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…

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Class update

Hi guys!

I don’t really have anything to show you this week. I worked a bit on the painting, but I did not make a whole lot of changes to the entire thing. I need to fix the transitions and then maybe before the mid term is due I’ll show you the finished product. Digital media is going slow still, but I hope to finish up the project by Sunday night, so that I can show you guys next week. Photography is great, though nothing quite yet to show. We developed our first role last week and we will be doing contact sheets Monday, and possibly be doing more developing as we have another role due for Monday!

I hope to have more to say next week!

First Week of Class

Today concluded the first week of my metal casting class. I was excited for this class before it started, but after this week I am ecstatic! It has been amazing. We have yet to pour anything, that will be next Thursday, but we have worked on our first two projects. We will have a total of five projects completed by the end of this course, with the chance to pour 4 times. First pour is next Thursday. The next is Friday, which is optional due to the fact it is in Scranton, PA. The one after that is also optional; it is on Wednesday. We will be going down to a iron foundry in Richmond, VA to pour. The final time to cast is Thursday–our last day of class.

On to the projects. Our first project is a wax mold project. Tuesday was our first day where we were just suppose to play around with the wax. We melted huge pots down, learned how to pour it into a huge sheet to split up, and then molded however we wanted with our hands. When the professor first described the wax, I instantly knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to make a skirt that was in the shape of how it would look as a dancer would do a develope. So I started working with the wax after we poured a sheet and ended up thinking that it wouldn’t work in terms displaying it. So I flatten that part of the skirt down so it only had a mild flare. I was working on trying to smooth down all the bumps that had occurred in the folding process when my professor told me to leave it alone and start another. By the end of class I had made three different skirts with a different flare to each of representing a different move in the ballroom style of dance. One was a develope (my original idea), one was a ronde, and the last was the normal flare of a spin. They were really rough, but they are the start of the project.

I came in Wednesday and decided to at least try to work out the bumps with the heat gun. It worked wonders! The top surfaces and edges of the skirts and completely smoothed down. That took me about half of the class to do because I did the main surface of the skirts first, and I had to wait for them to cool back down in the fridge so that I would avoid drip marks while doing the edges. After the I had done the edges, and the skirts re-cooled in the fridge, I was able to cover the pieces in joint compound to prepare them for the molds. This took two coats and the rest of the class to complete. Because they take about 5-6 hours to dry, we were unable to do much more with them until today where we made the molds.

While I was waiting for the joint compound to dry between coats on Wednesday, our professor started to talk about the next project. We are going to make a design out of foam, then we are going to pack it in sand and pour the aluminum straight to to the bucket of sand. The foam will basically vaporize, leaving be hind the design for the metal to fill. The design cannot be larger than two fists high, so size is a huge limiting factor. My professor wants me to continue with this theme of movement and dance in my pieces. Currently I am stumped on what to do. I think I’m going to lean towards the movement of a Latin dress but I need to play with the foam and mess around with it to see how I can manipulate it.

Today we made the resin molds for the wax patterns. This involved a lot of heavy duty work for this little duty girl. First we had to take these bords and put them together so that they would fit our wax patters. We used a screw and drill to hold them together. I did not realize how much work goes into drilling!! Boy do I lack upper body strength. Then after we made the boxes, we made the sand-resin mix. This involved taking 100lb of sand and pouring it into this huge mixer (think big scary kitchen aid but the mixing part is on the bottom instead of over hanging), then adding an acid catalyst in to the sand then the resin. Then we had to pack the boxes with out wax patterns in it with this resin mix and let it set. One of my boxes had two of my patterns in it and that took about 75lb of sand! The other box had probably 30lb of sand. After they set we put them in the oven to melt the wax out so there will be a hollow cavity for the metal.

