Hey, it’s been a while

Hey guys.. its been a while… A little bit over a month a while… Sorry about that. This semester has started out super fast paced and I’m finally getting a second to catch my breath as I sit in the printmaking studio during open studIo hours.

In this post I want to give a brief overview of what’s happened and what will happen this semester in terms of my art classes. Since I’m in the printmaking studio let’s start there.

Alright so we started out printmaking by going over the studio, where things are, what things do, etc. we also started right on the second day learning how to print from a screen that already had a stencil burned into the screen. I’ll go more in depth about that process later. This stencil was a set on circles that were concentric around each other. However, it was slightly maze like, which pieces cut out of the circles. The reason our professor decided to use this stencil is because he wanted to teach us precision. We had to make ten prints in one color, let it dry, and then take those same 10 prints and print over them with another color. He didn’t want to see the first color at all in the second run prints. It look a lot of time to make this perfect, and I’ll explain how we did that in yet another post.  We also finished our second project. We had to hand draw (ugh) anything of our choice to fit on 9x12in bristol board. It was a one color run, which means that the print only consisted of one color, instead of multiple layers of color. We had to print 10 of these designs as well, but we will be graded on only our best 5.

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In drawing, we have been working through the ages of modern techniques. We started with impression and expressionism, using india ink, and pastels to draw a still life of a vacuum cleaner. Then we moved on to fauvism, which is a style that consists of childlike gestures, with lots of unnatural colors. Currently we are working on cubist style of draw, which has been my favorite section thus far.

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In photography, I have been working on the project I posted on a while ago. I have one couple that I am focusing all my time on. So far I have shot 6 rolls of film, and have printed many, many photos. So far I have shot 1 practice, 1 lesson, 1 competition prep, and 1 competition. I have truly enjoyed this project, and would like to continue exploring this project even more possibly once I’m out of school.

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I hope you enjoyed some of my art that I have done so far this semester, as well as the post. I will try to be better about posting. Please feel free to check out my website, follow me on twitter @anapolousphoto, and give a like on my facebook page.

Collegiate Experience Continued

Hi everyone! In this post I am going to talk a little bit more about my collegiate experience. You can go here to see the first post I did on Stef’s blog. This one will give a bit more detail as that was an over view of my four years of competiting and being on the team.

From what I understand, because I have yet to have first hand experience, is that the real world of ballroom dancing is completely different from the collegiate side. You don’t have a team routing for your number, you don’t travel with 50 people and get stuck sharing a hotel room (or a dorm room floor) with a few of your other team mates, and you don’t have your registration handled for you (at least concerning the am/am dancers). In the collegiate world you have all this and more.

I have been told the collegiate setting is probably one of the best experiences in ballroom dancing you can have. Things are much cheeper and you have an entire team supporting you, from low level newbies, to Amatuer National Finalists. And I would have to agree. Learning in the collegiate setting is amazing. I was able to go from newbie to gold in 3 years, and now I am competiting at the Open Level. I feel very lucky that I was able to find amazing coaches at decent prices, while everyonce and a while being able to slurge on a professional lesson with my partner.

There is also a real sense of team bonding that happens. I mean, how can it not when you are stuck on a bus with these people for a total of 16-20hrs for an entire weekend? When you compete on a team, you sort of become a family, and in my early years of competiting that was exactly what I needed. I am a comuter student to my school. I live about 15minutes away, and if I hadn’t found ballroom, I would just be sitting at home most afternoon and days without very many friends. On the team, you see people everyday (or almost everyday) in your designated practice space (in our case a non-airconditioned volleyball gym), and talk and teach and dance with each other. I was able to make friends and connections that I couldn’t have outside of ballroom because I just didn’t live on campus with all these people.

Though, now as I become a higher level dancer, it becomes harder to be in the collegiate setting. I definately want more freedom in the competitions I choose now, how I want to travel, and where I want to stay. Maybe it is also a factor of that I am getting older to and will graduate in less than a year (11 months!!!). But I am definately pickier than I used to be. I also want to be able to practice when I want, and in a climate controlled room. It’s great that the university gives our team free space on campus to use, but it’s usually at times that are either too early in the day for me and my partner, or too late at night when we are both pooped.

