Monday, January 26, 2009

transitioning back

My dance blog has been fairly quiet this year, as I was pregnant and gave birth to my daughter, Story. I danced until I was about eight months pregnant, then took a hiatus from dancing until the end of December. I am a solid believer in honoring your body and not jumping into anything physical until you're ready, so I felt I had to hold off until I was capable of devoting enough energy to make dance worthwhile.

I've now been to two practices with Kallisti since coming back from maternity leave and WHEW, have I lost a ton of strength and endurance. It's crazy how taking four months off can really undo years of physical training! Combine this with the fact that my abdominals are still severely weakened due to my c-section and I am completely feeling like a newbie to dance. It's almost as if I'm a totally different person, one who did not spend years studying and dancing semi-professionally. All of the mental knowledge is there: I still know the movements, I remember the cues, I know how these moves are supposed to be executed, but my muscles are like, "WHA?" Or, even worse, are exhausted within a fraction of the time. I cannot believe that I used to be able to dance to a twenty minute set without being tired. Now, I'm lucky if I can make it through a ten minute set without panting like a dog!

But there is a very positive side of this. And I know it's going to sound hella cheesy. But, I kind of feel like I'm rediscovering dance. Like I'm a neophyte, just becoming aware of the beauty of the movements, the intricacy of the system of improvisational bellydance and the joy of dancing with my partners. By being so out of the loop for so long, I'm having to examine and relearn everything I've known about dance. From the very basics of each move- foot placement, posture, arm placement, flow to even my motivation and passion.

And I'm finding I'm a different dancer and, I think in time, a better dancer. Right now I'm sloppy. I kind of feel like some tribal penguin, waddling a bit oafishly through the movements. But I'm also motivated by true love and passion, as opposed to (dare I say it, eek!) an overabundance of pride, arrogance and cockiness. With the birth of Story, I am no longer looking to dance to be my major achievement, the thing I do that sets me apart and makes me flashy and shiny. I find that Story is now my major achievement, I need nothing else. Instead, dance is now my sanctuary, the precious thing that is now wholly mine, when all of the rest of my energy goes towards my daughter, her happiness and well-being. I find that, for my lack of grace and wobbly self-confidence, dance is now much more of a joy than the job it used to be for me.

The hardest obstacle I face is my confidence, or lack thereof. I find myself feeling so out of shape, so out of practice that I feel like a detriment to my dance partners. I know that they support me and understand my tribal penguin ways, but a big part of dancing with them is the desire to not let them down. I also have to face my own overachiever brain that is yelling at me, "you suck! You've totally lost your mojo. And just LOOK at you!" It's a hard voice to face, my own critical monster. I am fighting it every time I look in the mirror, every time I practice at home. I don't want to be the weak link in our troupe, though I know that I am for the present. I'll get back into fighting shape, I just have to overcome my inner critic.

So, that's the current status of my dance life. A delightful rediscovery tempered with a lack of confidence. It's a blessing and a curse, but both of which I think will make me a stronger woman and dancer once I'm through it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

So, you wanna go Pro?

What it means to be a professional dancer and when/how students should take gigs.

Ok. I had to come out and do it. I received yet another anonymous tip via email about students accepting gigs for low wages at a restaurant and I decided it was time for me to post my thoughts on "coming out" as a bellydancer/troupe. As a teacher in
the Baltimore area, I feel like it's important to let my thoughts be known on the subject and for my students to understand what I believe is fair practice when deciding to take gigs.

Please note: this is not to poo-poo on your parade. I love my students. Really, honestly care about them. Part of that caring is in helping students come out the right way and preserving their career in the long run. To do that, there's some good pointers that I hope will help guide students to a long and lucrative career in bellydance. And this is also because I wish I had this post when I started out... so here's to some vicarious living.

Part I: You really want ME/US to dance?
AKA: Just because you're offered a gig, doesn't mean you should take it.

I don't mean to burst any bubbles or rain on any parades here, but just because someone offers for you/your troupe to dance DOESN'T mean that you should. Now, I remember what it was like when my troupe first started getting asked to gig at various events and venues. It feels DAMNED good to have someone ask. It feels like sparkly butterflies in your stomach, mixed with immense dread. It also feels like a state of accomplishment, like the first boy/girl to notice you in school that asks you to the school dance. It's so flattering to be noticed, it's so special for someone to even think to consider you.

