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.

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Guest Blog Post: The Collegiate Experience

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

Beautiful 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 post 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!