09
Dec
10

dancers need to rest too

To use imagery through dance isn’t as simple as it may seem. “To use an image effectively, you first need to clear your mind. You cannot be in a nervous state, your mind filled with a jumble of thoughts, and then pile some images on top of all that. It simply does not work. You must be open and receptive to new possibilities in your body.” However, as human beings, we naturally think about billions of things at once all day, everyday. A solutions to this problem would be to practice clearing your mind and not think about anything for a while, also known as doing constructive rest a few times a week. Practicing constructive rest would make clearing your mind easier and easier and soon you would be able to get into that state of mind at lightning speed. This would help you dance, not only because you would be able to use imagery without piling those thoughts up with what you have to do after class, and everything else in your life, you would feel a lot less tension and stress in your body, making your movement quality much more efficient.

The purpose of constructive rest while practicing it, is to release tension, lower your heart rate, change other physiological conditions of your body, and to experience weight, inner rhythm, and movement in the expirational phase of breathing to promote an economical use of the body. I have found it to be extremely hard to get into this state of mind, but after you do, you become so Continue reading ‘dancers need to rest too’

03
Dec
10

How to become a dancer: wikiHOW

When pondering upon what to write about this week, I thought I would see what some other sites had to say about dance and I came upon this site. wikiHOW gives an explanation on how to become a dancer… When going through this site which is essentially telling people how to become professional, I was surprised to find a lot of accurate facts. However, they give you steps and I don’t agree with the order that they say how to do things.

  1. Make sure that this is what you really want to do. It takes a lot of passion to dance, whether you dance just as a hobby, or if you want to someday be a professional. If you want to become a professional, you may have to cut out other sports and after school activities to put in the necessary hours of practice. Remember that dance in itself is a sport and it takes a lot of endurance to dance every day.
  2. Decide what kind of dancing you would enjoy doing. Whether it be ballet, disco, tap, jazz, swing, hiphop, breakdance, pointe, modern, or bellydancing. Just be sure to choose one that suits your style.
  3. Seek guidance. Watch music videos and watch people’s moves, buy dancing lessons on a video, read dancing instructions in books and on the internet, find a tutor, get tips from friends/professionals, etc.
  4. Experiment. Stand in front of a full-length mirror, turn up the tunes, and move your body! Practice different moves on different parts of the body. Be sure that each move transitions nicely into the next.
  5. Find a dance school. Dance schools can range from a local youth centre to a more intense independent school. If you are planning on dancing throughout high school and college into professional dance you will want to pick a more intense school. Talk to other dancers in your area as well as the teachers of each school to pick the best one for you.

I find this to be quite hilarious. I started dancing because I saw my sister taking a class and knew that I wanted to be out in the studio too. I think it’s ridiculous that sites like these exist because they are basically false hope. It is nearly impossible to randomly start dancing by following these steps and make it big. The intro to the article says that dance is hard work and takes a lot of practice, but it is more than that. You have to have the passion and the drive from within to pursue this as a career. It isn’t easy being denied over and over again, audition after audition.

10. Sign up for a dancing competition. Now that you have learned and put your new skills in front of your peers, it’s time to step it up a notch! Whether you win or lose, your always a winner for putting in the time and effort to accomplish your dreams!

Hmmmmm… this is interesting. For one thing, I don’t think that going to dance competitions will help you in the long run. No company director is going to care whether you got first place overall in Starstruck dance competition 1998. That doesn’t say anything about who you are as a dancer. Yes, dance competitions are fun as a kid, but the training is what matters most. If you go to a competition studio where you are learning a lot and are taking solid technique classes as well as learning competition dances, then that’s fine, but to just dance to compete is ridiculous. Plus nothing is as easy as following 9 steps and then going straight to trying to win a competition in anything you are learning. It’s like saying that I could follow steps to becoming a professional basketball player and then play against the women in the WNBA.

I just felt that I needed to express my frustrations with people who think they can explain how to become a dancer, because it is so much more than the 15 steps expressed in this article.

 

18
Nov
10

Jack Cole- The Father of Jazz Dance

“Everybody who dances today in concert dance, or on Broadway, or in music videos have been influenced by his pioneering work. That said, a lot of people who isolate their hips or swing in a jazz groove may not know where their movement ideas came from before they thought of them.” -Maura Keefe (Scholar in Residence Jacobs Pillow)

Jack Cole, who is known as the “Father of Jazz Dance” started out a modern dancer with the Denishawn Dance Company.  He entered the company with absolutely no training and after 6 weeks was put in a production. He used the ideas from that the modern dance technique, but added a jazzy feel to the steps. He took ideas like being low to the ground and incorporating a very low plie into much of the movement he developed. Sounds a lot like the style of jazz we do today doesn’t it?

Cole mastered the bharata natyam technique, which is the oldest form of dance in India. He fused this style with the modern and jazz that he was accustomed to, and performed this new fusion to a swing and later to a jazz beat. Cole was also influenced by other parts of the world; he used movement styles from Africa, the Caribbean, and Harlem. He combined all of these ideas and created his own codified technique “By using an ultra smooth transition of weight from foot to foot, a slinky, sensual feel was given by him and his dancers. Cole’s movement is often called cat-like, or animalistic.” He was noted for his perfection of isolations, syncopation, and placement, and his choreography was distinguished by abrupt changes in direction. He was precise enough to choreograph when Marylin Monroe should purse her lips while singing.

