Boston Celtics Dance Team

So I graduated from Goucher College on May 18, 2012 with a BA in Dance. Now the big question what am I going to do now? I moved back home to Rhode Island for now, but I will not be able to build a dance career in that state. I do plan on auditioning for the Boston Celtics Dance Team. 

The Celtics dancers held a workshop on May 20th. The workshop was designed to help interested dancers prepare for the audition next month. The workshop consisted of across the floor, a combination and plenty of time to chat with Marina Ortega and some of the Celtics Dancers. 

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(thats me in the purple) Pictured provided by Boston Globe

Marina Ortega would provide tips and things that she looks for at the audition. She like smiles, with teeth showing, sharpness and clean movement. Marina and the Celtics dancers also watched us perform the combination in groups of four and provided individual feedback. 

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Pictured provided by Boston Globe

Marina Ortega and the Celtics dancers talked about dancing with your hair, because the Celtics dancers don’t wear their hair pulled back. After going through the workshop and receiving lots of great feedback and tips I feel prepared for the audition. 

I am excited and can’t wait to audition on June 30th in Boston. This is something I always wanted to do and I will work my hardest and hope that I can find a spot on the Celtics Dance Team.  

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The Secrets Bare

Goucher College’s 361 Advanced Choreography presented Altered, finally! It featured video adaptations from each piece and a closing video for the show. The show was great and it was sold out two nights!  I choreographed a piece called The Secrets Bare. I created the most of the music except for the last section which featured the song Gravity by Sara Bareilles.

(The Secrets Bare- Gravity Section)

The Secrets Bare, is a group performance, in seven short sections, which is based on events that have shaped me personally and helped me grow. At the core of the work are my secrets that I have kept to myself. My keeping the secrets for long I have a hard time balancing my world and lose myself. The piece looks at self-image, emotions, and the journey to finding yourself again. The piece is dedicated to Shawnia T White for helping me see my potential, beauty and strength in myself.

(The Secrets Bare- Beautiful Pain Section)

I was nervous and excited to present my work to the greater Goucher community. I had injured dancers and honestly they struggled with the timing of choreography to the music. My dancers however did not fail me and presented a perfect show. They danced from their hearts and got the emotion across to the audience.

(The Secrets Bare- Twisted Section)

After the show I had students, teachers and family members approach me telling me what a strong and powerful piece it was. I even had one girl tell me the story she got from watching my piece. It wasn’t my intention, however I wouldn’t say she was wrong.

Overall the show was a grand success and it was called one of the strongest 361 shows. I am happy that I got to present my work to large audience and it was accepted. It makes me want to continue with choreography and continue to follow my dreams.  The closing video of the choreographers dancing to “Sexy and I Know It” must have sealed the deal with the audience based on the amount of laughter and applause.

Dance Fitness

There are many dance fitness classes available to keep you in shape these days. They are all fun and range from different levels. For  people who are interested in fast, latin inspired cardio work out you should try Zumba. Zumba is easy to pick up and follow and anyone at any age can do it. There are a variety of Zumba classes available to take:

  • Zumba Fitness – The Original Zumba.
  • Zumba Gold- Designed for the baby boomer age.
  • Zumba Toning- Designed to tone and sculpt the body.
  • Aqua Zumba- Cardio water based workout.
  • Zumbatomic- Zumba for children.
  • Zumba in the Circuit- 30 min Zumba workout.
  • Zumba Gold Toning- Toning and sculpting for the baby boomer age group.
  • Zumba Sentao- Chair cardio workout focused on strengthening the core.

(Google images- Zumba class)

If you cant make it into a gym to work out and take a Zumba class don’t worry Zumba is also available for the Wii and Xbox. I would rate Zumba with 5 stars.

If you live on the wild side or just want to take a daring fitness class I would recommend a pole fitness class! Right now I am currently taking pole fitness classes at Xpose Fitness in Towson, MD and it is great! The instructors are friendly and helpful. The classes are exciting and give you a full body workout. Xpose Fitness offers  5 level pole classes, a sexy stretch class and a floor chair class. I take a level 2 pole and it focuses on transitional and strengthening moves, basic spins and holds. I would say in order to succeed in pole fitness you will need upper body  strength.  I have taken pole fitness classes at other places however, Xpose Fitness is my favorite. Xpose Fitness also offers the best deal on classes!