We pour next Thursday! Can’t wait to post about that! Below are some photo’s of the process.


before the smoothing process

before the smoothing process

From left to right: ronde, develope, spin

From left to right: ronde, develope, spin

Design for project 2

Design for project 2

Packed Sand Resin Molds

Packed Sand Resin Molds


First Day of Class

I am starting my first day of my metal casting class tomorrow. It is a 3 credit, 3 week class that goes from 2pm to 8pm Monday through Thursday. I’ve been looking forward to this since I registered for it in February! It is being taught by my favorite professor in the Art Department at the University of Maryland, Steven Jones. He is the most sarcastic, and brutally honest professor I have yet to meet. He’s this way only because he wants his students to sucede. He wants each and everyone of us to come out of his class having learned something and having grown a bit more as an artist. The last class I took from him, 3d design, was one of the hardest classes I have taken thus far in my major–but also my favorite.

Tomorrow is a work day and he is supplying the materials. Should be an interesting day! I’m ready for this challenge.

MIT Open

So this past weekend was the MIT Open Ballroom Competition, and my collegiate team made their way up there like they do every year. This year, unfortunately, my partner (and boyfriend, one in the same) and I could not make it due to monetary issues. However, I MIT is still one of my favorite competitions to attend. First of all, it is a collegiate competition  which means lots of cheering, camaraderie, and excitement filling the ballroom, or gym in this case. Secondly, it is the largest collegiate competition on the East Coast, which means that you are pulling some of the best amateur talent from the East Coast throughout the levels to compete against. Thirdly, MIT always have an amazing professional couple come and perform a showcase and give workshops and private lessons throughout the weekend.

I love to dance, and compete. However, being able to sit in bleachers, not too far away from the couple, or even on the ground super close, is just amazing. To be inspired by these dancers to push harder and want more out of your dancing is priceless. This year’s showcase was performed by Pablo Basco and his partner Joanne Clifton, the 2011 World Dance Federation Champions. I will provide a link of their dancing below. 


Above is an image from the 2011 MIT Dance Performance that I took on my Cannon D-SLR. The couple in the photo is Franco Formica and Oxana Lebedew. They were the 3rd place couple in the world in 2011. Shortly after the MIT Open, Franco and Oxana split ways and are now dancing with their new partners.

It’s not only my dancing these professionals are inspiring in me. They are also inspiring my photography. Every move these dancers make is just exquisite and my fingers just itch to click as many pictures as I can get.  It’s almost like an endless cycle of art. They create beautiful lines and shapes with their body in continuous motion, while I capture each line and shape on my digital card or film. I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to take pictures like this again of a professional couple. 


Pablo Basco and Joanne Clifton Foxtrot

Franco Formica and Oxana Lebedew Rumba

Concert Photography

As I have stated in my last post, I love photographing concerts. Musicians just have so much energy and passion for what they do and it comes off on stage. Their energy and passion feeds my passion for photography, and my fingers just itch for my camera to capture them.

Earlier this month I attended one of Green Day’s concerts along their tour at Temple University’s campus in Philadelphia, PA. Now, as many of you know, most venues do not allow cameras at the event, so I did not want to bring my beloved DSLR to the concert only to be told that I have to leave it in my car, in one of the worst areas of Philly. Also, I did not want to be separated from my two friends, as we had pit seats. In short, I was only equipped with my tiny, so-so, iPhone 5 built in camera.

So we get to our “seats” and people are taking photos of the cover band, Best Coast, and none of the event staff is stopping anyone. So now, in my head, I am mentally kicking myself in the butt for not bringing my nice camera. Well I do thank myself for charging my phone during that trip so that I have at least an hour and half of shooting time. Ended up taking a ton of photos throughout the night. Unfortunately many turned out way to pixel-y, seeing that it is a rock concert, which means that it’s a dark venue. However there were a few gems in the bunch, like the one below.

It had been a long time since I have done concert photography–it’s probably been a year. Having this opportunity, standing only a few rows away from one of my favorite bands, being able to take photos of them… I just fell back in love with it. I believe this is what I want to do for the rest of my career–but doing it exclusively is probably out of the question. Oh well, we shall see how it goes. I just can’t wait for my next opportunity to photography any concert!