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 😀 ) 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!

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Indiegogo Campaign

As  you may or may not have noticed, I now have a new page to go see on this blog entitled Indiegogo Campaign. It will take you to a page that briefly tells you what I am doing and why. In this post I am looking to go more indepth of why I started this campgain, and why it means so much to me.

As you know if you have been following, art, specifically photography, is my first love and my life choice in terms of career. Over the past three years at Maryland, I have grown as a person and as an artist and have come to terms with what I want to do with my life. I have made up my mind that I want to be a photographer. It’s not an easy choice to make, in fact it is quite daunting. It’s a highly saturated field, with a huge failure rate, and sporadic income. Well doesn’t that sound like a bundle of joy. But working at my part time, secure job has made me realize that I don’t want to be stuck at a desk all day for the rest of my life. I would be miserable. So I made that leap. I promised myself that I want to be a full time photographer in the very near future.

Ok the hard part of deciding what I want to do with the rest of my life is over. Whew… Got that stuggle out of the way. But what’s this? A whole nother slew of struggles of how to get from Point A, “now I know what I want to do”, to Point B, “making the dream the reality.” That’s where this blog comes in. I decided that I wanted to get my art work out there and hopefully start a gathering of people, while also talking about my second love dance. It was in this almost half a year of blogging (gosh has it really been that long?) that I realized that I wanted to mesh the two together. I have been dancing since I was little, and in college I fell in love with ballroom dancing. And you know what they say, stick to what you know. Well I know photography, and I know dance– so why not tailor my portfolio to dancing.

That makes it one step closer to getting to Point B. In the latter half of this semester, I have been using my photography class to just sit down and force myself to just take ballroom photos. And guess what, my photographs have turned out better because of two reasons. The first being is that I understand my subjects. I understand how their bodies move. And I have been developing my skills to understanding how and when I should snap that photo. The second reason being is that I actually enjoy taking these photos. It does show in your work when you truly love what you are doing. There is a certain care and love that comes out in those photographs. I do not feel like this is work when go into these photo shoots, because it’s fun. I am not constantly check to see how my shots are left in my roll of film. In fact, half the time I don’t realize that I only have one shot left and am completely surprised when my camera starts rewinding the film back into the canister.

I have also started a facebook page, which I will link to below, to further showcase my photography. In the past 2 weeks that it has been up, I have gained 85 “likes,” which is amazing! I am truly pleased with the outcome so far! I have also been connecting with the local ballroom community, and I hope to have a few events lined up in the future. I have also been in contact with the school’s Student Start Up Incubator, Startup Shell, to gain business advice and support for the next year I will be attending school. All of these things above are what I have done to get be to my ultimate goal of Point B.

Now I am in need of some help. As you know, I am a college student, which means I have a limited access of funds. I work part time, but it is usually only enough to get me food, gas, and  supplies during the school semester. Right now, to grow my business even further, I want to start a full fledge website for my photography. I want to be able to professionally showcase my art, as well as provide client access for prints. Unfortunately I do not have the funds to create one myself. This is where you, my readers and followers, come into play.

I have started up an Indiegogo Campaign for my website (link below). I am asking for $500 dollars to set up my website. The cost includes webhosting the main page with wordpress.org, and the webhosting through zenfolio for the photography portion of the website. I am currently at 20% of my total goal. If you can, I would greatly apprciate any support you can offer. Whether it be donating to the campaign, or sharing the campaign with your friends and family. This would mean so much to me. Thank you so much in advanced and for all the support you have given me thus far.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and a safe holiday!

LINKS:

FACEBOOK PAGE

INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN

Healthy Mind

When it comes to any type of career or hobby that is subjective, it is very easy to slip into a bad state of mind. Take competitive ballroom as an example. You practice, take lessons, buy the proper attire, do you hair and make up, in order to please a 4-6 judges to make it to the final, if not first place. Almost everything a serious competitive dancer does it to please someone else. I can just hear some of them now saying “No, I only do this for myself, it’s fun!” Say that to me with a straight face a long with the phrase “I really don’t care about my placement.” This this sport, as with many other artistic sports, we are looking for that stamp of approval from an outside source to say that we are doing everything right, or that we are improving. The problem with this sort of attitude it can lead down a terrible path inside the mind that could lead to a breakdown. And no one wants that.

There is a real problem with having your only self-worth coming from an outside source. Maybe you only have this attitude for dancing, but it still isn’t healthy. You need to have confidence in your own dancing first, before anyone else can boost it. Now I’m not saying this because I have it all figured out… Please, I’m a college student whose job is to please people to earn good grades. Even when it comes to dance sometimes I even forget this concept, and rely on judges marks to affirm my dancing self-worth. I’m saying this so that we can work together on keeping our minds and body happy. There are so many factors that go into judging you on the floor. First, judges at most only have about 3 seconds to look at you. 3 seconds. They don’t see all the hard work you put into your dancing. They don’t see all the coaching sessions you’ve done. They didn’t see your amazing practice rounds this past week. They only see those three seconds of dancing, and it better be a good three seconds if you want that callback.

