador for CRT/tanaka, an entity she helped co-found in September 2005. Her agency has been recognized as the “Best Agency to Work for in America,” “Most Admired Mid-Size PR Agency in the U.S.,” and “#1 Most Creative PR Agency in America,” among other accolades by various PR organizations and trade media. CRT/tanaka has also won more than 300 PR and marketing awards for client campaigns.

Patrice has been honored by many public relations, marketing, business, and civic organizations, including the Public Relations Society of America (“Paul M. Lund Award for Public Service”), The Holmes Group (“Creativity All-Star” Award), New York Women in Communications (“Matrix” Award), Association for Women in Communications (“Headliner” Award), Girl Scout Council of Greater New York (“Woman of Distinction” Award), Working Mother Magazine (“Mothering That Works” Award), and Asian Women in Business (“Entrepreneurial Leadership Award”).

Born and raised in Hawaii, Patrice graduated from the University of Hawaii in 1974 and following that worked as an editor at Hawaii Press Newspapers in Honolulu and later served as PR Director of the Hotel Inter-Continental Maui in Wailea. In 1979, she fulfilled a life-long dream of moving to New York City. Patrice joined Jessica Dee Communications, a PR agency she helped to build, which was acquired by Chiat/Day Advertising in 1987. In 1990, she led a management buyback of a group of eleven colleagues to co-found PT&Co. and served as the PR agency’s CEO & Chief Creative Officer. In 2005, Patrice and her co-founders sold PT&Co. to Richmond, Virginia-based Carter Ryley Thomas to form CRT/tanaka.

A widow since 2003, Patrice lives in Manhattan. She devotes much of her free time to serving on the boards of non-profit organizations dedicated to helping women and girls, including the Girl Scout Council of Greater New York, the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the American Friends of Phelophepa (the South African health care train), and Asian Women in Business. She also serves on the Past Presidents Council of New York Women in Communications and is a former trustee and member of the Women’s Forum New York. Patrice is a competitive ballroom dancer and avid tennis player.

Read an Excerpt

Becoming Ginger Rogers

How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO
By Patrice Tanaka

BenBella Books

Copyright © 2011 Patrice Tanaka
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781936661039

The Samba

The American rhythm samba, which Tony so skillfully choreographed for my samba showcase, captivated me in the musical Flying Down to Rio long before I knew the name of the dance. The ballroom samba evolved from the wilder Brazilian version that can still be seen today, when thousands of dancers—some nearly naked, others in elaborate costumes—frolic their way through the streets of Rio during Carnival. Ballroom samba attempts to keep the spirit of the original while translating it into patterns the average social dancer can learn and enjoy.

If the American rhythm version of samba were a character from literature, it would be the irrepressible Tigger: bouncy, bouncy, bouncy, and fun, fun, fun! The timing and coordination of the flexing and straightening of the knees gives the dance its characteristic bouncy motion, which looks and feels very different from all the other rhythm dances. Yet the infectious bounce must be quarantined to the lower half of the body. No bobbing heads or rocking shoulders. Stillness but not rigidity upstairs: picture a fluidly moving showgirl balancing a spectacular feathered headdress, and remember that a wobble up top will bring everything crashing. Downstairs is where you throw the party. In the early stages of learning samba, you may feel that your knees and feet should be thrown in the slammer for disorderly conduct, for going a little too crazy and always being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In more advanced stages of learning, the party really takes off, as your feet and knees cooperate and you also roll the hips and flick the pelvis back and forth. (No side-to-side motion allowed!)

The rhythm of samba follows a "one-a-two” syncopated count. Beginners can find it difficult to process that each step taken does not correspond to a single beat of music. The first step, "one” of the count, occurs over three quarters of a single beat of music. The second step, "a” of the count, takes a quarter of a beat of music. One beat of music, two steps. The third step, "two” of the count, requires a full beat of music. One beat of music, one step. None of the steps takes the same length of time. Samba is a very lively dance, so it’s important to master the rhythm before trying to learn a lot of patterns.

While all the other rhythm dances cover a limited patch of the floor, the samba travels. The Latin or pop music is playing fast, and the dancers smile and bounce as they make their way around the entire floor. With all the hip-rolling and pelvic-ticking, samba is also unabashedly sexy and looks most natural when the dancer feels earthy and vibrant and does not hesitate to show it. Yet perhaps because of the foot speed, rapid coordination, and upper-body stillness required—all of which demand a lot of physical control—samba does not look raunchy or vulgar, it simply exudes the joy of being alive. Alma Guillermoprieto, a former pro dancer and current journalist, sums up the samba this way: "There is no point to samba if it doesn’t make you smile.”


Excerpted from Becoming Ginger Rogers by Patrice Tanaka Copyright © 2011 by Patrice Tanaka. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Whirl of Manhattan
Chapter 2: The Arabian Prince
Chapter 3: “What Brings You Joy?”
Intermezzo: Foxtrot
Chapter 4: Samba Girl
Intermezzo: Samba
Chapter 5: The Ballroom World and the Real World
Intermezzo: Tango
Chapter 6: Practice Failing—in the Ballroom and in the Boardroom
Intermezzo: Rumba
Chapter 7: Partnering for Success—with or without Chocolate
Intermezzo: Mambo
Chapter 8: You Must Be Present to Win: Going with the Flow and Celebrating Successes along the Way Intermezzo: Viennese Waltz
Chapter 9: whatcanbe: Leading with Your Heart
Coda: Cha Cha

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