Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Youtube Best of the Best: Updates 16

Anthony Lee - Somebody that I Used to Know
Minimalistic, precise, clean, musical. There isn't much movement persay, but it's undeniably dance, and good dance at that.

Royal Ballet Daily Class
I was trained RAD style in ballet for all my years (before this year) of training. This is an insider perspective of one of the greatest ballet companies in the world. Makes me feel a little inadequate. Just a little. WARNING: this video is an hour long. No, I have not watched the whole thing yet (finals week). Yes, I will eventually.

Get in Front Performance Promo at San Francisco Ballet
Behind the scenes of a photoshoot with beautiful dancers.

Christopher Wheeldon - After the Rain
Damian Smith and Yuan Yuan Tan. Ah yes, the stars of SF Ballet (in my mind at least). My favorite ballerina with her normal partner (who is also amazing) and one of my favorite choreographers, on an outdoor stage, at sunset, set to exquisite music. Doesn't get much better.

I am so thrilled this is happening. Jon M. Chu, the founder of LXD and director of Step Up 3D (perhaps you've heard of him?), is creating "the world's first dance lifestyle channel," to premiere this summer on YouTube. Dance is finally coming to light as not just entertainment, but as a high form of art and expression. It's happening!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interesting Links 2

My earlier post Interesting Links was popular enough that I thought I could share more!

Foodie with Family - Homemade Larabars - recipe alert!
You've probably heard of Larabars. They're simple, healthy, additive/fake food-free, and so delicious that I can call one 'dessert' with no problem. As I was sitting here eating my Pineapple Upside Down Cake Larabar (amazing, by the way), I found myself wondering why I paid over $1.50 for an energy bar made out of 3 ingredients (dates, almonds, pineapple). Which lead me to this great recipe for homemade Larabars. Best thing is you really can make your favorite Larabar - as long as you have dates, you can add almost anything else you want (coconut, dried fruit, chocolate, and nuts are common in Larabars) - and it's so simple. No cook/bake/heat-recipe. Just mash, cut, mix, shape, refrigerate, and cut and serve. I can imagine rolled oats, peanut butter, chopped almonds, and a bit of protein powder to make a high protein yet tasty bar. Hopefully I'll forego Nutella. I make no promises.

Northern Ballet in 'Arts Troubleshooter' documentary this weekend
For my friends lucky enough to be able to turn on their TV's and get the BBC, this documentary looks intriguing.

ABC Family's Bunheads
Speaking of TV, have you heard of this new show? It premiers on June 11th, so we have a little ways to go. It looks like it showcases a little of what dancers go through and sacrifice for their careers...but not every down-on-her-luck dancer has a rich guy waiting to marry and support her. I'm not sure this is an idea I'm happy about...what do you think?

Scott D. Pierce for The Salt Lake Tribune - Ballet West exposes itself - on TV
Yeah, one more TV announcement. You probably won't believe me anymore when I tell you I almost never watch TV. But this documentary looks really interesting as well. For anyone who aspires to join a ballet company, this reality show will give you the ups and downs, best and worst of the world that is professional ballet. I'm not a drama addict, but I have to say I want to see this.

Joseph Carman for Dance Magazine - The Classicist Who Dared
David Hallberg, a male principal with ABT, was recently asked to join the world famous Bolshoi Ballet in Russia. Trained by the Paris Opera and dancing with ABT, Hallberg has joined the Bolshoi and touches on a few major differences between Russian technique and treatment and the American way. If this doesn't shock you, it should - the Russians have never let anyone else join their companies. Amazing news and article.

Dealing with Anxiety - First Competition

A while ago I did a post called Dealing with Anxiety - Performing Nerves, about how to calm stage fright both on stage and in the classroom. A reader asked about tips for preparing mentally and emotionally for her first competition. Great question, I hope I can help!

Let me say first of all that I am not from the competition world. I can probably count the number of competitions I've done on my ten fingers. The competitions I did do were small regional ones and NYCDA on the regional and national levels - so if anyone is interested about Star Systems or can probably stop here. I also used to be a figure skater and competed solo from ages 5-13 (and then quit due to money, lack of commitment, and fear of falling on the ice).