But I'm gonna level with you. Just because someone asks doesn't mean you're ready. Just because a restaurant owner, friend, friend's band, charity event coordinator, or anyone for that matter asks you/your troupe to dance does not qualify you to be able to do it. Though it does feel flattering and amazing to think of taking gigs, there are several points to consider before you should take any sort of gig as a student.

Does my teacher support me/feel I'm technically and professionally able to perform yet?

I personally feel that if you are taking gigs in any capacity, whether it be as a student or pro/semi-pro, you should be taking classes regularly with a teacher. This can be either a regular, weekly class or regular workshops with mentors/teachers. No exceptions. If you can't spare the money/time to study, you are not ready to perform. Period. Are we done? I think so.

So, assuming this is the case, you will have a teacher/mentor that you should be able to ask about your ability to perform in public. I would caution anyone out there from taking it upon themselves to decide that they're ready to perform without a teacher or respected professional in the area critiquing whether they are performance ready. Why? Because we are poor judges of our own skill sometimes. As dancers, we sometimes have the flaw of either over or underrating our skills when it comes to performance, so it's good to have someone you respect and trust giving you an honest crit. By talking to a teacher or professional dancer in your area, you are also getting advice straight from the source and will probably walk away with some great tips on starting your career on the right foot. And finally, there's one little selfish reason- networking. By making the connection with your teacher/a professional dancer, you're establishing the quality of yourself/your troupe and opening the door to more gigs!

However, the kicker with this one is that you have to respect said opinion. So, if your teacher evaluates you and says, "you know... Sorry, but you're just not there yet. You need to work on X, Y, Z before you're truly ready to get out there," then you have to respect it. The trick to this is that you should trust your teacher/a professional's viewpoint enough to value their judgement. It may not be what you want to hear, but it'll be better for you as a dancer. It's better to get this feedback now and be the best you can going out into the world than to be a poor performer.

Why? I'll level with you. The audience doesn't know your a student. This includes other professional dancers (read: the people who will get you more gigs in the future.) If you take a gig that is not a student showcase and you look bad, there's no buffer/excuse for your performance. You'll more than likely get labeled as a bad dancer, a bad troupe... and that's just, well... bad.

Sound scary? It is a bit. But your career should be worth considering.

Am I able to live up to the performance standards/professional standards in my area so that I can be a good representative of bellydance and enhance our community of performers as a whole?

Once you put yourself out there, you are representing your local bellydance scene. Yup, what you do in your show reflects us all. And this can be awesome! Every area needs as much awesome talent as it can get and you/your troupe can be a great asset.

However, this goes both ways. Sorry to be a sour-puss, but that also means that if you're not a skilled and able performer, it can be a not so great thing as well. My young paduans (excuse the dorky Star Wars reference), when coming out to dance you are also taking on a great responsibility to represent your community and you should want to make your contribution a positive one.

Now, other dancers and pros may have more to add to this list (please let me know and I'll update), but for now, here's my handy list of what you SHOULD be able to do before taking a gig.

From a basic event perspective:

*Show up on time, if not early.
*Be dressed in a quality costume, with a cover-up.
*Act professionally from start to finish. You are on-stage every moment that you are at the gig, even when your set is finished.
*Be able to adapt your choreography/improv to the specific venue you're at with no noticeable mistakes or flubs. This includes showing up to find the configuration completely changed since your last visit.
*Be able to communicate effectively with music staff/event coordinators.
*Be able to discuss lighting, cues and rhythms effectively with the event staff.
*Ensure that you are getting paid a fair wage for this gig. No exceptions. You are not doing a free/cheap gig as a "discount" because you're new and you're not taking money from another dancer's income for exposure. Be able to talk with an event coordinator and get your pay before a gig, if possible, if not, at the end of the night.