Continue reading ‘Jack Cole- The Father of Jazz Dance’

12
Nov
10

You are what you walk in

This past year I have been reintroduced to jazz shoes. Yup, those black weird looking things that don’t breathe and never fit right. I’ve always known in the back of my mind that I didn’t like the way that they felt, and that they somewhat hindered my dancing but I never really made a point to talk about it with any of my teachers because it was mandatory to wear them, so why argue about something you can’t fix? However, college life is a whole new experience where dancers don’t just dance; we learn about our bodies and what is good and bad for us as athletes who never rest and stand up for ourselves.

The other day in jazz class, we were going across the floor doing jumps and turns and I see another dancer stumbling off the floor laughing and pointing at her foot. She was wearing pedinis and her baby toe had popped right out of the shoe. Then two seconds later I see another dancer take his jazz shoes completely off. My teacher wasn’t very happy about that one and called him out on it. He then preceded to discuss with her the negative effects of jazz shoes. He had a lot of support from other people in the room, so the debate didn’t get too intense. My teacher was open to the idea that jazz shoes actually hinder the abilities of a dancer and wanted to learn more about it.

That dancer made a few really good points:

  • jazz shoes don’t allow you to point your feet all the way
  • the heel gets caught on the floor making it harder to move freely
  • they never really fit right and in most cases are too large so it is extremely easy to trip over the front of them
  • but the main point of his argument was that jazz shoes have absolutely no support. Your feet have the freedom to roll over your arches all they want and with the slight heel your feet can roll over much more than a normal flat shoe. Continue reading ‘You are what you walk in’
04
Nov
10

Audiences are not there to be our critics, but our cheerleaders

It’s showtime again, but this time instead of talking about stage presence, I’m going to talk about stage freight! This show that I’m in right now is Chapman University’s largest fundraiser and the tickets start at $2,000. That’s a lot of money to watch someone mess up. So the pressure is on!

There is a certain level of fear that is no longer just butterflies and a weak bladder, a level where the body freezes up. A phobia is an anxiety disorder that is triggered by a certain stimulus, either a situation or an object, and can cause panic attacks when subjected to the stimulus. Stage fright is a social phobia and is triggered when you are put in the spotlight in front of an audience. Dancers of all ages perform on stage and stage fright is just another obstacle that they have to deal with to pursue a dream. So why would you subject yourself to the anxiety before a show? When performing is your life because it is a part of the industry, there is nothing you can do but deal with it. Developing the fear can come from stress that any dancer is currently experiencing with any part of his or her life.

I read a statistic saying that 40% of all dancers experience stage freight. I don’t think I have the actual phobia of performing onstage, but I do get extremely nervous. So I asked myself how exactly do these people who are probably 10 times more afraid than I am get themselves on the stage? Well, there are precautions that they can take to prepare way before the day of the show, and ways to calm down right before the curtain rises. To start off, when learning the choreography, muscle memory is very important so that when performing, it isn’t necessary to think about the steps. To do this, practice is key. If stage fright is an issue, then forgetting the choreography on stage could be mortifying. Even if stage fright isn’t too big of a problem, forgetting what is supposed to be done on the stage in front of an audience is humiliating. Continue reading ‘Audiences are not there to be our critics, but our cheerleaders’

22
Oct
10

If you haven’t seen Revelations, then you should!

Here are sections 1, 2, and 3 of Alvin Ailey’s Revelations (to go along with my previous post). If you haven’t seen this piece yet, I’m giving you an opportunity to broaden your horizons. If you don’t have 30 minutes to sit here and watch the videos, come back and watch in sections! You don’t really have any excuses now, do you?

22
Oct
10

Alvin Ailey’s Revelations

I decided that it is about time I stop talking about myself so much and write about something more academic. It might be boring for some of you, but hopefully not. Alvin Ailey is such a huge part of the dance world and his pieces are so incredible that I thought, why not try to critique something of his?

The cultural heritage and the history of African Americans is thoughtfully portrayed throughout the stunning Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre masterpiece, titled “Revelations.” The piece exhibits the hardships of slavery and reconstruction, baptism, and going to church, and how African American people evolved after the time of being treated like nothing more than animals. There is a reason why this modern dance work is statistically the most watched modern dance piece ever created; the music, lighting, costuming and most importantly the choreography make the piece not only a story but an inspiration. (I know I was inspired!)

The first section, which Ailey titled “Pilgrim of Sorrow,” starts with seven dancers in a pyramid formation looking up. The lighting is very dim, with a rusty colored spotlight to match the costuming which is also an earthy tone. The sorrowful, somber music starts the whole piece, and sets the scene of the section. The dancers are seen when the music starts, but the costuming, lighting, and music let the audience know what the tone of the piece is going to be, which is sorrowful. The women wear long, simple dresses and the men are wearing long pants of the same simplicity and style. This section is about slavery and becoming free, and the choreography expresses that very well. In the first part of this section, all of the movement is very grounded with a lot of plie, but is all reaching upward. Their hands are also expressive; in that they are always wide open, and their lines, even up to their fingertips, are very smooth and clean. When reaching and looking up, it is as if the slaves that the dancers are portraying are looking to God to help them get through the hardships they are dealing with. They always keep their energy up because if the energy dropped, it would be as if the slaves gave up the fighting and just let their masters take over their whole sense of self, and take away everything they could ever have had going for them. Not to mention that if you let your energy drop during a performance you could lose the audience’s focus just that fast.  Continue reading ‘Alvin Ailey’s Revelations’




This is me, a dancer just like you who's just trying to make it in the industry

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