But like I have been saying all throughout this post, getting called-back isn’t the end all and be all of dancing. You have to realize that, no matter the call backs, you have done well. You have improved. It is very unlikely that you haven’t improved. As long as you have taken lessons, private or group, and you have practiced what you have learned in those lessons, you are making progressed. You have improved from day one. Just take a look at your old dance videos. Cringe worthy yes, but they will give you perspective and let you know that you have improved. Also talking to your coach can give you some perspective. They can tell you what you did right, and what you did wrong at the competition. More likely then not, they will say that yes you did this and this wrong and you could have done this better, but these other things you still did really well.

Although we do this crazy competitive sport to win, we also do this because we like it. If you don’t like it, you shouldn’t be on the floor. Just remember that knowing that you are improving, and that you enjoy dancing is what really matters in this game. It’s not the ribbons, or the satisfaction of someone else putting their stamp of approval on your dancing. Those things are nice. But in the end it’s your how you view your dancing is what really matters. As long as you feel like you are improving and getting somewhere that’s what counts.

Second Best Advice I Can Give

Now my first bit of advice mostly applied to newbies; however, this bit of advice applies to all dancers as we all tend to forget this. It goes a little something like this. “If you don’t have it now, you won’t get it by comp time this weekend.” Now I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever stop practicing new figures, techniques, and frames. But you just need to refocus your priorities. When a competition is right around the conorn, there is no way you are gong to master that new double reverse spin turn that you learned last week in time for it to be competition ready. For those of you who might not be aware, it takes at least six (6!) months to develope muscle memory. This is why cramming before a ballroom comepition will not work! Instead it will almost always will hinder your proformance, rather than inhance it.

What you should focus on primarily during competition week is your current routines. Practice them over and over and over. To music, without music. In competition order. In solo rounds, in multi rounds. With other people on the floor, without people on the floor. Just keep doing your routines. This will get you ready for that quickly approaching competition weekend. This will help for a number of reasons. 1) you will be ready to dance your routine and given music. There will be no surprises. 2) You will get used to surprises that  might happen at a comp, as in they have to switch events around for schedule reason. 3) You get used to the how many times your should routine will loop during those 90seconds of music (though things like floor craft issues my pop up). 4) You can practice your floorcraft, so you become more comfortable when sticky situations arise (cuz they will). 5) Endurance. The more you dance and the more dances you will be able to do in a row during practice, will better prepare you for doing multiple rounds form, hopefully, mulitple call backs.

In short do rounds, ALL THE ROUNDS! And save the thechinque until after the competition. Also make sure you get videos of your dancing at the comepetion as your coach may see something that you should start working on to make your dancing better for the next comp.

That is all I have for now. Good Luck to all of those competiting this weekend, especially those at DCDI. I, sadly, will not be dancing. I will be there chearing on my team mates (and my newbies!) and any other dancers I enjoy watching. Feel free to stop by and say hi! I will be the nervous person giving a speach Saturday Night during the night show… Please feel free to comment below for anymore advice you have for dancers of all levels!

As for a my art, my next few posts will be all about my different classes and what I have been up to. I need to photograph/scan some of my work in so that I can upload it to wordpress to share.

The Best Advice I Can Give

Hello all, I know I didn’t post on Thursday, bad me, but I didn’t come up with inspiration until today. This goes out to all the newbies that will compete their very first competition really soon, or those who have competed already once but still feel incredibly nervouse. As for you advanced dancers, stick around. This post will help give you a bit of persepective, I hope.

The best advice I can give for those newbies struggling to feel prepared for their competition is that Rome was not built in a day. Now before you start shouting at me about that being a cliche, just stop and think about it. It is completely true. The Roman Empire lasted for 16 centuries! Now we all know how long and how much the Emperors struggled to expand their empire from the small city states that now are called Italy, all the way out to the Anglo-Saxon Britain and the Bysantine West. It took all those centuries to become a great, unforgettable Empire. It took a lot of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears (mainly from the conqured tribes I’m sure) to make the Roman Empire strong and powerful.

Now you may be asking me, ok so what does Nero have to do with Samba? Well, that becoming an amazing dancer takes more than one day, or three months in the case of many of you. Not to say you haven’t come far in the past three months, because you have. You have learned 6 routines, in the case of the newbies I’ve thaught, to compete in two styles. You can get around the floor and turn corners in standard, and you can do many turning figures to allow your number been seen by as many judges as possible. Be proud of what you have accomplished; yet, remember that you still have an amazing, and yes long, journey a head of you.