From a personal/troupe performance and skill set perspective:

*Have a large repertoire of dance skills that you can adapt to the venue and patrons to ensure the best show. It's great to have a specific style, but know the mood/flavor of the venue and be able to pull from what you offer to ensure a good fit.
*Be able to technically execute all of your moves with precision and ease.
*Execute your choreography without it looking like choreography (if you're improv, you should be able to make your improv look seamless and effortless.)
*Layer moves. If you can't layer anything, you're not ready.
*Be able to adapt your performance for any emergencies that may come up (troupe member is stuck in traffic/sick/etc.) without any noticeable effect on your performance.
*Be able to perform solo with no nervousness, blundering, apologies or noticeable difference to the audience. This applies for troupe members as well. You should be able to dance both with your troupe and without them before going semi-pro.
*Be skilled enough in your props that they add to your show, not detract from it.
*Be engaging and interesting to your audience. Add to their experience.
*Be able to dance to a live drum solo, even if you usually dance to pre-recorded music (you never know what will happen... TRUST me.)
*Be able to deal with random objects which will get in the way of your show (children, food, cutlery, fallen costume pieces, dirty old men, falling decorations, ect.) without effecting the quality of your performance.
*Be able to perform to music that is not your own, because the DJ/staff messed up. Likewise, be able to take a music mix-up and turn it into part of your act and work with the situation.
*Never apologize or admit you messed up while on stage.
*Be able to deal with a severe costume malfunction without harming your show/doing minimal harm.

I'm sure there's some I'm forgetting, but that's enough for now I think.

Part II: Oh, I'm just a new dancer, anyways...
How to get what you're worth and be a part of your awesome community.

Am I taking money out of another professional's pockets by undercutting, undercharging or giving a gig away for free?

As a dancer "coming out," whether as a student troupe/soloist or as a semi-pro you NEED to get connected with local performers and find out what rates are fair. A great site for dancers is Samira Shuruk's Standard Rates and Guildelines. Samira Shuruk's site will give you resources for your specific area and what pricing is standard for various gig types. Enjoy!

However, let me clear up a common myth for your right now.

MYTH: I'm a student/new performer, so I shouldn't get paid as much as pros.

NO! No no no! Taking less money is undercutting. Though yes, you may not be as skilled, fabulous and amazing as some of the old pros out there (who is? These ladies rock!) that doesn't mean you should charge less. Why?

Because if they take $200 a gig and you offer to do it for $100, the event promoters will take the hundred just about every time. Meaning? You're lowering the standard wages and taking gigs from great dancers. And that's just wrong. Not to mention, you're selling yourself short and that's crazy.

Look, let me clue you in... you're worth it. If you've taken the time to train yourself and you meet all the above standards, then you're worth that extra pay. Get it while you can. And don't you DARE let them say, "well, but they're a pro and you're a new dancer..." So what? Doesn't matter. No-way, no-how. You're worth it, period. If they won't budge, pass on the gig. It's not worth tarnishing your reputation and hurting another dancer for less pay.

CAVEAT: If you're a student, you take student gigs/haflas, not semi-pro/professional gigs. Translation: once you come out and dance in a non student showcase/hafla in which it is clearly noted to the audience that you are a student, then you are representing yourself as a semi-pro. You can't play both sides here and you can't sidestep back. Now, I know some dancers/teachers may disagree with me and that's fine. But in my opinion once you get billed as a semi-pro dancer once (or knowingly omit the fact that you're a student in your bio/announcement), then you've crossed over to the dark side. And the dark side can be fun, but you've got to be ready. There's no going back. You can't erase audience perceptions.

This means there is NO SUCH THING as a "student performer discounted rate" for gigs. You're either pro or you aren't. If you can't give a good enough performance to charge the full rate, that's fine... but stick to haflas/student shows until you are.

and finally...

Part III: But what's in it for me?
Getting the most out of your fledgling career.

Is this gig going to help or harm my career in the long run?

Look, it's not just you, it's the promoters. There are many reasons, from good to shady, as to why an event coordinator would ask for you to perform. As the captain of your career ship, it's important for you to choose your gigs wisely and make sure you're not only being offered the gig for the right reason but that it will give the most benefit to your career. Because, again, you're worth it!

