Tuesday, October 25, 2011

How bad do you want to succeed?

I thought I wanted to dance with all my heart. I thought I wanted it really bad. I thought I was extremely passionate. Then I saw this video: Inspiring: How Bad Do You Want It? (Success)
Update: the video link is now private. I'll do my best to find another link.

And something's changed for me. I've realized that it's not going to happen for you. You have to make it happen. Whatever dreams or ambitions you have, you have to make a goal and then every single day take a step towards making it happen. Whether that means choosing to study over going out with your friends, or not eating that piece of cake after dinner to lose weight, you have to want it, and you have to want it enough that you're willing to give up other things that you value. I mean, I already knew these things...I just didn't want to admit it or put in the work.

I know that I'm not a great model for this success story. Here I sit thinking, "I'd love to lose ten pounds," or even "I have to lose ten pounds, I have to dance," but I've got a bag of candy sitting next to me. I know that I don't work towards that goal every day. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I feel guilty, but I don't always do the right thing for myself.

So ask yourself now three things: what is/are your biggest goal/s in life? What can you do to get there? And just how bad do you want these things? "When you want to be successful as bad as you want to breathe, you'll be successful." When you need something or someone in your life as badly as you want your own life, you'll get there.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beyonce's Countdown vs. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker

If any of you have been keeping up with pop culture and news in the dance world, you've probably heard of the rip-off Beyonce pulled in her last music video, "Countdown." The video she allegedly ripped off  was by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, a Belgian choreographer, who created her award-winning piece "Rosas danst Rosas" in 1988. It's one thing to be inspired by other artists and to credit them, but this level of stealing (without crediting the original, I may add) is on a whole different level. You can see the videos in split screen here. Even if you don't watch the videos split screen, just look at this one split screen image:

Photo Credit

How incredibly "similar" is that? Bordering straight out copying? Watch the video, it gets worse. Not only the costuming, but the expressions, the camera angles, and even the choreography itself of "Countdown" is straight out of "Rosas danst Rosas". Beyonce's artistic director has apparently admitted to showing De Keersmaeker's videos to Beyonce, but neither Beyonce nor anyone dealing with the music video have admitted to any kind of artistic theft or inspiration.

Furthermore, this isn't the first time Beyonce has been criticized for lack of originality in her music videos. Even her performance at the Billboard music awards was criticized. However, I'm not trying to criticize Beyonce directly for the content (and lack of due accreditation) of her music videos: I'm more disappointed in her directors who are coming up with the ideas and in her for following through. How could one artist do something so incredibly horrible to another artist?

It would have been a whole different issue if she had asked permission of and credited De Keersmaeker and even encouraged the public to look into De Keersmaeker's work. In fact, that wouldn't have been an issue at all: it would have been one artist being inspired by and promoting another artist, which could have given both artists good press. Even though De Keersmaeker's pieces are more viewed and even more well known because of this, it's not being done in a good light, and I'm sure the artist herself does not appreciate the outright copying.

What do you guys think? Is this kind of "inspiration" okay, even if credit is given? Should Beyonce (or her directors, rather) start coming up with new ideas instead of copying old ones? Are you as outraged by this as the rest of the dance world?

Monday, October 17, 2011

For those now applying to colleges

Please take a look at the series I wrote over the summer about choosing and auditioning at colleges for dance! Also, here's a great article that I found titled "East Coast, West Coast, It Don't Matter", which may help you in your quest to decide between New York and Los Angeles (or somewhere in between!).

Below is my audition series for becoming a dance major in college:

College Dance Auditions 101: Choosing the Major: Is dance in college the right path for you?

College Dance Auditions 102: Choosing Colleges: Where should you apply? What criteria should you take into consideration?

College Dance Auditions 103: Auditioning Live: What should you take into consideration when you're traveling to a school to audition for their faculty?

College Dance Auditions 104: Video Auditioning: When should you choose to audition via video? What should you take into consideration if you have to video audition?

College Dance Audition 105: Making the Decision: Now that you've gotten in, where should you go? Or...think about rejections in a new way.