Even with all my recent complaints, and the need to distance myself from the collegiate world, I still think it is an amazing place to start dancing, if you haven’t started already when you were like 5. I believe that even if you just have a smidgen of an inkling that you think you might someday want to learn to dance, and you are in college, freaking go for it. Classes are usually, if not always, free to beginners and you will have a great time learning and making friends who may or may not be in your major. (I am the weird studio art odd ball on my team being surrounded by engineers and comp sci majors.) And the best part? If you found out you don’t like it, at least you didn’t spend $20 bucks on a group lesson at a studio. And if you did like it, you will gain so much knowledge and have a hobby for life.

Guest Blog Post: The Collegiate Experience

Picture Line Photography:

Check out my Guest Blog Post on Stef’s blog about my collegiate experience.

Originally posted on Biggest Girl In The Ballroom:

Stef here.  This is getting to be really fun!  I might make January Guest Blog month in the future.  I’m loving connecting with all sorts of new people.  Thanks to Alaina from And Then Came Dance for “introducing” me to my next guest writer.  

Meet Anastasia from Picture Line Photography.  Don’t be deceived by the name – it DOES have to do with ballroom.  Anastasia does a great job explaining how here.

Anastasia has a unique perspective as a collegiate dancer.  I never danced while in college or with another amateur partner so I was curious to learn more.  Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy this post from my young friend.  Thanks, again, Anastasia and welcome to Ballroom Village.

Hello! I’m Anastasia from over at Picture Line Photography, and Stef has asked me to do a blog piece about my Collegiate Ballroom experience.

Now I have to…

View original 1,355 more words

Frustration

Hi all. I hope your lives are calming down from all the holiday craziness, and that things are going on back as usual. I know my life is, though it will be soon up rooted once again once the semester starts back up.

Today I would like to talk about what frustrates me the most when people respond to my statement that one day I would like to have a full time career as a photographer. It’s not “How are you going to support yourself?” or “I hope you have a back up plan” or “At least you took a some classes that could land you a practical job if that photography thing works out.” No these don’t bug me, at least not anymore, as I am very comfortable with my career decision. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, but this is what I love.

No, what bugs me the most is the phrase, “I hope one day you’ll be famous” or “You’ll be the next Annie Leibovitz.” I know all these people mean well, and are just being encouraging; however, I did not choose this career because I want to be famous. I love photography, and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Sure, it would be nice to be famous. But it’s not a goal. My goal is just to be able to make a decent living as a full time photography. Famous is probably 9th or 10th on the list of things I would like to accomplish with my life. And let me tell you it’s a short list… So it’s pretty far down there. If it happens, it happens. If it doens’t, well at least I accomplished everything else and I will be happy with that.

All the Sparkles

Hello Everyone! Sorry for this post being so late, this past holiday season has been a little crazy.

So the topic of this weeks post has to do with sparkles, more specifically ballroom dance costumes and when they should be allowed and when they shouldn’t. Now before I step into this someone volatile territory, I will say this: it has nothing to do with judges marks or being seen. That has been argued and I have heard judges and professionals give their opinions. I will let them debate that topic, because they only know what goes on in their heads. In the current trend a lot of syllabus dancers (newcomer through gold) in the collegiate community are starting the wear costumes.

However, I believe that costumes should be reserved for those who have made it in to the open levels of dancing. These levels include Novice, Pre-Championship, and Championship (and of course professional). Now I know I’m going to get a lot of flack for this be hear me out, and remember this is one lowly dancer’s opinion. The reasons I believe that costumes should be reserved for these levels are that many times syllabus dancers aren’t ready to dance in them, and that it is a right of passage of sorts.