In my last post, I wrote this concerning competions:
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.
The same holds true, but let me be more specific.

You've been practicing for at least a few months if you're thinking about competition. You know your stuff (if not, make sure you practice it at least in your head so that you do). The biggest thing in competition is unexpected accidents/surprises - not as much is at stake in a performance, so everyone is more likely to freak out in a competition setting. Ask your instructor to run a series of tests on the group and to prepare information that you'll need. For example:
  1. do the piece facing another direction or in another room.
  2. do it in a smaller space and in a bigger space
  3. ask your teacher to (without telling you) shut off the music at a random time sometime during the next few runs (don't tell the rest of the group). See how people respond. Make sure you keep going or find a graceful way to exit.
  4. practice walking on, bowing, and walking off
  5. simulate a dancer being hurt. Ask someone to sit out and make the group fill the gap.
  6. practice in full costume and hair to test for malfunctions, or simulate a costume malfunction.
  7. find out what kind of floor is used on the stage and the dimensions of the stage. Tape it out on the floor of the studio (if possible).
Make sure your group dynamics are good. The last thing you want is a group full of cliques where every person is not only competing against the other groups in the competition, but each other as well. Don't bring the competition inside the group, it'll only make the entire group fall flat on its face. If you're competing solo, make sure you have good support in the audience or backstage. Dance like you're only dancing to them, not to the judges. The last step is to forget you're competing. Entirely. When it comes to showtime, treat it just like that - another show. There's nothing different, they're not out to get you, they don't hate you.

Like I said before, it's best if you create some kind of warm up routine for competitions. Compile the best warm ups for your body into a 3-5 minute phrase, and make sure that you don't take up too much space (it's usually pretty small backstage). Always wear your favorite jacket (those hotel ballrooms can become freezing), bring a jump rope, drink tea, listen to music, remember to go to the bathroom. That way, you don't have to think about what you're doing right before and freak out about not being warm or focused. Take that time while you're warming up to relax, go through the dance maybe (not if you get nervous doing so), think about the style and flair that you can add to the piece. Do not ever think about the judges or your final score/placement. It's useless to think about it before and will make you more nervous. On the flip side, don't let yourself relax too much - not being nervous before you dance prevent you from being at your optimum level of performance. A few butterflies will give you a sharper edge.

Don't worry. There's no use in worrying about what could happen. What if you fall? You'll find the most graceful way to improvise your way back up. Even if you don't, it's no big deal. This competition is not the end of the world. It does not decide who you will be in the future (unless you're Miss America), it does not reflect on who you are as a person.

Remember to stay positive and have fun. Dance isn't about beating other people down, so don't trash talk other teams before the performance, because it'll put you in a negative mood. Don't think about your own glory if you win or your disappointment if you lose though, because dance isn't about winning either. This is just another performance, the scores are just one judges' set of opinions.

Love who you are and what you're doing. You're a dancer because you love dance (if you don't, you're in the wrong business), so get out there and dance. Don't dance like no one's watching, because it's a silly phrase and it means that you'll be crazy and fall all over the place. Dance like everyone's watching, like you want to share your voice with the world.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Interesting Links

It's been two weeks! I'm sorry. So I had this collection of not-quite Youtube links, some interesting facts...but not enough to make separate news, video, and recipe posts. Here's a compilation of everything I've found interesting in the past few weeks.

Twich with Sophia Grace and Rosie
What could possibly be more adorable? I wish I was that badass in a tutu.

African Orphan turned Ballerina
Of course you've heard of the new documentary First Position. If not, bad dancer. Now you have. Anyway, ABC News dug up a little more on one of the girls featured in the film. The odds she overcame are enormous, and her abilities are even moreso.

