X Works

If you will be near Purdue University area this upcoming weekend, you’ll have double the opportunity to check out “X Works”, Purdue’s Contemporary Dance Company show. This student-produced concert will be presented to the public Saturday, April 5 and Sunday, April 6. The show will offer a variety of styles including: lyrical, tap, jazz and even belly dance.

Purdue’s Division of Dance presents around six concerts throughout the year: two main stage concerts, two studio/lab concerts, one dance improvisation concert and a dance technology performance. Most dancers involved are degree-seeking students in some aspect of dance and there are others that are fulfilling a core requirement.

THE DETAILS

X Works

April 5 and 6

4 and 6 p.m.

Dance Studio Theatre, Pao Hall of Visual and Performing Arts

$5 Admission, seating limited

After finding about the upcoming show, I did some research and came across a video that shows the way in which dance has been present at Purdue University for over 80 years. There are some really great highlights from the past and how it has evolved over the years.

“Curiosity + Collaboration = Choreographic Expression”

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When Faking it Until You Make It Works To Your Advantage

It’s understandable that some people have to work harder than others to develop a “dancer’s build and form.” I can definitely relate to this and throughout my training, I have learned tricks that works for my body to either improve things that I can work on or make the best of what I cannot do. I read some tips on “Dance Spirit” that will help to improve basic moves that seem to be more challenging than they look. The magazine says to “Be a Master of Disguise”.

Turnout Troubles

In order to master a perfect turnout in ballet, you have to think about in terms of rotating your hip joints. Josie Walsh, artistic director of Ballet RED and the Joffrey Ballet says, “think about the way you roll your shoulders from front to back”. From there you should be able to achieve a natural rotation. Walsh recommends this exercise to strengthen your turnout: Lie on your left side with your knees bent. Keeping your feet together, lift your right knee as much as you can without opening your right hip. Do 50 reps, then repeat on the other side.

Making Your Height Work For You

I call myself challenged in the height area. My legs are not long and slim like most ballerinas, they are stubby and short. I’ve always wanted to have a beautiful leg extension, but I knew it wouldn’t look the same as the 5’8 girl standing next to me. If you have this problem, you have to constantly think about yourself performing as an amazon, for example to look powerful. Make your moves twice as big as you are and the energy will be felt and technique will be overflowing. One tip to make your legs look longer is to be conscious of your dance wear. You have to trick the eye with wearing tights that is the same color as the shoes you wear.

Do you have any other dance disguises that you want to master? Dance Spirit Magazine  has more great tips to use what you have to the best of your ability.

 

Bones Rattling, Body Breaking

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Another YouTube sensation is being brought to the forefront of the dance world. Flex, the gliding, contorting, bone chilling dance comes from the streets of Brooklyn, New York. This style was so unfamiliar to the world and now, because of social media, people are beginning to see the unique moves. Most flex dancers specialize in gliding, bone-breaking and hat tricks that tells a story through costumes and awkward movements.

Flex competitions are now becoming more common as attendance has risen dramatically since the first competition. Many of the dancers have danced on tour with Madonna and others. Kareem Baptiste, flex dancer says, “There’s a demand for it. It’s growing bigger than us.” This style of dance was discovered in 2008 by a New York Times photographer, who was in awe of the bond and creativity of the dancers. Diedre Schoo, the NY Times photographer, made a documentary film about flex dancing called “Flex Is Kings”. This takes viewers for an inside peek of how dance is an escape for dancers who are so closely surrounded by poverty and crime. He wrote, “To see and feel the energy of a flex performance or battle is to experience lyricism, violence, sensitivity, joy, intelligence, perspective and sincere artistry.”

Prepare your eyes for a jaw dropping, body cringing experience!

Photo Cred: Deidre Schoo, NY Times

Uh Oh. There’s Controversy on the Dance Floor

How much controversy can be brewed over dancing? There’s actually been a lot of conflicts in the dance world recently, especially of those seen on national television. It started with the show “Dance Moms” on Lifetime that followed the lives of dancers in the Abby Lee Dance Company and their mothers.

Lifetime recently aired another dance centered show, “Bring It.” This is a show that introduces the nation to the elite world of hip-hop majorette dance competitions. Dianna WIlliams, founder and coach of the Dancing Dolls troupe, makes sure that losing is never an option, only a win in acceptable, mediocrity is not an excuse and errors are not tolerated. Each episode will follow the preeminent troupe with 15 Grand Champion titles and more than a hundred trophies as they practice and compete each week. Although Williams teaches her dancers who are seven to 17 valuable lessons about receiving a good education, persistence and positive self worth, there has been a number of negative complaints. Some viewers welcome this show, others complain about the profane dance moves that they are trained to do. Some think Williams are teaching the girls to dance in a provocative way but it is argued that with this specific style of dance, it is acceptable.