From a positive standpoint, you could be offered the gig because this person/these persons would love to have bellydance at their event and your name came recommended from a teacher/pro dancer. Maybe they've seen you out and think you would be the perfect fit for their event. It could be that they are having a private party and think it would be great to add bellydance. There's tons of reasons why you got the call/email/offer. However, once you've gotten said off, here's some points to consider:

*Are you getting paid a fair wage?
*Did they already offer this gig to other professional dancers and are pricing around?
*Are they fairly compensating you for travel?
*Will this event be a safe venue for you to perform in (VERY important- I would suggest against private parties/bachelor parties unless you have an escort or are familiar with the hosts.)

If you are offered to dance at a gig (non student show/hafla), never ever accept the following excuses to not get paid a fair wage:

"Well we figured that getting to perform at your level would compensation enough. This will add to your resume and be great experience!"
(The easy answer to this one is that if you're not at a skill level to get paid, you shouldn't be performing out.)

"We have other performers (musicians, jugglers, whatever) that aren't being paid. They're doing it for fun, so we're not offering any pay."
(Others can do whatever they want with their art, but you have invested time in training, costuming, practice space, practice hours. You deserve pay.)

"Oh we figured you'd want to do this for fun since it's your new hobby and our party would be just the place!"
(You are more likely to hear this from friends. I'll level with you- the audience at a friend's party is usually very unlikely to know you're students and therefore you're putting on a free show, not honing skills. Politely decline and go to the party and just have a good time. Save your costuming time/practice time for a paying gig. Would you ask your friend to put on a show for everyone at your party for free that involved hours of rehearsal, money spent on costumes and classes?)

"We don't really have money budgeted for bellydance at this event, but if you'd like to come out for fun/experience."
(If they are charging at the door, they can afford to pay you. If they paid for food, a DJ, space, then they can afford to budget for dancers. If not, they don't deserve to have dancers for entertainment. The caterer isn't working for free and neither should you. CAVEAT: charity events/non profits are a sticky situation. Consult your local pros for their viewpoints on rates for these events.)

One thing to remember is this: from a more negative view, it could be that an event host/promoter figures that if they can get it free and or really cheap, why not go for it? I'm sorry to say it, but we don't live in a fluffy happy bunny world. There are people out there looking to exploit performers and get what they can for as little as they can. And to some of those bad people you, my dear paduans, look like fresh, shiny bellydance meat. Again, refer to any of the number of reasons above as to why you're worth good pay. Though it may be flattering to think of dancing, of seeing your name on the bill, don't do it at the expense of selling yourself short.

Ok, so that seems like a lot of "don'ts" and negativity. And I'm sorry for it, I don't mean to drag you down. But I want to be honest with you so you start out on the right foot, paduans. I guess what I'm saying is...

You shouldn't choose lightly to go out and perform in a non-student light. It's a big decision. It's a career decision and that means there's a LOT to consider.

Now, breathe with me... there's an upside.

If you follow my advice, I swear within 99.99 percent that you will be on the road to a good career in which you will be supported by your community and well paid! And isn't that good to know? And look, if you read the above and got daunted, if you decided you're not ready?

Then I'm proud of you. It takes guts to say, "you know what... I'm not ready yet." That's worth solid gold.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Regarding the "Suhaila vs GS" beef, all I can say is this:

In my opinion, The Guilded Serpent is far from being a credible and reliable, let alone OBJECTIVE news source. I see it much more as an opinion newsletter, wherein anyone can submit their very SUBJECTIVE viewpoints for the bellydance public at large to either agree or disagree with. Are there some writers who are better about forming a rational, news-worthy article that does favor objectivity? Sure. But honestly, I don't read it because I'm looking for a one hundred percent, credible news source. I read it because dancers I am interested in post articles and it's cool to hear their opinions of various subjects and reviews of DVDs or performances. I don't read GS much, because I found a lot of the articles to be misinformed and lacking proofreading/fact checking, but I still pop over from time to time to see what's new.

So, anyways, there's this whole big stink (of which you can see by clicking the link above) on tribe regarding Fair Use of video shot of Suhaila at an event that she requested to be taken down. By reading the linked Tribe post, you can see all sides to the story, sides of which I don't want to rehash. However, there are a few points I feel like voicing.

