Letter to Future Self

Dear J.,

            Hey dude what’s up? How have the ballet classes and training been? I really hope by the time your read this you’re some kind of ballet dancing divo! If not, you’re dead to me… just joking, I’m sure you’ve made much improvement and it is evident in what you do. I put us in a lot of ballet classes this semester, four to be exact and that’s 10 classes a week, and my goal for you is to be able to apply that ballet technique to contemporary dance. So make it happen, Chop-Chop!

            Right now I can tell we really get this whole contemporary/modern dance technique by having a grounded presence and efficiency in movement. We’ve grown from hating floor movement to being able literally fly and tumble on the floor as if we were under water. Took us a few years to get here and many goals we’ve set for ourselves when entering college has been met. My new goals for you, future J., is to get your movement to incorporate the ballet-esque contemporary dance style that Danny Tidwell is flawless at, while also adding aesthetic of an Ailey Dancer such as Anthony Douthit-Boyd. You can do it! These ballet/contemporary classes will do wonders for you and by adding these things will get you to out dance that amazingly talented dancer in our heads.

            Here are some things I’m going to need you to focus on the journey to complete these goals is are:

  • Fix your arms/port de bras! – There is so much that your movement can become when there is more intention and specificity in your arms.
  • Flexibility – You don’t need to be a contortionist, but a solid tilt and full split leap will serve you well
  • Applicable Strength – Now, flexibility is great but being able to hold your legs in positions, and sustain balances well would be pretty advisable.

         So, by the time you read this, Future J., I hope you have accomplished these goals and are looking back at videos of me like, “Ugh! My Lanta, I looked like that!?” because that would make me oh so proud! Keep being amazing and never forget your worth!

 

Sincerely,

Present J. (Jan. 2014)

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Dance Like A Man?

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When I first began dancing in ballet based styles, I was never really told to “Dance Like A Man”. It might have been because I have a larger and more muscular build from my background playing football and running track. Yet, I’ve heard dancers, teachers, choreographers, and viewers alike yell “Dance Like A Man!” to male dancers, and I find it to be a very destructive phrase to aspiring male dancers.

My first question is what does a man dance like? Better yet, what does masculinity in dance look like (since that is the main insinuated factor)? What most people argue when saying this phrase or agreeing with the statement is that male dancers should move in a stronger and more percussive way than female dancers should, as well as eliminating certain stances like a hand on the hip or the oh so feminine hair flip; because men never stand with a hand on their hip or flips their hair out of their face in real life. And those characteristics solely for the purpose of femininity. Some could also argue that the intent behind a boy/man dancing should be masculine because if it is meant to be sassy or feminine it will read and men should try to be masculine. That’s such a complex thing to get male dancers to do because we can hardly differentiate between feminism and masculinity.

Some dancers strive to perform in the entertainment industry, and there is a clear divide between male and female dancers in that world. For example, male backup dancers normally do hip-hop or urban based dance styles, have a completely view-able six pack and a chiseled chest minus a shirt. While female dancers have whip their hair, wear tight fitting clothes and do lots of sultry hip focused movement that call on jazz and ballet dance a bit more than the choreography set for male dancers. So, because these roles in this community dancers I can see why this phrase would have a bit of validity from a teacher’s point of view so that he or she prepares their male dancers to succeed in this industry; yet I argue that we should change the worlds selected.

A lot of my current awareness of this phenomenon was sparked by this video trailer for the film The Mask You Live In

Instead of “Dance Like A Man” or insinuating to dance more masculine, try using world like “heavy”, “percussive/sharp”, show more physical “strength” in movement. In this way the young male dancers would have a better chance of understanding what it is that is asked of them as well as not making them feel bad for not being seen as masculine in your eyes. It’s already hard enough to be a male dancer in the eyes of many men, brothers, and fathers who wouldn’t dare put their sons in a ballet class, we should make it easier for them once they’ve stepped up to the barre.

This idea is just a start and a bit of a rant from a place of frustration with the term. When engaging in conversation about this with people who would normally say “Dance Like A Man” or agree with the term, I find it hard to have my viewpoint heard. Well I guess this is why I made a blog.

The Rehearsal Process

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More than performing live on stage or seeing what I created on stage, I love the rehearsal process in making a dance. Now, I’m not thinking so hunkered down in really intellectual and profound meanings and concepts when I speak about the rehearsal process, I just mean being in the studio and communicating with the dancers as a choreographer or vice-versa. The dialogue that takes place during that time is so rich if the process is similar to how Azure Barton’s was for LIFT.

The video explains so well what I love about being a dancer that I thought I’d help share this little gem of how rehearsal processes can take place, because there are many ways a dance can be created but this intent to converse with the dancers to create something authentic to them is my favorite to be a part of.

I’m In Scotland! Fringe Festival Day 6! (I SAW 2 SHOWS TODAY!)

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Today I saw two very wonderful and uniquely different dance shows today as well as performing once again in our show. The first show I will talk about is Be Captivated by Ballet Central (http://www.balletcentral.co.uk/) which is based out of the UK. … Continue reading

I’m In Scotland! Fringe Festival Day 4!

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First of all… Scotland has a NATIONAL Center for Dance! So frustrated with America right now for not having one of our own! It’s a very shallow frustration that is rooted only in jealousy, but I want one in America. … Continue reading

Egos in the Dance World: Choreographers

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I’ve had a few friends in the dance world mention to me that the choreographer has the final say in certain situations,  “and if you do not like it you can get out”, when discussing choreographer-dancer rehearsal relations. More specifically,  … Continue reading