You’re Never Too Advanced for a Technical Brush Up

It was not until recently that the Higher Ground Dance Company thought of a way to implement educational aspects of dance into their organization’s program. The company allows dancers with little or no experience and dancers who have been training for years to come together to share their passion for dance and helping others. The opportunity was presented to the members of the company last year by the officers to have technique sessions about every other week. The idea came about because there were not many opportunities for the dancers to receive supplemental guidance about technicalities they may be having a hard time with. This would allow dancers to receive one on one training to ask questions and improve technique overall. Technique sessions include basic flexibility exercises, across the floor combinations, leaps and turn sequences. This has been great asset to the company for those who take advantage of this resource. This is a new and uncommon practice for most members of the company but there has been a wide variety of levels to participate. Technique night is not only a time for dancing, but members are able to come together to bond with those that they may have yet to meet because of how large the company is. There is plenty of opportunities for any dancer to grow as you can continue your education about dance and improve your overall dance technique. Elizabeth Weimer, member of the executive board for HGDC shares her thoughts about the benefits of this addition to the program.

 

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West Side Story

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Are there any West Side Story fans near the the West Lafayette, IN area? Good news! One of the greatest love stories in musicals is coming to Purdue University. This is one musical that has altered musical theater history as it is “powerful, poignant, and timely as ever.” “The score by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim is considered to be one of Broadway’s finest and features such classics of the American musical theatre as Something’s Coming, Tonight, American, I Feel Pretty, and Somewhere.” This is one of Boradway’s best dance focused musical. The dancing in the musical have not diminished as the amazing choreography continues to please the audience.

There will be a pre-show at 6:30 p.m., location is still being determined, consisting of a discussion about West Side Story with Dr. Thomas Adler. There is a disclaimer about the show including strong language, violence and sensitive subject matter that is true to the story and plot of the musical.

THE DETAILS

West Side Story

Thursday, April 24

7:30 p.m.

Elliott Hall of Music

Tickets can be purchased here.

Preshow is at 6:30 p.m. (Location is TBD)

Tuesday Nights In Stewart Center…

About two, late Tuesday evenings a month, the Higher Ground Dance Company prepares for their bi-annual semester show. The spring semester show will take place on May 4 in Loeb Playhouse at Purdue University. The non-profit organization raises money to benefit the Andrea Rizzo Foundation and help children with terminal illnesses  fight with the help of dance therapy. So far, the company raised enough funds for a dance therapy program to be placed in Riley Children’s Hospital.

The members of the company have come together because they have a passion for dance and for helping others. Being involved in the company allows dancers who are beginner, intermediate and advanced to showcase their talents and meet people from all over the university. Styles of dance include lyrical, tap, ballet, hip-hop, kick and theater production.

The final company practices leading up to the show are very crucial because the dances need to be almost stage ready. The videos included will show a sneak preview of the show and also one dancer’s perspective about this semester.

The Higher Ground Dance Company would love if you joined them and danced by their motto, “Let Your Heart Move Your Feet.”

Free Fall Dancing?

“From how high can a dancer free fall, or at what speed can two dancers collide, without causing injury?” Choreographer, Elizabeth Streb, has been concerned with the answer to this question and has come to a few ideas that may explain how these premises may be a body of work, or dance to be more specific.

STREB Extreme Action, which is Streb’s company, is beginning a residency phase at the Lied Center for Performing Arts in Lincoln, Nebraska. Dance, theatre, architecture, computer science and engineering students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has been given the challenge to view dance in a unique perspective. Each student group has a certain role in making this whole idea come to life. “The dancers have been working on phrases that ignore the effects of gravity; engineering students have constructed flying robotic drones that will perform alongside the dancers; member of the second-year architecture class have sketched out a series of projections evoking frightening, risky spaces.”

The students’ work will be presented in April during National Robotics Week. From the description above, this idea may be hard to wrap your mind around. I had a hard time visualizing the idea as well. The video below will definitely answer any questions that you may be pondering about. Enjoy this innovative collaboration!

Taking Their Talents Down South

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Here’s your opportunity to see the elite performing and competing team live before the whole nation is able to see it. If you’ve never had the chance to catch these ladies at athletic games, philanthropy or community events, I would strongly suggest being in attendance. This Sunday, April 6, the Purdue Dance Team will be having their annual “Nationals Preview and Send Off.” This event is open to the public to show the community what they have been working on all year.

The National Dance Alliance’s College Nationals Competition will be held from April 9-13 in Daytona Beach, Florida. The team has about 10 years under their belt as being competitors to represent Purdue University. Under the Bandshell, almost 7,000 student athletes from 35 states, as well as Japan, Canada, and Costa Rica will compete. There will be preliminary rounds and then team finals on the last day. The Championships will be televised on CBS Sports Network, Video On Demand and Varsity.com.

Over the past years, the Purdue Dance Team has placed within the Top 10 among all competitors within the Division 1A. They are carrying six awards from camp last summer that allowed them to attend nationals. They have received gold rating on: Superior Game Day Routine, Best Team Dance. Other awards included members of the team who have received All American ratings.

Being on a competitive dance team in high school, I know how much work, dedication and passion goes into those few moments on the stage. The desire and pressure to win a title is enormous. I wish the best of luck to these very talented ladies as they head towards Daytona Beach to compete for the number one spot.

 

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”

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!