What some people may not understand is the style of dance that these young girls are doing. Hip hop majorette style is very well-known in the south at most Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  These performers usually dance during sporting events and is well-respected where it is familiar to the audience.

After watching the first episode of the show, I can say that I was introduced to another side of dancing that I did not know much about. I would suggest that those who are not yet accepting of hip-hop majorette dancing to do research and see that the dancing is more than just the assumed booty shaking.

If you’ve never seen this type of dancing, take a peek inside the first season! Bring It!

Missed the Action?

You’re in front of thousands of people on stage for two minutes in sunny Florida. You walk past some of the best teams in the nation that you would watch on TV at the amusement parks. You may not be a finalist in the last competition but you’ve had one of the best times of your life. This was my experience years ago.I remember going to Florida for Dance Team Nationals my sophomore year in high school. I was a fan of watching it and I still love to tune in to see who will be the next champion in the nation.

The Universal Cheer and Dance Association (UCA/UDA) recently held its annual national competition in Orlando, FL at the EPSN Wide World of Sports Complex. High school and college teams made their appearance in preliminary and final rounds. For dance, the categories included: jazz, kick, hip hop and pom for large and small teams. To receive a bid to go to nationals, a team must attend summer camp and compete for only first, second and third place to have the opportunity to go.

If you’ve been busy like I have, you may have missed the competition that is shown on ESPN. No worries, though, you can find all the action here . I’ve already watched a few and I can say, the University of Cincinnati definitely brought the energy.

I’ll be on spring break for a week so, in the meantime, enjoy hundreds of dance videos and bring some inspiration to your team’s next practice. Also, you can use the link above to find out all the results from the competition. Enjoy!

 

Did You Know? There’s an App for that too!

Technology introduces something new to the dance world even closer to our fingertips. In addition to the sports, music, games and productivity apps on smartphones, there have been a number of dance apps added to the market. Now some of those tutorials that you used to watch on YouTube can now be utilized through the simple screen taps on our phones. Some of the apps include: The Tap App, Ballet for Beginners, and Bboy Step by Step.

The Tap App consists of images that show you the 12 foundational steps, as well as a video explanation to go further in depth of what your feet should be doing. If you master these steps, you can purchase additional packs that allows for further learning. “The app places an emphasis on proper technique, body placement, and rhythm.”

Ballet for Beginners is for beginner and intermediate dancers with the flexibility to choose from over 200 lessons. This app also has a video capability to show moves and one interesting aspect of the app is that it provides common questions with answers about ballet life.

Master b-boy instructor, Jeromeskee, is the main guide for the Bboy Step by Step app. With this app you will go through warmups, freestyles, footwork exercises and freezing drills. There are 15 videos with this virtual style of teaching.

Although it may be more beneficial to learn in person, these apps will help a dancer improve little by little. With these new technologies some people may ask if virtual dance classes will be the next step? Or, will those interested in dance ever make it inside a studio to train? I guess we will have to wait and see what the next trend will be.

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Her Heart Moves Her Feet

I love to hear about the passions and experiences that people hold dear to their hearts. Dance is something I can find similarities with on a day basis. Jasmine Jones, a Senior at Purdue University and a current member of the Higher Ground Dance Company shared some insight with me about dance in her life.

Q:  How did you first get into dancing?

A: I remember when I was five, I think, my mother always told me that I would dance to anything wherever we were. We could be in the car and I’d be sitting in my car seat bobbing my head or I could just be at home dancing around the house. I guess my mother could tell dance was something that I loved to do so, she enrolled me into classes at Corrine’s Ballet Studio in Gary, IN.

Q: What type of dance training do you have in terms of style backgrounds and if you have one, which is your favorite?

A: I started with ballet, which is the foundational aspect of almost all other forms of dance. As I became a little older, I got into tap, hip hop and modern. I love all these styles but I would have to pick hip hop as my favorite. Hip hop is unexplainable sometimes because there is so much freedom with the things you can do with your body and I love that. There’s different types of hip hop that can be done like a slow and smooth style and then there’s a hard hitting, in your face style.

Q: I love the feeling that takes over my body when I perform. How do you feel minutes before a performance, during and after a performance?

A: The feeling is almost indescribable. Before a performance, I get really nervous. I always make sure that I pray to try to calm my nerves. I have to get in the mindset to be pure with my emotions so that I portray everything as it should be. I love to hear the audience’s reaction during the performance because that gives me assurance about how well I (we) are dancing. It’s a great feeling after a performance to walk off the stage knowing that I have left everything that I had on the floor. All emotions and energy, basically giving  my all is what I want to accomplish when I walk off the stage.