Unlike the Roman empire, it will not take centuries for you to become beautiful amazing dancers you see on youtube videos. Or I hope not, or else we all have a very serious problem. Instead it could take a few years before your mind and body can learn and apply all the techinque and figures to make you an amazing, high level amatuer, give or take a few years. Do not be scared or sad though. As long as you have the drive, and you invest time, and yes money, into your dancing you will get there. You will be able to achieve most, if not all of your dancing goals. And enjoy the ride, I know I have.

Newbies, if you are really terrified about looking like the worst person on that floor, look at newbie rounds from years past at competitions. Advance dancers, if you belong to a team, please pull up some videos from your past and share them with your newbies. Yes I’m looking at you. Stop cringing at me. I know the feeling. Just close your eyes and share, and run away from the computer for a few days. It sucks, and that’s ok. But honestly, this will give the newcomers a bit more confidence to know the older, veteran dancers sucked too. It is an eyeopener for them to see that they can become just like you one day, and that it’s not all about talent or sheer luck.

I recently did this, along with a bunch of other people on my team. And to be honest, I throuoghly enjoyed the experience. Not so much of looking at my old stuff, because seriously cringe!!! But because I got to see videos from way before my time, with some of my coaches in the newbie rounds. Most of these people I have only seen as prechamp or champ dancers. It gave me persepective to know that, yeah I could be them one day too, and I’m not too far off from acheiving my goals.

It has taken me three years to get where I am today in my dancing. I would not have traded the experiences I have gained from working towards my dance goals for somehow instantly being amazing. All the faults and missteps along the way have truly made me the dancer I am today, and without those experiences I believe I would be a worse dancer than I am right now. So hang in their kidos. Your journey has just started, and I promise you will get to that night show one of these days.

The Differences of the West Coast Swings

Now I know I have spoken a lot about ballroom and very little about West Coast Swing (WCS), so I will give you a brief run down of what WCS is so you a general idea of what I am talking about. For those of you who don’t know what WCS is, it is a Swing dance, hence the name, that came from Lindy Hop and/or the Jitterbug. East Coast Swing and eventually Jive also were born from these dances, but we won’t go into that dance. WCS, just like all the other swing type dances, has a set of triple steps set in the basic patter. In WCS’s case the pattern goes walk, walk, triple step, triple step (or 1, 2, 3&4, 5&6 for those who are more musically or mathematically inclined). But WCS has something very different from the other partner dances that makes it completely unique, and that is its connection and anchor step. Compared to the Latin dances or the other swing dances, WCS has a very elastic connection. It goes from extension to compression and back again throughout the entire dance. The anchor step is your last triple, or 5&6. This step lets you settle back into the extension of the connection, and allows you to be steady and prepped for what ever is coming next. I will include some links down below so that you can see real WCS in action.

Now, with that being said, there are varying ways that pros go about teaching West Coast, and varying ways that people go about learning West Coast. One way some people learn is by learn a few basic moves, such as pushes, tuck turns, hammer locks, whips, and passes, but mainly learn the technique that goes behind the connection and the anchor step and how you use them to make a flowing dance. Another way people learn how to go about dancing is learn figures, or patterns as we refer to them in the WCS community, and more figures, and very little technique in the beginning. Now there isn’t inheretly wrong with just learning patterns and building up your knowledge base of moves, however WCS is still dancing, it is still an art form, therefore there is still important technique to do said dance properly.

The biggest problem I have, is that, particularly in the Ballroom Dance community, people think they have ballroom technique so they don’t need to bother with learning WCS technique. This makes me want to rip out my hair. Ballroom technique can help you learn the technique for WCS, but it is not the end all and be all of dance technique. The conection is completely different, and there is nothing like the anchor step in ballroom anywhere. It’s kind of like saying, just because you take draw means you can paint. No! Sure drawing helps painting, and sure the ideas of composition change, but dry and wet media react differently with the surface to which you are applying them too. You still need to learn painting techniques if you want to be a good painter.

And there is huge problem with people just wanting to learn patterns and no technique. However, this dance without the proper connection or anchor step is not West Coast Swing. That is what makes this dance different from all the rest. Those two concepts are what disinquishes West Coast from East Coast swing, or from Jive, or from lindy hop.

If you just want to learn this dance for fun, fine! Have fun with it. But don’t come looking to me if you expect me to praise your technique. I have no problems if WCS is just a hobby on the side of ballroom. I know a lot of people do that, but don’t get upset about something we might point out if you ask us for help or arrogant about something you don’t know about.

If you have any comments or questions please leave them in the comment section below!

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_i_IzBEunOE <– This is a video of pro Participating in a Strictly Competition. Strictly’s are usually with a set partner, but dancing to an “unknown” song, meaning it is all improve or lead follow. There is no set routine, you just kind of go. In this particular instance, the pros decided to mix it up and dance with people who aren’t their normal partners. My favorite couple was Benji and Tatiana. 🙂 Enjoy!