Sunday, February 12, 2012

Youtube Best of the Best: Updates 11

Instant Noodles Crew - Taipei-2-LA
Aside from the fact that I have a soft spot for this crew, the editing on this video is brilliant. A great, fun way to show off each individual and to introduce the culture/background of the crew.

Most Romantic I Ever Seen
While I may not agree that this is the "most romantic" thing I've ever seen (or the most dance-like...), this is stunning. Not many of us (admit it, none of us) are that amazing and athletic, we're not all gymnasts and we don't have to be. However, the way this piece is presented is pretty dance-like, and the story makes it dance. All movement is dance, and this is exquisite movement and partnering.

TOKYO - How It Ends
Starring Mollee Gray from SYTYCD, it's pretty interesting choreography. There's definitely some moves in there I've never seen before, and some old standbys (barrel roll/tilts) that are exhibited beautifully by Mollee.

Olivier Wever's 3Seasons - Black Swan
I'm not entirely sure where the title "Black Swan" comes from, but this video is pure artistic editing, plus amazing conceptual dance.

Charise Crystow - Inside the Outside
A little rough around the edges, but she has unbelievable control, flexibility, and strength that gives her lovely lines. She's got great style and acting ability as well!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Healthy Snacks for College Dancers

In the spirit of everything that is being a college dance major, I wanted to compile a list of healthy/ier snacks that you can buy and/or prepare with only the aid of a microwave and/or mini fridge. There are so many options when it comes to food, and I've spent a lot of time reading and researching to find the best ones. A great place to start is Snack Girl had some great tips on what you can make in a dorm room in this post, but I wanted to find more! Here are my favorites:

For the dorm (harder to take with you, may need refrigerating):
  • hummus and carrots/pretzel sticks (or pita bread for authenticity but more calories)
  • apples and peanut butter (or almond butter if you're allergic)
  • fruit (berries are a great source of antioxidants and energy)
  • cucumbers (mini "snacking" cucumbers or pickle cucumbers are great)
  • baby/petite carrots
  • celery and cream cheese (with raisins!)
  • string cheese (80-90 calories a stick!)
  • edamame (soybeans - boiled with light salt)
  • miso soup (buy a jar of paste, you can add tofu if you can find it in a grocery store! makes a nice dinner too, if you don't want to leave your room for oily caf food)
  • whole grain bread with olive oil
Take to go:
  • pretzels and peanut butter (take the whole jar with you)
  • rice crackers
  • go picnics
  • beef/turkey jerky
  • nuts/seeds (pistachios, almonds, walnuts, soy nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds)
  • fruit (bananas, apples, and oranges are the most transportable)
  • banana/apple chips
  • sports/enhanced drinks (I don't personally believe in them)
  • kale chips
  • toasted seaweed
  • popcorn (low/no butter and salt)
If you're having a sugar craving:
  • spoonful of pure honey
  • toffee (my favorite from Trader Joe's, they're only 90 calories a piece and you get protein/healthy fats from the pisachios and a chocolate/sugar craving satisfied all in one!)
  • fat-free sorbet (from Haagen-Dazs)
  • handful of raisins or chocolate covered raisins (I love golden raisins)
  • chocolate covered almonds (beware of peanuts - a lot of unhealthy oil!)
  • Tic Tac (2 calories apiece)
  • mini-sized candy bars (some of these go for under 100 calories apiece)
  • a small piece of dark chocolate (is both tasty and good for your heart!) - Xocai makes healthy chocolate, and Hershey kisses are so small that they hardly make a dent in your diet
  • cup of juice (be careful of the sugar content though)
  • popsicle (make your own - pour juice in an ice cube tray, cover the tray with plastic cling wrap, poke toothpicks in each cube, and when they're frozen, twist the tray to pop them out and enjoy)
I love cooking in my dorm room as well! If anyone is interested, I can talk about making healthy and tasty food right in your room while staying in the restrictions of your dorm!

    Saturday, February 4, 2012

    Ideal Dancer's Body: Muscle Compensations (or lack thereof)

    I want to warn you now that this post doesn't really tell you how to cure compensations, how to identify them, etc. I just want to share my experience this time and stress the importance of finding/fixing your compensations before they become injuries.

