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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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The first dance: Couples take to the floor after taking their vows

Photo Top Photo Courtesy Of Michael Kent Photography Above By Eren Gknar, Newlyweds Ann Chasson and Robert Phair celebrate the finale of their successful first dance.

It’s traditional for the bride and groom to dance their first dance together as newlyweds while guests watch, but it’s not necessarily easy.

Accustomed to boogying down to popular music, many contemporary couples find themselves unprepared for old-fashioned ballroom dancing.

As a result, more and more beginners are seeking help from professional instructors, who not only teach the steps, but also help choreograph the dance routines.

“A lot of couples don’t have a song picked out when they come to me,” said Yana Schlenker, a dance instructor with Cheryl Burke Dance Studio, 1400 N. Shoreline Blvd. in Mountain View. “The first thing I do is assign them homework: Go home and pick out a dance.”

“Most of them have never danced before,” said Schlenker, a Russian native who has taught dance for 15 years.

She teaches private dance classes to couples mainly during “wedding dance season,” from April to September.

Schlenker recommends that couples take five to 10 lessons before the big day “to get to a pretty comfortable place.” She tries to dissuade clients from the waltz, preferring the two-step, because “it’s a great romantic dance and very pretty.”

The most popular songs for first dances are “At Last” by Etta James, Frank Sinatra selections and “I’m Yours” by Jason Mraz.

Some duos approach the performance with dread, but others take up the challenge and continue dancing as a hobby even after the wedding. With time and practice, couples who take lessons say they do well.

 

Couples that dance together …

Los Altos residents Robert Phair and Ann Chasson are used to teamwork – they run a company together out of their home – but they weren’t dancers before getting married. Chasson, CEO of Integrative Bioinformatics Inc., and Phair, chief science officer, said they jointly agreed on the necessity for dance classes.

“We were not dancers previously,” said Phair, admitting he was nervous about the prospect of dancing in front of an audience.

Chasson, however, was more optimistic about their talent.

“She was pretty sure we were going to pull it off, but she’s generally more confident about most things,” Phair said.

Deciding on the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” they learned the East Coast Swing, hoping to dance to rock ’n’ roll at their reception. They attended teacher Robin Rebello’s six-week beginning dance series Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Los Altos American Legion Hall at 347 First St.

Rebello, who also gives private lessons, said she tries to “tailor everything to what the couple can do,” making suggestions based on their personalities and/or preferences.

In addition to taking lessons, Chasson said they practiced three to four times weekly.

“We worked hard,” she said. “Robin’s a phenomenal teacher.”

They started lessons three months before their wedding, which they celebrated in 2009 at a bed and breakfast in Chester, Pa.

Both bride and groom have adult children from previous marriages. Their wedding was small, with family only, so they weren’t dancing for show, Chasson said. She relaxed during the dance, and said everyone else was smiling.

 

Seasoned dancers take

lessons, too

Christa Setiawan, a nurse in the hematology and oncology department at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto, is no stranger to dance.

A fan of “Dancing with the Stars,” Setiawan also took ballet classes at Sacramento State.

“I’ve always liked to dance,” Setiawan said.

“I’ve always wanted to learn,” quipped her husband-to-be, Blaine Uehara, who works for a Los Altos builder.

The Mountain View residents, who are planning a big wedding in his native Hawaii May 14, signed up for twice-a-week private classes at Cheryl Burke Dance Studio.

Setiawan had watched a “Dancing with the Stars” segment that featured the jive, a fast-paced competition-style dance.

“I liked the dance because it was energetic,” she said.

Schlenker, their instructor, had some reservations about the jive.

“She said, ‘Are you serious?’” Setiawan recalled.

They took a few days to decide on the music, wavering among “Mercy” by Duffy, Keith Urban’s “Making Memories of Us” and Van Morrison’s “Moondance,” which won the contest.

After just four lessons, Schlenker praised the couple’s progress.

“They are going a little faster than I thought, and I think this is going to be surprising to their families,” she said.

Adult Ed dance classes

Dance instructor Ellen Murray (no relation to Arthur Murray Dance Studios) and her partner Gene Esswein decided to teach a wedding dance class through Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education when students said they couldn’t find one anywhere.

Their next six-week class, scheduled to begin Sept. 13, costs $37 and introduces the standbys: the nightclub two-step, a swing and foxtrot medley and the waltz.

Murray, a Bennington College graduate who majored in English, always loved to danced. She said her classes are low-key.

“I’m not at all like ‘Dancing with the Stars,’” Murray said.

Most students are nervous about their first dance, she said, “and it’s only natural, because all eyes are on you.”

Murray promised to help women “dance comfortably in a long gown and heels” and make a “graceful entrance for your big moment in the spotlight.”

Murray, 70, is an aficionado of the tango and recently traveled to Argentina.

Dancing makes her feel “ageless” and “really puts me in the present, the now,” she said.

For more information on Cheryl Burke Dance Studio, visit www.cherylburkedance.com.

For more information on Robin Rebello’s classes, visit www.readybyte.com/fridaynightdance.

For more information on Mountain View-Los Altos Adult Education classes, visit www.mvlaae.net.

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