1. It is not professional, in my opinion, to voice your beef with a performer for asking to take down video/images they do not want published to the public in an airing-of-laundry fashion for the public. That is catty, unprofessional and uncouth. The true mark of a credible, professional news source, as the GS is claiming to be, would be to take down the video with a tactful, "Sorry we had to take this down..." notice, as per Asharah's reply in the Tribe thread. Honestly, if a celebrity asked for a news source like MSNBC, CNN to remove their likeness for one reason or another, whether they were founded in their request or not, you wouldn't see those news sources posting on their web sites a big to-do about taking it down while the conflict was being resolved. So, this action is a bit odd to me.

2. As a representative of a credible news source, you don't make personal attacks against individuals who critique your work. Again, that's taking your "news source" away from being credible and roaming into the realm of it being a personal blogging/opinion site. Which is fine, if that's what it is. But you can't play it both ways. Again, think upon news sources you currently frequent and imagine what it would be like if reporters there started personally calling out and attacking the users that commented on the article for one reason or another. It just takes the publication down that much further.

and finally

3. Artists have the right to protect their image and its usage. Even if you think that you are a member of the free-press, there are laws, rules and usage issues that you have to be educated in enough BEFORE you undertake reporting. I'm not aware of what contractual limitations Suhaila put on this show regarding recording and usage of her likeness, but I'd be surprised if she didn't have SOMETHING in there restricting what it can and can't be used for. And that's not deceptive. That's being a responsible performer and managing your brand. Do I agree with everything she does? Nope! Am I a Suhaila devotee? Not really. I mean, she BLOWS ME AWAY as a performer and I can't wait to take a workshop with her one of these days, but I agree that there's nothing wrong with people posting their OPINION-based reviews of her performances. But posting video and usage of her likeness should correlate with what was put forth contractually for this event, period. If she didn't specify, then it's her fault. But if she did, she has every right to have YouTube remove unflattering video of herself/her representatives. And calling her out and those that are arguing her side as trying to gloss over the truth or censor unflattering images is just ridiculous. Hell, if I were Suhaila, I'd exercise my rights to stop unflattering images of myself, too. It's your career!

I just get so annoyed when I feel people view bellydance as this public, free thing and not as a legitimate career and industry that artists are allowed to legally protect. Art is not free and open for all. Artists don't have to be bleeding martyrs giving their all selflessly for their art and public. They're allowed to protect their image, whatever that entails, to the greatest extent they can.

Sigh... the end.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I just don't get spiritual bellydance

My, my it HAS been a while since I've blogged on here. I figured I should pop in once in a while to brush the ol' cobwebs off my dance blog and get my thoughts out.

Today's post: Spiritual Bellydance.

Let me first say that, not being a participant in this dance form and not being amazingly well versed/informed as to its origins, I am not posting this as any form of authority. This is purely an opinion piece.

Actually, scratch part of that. I DID participate in spiritual bellydance a few times, but not in a public display/show. As a matter-of-fact, it was my first exposure to "bellydance," but I'll get to that in a moment.

I just don't get Spiritual Bellydance as a form of public performance. I can understand incorporating bellydance elements (hip circles, undulations, mayas, etc.) into your spiritual practice as a form of meditation, trance or celebration, but I cannot for the life of me understand why you'd exhibit it for a live, public show. There are a few reasons why I feel like Spiritual Bellydance as a public performance are out of place and, honestly, a bit bizarre, which I will highlight now.

Firstly, if you are doing this as part of a religious or spiritual act, it's odd to put it on a stage for display because so much of religion is personal and intimate. You don't just see one act walk off stage in a variety show to be followed up by a priest giving a sermon. Nor have I seen people file on a stage and perform a wiccan ritual for entertainment purposes. Thusly, the few occasions that I have been at a bellydance showcase and seen a Spiritual Bellydance/Worship piece have felt uncomfortable and unsettling, not to mention out of place. There are reasons that we don't display religious and spiritual practices as part of an ordinary entertainment show and that's because they ARE intimate and meaningful beyond a regular entertainment performance. These moments are sacrosanct and precious. There is something very beautiful and raw about being able to witness religious rites or spiritual rituals and to put them on display and give them the same weight as we might a regular old Tribal Fusion Soloist performance seems sacrilegious.