Q: Do you have any plans to continue dancing when you graduate from college?

A: I don’t think I see a future in dance after I graduate. Dance has been a part of my life for a long time. I danced from when I was five, through middle school and high school and in college i’ve been in a dance company. I think it would be hard to find time to commit to dancing but, every now and then I would be interested in taking classes just to stay in shape and continue to have it in my life. I have definitely enjoyed being able to give back throughout my dance experiences and show my passions in life through my talents.

How to: Contemporary Dance

I find myself wanting to learn new styles of dance all the time. Without having someone instructing right in front of me, it’s hard to catch up on basic moves. I came across this instructional and very basic how to video of most used contemporary moves. As Eric Wilkerson, aka “Contemporary Eric” says, these moves are used in almost every contemporary routine.

Contemporary is a style of dance that developed during the middle of the twentieth century. Today, contemporary dance has grown to be one of the most dominating styles that dancers are trained in. Many people think that contemporary is the same as modern or ballet. However, there are foundational aspects that set them a part from one another.

I really enjoy contemporary dance because it allows you to move freely within each placement of the arms or legs. There is a lot of flexibility in the way in which your body moves, as opposed to some types of hip hop dance, for example.

I hope you enjoy the video whether it’s just for your entertainment, or even to learn a few pointers. I can say that I use some of these moves when I choreograph dances. These are simple, yet expressive moves that you can add with your own flair to make for great contemporary routine.

To read full article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/30/eric-wilkerson-contemporary-dance_n_4520242.html

Eaten one sugarplum too many?

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It is to my knowledge that eating disorders are not a stranger to the dance world. The desire to be a thin ballerina is what many dancers strive for. About 4 years ago, Jenifer Ringer, ballerina of the New York City Ballet was a target for her weight in the Nutcracker’s Sugar Plum Fairy. A particular dance critic wrote that “Ringer…looked as if she’d eaten one sugarplum too many,” and this comment caused a lot of media controversy.

With having nearly 25 years in the dance world, Ringer opened up to ELLE.com about many of the heart wrenching, near death experiences from eating disorders and repeated rejections from auditions in her new book, “Dancing Through It.”  Throughout the book she is expressing how hard it was to become a professional dancer and how the reality of such competition was very harsh. She also goes into detail about how as she became older, she had to attempt to maintain the perfect ballet body. What is a perfect ballet body? You may ask.

If she did not have a small head with a long neck and slim legs, she was unhappy because this was not the look that most cast calls would hire for. She began to restrict her eating and although this was not healthy for her body, she had teachers that would approve of this body. She described the fact of her being too thin as a pleasure, but also a part of the sickness. At her lowest point of her entire journey, she considered suicide because she was so self-involved with who she was becoming based on her looks.

Although I find it very disrespectful to abuse our body to extreme measures, I know that this happens all the time. I feel that society is so stuck on the idea of having to be thin in order to be the right person  for a lead role in the Nutcracker, for example. You can eat healthy and stay active and still have a great body. I really hope that this idea transforms to a positive reinforcement that would allow dancers to be confident in their skin and let their dancing to the talking.

For more questions and answers from this interview, refer to ELLE.com

Reaction: Crossing Paths

I would be one to assume that there are not too many chances to witness a show that brings together a number of diverse backgrounds of dance. However, you could be similar to me and be obsessed with “So You Think You Can Dance”, because it brings so many diverse styles for America to see. I personally appreciate being able to enjoy not just one style of dance on the stage in one sitting. I had this opportunity a few weeks back at Purdue University with the first Cross Cultural Dance Show.

The Purdue Cross Cultural Organization brought together eight different dance organizations to share, expose and celebrate the variety of styles. I’m used to being on the stage and I was happy to enjoy the show from an audience’s perspective. Being able to see the passion on the stage from the performers in their comfort zones was my favorite part of the show. Although my favorite styles of dance are hip hop and contemporary, I thoroughly enjoyed the ballroom and Indian dance performances. I definitely think these were the most pleasing to the crowd because of the high energy that jumped from the dancers to the audience.

There are a couple things that I feel could have been a little different throughout out the show. During some performances, the music and even some of the dance moves were not censored. There were people of all ages in the audience and I brought my eight year old mentee to the show and let’s just say that there were some words and moves that I did not want her to hear. Overall, I could tell she enjoyed the show and I think it’s important to make it appealing to all ages.

I think that was such a unique experience and I am happy that Purdue and the surrounding community was able to be exposed to diversity. It was a great night to celebrate different backgrounds while bringing them all together on one accord.