(Image -Xpose Fitness website)

Exercise is important it keeps your body healthy and strong. All exercise is good exercise as long as you are doing it correctly so that you don’t end up harming your body. I exercise five days a week which is a lot, however I know what my body needs and can handle. If you don’t like working out grab a friend and work out with them it makes the experience more enjoyable. A group of my dancer friends go to pole fitness classes with me and occasionally we will just get together to do ab workouts randomly. So grab a friend and head to the gym and make a promise to yourself to promote healthy living !

Dance Photography

Dance photography is becoming more popular now that dance is in the media. Today dance photography is more than just bad lit studio portraits in ugly costumes, they are beautiful pieces of art. Dance photography is no loner confined to indoors, it is all over and thanks to Photoshop dance everywhere even outer-space.

(Images Top: Me  Bottom: Tumblr Images)

Dance photography is important, it can be in an art gallery, used as advertisement, used as a fundraiser, found in a calendar but most importantly it is promoting dance to a wider audience. Some examples are The Ballerina Project, Ballet Zaida and Alvin Ailey. They all use dance photography for different purposes. The Ballerina Project sells beautiful ballet pictures that a photographer has taken over a period of 10 years using film. Ballet Zaida is also a photo project, but its features only the best ballet technique and has a focus on spreading ballet to everyone.  Alvin Ailey uses dance photography for advertisement for their shows, school and dancers.

(Images: Left- Ballet Zaida Right- Alvin Ailey)

 I have personally been interested in dance photography because there are magical moment is dance that I wish were captured on camera. For my photography class at school I have taking picture of dancers at Goucher College in black and white film and the results have been amazing. The dancers are happy to work with me and help me build my portfolio and they get a photo-shoot for free and have pictures to use in their portfolios for auditions. It is important that dancers help spread dance awareness any way possible.

 

(Images were taken by me)

So what is dance photography really doing to help? It is allowing the arts to prosper off of one another and flourish. It is changing the way media shows dance and it helps expand dance all over the world through the internet and prints.

Ballet changed one Jewel at a time

Neoclassical ballet now known as contemporary ballet will help spark interest into the dance world for non dancers. Neoclassical ballet is a ballet style that uses traditional ballet vocabulary but it shies away from the story line and plots of classical ballet and it focuses on the structure and lines.  It usually uses extreme tempos and has more complex movement; the spacing is usually more modern or complex than in classical ballet.

George Balanchine used flexed hands and feet, turned-in legs, off-centered positions and non-classical costumes such as leotards and tunics instead of tutus. That helped to distance himself from the classical and romantic ballet traditions. What is left is the dance itself, sophisticated but sleekly modern, retaining the pointe shoe aesthetic, but eschewing the well-upholstered drama and mime of the full length story ballet.

google images- (Balanchine ballet)

George Balanchine first neo classical ballet choreographed was Apollo in 1928. He choreographed other neo classical ballets such as Agon 1957 and Jewels in 1967. Jewels is an award-winning ballet in three parts created for New York City Ballet by George Balanchine. Jewels was called the first full-length abstract ballet. It can also be seen as three separate ballets, linked by their jewel-colored costumes. The dance has nothing to do with jewels; the dancers are just dressed like jewels. Rubies, to me is the most neo classical section in the ballet. It has high kicks, turned in legs, flexed feet, undulations and pelvic movement

Erik Jacobs from The New York Times

Here is the link to a video performance of Rubies http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FixT33wXqk8

Non traditional or classical ballet will keep an audience attention who is use to watching So You Think You Can Dance, which has very entertaining dance pieces with lots of tricks. Story ballets are slow and less exciting there may be a moment or two but not very many. They are pretty and are great for young children. It is important to keep the arts alive and that starts with the younger generation.

Privateer Day and Pyrate Invasion Fells Point

Dance falls in two different categories, art and entertainment. Occasionally sometimes it is combined. When dance falls as an art it tends to be brought upon a deep or abstract inspiration. When dance falls as entertainment it comes from everything ranging from a dance about butterflies to creation of the world. It’s all about the performance.

Fantasy is huge in pop culture right now thanks to Harry Potter, Twilight and yes of course Disney.  Disney’s Peter Pan is a timeless classic it captured family’s hearts globally. It had everything; song, dance, pirates and sword fights. Peter Pan went on Broadway and took the story to a whole new level with new dances, tricks, songs and special effects.

Baltimore celebrated the 8th annual Privateer Day and Pyrate Invasion in Fells Point this past Saturday. There were live sword fights with the Valhalla’s Pirates, music from the Salty Dog and plenty of children’s activities. The live performances were very entertaining and the sword fight kept my attention the whole time.