The first reason I will address is that many lower level dancers aren’t necessarily ready to wear these goureous gowns. What I mean when I say this is that the gown in a lot of ways can overshadow the dancer. Syllabus dancers, for many reasons, do not have all the proper technique down. And that’s completely fine. There is nothing wrong with that state of being. In fact it’s a good thing, because that means you are dancing at the correct level. Syllabus dancer’s focus should be on learning and improving their techinque on frame, movement, cleanliness, and musicalilty. However, the dresses you see a lot of open dancers wear require a dancer to have a very good understanding of the tenique behind the style to make the dress function as it should. For one, these dresses tend to be much heavier than their plain, syllabus counter parts. First of all, they are covered in rhinestones. And who would think that those little shinies would be so heavy, but when you have a at least 10 gross (1400 stones), which is a minimum for most dresses, it can add a lot of extra weight. Also, at least in a dress that is built for the International Ballroom style of dance, the skirts tend to be much heavier as they have many layers built into them to give them volume. This extra weight requires a dancer to be able to move more to create the same amount of movement in the costume dress than in the basic dress. More movement comes from understanding what standing leg is and how to apply it and use it to move across the floor. The concept of standing leg is not only very hard for lower level dancers to grasp, but it also takes a long time to reach your standing leg’s full potential. I’m still working on making my stride long and powerful! If you don’t have standing leg down, then the dress will not have that nice swoosh to it has you dance and will look rather limp. :(

Secondly, (some of) these dresses have things dangling of the arms, whether it be large swatches of cloth, ribbons, or balls of feathers attached to chains or ribbons (yikes!). These things are usually called floats or wings and have many variations and styles. Just like the heavy skirts, floats need lots of movement from the dancer to enhance your dancing. Otherwise, they will just hang limply by your sides. This will enhance the fact that you do not have a lot of movement to begin with and could possibly hurt your scores.

My second reason for not liking syllabus dancers wearing open level costumes is that I believe you have to earn them. They are a right of passage. They say, hey you have worked this hard and achieved so much, go wild! It’s one more thing for a dancer to look forward to and work towards when they are in the lower ranks of syllabus. Sure, awesome open level choreography is incentive too, however in no competition I have been to do they allow anyone dancing in newcomer through gold break syllabus. I feel dresses (and tailsuits for that matter) should be the same way.

Let me know in the comment section below if you agree or disagree with my ideas about costumes and whether they should be allowed in the syllabus levels! I would love to hear your ideas!

Realization

Have you ever had those moments where you figured out what you exactly what you wanted to do with your life? Or least you realized something you liked about yourself? Well I had one early this month. I had received my first Dance Photography job for a showcase event at a local studio back in November. The event was set for December 14th, so I had about a month to get really really nervous prepare.

When the day came, I was completely excited, and super nervous at the same time. I really wanted to make a good impression with the studio and dance professionals I was working with as well as the dancers, and parents of dancers who attended. Who wouldn’t be nervous about that? I made it through the event with only a minor crisis regarding memory cards and me not realizing that I reached capacity until I tried taking more pictures and I got the cute little “CF FULL” where my light meter should have been… Luckily no one noticed, except for those closest to me and my computer.

For four hours I was living my dream. I was taking photos basically non-stop (my only breaks were the 1-2minutes between sets). And it wasn’t just mindless snapping of photos either. Between focusing, zooming, and making sure my camera was receiving enough light, my brain was thinking at a mile a minute (and that’s more than I can say for my current day job). By the end of it my head was spinning, not only because I saw that I had taken about 930 photos during those four short hours, but also because how much I actually did during the day, and how much I had to be on top of my game. It truly was an exhausting experience for those who haven’t experienced anything like that before.

But being exhausted wasn’t a bad thing for me. I was incredibly happy as well. It was in that cold hobble walk back to my car, and relatively quick (but sleepy) drive home did I realize that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Sure, I knew abstractly that Dancesport Photography is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time, but actually living it completely set that into stone. There are no questions, no ifs, ands, or buts.

I am so grateful that I was able to have this experience, and to have been able to share my love of dance and photography with the dancers in my local community. I am also proud to say that I was able to network at the event and am looking forward to the future.

If you want to see the photos from the event, go a head and check out my new website for my business: Anastasia Poulos Photography. I hope to add a blogging section to that website too where I will go into more details about the events I shoot at. Also feel free to stop by my Facebook Page and give it a “Like” and my Indiegogo Campaign!

Wedding Dance

Hello! As you probably guessed, today I’m going to discuss the first dance of the couple at their wedding. This is one of those things on that long check list you have of things to do, pick the flower, buy the dress, organizing venue, schedule lessons for dance. Wait? LessonS? Meaning multiple? What? I can’t just pick up a routine in one lesson? I need more?