One last tip: if you have the chance to take classes when you visit a school, take them! Or at least go in and observe the class, if it's allowed. I was too scared to take class, so I watched a ton of classes. It gave me a good feel for what the dance environment was really like. But if you take class, you get to interact with the dancers who have already made it in. You get to see who your classmates will be, who you'll be living with and dancing with for the next three or so years (maybe), and how the teacher connects with you and fits into your style (or not). If you're brave enough to take class, though, don't become a recluse. Talk to your fellow dancers and pretend you're all on the same level and you're all just taking a class. Remember that you're auditioning the school as much as they're auditioning you. Make the most of your visit and it will make the final decision (or letting go of the rejection) so much smoother and simpler.

Last but not least: if you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment! If you have any other tips you'd like to add, or if you'd like to share your experience, or if you can correct a tip that I've given, please do! I would love for others to benefit from the knowledge of the entire dance community!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ideal Dancer's Body: Flexible (and Strong)

See my first two posts in this series about the ideal feet and body image.

It's every dancer's dream to be everything all at once: hard, yet soft. Graceful, yet dramatic. Small, yet big. Strong, yet flexible. And really, it's this last one that always gets me.

There's a physical...problem...with trying to be both strong and flexible. Why? Because when you're gumby and flexy, you have little strength to support it (injuries ahead!), and when you're stalky and strong, you're unable to pull off the dazzling kicks and extensions that are demanded of you (injuries ahead!). So really, you need to have both. A good balance of both: enough of each so that they can support each other without one overpowering the other. Your muscle tone needs to be strong, lean, supple, and long.

Unlike other sports or arts, you, as a dancer, have to exert yourself in a most unnatural way, while making it look like the most natural thing in the world. Other athletes are allowed to pant and sweat and wear protective gear, other artists get to look beautiful...and then there's you. You have to withhold the panting and protective gear (if you learn how to withhold sweat, call me) and look beautiful. What does this mean?
  1. you can't have bulky muscles (less weight/resistance, more reps for workouts)
  2. you have to spend time outside of class and rehearsal building strength, endurance, and flexibility.
  3. you have to do extra cardio. Dance is not really aerobic, cardiovascular exercise because you're not constantly moving. You stop and start and stop and start again in class and rehearsal, so you might get winded, but you'll get your breath back quickly. 
  4. most importantly, you have to know your limits. Always, always warm up before you stretch - even if you don't think you need to. You might be young now, but when your body starts getting a little "older" (you'll feel it), you won't be able to pop into stretches like you used to. I know that when I was sixteen, I felt like I could do anything...and now, only a few years later, I can't.
So what should you do about it? Go to the gym and "walk" on the elliptical - it'll ease the pressure on your joints (running is horrible for knees and ankles) while still giving you the cardio workout you need. Use a theraband to help you stretch and strengthen individual muscles without (heavy, bulky, and expensive) equipment. Stretch after your shower - your muscles are already warm and pliable, so you'll be able to get that extra inch of stretch. Never, ever overstretch - I'm currently dealing with two overworked/pulled hip flexors and an overworked muscle behind my left knee, and it's hard! I know that these injuries happened because I was pushing myself beyond my limits, but now I know what those limits are and what to do before I reach and surpass them.

Strong and flexible will forever be a struggle for dancers. You must find your perfect balance (this is usually the hardest part) and then work to maintain it (this is the part that needs discipline). Good luck!

    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    Youtube Best of the Best: Updates 6

    First real dance post in over a week. I know, I'm bad. I'll do my best to update more often, hopefully at least once a week, if not more! Alright, go watch dance!

    Infinite - Be Mine (Dance Version)      and      Be Mine (Music Video)
    Have you ever seen a kpop (Korean pop) music video? They're pretty amazing. You've probably noticed that many of today's popular American singers are not just singers anymore - they're songwriters, performers, dancers, actors, musicians...basically, they're artists. I think that's so amazing, that the public is demanding more from their stars. Korean pop music is dominated by large groups (I can't really say "bands") of triple threat people (dancing, acting, singing) who are generally very good looking. Some popular groups include Super Junior, SNSD (Girls' Generation), and Big Bang, just to name a few. Here's a newer one, with some of the best dancing and choreography I've ever seen in a kpop video. The choreography as a whole is very well done, but if you want to see something amazing, watch (and rewatch) the dance break at 2:20.

    jekajane - Love Foolosophy
    More hip hop brilliance.