Looking at the sword fight you realize it’s a dance with simple steps.  The sword fight looks like it was based on traditional modern with under curves, turns, leaps and pelvic shifts. If you got rid of the pirate costume and swords you would have a battle motif that would cross genres in to ballet, jazz and hip hop.

Today people who are not familiar with dance like to watch entertaining performances like sword fighting pirates, Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance.  There is nothing wrong with dance as a form of entertainment. I think its great. I wish there was a way for all dancers to combine technique and performance together.

Michael Jackson, More than Dance.

Great performers are hard to come by , but dancers who inspire other people to dance are rare. That is one of the major problems in the current dance world. Michael Jackson, a great performer and dancer help shaped our dance culture. Today he is still inspiring people to dance. Michael Jackson used ballroom styled moves in his dancing along with a fusion of break dancing moves. He combined both styles to give him the swag we know him to have today. The move Michael Jackson is most famous for is known as the Moon Walk.

[Google Images ]

Michael Peters was Michael Jackson’s choreographer and he had a specific style of movement. He choreographed to the sounds of the instruments he didn’t use established dance steps or rhythms. Together the pair would create and popularize other dance moves seen in today’s culture. Beat It 1983 introduced a new dance the Worm, also choreographed by Michael Peters. It is not the traditional worm we say today that break-dancers do, which is an undulating movement on the ground on your stomach creating wave-like movement, but a standing undulating movement that travels backward. Which you can see at 3:57 in the video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oRdxUFDoQe0&ob=av2e

In his music video Beat It you can also see jazz dance influences, like fan kicks, Ballroom styled movement, which you see him effortlessly glide along the floor and break dancing movement where he balances on the tips of his toes. That pose became one of the many symbols that represent Michael Jackson and dance.

Michael Peters most famous choreographed piece for Michael Jackson was the dance in Thriller. Each movement Michael and the zombies dance to is on the sound of the instrument the very basic steps forward with the head tilting is on the sound of the drum which is emphasized. Thriller incorporated so many different styles of movement that it created the perfect blend. It has hip rolls, glides, fan kicks, spins, toe stands and the famous crotch grab all combined into sharp clear movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOnqjkJTMaA&ob=av2n

Michael Jackson was a large force in the popularization of break-dancing and dance. He has influenced many generations and his legacy lives on today though his music videos, movies and even his dancing game the Michael Jackson Experience. Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009.  He has left the torch to everyone waiting on someone to pick it up and influence the dance world. Who is up to the challenge?

Dance and the Media

Dance is the new black and everyone is watching it. TV shows like Dance Moms and So You Think You Can Dance are changing society’s view on dance. Dance began as a social movement full of expression and technique but today it’s a competition with lots of tricks and lack of emotion on television. In dance as a child you take technique classes in Ballet, because it’s said that it is the foundation for all forms.

Dance Moms shows the competition side of dance at an early age. It follows six young dancers who battle it out every week in new competitions across the country competing in solos and group pieces for the Abby Lee Miller Dance Company. The girls are learning a multitude of styles and tricks for each genre of dance. You can hear Abby screaming about technique and creating technically sound dancers but where is the passion? How can one find the passion behind the tricks and the flashy costumes.

Image(Google Images- Dance Moms)

Dance Moms is preparing the girls to go on to So You Think You Can Dance. I love the show, however it’s becoming more about the tricks you can do and less about the technique and quality of the movement. I think it’s great that the show makes everyone dance in multiple styles that they usually wouldn’t get, but if it’s a competition let’s make it one, lets take out the dance form “contemporary.” Most of the dancers getting picked to go into the top 20 are jazz or contemporary dancers. Lets challenge them take out contemporary and add African or better yet, take it back to the foundation lets add a Ballet pas de deux.   

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(Google Images – So You Think You Can Dance Lauren)

The issue is dance is more than tricks and flashy costumes. It is a creative and artistic outlet for expression, that serves a deeper meaning. Classical dance forms like Ballet and Modern are being overlooked. Dance on television is just entertainment, it’s the glamourous side. Dance is not glamourous there are many struggles, one has to be determined and passionate to do it. Media should show both sides.  