Ian Eastwood and Chachi Gonzales - Oh No They Didn't
Everyone's been speculating for a while about Ian Eastwood and Chachi. Are they together? Are they not? This post makes it sound like they're a little more than friends, at least. I, for one, can't handle it. Can you imagine what kind of power couple that would be? If it means Youtube choreo collabs, though, I'm all for it. I may just swoon/faint/die if it ever happens though.

Gimme Some Oven - No Bake Energy Bites (recipe alert!)
Looks like a great, healthy, tasty snack to carry around to class and whenever else you're on the go!

101 Cookbooks - Sesame Almond Brown Rice Balls (another recipe)
This one doesn't look easy by any means, but for those of you who cook and are looking for something fun and challenging that will hold up as a cold snack/quick meal during the week, this looks like it. I love this blog and, even though I'm not a gourmet (I've never made anything off this blog, although I might make an exception for this Rhubarb Rose Water Syrup...), I follow it just for the pictures and interesting creations.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Youtube Best of the Best: Updates 15 - Kenya Dance Edition

This post is a little special. I was lucky enough to be in the audience of Kenya Dream's Ken-Ya Dance SoCal 2012 last Sunday! I don't know how to describe the experience because my brain was blown into a million pieces and scattered/forgotten on the stage. It was so amazing and I was so mindblown (dancegasms x 10000) that I'm going to try and bring you some of my favorite pieces from the show.

Boogiezone Entity | Kenya Dance SoCal 2012
This was the only piece in the entire show that wasn't hip hop, but it was there because Entity is the contemporary dance company sect of Boogiezone. I'm not entirely sure how that works, but moving on. I've talked about my love for choreographer Emily Shock before. This choreography was very similar - quirky, contemporary, hard hitting and smooth at the same time - and contains some absolutely gorgeous partnering. Totally breathtaking concepts and control. They're one to watch.

Kaba Modern | Kenya Dance SoCal 2012
Rising to national fame from Season 1 of ABDC (placing 3rd), Kaba Modern is based in UC Irvine and is known for their style of combining hip hop with other styles of dance (probably mostly contemporary, as seen in this video). They have such great musicality, layering, and rhythm as a whole, and that isn't easy with so many members!

PAC Modern | Kenya Dance SoCal 2012
Good musicality, formation changes, and use of large numbers on stage for visual effect. Their piece had a theme of exploring all of the major styles of hip hop that are widely known/popular: I can identify an African-inspired section (well, it probably has another name), gesture/tutting, bboy, old school locking, etc. Bonus points for a whacking section. I'd say this piece is definitely comparable to Kaba Modern's style and strength.

I.aM.mE at KenYa Dance NorCal
I can't find a video from their performance in SoCal (it was a little different), but I.aM.mE is always good (they were one of the headliners for the show). One of many unique things about this crew is that the girls are (usually) portrayed as no different from the guys - they're not sexified, girly-ified, or less hardcore. Although...what is Chachi doing in the middle of the piece? Taking pictures with Moon? Er...anyways. They combined a lot of their best moments from ABDC (there was more new choreography in their performance in SoCal) and showcased each dancer. My brain is always banged after watching them.

Kenya Dance SoCal - Team Ferosha
I can't say I'd heard of this crew before coming to this show, but I'm so glad I know them now! They performed a piece based on Disney princesses Snow White, Jasmine, Ariel, Tinkerbell, and "prince" Shang (from Mulan). From what I remember of their introduction, they stand for LGBT equality as well as promoting dance. This was one of many themed pieces in the show, and it was put together and performed really well! My favorite was definitely Jasmine's section, but I enjoyed Snow White as a badass too.

Of course, Instant Noodles Crew was also there as one of the headliners. There was a great piece in the first half of the show (can't remember which crew!) that told the story of the Three Brothers and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter nerds + hip hop nerds = awesome show). But my favorite piece hands down was Academy of Swag, who did a Matrix-inspired piece based on the Agents. If I can find these or more videos later, I'll be sure to do another post! Let me know what you think of these crews/pieces!

***Update: Check out Youtube Best of the Best: Updates 17 for the videos from Instant Noodles, Academy of Swag, I.aM,mE, and more!