The second issue I have is that if you're not an affiliate or member of the religious/spiritual following being represented, it's sometimes hard to understand what you're seeing. At the shows I've witnessed that have Spiritual Bellydance pieces, I've often heard crowd members utter, "what IS this?" and ridicule the performance. One that comes to mind was a Goddess Bellydance piece in which a group of ladies, all in what I would categorize as Greed Goddess Halloween Wear who then proceeded to do what looked like a cross between a kitschy temple dance, modern dance and improv tribal style. This performance was not entertainment and was not moving or dramatic, as I believe was their intention. It was confusing, odd and bizarre. I categorize these dances as Crazy Aunt Dances, because I liken it to how one feels when a family member does something wild and inappropriate at a family gathering, causing all present to trade those, "OMG what is this and when will it end???" looks. Did some people who knew the participants understand it was supposed to be a dance worshipping/honoring The Goddess? Sure. But most of the audience was perplexed, by my understanding. For the life of me, I have not seen one Spiritual Bellydance performance that did not inspire an unsettling or bizarre reaction from the audience. I really think this is because, honestly, your religious rite isn't all that entertaining to people who are wholly ignorant of what you're doing or could really care less. It's just... odd.

And finally, I don't think it works because Spiritual Bellydance, being associated with ones freedom to practice religion as they choose, opens the door for loss of form, structure and technique. Performers of Spiritual Bellydance can and, in those instances I've seen often do, eschew good posture, composition, performance value and technique all in the name of spiritual/religious expression. Instead of seeing a bellydance performance that seems cohesive and beautiful, the final product can feel like a weird mash of various elements and styles, all of which clash like a 40 piece band that has no conductor and isn't using the same music. The freedom to do whatever one chooses takes it out of the structure of being a dance form and into being freeform- and that's not bellydance. Bellydance has structure. It has a style. You wouldn't take vanilla ice cream, mix in chocolate, raspberry, peanut butter cups, sprinkles and mocha fudge ripple and sell it as Pure Vanilla Bean. Because, simply, it's not anymore. It's an odd amalgam of things that, though there is SOME vanilla in there somewhere, is far from being accurately described as vanilla ice cream.

As I said, my first exposure to bellydance was at fifteen, wherein I participated in a Winter Solstice ritual. One of the members of the coven was an Egyptian bellydancer and taught my friend and I a bit. At the ritual, she brought us up and we engaged in spiritual bellydancing as part of the festivities, undulating and snaking and zilling and using veils. It was an amazing, ethereal experience that I will not soon forget. It was precious, trance-like and free. But it was done amongst a close group of like-minded people, all there for the ritual and combining their good energy with ours. We weren't performers on a stage, we were participants in a sacred moment. And for that reason, with that experience, I can totally understand Spiritual Bellydance in a spiritual setting, but not in a general performance. In the confines of a religious/spiritual rite, it all is one fantastic event where adhering to structure and technique is not necessary. But in a public forum, it just isn't right.

Lyra out.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

YouTubing your Life makes you look poor

It's been a while since I've posted, but I feel the need to release some steam.

Today's topic: youTubing every single thing you do dance wise then posting it for review in every network/blog/community you can.

Now, I understand that we have surely "come a long way, baby" as far as technology goes. With the low cost of video cameras these days, most of us can afford to go out to our local box store and pick one up. Also, with the advancements in user interfaces, you don't have to be a genius to get said video camera to work within minutes, giving yourself the joy and freedom to tape yourself instantly and constantly. And that's exciting.

As an artist, it's important to do self-checks. Having a video device gives you the chance to record yourself so that you may review your technique, evaluate your stage presence and find what's working and what's not. Many of us have gone through the experience of thinking that a song/choreography/dance idea is REALLY working, only to see it on tape or in pictures and get that, "oh my god that looked AWFUL," feeling. So, videoing ourselves can help spare us the embarrassment of finding this out at a performance or on a live performance video versus in the privacy of our own home/dance studio.

However, it has also spawned what I believe to be the most crazy, megalomania-ladened crap that I have ever seen. Since becoming a bellydancer, I have seen individuals who video and post every little thing they do- practices, "just messin' around," bizarre crazy aunt like dances in their living room, awful things in their bedrooms- you name it, it's been done, and posted them online for peer review. The main offenders seem to have a new video weekly to post that usually has very mediocre dance/conceptualization and comes across as vain and pompous. If I look at it with the best of intentions, they are socially inept persons posting practice videos that aren't interesting and lessen their credibility as a dancer. If I take it in a negative way, they are "look at me!" personalities that think that every little thing they do is god's gift to dance that should be shared with the general public.