Ok maybe this in an exaggeration of your reaction. But yes you do need more than one lesson to get even the simplest routine down. So if you plan to more than just swaying on that dance floo r(which is totally cool too :D ) than here are some suggestions to make that dreaded part of the wedding something to look forward to.

1) Give yourself at least 2 months! Please don’t call up a studio or your dancer friends 2 weeks before you wedding asking them to come up for a full fledge, dance with the stars like routine in that amount of time. It takes a while to develop up the muscle memory for a routine of any caliber. With that amount of time, the studio or your very nice dancer friends can only come up with the most simplest routine that can be repeated over and over until the song you picked is over. The more time you give yourself, the more comfortable you will feel when the time comes to dance, and you can have more complex routine if that’s what you really want.

2) Have an idea of what you want to do! Now you don’t have to know what specific dance in mind, or even a specific song. Those things help tremendously to get started right in a routine, but they are not necessary. What you need is an idea of what genera of music you want to use, or if you want to do a dance within a specific style, like maybe a foxtrot or waltz. This will trim down the options for you and your teacher to pick from and will make the selection process easier. Instead of having a “I don’t know what I want” attitude, bring something to the table. This is your dance after all. You instructor can only do so much for you. It literally can be anything. Your instructor will be able adapt to most any song/genre you can bring to the table.

3) Take more than one lesson! You may be able to sit down with your instructor to come up with the routine in one lessons, but it may take a few more to fully understand all the moves and how they connect together. It also gives you guidence on how to fix the more difficult parts of your routine. Your teacher is there to help you learn it, and is more than willing to help you through it all.

4) Practice, practice, practice! No one wants to be that awkward dancing couple on the floor than forgets their routine half way through the song. Just like public speaking, you get more comfortable with the moves the more you practice them. There are many ways to practice your routine. One way is to physically go to the studio, plug in some head phones, and dance it through all the way. Another is to just listen to the music and just feel it (which shouldn’t be a burden because it should be something you like!). Lastly, you can just run the steps through in your head, and visualize the routine, if you can’t make it to the studio. These are all different ways that you can “practice” your dance. Anything that makes you more familiar with it will help!

5) MOST IMPORTANTLY HAVE FUN! I can’t stress this enough. This you and your significant other’s day. It’s all about you, and it should be fun. No one will care if you didn’t do a perfect natural turn or lock step. People will most likely remember if you look confident and happy or if you looked stiff and nervous the entire time. I know which one I would like to be remembered by. :)

I hope these tips help!

I’m Finally Done!

Hello all! As of 2pm today, Tuesday Dec 17th, I am done with this semester. May the grades roll in. Overall I think this semester went pretty well, and there was only the one class that I completed loathed (digital media). But I will take the positive outlook and say that I am so glad that there are people in the world who love doing that sort of stuff, and that I discovered I was not one of them. I like editing and doing MINOR touch ups to my own photos, but that’s about the extent of how I want to use those skills I learned in this class. So until late January, I am home free in terms of school.

Things may get quieter on this blog for a couple of reasons. First being that my Indiegogo Campgain has met goal! Thanks to my wonderful family I was able to reach my $500 goal. The campgain will still run throug mid-January, per Indiegogo’s regulations. So feel free to stop by and check it out for a bit. With the campgain being succesfull, I will be creating my own website on zenfoilio.com. I am in the works of using the trial time to set it up and get it exactly where I want it, but I will let you know when it is up and running. This hosting site for photographers has a pre-made blogging platform on it. I plan to use it for the professional side of my business.

Now it comes to this blog. I don’t know exactly where I want to take this as I am taking most, if not all of my photography stuff over there. I think what I will do is keep this one active at least through my remaining 2 semester to post projects I am working on at school, while keeping the other one competely professional. Let me know in the comments below whwat you think of this plan.

And while you are at it feel free to check out Facebook Page, Twitter and Indiegogo Campaign for the latest updates of what I am doing with my photography!

