Friday, March 23, 2012

Youtube Best of the Best: Updates 13

MJIT dancers at AXI Dancer Tech
You haven't seen amazing hip hop/breaking until you've seen these incredible dancers who have been hired for Cirque du Soleil's Michael Jackson Immortal Tour. Also, if you haven't heard of I.aM.mE's AXI (Avengers of Xtreme Illusion), check it out.

Moon and Chachi - I.aM.mE presents I want it all
A couple of really different pieces from Moon and Chachi in this video, but they're not any less amazing!

Chachi Gonzales - WOD 2012 Chachi iDance Preview
Speaking of Chachi, this is one of the best pieces I've ever seen her dance. She really holds the stage, and she's grown so much since we met her a year ago! I really admire how fearless she is, and I wish I was that way myself (also, she can sing too? Too talented). I really need to stop talking about her (and IME), but BRRRAAATTT is really good too.

Monika Jac Jagacick for AnOther Magazine - Dynamic Blooms
This isn't straight dance persay, it's bringing in the world of avant garde fashion, modeling, and makeup. However, their movements are dance, and are very similar to dance photoshoots (watch photoshoots for Dance Magazine and Dance Spirit on Youtube), plus the outfits and images created are so artistic, abstract, and beautiful.

RAkU: Yuan Yuan Tan
Again, not entirely a dance video, but it gives you the inside scoop on RAkU, a brilliant new piece at SF Ballet that stars Yuan Yuan Tan. This is why she's my favorite ballerina.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dealing with Anxiety - Performing Nerves

A lot of people get really nervous before performing. It doesn't matter if you've been rehearsing for weeks or months, it doesn't matter if you could do the piece in your sleep or if your brain is working overtime during the routine, some people will just be nervous no matter what. And if you're one of those people, there's some things you can do to help ease your nerves:
  1. First, you really need to figure out why you're nervous. Is it the audience? Family and friends? Impressing your teachers or fellow dancers? Is it a competition? Are there other important people in the audience, like scouts? Afraid of falling or making mistakes? Is there a move in the dance you're unsure of, you're inconsistent with, or is potentially dangerous?
  2. Audience-based - Remind yourself that no one else besides you, your fellow dancers, and your choreographer know the choreography. Practice improvisation so that you'll be comfortable with it as a last resort. Whenever you make mistakes in rehearsal, never stop, throw a face, or do anything out of the ordinary - train yourself to take them gracefully.
  3. Family and friends - Again, they don't know the choreography! And they think you're great anyways. Unless they're dancers, you don't have much to worry about. And even if they are dancers, you'll get some compliments and some constructive criticism, and that'll only make you better.
  4. Impressing people - Don't feel the need to impress anybody. You don't need to prove yourself, especially not to people who have already seen you dance. The worst thing you can do is psych yourself out thinking everyone is looking at you all the time. They're not. So don't worry if you're not perfect, because you're a human being just like the people you think you need to impress are human. Dance for yourself and your talent will be evident. 
  5. Competitions - Don't worry so much about "ruining" it for the group. The more you worry, the more likely you are to mess up. Also, don't overthink the piece right before you go on stage. Take a few deep breaths instead of doing one last triple pirouette. Worry less, concentrate more on what you're about to do, and clear your mind of all other thought. Maybe run in place, do some cardio to warm yourself up and get yourself focused on your body.
  6. Important People (scouts) - I've been in this position once, but I knew I had zero chance of getting picked up by a scout. You may be different - this may be your big break! I've never been there, so all I can say is good luck and again, dance for yourself. The more you concentrate on you, the more you will be special and stand out. And the more you stand out, the more jobs you'll book.
  7. Fear of making mistakes - I think this is my problem. I think back to rehearsals and tell myself "I fall out of that turn 50% of the time. What if this is that time I fall out?" and I begin to psych myself out. Chances are that, unless you make the fall spectacular, no one will even notice if it happens. And if they do, so what? You're human and things will happen. Just remember that no one will remember you as "the girl who fell out of her turn during that one dance" - again, focus on yourself, stay warm, and make sure that they remember you for how special your performance is as a whole.
  8. Unstable movements - So there's a movement you have in your dance that you're unsure of. The first time I performed a piece on pointe, I had a double turn in the dance. I wasn't doing consistent doubles on pointe, and I always worried about it. But I found that if I didn't think about it, I didn't have the chance to tense up before the turn and ruin the performance and the turn itself. If you have some partnering work, share a hug or a smile with your partner and reassure yourself of the trust you have with this person. You'll be fine.
In general, coming up with a quick and efficient warm up routine that you always use before performing will bring you to your center and give you some of the stability that you crave. Listen to some music (preferably not the song you're dancing to in a few short moments!), breathe, stretch, relax, don't worry (or you'll tense up).
    Is there anything I left out? Is there a specific ritual you do that works for you? Leave me a comment below! I hope this helps! Part 2 on auditioning nerves will be coming soon.