    Robot Boys (Denmark) - Got Talent 2008 [DK] - Robotboys (Nick & Jeppe)
    These two are exactly what their name suggest - robot boys. This is some of the most creative use of music I've ever seen. They capture every aspect of the music (and it's rich music with layers) so effortlessly, and the execution is completely brilliant. Oh, and they won the show.

    Chachi Gonzales (of I.aM.mE crew) - Chachi Gonzales at 13 years old
    Ever wondered what she looked like when she was younger (aka when she started being a BEAST)? Yeah, that's right. She's always been a beast...

    Marlee Hightower - freestyle to Kevin Cossom "I Can't Help It"
    This girl is 11. 11. 11. Eleven. Yeah, you saw that right. This kind of freestyle...especially when she's only heard the song once before? Pure, pure talent. Then look at her choreography (and oh my god she teaches workshops?!) in this video - Marlee Hightower workshop at U4RIA:)

    Discussion Pieces: This is a new section of videos in the series, because I find a lot of pieces that I feel are strong in some areas and possibly not so much in others. I could discuss the merits of all of these videos for hours...but sadly no one to discuss with (unless you leave me a comment)! Here are some of those pieces:

    Erin Novak-Lustig - Can't Help Falling In Love With You
    I'm a little conflicted about this piece. It's beautifully danced, and the choreography is innovative, especially with the lifts. I felt that the girl was a little disconnected from the guy, but it could be part of the choreographer's choice. I didn't sense much emotional connection between the two, and the girl anticipated some of the "abusive" movements a little too much, but overall...I enjoyed this piece a lot.

    This isn't a new idea: a white swan vs. a black swan, but what's great about this is they do a lot of the same choreography side by side, and I loved seeing the contrast between these two girls. They are similar in build, and because of the masks, even look similar (they're both blonde, tall, skinny, and have the longest legs ever), but they move so incredibly differently. It's the same choreography with two different interpretations. Sadly, I feel like they weren't well synchronized, and I don't feel like the ending really made sense after what happened in the dance, and the choreography itself wasn't anything spectacularly new and exciting...but the juxtaposition of white vs. black, innocent vs. siren was incredible.

    Cheryl D'Arcy - Maroon 5 - Moves Like Jagger ft Christina Aguilera
    I love that this is an all-level street dance class, and however short the actual combination may be, I really like the choreography....up until the leap at the end. That was a little awkward, but the sequence right before the run into the leap is stunningly interesting.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    RIP Steve Jobs

    I know this is a dance blog, but today was a sad day.

    Today we lost a visionary, computer and gadget revolutionary, and one of the greatest thinkers of our generation: Steve Jobs.
    Photo Credit
    He's affected everyone in a very personal way. Most of you probably own computers, or your family does, if you read my blog. He was one of the pioneers of some of the greatest technological advancements ever known. I know that many memories have been created and cherished because of his work: I personally own a MacBook Pro, iPhone 4, and have had a few iPods and other Apple computers. My family owns an Apple TV, and my entire family has always used Apple products. I've enjoyed Pixar films (Toy Story, Monsters Inc.) and shorts (my favorites are "For the Birds" and "Day and Night") so very much, and this is all because of one incredibly brave, intelligent, and talented man. His innovation has allowed me to capture and edit my own dance shorts and segments with ease. His innovation has made it possible to own a music library of wonderful singles (for people like me who never buy albums) and for independent and unsigned artists to share their work. His innovation (and ego) created the computer on which the World Wide Web was created. His innovation has changed everyone's lives, forever, even if you don't own any Apple products or if you don't like Apple products. We will miss you, Mr. Jobs. Forever rest in peace.