    We all strive to have this glorious balance in our bodies. But we compensate when something's wrong. And I mean everyone, not just dancers. It's mostly innate and unconscious - think about it. If your leg hurts, you compensate by putting more weight on the other leg. Soon, your other leg is tired. Vicious cycle, right?

    I tend to hold my tension in my shoulders. Whenever I get stressed out (mentally or emotionally - not physically!), my rhomboids and upper traps act up. I feel it immediately (which is unusual, but I've come to be very sensitive to warning signs) - I start to slouch and tense when I'm sitting, my shoulders rise up a bit, my pecs get tight...and bam, I feel a pull in my upper back between my shoulder blades. As soon as I get to that stage, I stand up, roll my shoulders a few times, maybe get a snack or walk around or breathe deeply to relax, and change the position I was sitting in and I'll feel better within 5 minutes. Unfortunately, I've got other compensations - my pelvis is rotated, causing a lot of tension in my left hip flexors (front of your hip) and pain shooting down my left sciatic nerve (back of your hip).

    Compensation is one of the worst enemies a dancer has. Example?  I can tell you right now that if you get shin splints (unless it's completely hereditary), it's probably because you don't get your heels all the way down to the ground when you land a jump. You put so much tension on your calf muscles to keep your heel off the ground that the muscles on your shin feel the pain too.

    The one thing I can think of that causes pain and compensation patterns in muscles is lack of education. If you aren't taught how to use your muscle in a way that won't hurt it, you probably will use it wrong. Based on our primary, survival instincts, our bodies want to find the easiest way to do everything. All muscle movements are about efficiency. Dance is not efficient. Everything (almost) dancers do goes against those basic instincts. If your teachers don't tell you what muscles to use and train you to use those muscles, your body will instinctively use the path of least resistance. When you do a tendu to the front, you want to push your toes out first, right? Ballet tells you to push your heel out first, right?

    There are so many things I wish my teachers had drilled into me a long time ago. I guess I wouldn't have understood as a child, but if my teachers had said and enforced things like 'don't clench your butt when you're standing with your feet turned out' or 'don't let your arches drop/don't let your feet and ankles roll in,' my current life would be so much easier. I've found that a lot of my training in college is just trying to break bad habits I've developed earlier in my life.

    The only thing I can really tell you to do is go to a good kinesiologist, physical therapist, athletic trainer, massage therapist, etc, who can #1 fix you, #2 tell you what's wrong with you in terms you understand, and #3 tell you what to change and how to change it so you don't injure yourself (again and/or more seriously). It's worth the money, time, and effort to find these things out early - or if you already have pain, you need to figure it out immediately. Don't just go to a therapist/doctor to get fixed - ask questions and find out why you're hurt and how to change that. Don't go on dancing in pain. Don't let your future be riddled with pain. And most of all, don't let your current habits become future injuries.

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012

    Youtube Best of the Best: Updates 10

    Wow, it's February already. Where did time go? We're 1/12th done with 2012, everyone! To celebrate, here's more awesome dance!

    Guillaume Cote - Lost in Motion
    The beautiful harmony of sound, physicality, dance, and editing in one neat, simple, exquisite package. Stunning. One thing that might bother me is his hands - they're a little stiff at the beginning, but get softer and more fluid as the piece progresses. I also would have liked to see more emotion/motivation behind his dancing...but he's an amazing dancer.

    Travis Wall for Jayci Kalb - Life of a Flower
    This is some of the most interesting choreography I've seen from Travis Wall, especially the beginning. There are a few too many extensions/tilts (we know she can do them), but she's so good at them I don't mind it so much. Jayci's got control, line, grace - beautiful. Did I mention she's 12?

    Hannah Wintrode - Do It Like A Dude
    Just 'cause some girls cane, and they wanna prove it.

    Indian Pole Gymastics
    You've probably heard of aerobic pole dancing, and those girls look amazingly fit and strong, right? What if I told you that I recently was introduced to a form of gymnastics that originated in India many many years prior to the aerobic pole craze? And what if I told you that they're better? See it to believe it!

    Erica Michelle Sobol - hourglass
    Beautiful, effortless, musical choreography. Beautiful idea. Beautiful inspiration (Emily Shock) - and you can really tell!