    Friday, March 9, 2012

    Youtube Best of the Best: Updates 12

    I felt so guilty about my full month of not posting that I made another post today. Hope these videos make up for it!

    Baryshnikov Coppelia Solo
    When it comes to men in ballet, it really doesn't get much better than Baryshnikov.

    The LXD Season 1 Episode 6: Duet
    Not technically Youtube (it's on Hulu), but the LXD is extraordinary (hence Legion of eXtraordinary Dancers), and this is a beautifully crafted work of art.

    Danielle Dominguez - blackout combo
    Just a class combination, and I'm not fond of all the editing and effects, and it's a little hard to see the choreography clearly until the first solo, which starts at 0:27. It's subtle but interesting choreography, and there are some great lines and controlled moments shown by the dancer - she's lovely.

    Milena Sidorova - The Spider
    This girl's creative choreography takes full advantage of her technique, flexibility, and gorgeously unique body. She really does look so much like a spider.

    The Australian Ballet - En Pointe!
    Not really a dance video, but you get an insider's perspective on three beautiful ballerinas and the different techniques they use to prepare themselves and their pointe shoes for performance and rehearsal.

    Robert Battle for Ailey - Takademe
    Perfection. Sheer perfection. I have nothing more to say. Bonus: if you don't know Ailey that well, please watch this collection of clips from Revelations - Alvin Ailey's most famous piece and the most viewed dance piece in the world.

    Lyle Beniga performed by Quick Crew in tribute - Nike Boots
    This is a lovely tribute to Lyle Beniga's first class and choreography ever taught! Awesome to see where our stars come from.

    Lando Wilkins with Mos Wanted Crew & Headbangerz - The Motto
    Some people we've met already - Chachi, Ian Eastwood, Ellen Kim - plus some great artistic editing and choreography equals a fun video.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012

    Pet Peeve: Attitude

    Hi everyone, I swear I'm not back from the dead, I just had a month of personal issues and stress that is starting to ebb away, so I'm back! And I'm talking about attitudes, positive and negative, that influence our dancing.

    First things first - negative attitude. Having a negative, competitive, destructive energy is going to affect both the way you dance and the way others feel and dance. Have you ever noticed that one sour mood can ruin a whole room of positivity (or at least neutrality)? Just one person, one offhand remark can bring everyone down. But first, before you even say anything, a negative attitude will become a part of who you are if you let it go on long enough. Thinking "gosh that girl looks so good in her leotard, why can't I look that good?" one day can lead to bad self image, unhealthy eating habits, and possibly eating disorders (which I'm sorry to admit are a big part of the dance world). Not just destructive to physical image, but thinking negatively about your dancing can halt improvement in your dancing and can even cause you to get worse because you stop working hard. Leave whatever life problems you have at the door and work hard for yourself in the studio, but instead of letting a negative perfectionist attitude influence your self image and energy levels, let your strive for perfection motivate you towards all of your dancing goals.

    Rather the contrary, a positive attitude will boost your motivation, inspiration, and rate of improvement. You'll be more receptive to constructive criticism and will work harder to train good qualities into your body. The mirror and your fellow dancers will be your friends, not the competition. Just like one sour comment can ruin someone's mood, one compliment can boost someone's mood and motivation. If you notice someone doing really nice pirouettes or really killing that hard combination, be sure to let them know! Giving a compliment will not only give the person positive reinforcement that they are on the right dance track, but will also make both of you happier. Make a goal to give one compliment each class: you might be surprised with what amazing things you see in other people. If you watch other dancers with a critical eye not to judge but to improve yourself, you will improve more, be mentally and physically healthier, and in general be happier with your dancing and yourself. Who doesn't want to be happier? Dance is your friend, and when it or any aspect of it becomes your enemy, it is time to either stop or make a change. If you love dance, then make a change for the better.