Let me say that posting a few video here and there to a private/professional bellydance list is one thing. If you have something you're trying out in your living room that you think may suck/need improvement OR you have some really awesome choreography that you'd feedback on, that's one thing. Even if you were like, "oh I was messing around with this in practice the other day... I think it's neat. What do you think from a performance standpoint?" That's totally fine.

But posting everything you do PUBLICLY on youTube and throwing it out there for the public to see just makes me want to scrape my eyes out with spoons. Firstly, you are damaging your career by having more videos of you "messing around" online than the lovely ones of you actually performing. If I'm a client and I search your name (or an event promoter for that matter) and I find all of these practice videos, you're probably not going to get hired. I don't want "crazy girl who dances in her room a lot and posts it to youTube" on my ticket. I want a professional who understands that everything they are posting online, everything they produce in a concrete sense for the general public needs to be polished, professional and credible. I also don't want to hire someone who is so self-absorbed that they think every single person on youTube wants to see their boring dance practice. Being an artist and a professional means understanding what is appropriate to post and what isn't.

If you look at the best dancers out there, you will hardly ever (never, in my experience) see their practice videos. Why? Because they are professionals. They understand that practice is a step towards the performance. It's the mixing of the ingredients in the kitchen that will, with care, consideration and maturity, become the yummy thing to serve to your public. You don't show them the batter unless it's damned purty lookin' batter. No one really wants to see some freaky mix of eggs, flour and milk that's brown, boring and not very visually enticing. Even if they know the batter WILL be delicious pancakes, they'd rather just, well... see the pancakes. Steaming and with butter and syrup.

Be the pancakes, not the batter.

That's my deepness for today.

PS- where did THAT metaphor come from?


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Attack of the BriceBots!

Urggggggggg. So, I was just surfing through the Tribal Costuming Tribe's photo section and feeling a rant come on. A rant that I've had before, but not really voiced in the blogosphere yet...

I really am annoyed by BriceBots (aka people who want to be Rachel Brice). Don't get me wrong, Rachel is an amazing dancer and awesome seeming gal (I don't really know her, so I can't make a true judgement). But it drives me nuts that as soon as she/The Indigo develop a new look I find a bazillion little BriceBots copying her style and posting pictures of themselves on Tribe.

Their newest look is "Vintage Circus Tribal"... Now, I won't say that they invented this look in any way, but they have developed their own version and it really works for them- stripey socks/melos, lots of black, deep red and black/white striped fabrics, big clompy boots and 20s era hair (aka, The Tribal Combover). And I've certainly seen this look and gone "ooh ooh me wants!" There is something so beautiful and fun about the little-egypt-meets-big top aesthetic. I'm born on Halloween and, lemme tell ya, I know that dressing up is mighty fun.

HOWEVER one of the main factors into adopting any dance costume is whether it works for you and your dance style. I am a STICKLER on this. Your costume should not be the basis for who you are as a dancer, it should be a detail that enhances your dance style, amplifies your persona and brings delight/interest to the audience. It should not be an outfit you're putting on to try to be Rachel Brice or make yourself into something you're not. If you want to wear it for fun, then buy the goods and test it out at home, but don't rush out and perform professionally without doing some serious testing before you completely change your style.

Now, I've seen many dancers who are adopting vintage/vaudeville/circus themed costumes and it totally fits their personality. There are dancers who have been doing this look before the whole Indigo vaudeville explosion.

It just bothers me to see the same gals who were psycho about melos, big rings, super coin bras, who used to be standing in one spot doing quasimodo movements while wearing fake dreads all of a sudden rush out to the store to buy every circus/20s vaudeville inspired piece they can and start trying to do gypsy/vaudeville moves.

In short, be yourself, please!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

a solo I LIKE!

Who is Donna Mejia???? !!! Why have I never heard of her before and she's so effing great!?


Donna Mejia Drum Solo


Here's a Link to Her Dance Site

All I wanna know is... how can I get her to come to Baltimore to teach me!!! :)