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(Google Images- Misty Copeland Pas De Deux)

The Secrets Bare (half way)

I have been working on my dance piece called the Secrets Bare. I love to dance and I love to choreograph. Im finding it hard to get my dancers to emote a real emotion while they dance the piece. I need to figure out a way to put an image in their mind so that the emotion is real. I had to switch two dancers around because one girl just could not give me an emotion, she was empty. I think that I am being picky for the simple fact that they are dancing my story, my struggle with myself, and my journey to where I am now.

The Secrets Bare is about me, and how I was sexually assaulted my freshmen year at college. I didn’t know how to deal with the situation and I kept inside of me till it started to destroy me. To put the icing on the cake my boyfriend at the time cheated on me and the girl he cheated on me with would verbally abuse me over the phone, Facebook, anyway possible. This went on for four months, I developed bad habits and hated myself it wasn’t until a good friend of mine helped me see my inner beauty and gave me strength to heal and I learned to love myself again.

This dance is my coming out story. I am creating the music and its powerful the emotion is crystal clear, you can hear the pain, visualize my journey. The dance is more difficult to explain. I have seven dancers all being a different version of myself but still representing other people at the same time. I have three dancers playing hate, anger, and the source of the problem. The remaining dancers are playing the different emotions I felt, lonely, worthless, ugly and unloved.

My goal is to have the piece take you on the last day that I felt those emotions right up till I realized that I am a beautiful and strong woman. The dance is in rough shape right now I am half way there. I Just need to figure out how to get the dancers to emote those emotions clearly.

“We either make ourselves miserable,or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” – Carlos Castaneda

Bill T Jones -Story/Time

Sporadic, warped, yet extremely intriguing and danced beautifully the Bill T Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company’s Story/Time, is a unique dance theater experience for everyone. The Bill T Jones/ Arnie Zane dance company performed at The Vets in Providence, RI. 

Bill T Jones and his company has shaped the evolution of dance through the creation and performance of more than 140 works in multiple venues of modern dance and theatrical dance. He has created award-winning choreography for the musicals like Spring Awakening on Broadway. He retired at 60 and decided to come back with the world premier Story/ Time. 

The visual landscape of Story/ Time is defined by Bill T Jones sitting at a table center stage with a digital clock appearing behind him counting the minuets. It is based on Indeterminacy where Cage sits alone on a stage reading one-minuet stories. 

Image(Photo: Taken by Matt Rainey for the NY TIme)
 

  There are nine dancers dressed in yoga pants, bright T-shirts, hoodies and printed dresses that orbit around Bill T Jones, and the ever-changing scenery. The dancers executed one-minuet choreographed pieces that invoked both ballet and modern techniques. There are duets and trios of dancers bending and swinging their arms, creating flowing lines parallel with their lunging legs. An exciting moment is when a dancer stands on another’s shoulders and falls backward into the group’s outstretched arms, which in flows into interesting partnering and lifts.  Later in the work you see men and women rolling across the stage and they encounter a man and woman performing naked.  The movement is constantly changing style, just like the story and the musical accompanying it.

The composer Ted plays a wide arrangement of music from playing both acoustic and electronic guitar, vocal samples loops and percussion. The music was generally warm and pleasing, which helped complement Bill T Jones voice. There was two sections however, that were deliberately loud that had you wishing you could mute the music. But after a long two minuets it quickly changes into a different section with a hammers sound banging on steel springs. The constant changing music and movement combine with the lighting produced a hypnotic atmosphere.

 

I thought the performance was great. It was sporadic yet intriguing all at the same time. Bill T Jones grabs your attention from the moment he steps foot on stage. Bill T Jones gets the audience involved by asking how long we think a min is and everyone is surprised to see how long a minuet really is from there he says “well you 70 more of those left” and then sits down to begin the performance. At first you find yourself trying to focus on either the movement or the story but it isn’t until you give up and just sit back and accept then do you get to enjoy the work. The only thing that was unpleasing is the back to back section with the over amplified music combined with the harsh bright back lighting that the dancers move across the stage slowly. If you thought a minuet was quick that will be one of the longest minuets of your life after it is over however, you will be relieved and can go back to enjoying the rest of the show. The work all feels like a dream in the end because there are 70 short stories you cant remember them all and when it is over you a just amazed with what happened and struggle with the fact that you only remember a few specific stories from the show like Bill T Jones talking about a conversation with his mother. Overall I think Bill T Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company performance of Story/ Time was dance beautifully and it is a must see. The show will always be slightly different with the fact that the order of the stories are read at random and left to chance.  You will be in for a roller coaster ride with many twist and turns that will leave you breathless and wanting more.