Photography: Idea

So one class has ended, 3 more to go for the semester. And of course it’s the class that I never really wanted to end, Photography. Of course I will continue to shoot, but shooting with digital isn’t the same. I love both mediums, but there is something about film photography that makes everything feel right in my world (though only having a limited number of shots does not add to this feeling). You know how everyone has those scents that make them feel relaxed? Well, the smell of developer is one of mine. I know it’s not the most appealing smell in the world, but I have had the some of my best experiences as an artist come out of the darkroom, that my brain has just associated the smell with feeling good. This is not to say, however, that I always feel calm and relaxed in the darkroom either. But it definitely is a smell that can change my attitude for the day if I’m having one.

The good news is that I am taking the Advanced Photography class next semester! Yay! There is a lot more freedom within this class. I think the requirements are that we have 25 complete final prints by the end of the semester that have a story or idea behind them. I have been thinking about how I want to execute this assignment. Of course the obvious answer is: keep shooting dancers. But that’s not really a story now is it? Sure it’s a concept; however, it’s a very broad concept. I wanted a more narrow idea. Something that had a clear beginning, middle and end. I have been thinking about this since I started out calling for dancers to have me shoot their practices, which has been about a month. It wasn’t until last night that I came up with an idea that I think will work. My plan is to pick a 1-2 couples and shoot them exclusively throughout the semester. I want to be their shadow for an entire three months. Taking pictures of their practices, their prep hours before the competition, dancing during the competition, and the aftermath of the competition. I want to be able to document what it takes to get where you want to go, and what happens  if you achieve the goals or not.

I have no idea exactly how I want to do this, or who I want to track, but this is just the core idea. There is still a lot of fleshing out  that needs to be done. Let me know in the comments below what you think of this idea!

Class Update

Hello all!

So the semester is winding down (only one week to go before finals) and I though I would give you an overall update of what’s been going on.

In painting we have been working on our final two. The first is a 24x36in canvas and it could be whatever we wanted it to be. So I chose dancing (of course). It took me WEEKS to figure out what to paint. I probably went through 10(!) different sketches until finally my professor let me start working with my canvas. Here is the painting so far:

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It’s an abstraction of a develope. It’s a high extended leg position that you develop (here’s your ooo moment) over a certain measure of beats. I still have a lot to work on. During critique the major issue was I need to be more loose and really let my paint brush dance across the canvas… We shall see how that goes.

Our second painting also could be whatever we wanted. In this past week, I’ve been working on a few sketches of it. Here are my two sketches:

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The basic idea is dancers on a dance floor. The size of the canvas will be 36x48inchs! Crazy big but I think it will work well with this idea. The top sketch is the first one I painted. I just wanted to get my basic idea across. I did one other that I am not showing here that does not reach the boards of the paper (like the first one), but where the brushstrokes and colors are more defined, like the bottom one. Now my professor pulled me aside and said he really like the concept but wanted to show me how different the feel would be with clear boarders. The sketch became more than just the paint, and the experience of the paint. The layers of color became more defined and the boarders added more depth to the painting, which I enjoyed. This led me to my third and final sketch (the bottom image). I really do look forward to painting this next week.

In digital media we created a magazine of our artwork. We had to make a front cover, a back cover, and an interior. For the covers we had to use Illustrator.  We had to make the front and the back covers really pop, and show our use of Illustrator. They could not be basic. They also had to be cohesive with each other. For the interior we used InDesign. We came up with our own artist statements and added photographs of our work thus far. I used a lot of my photography, and a few pieces from my casting and painting class. This has been my favorite project thus far. Unfortunately I do not have any picutres of it. We also just completed our animation project, which I disliked even more than our photoshop projects. We are currently working on our websites using Dreamweaver. I’m not in love with this project either, but such is life.

In photography, I have been focusing my efforts on ballroom dancing. I photographed our comepition, DCDI, on a 3200 speed roll. Here are a few pictures from that:

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As you maybe able to tell, this film has a lot more grain to it, which gives it an almost darker quality to the prints. I really like this feel and I think I’m going to use this speed film for all competitions from here on out. It also allows to shoot in lower light situations which is great for competitions.

I have also focused on getting some of the members of my club to let me take pictures of their practice and classes. I am still working on printing those, but I hope to have more completed next week.

That’s all I have for today! Until next time, check out my facebook page and indiegogo campaign to see more of my work and to learn about what I am currently working on!