Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Solo dance performance: once as a girl and once as a boy

Earlier this year, I gave myself some dance goals for 2012.  One of them was "Choreo a solo blues routine and perform it in front of actual people."

First weekend in November, in Washington, DC, I was afforded the opportunity to perform a piece* I've been working on since mid-August at Bambloozled, which is put on every year by the fantastic folks at Capitol Blues.

I think it went pretty well:

Spoonful from David Mudre on Vimeo. Dancing and choreography by Christina Austin.

The second half of this performance was at Snowbound Blues in Rochester, NY.

The second time, I'm dressed as a boy.  Weird.  I won't lie to you, this post is gonna be long.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Solo blues performance

The blog has been very quiet all summer, but I have been working on stuff. Mostly blues.

Tonight, I will do my first ever solo dance performance.  I choreographed the routine myself.  I am fucking super nervous. Adrenaline dump all day, every time I think about it. I just want it to be really good. 

The closest way I can describe the feeling is that it is exactly the same as right before I redpointed my first 5.13 rock climb. (That's not world-class hard, but it's playing with the big kids. Mine was ~110 feet of rock that was on average, about 45 degrees overhanging.)

My pulse is not particularly elevated, but my hand are literally shaky with adrenaline. I am so excited, and nervous, and dissociatively calm.  I need to be absolutely focused, and utterly unentitled, such that I give it everything I have.

Gonna leave it all on the floor.

Lots more on this later. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hierarchy of dance needs/ what makes a good dance?

So this hasn't updated in a while in large part because it's been climbing season, and I haven't been thinking about dance as much because I've been doing less dancing.

But here is something I've been thinking about, and was talking with a friend about this morning: what makes a good dance? And here, as succinctly as possibly, is my hierarchy of dance needs:

1. Nobody gets hurt.
2. We are dancing TOGETHER.
3. We are dancing TO THE MUSIC.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Different Kind of Audition Format (Shameless Rocktober promotion)

So auditions. They're kind of necessary and kind of tricksey. People have all sorts of opinions on them.

On the plus side, auditions allow for teachers to tailor the information for each group specifically, which is more productive for everyone.  They also help balance classes, and allow organizers to keep class size reasonable and predictable so we can have better experiences in appropriate spaces.  Auditions are also the reason that we can have fast-paced "intensive" classes at all. You have to have everyone near the same page or those don't work.

And yet, I personally find the typical format super stressful. I don't think I'm alone in that. If I had to put my finger on what I don't like about them, I'd say two things:
  • I don't like the uncertainty. 
  • I don't like the publicity. I just don't like getting up in front of all my friends and all the strangers who I might want to dance with later, with the sole purpose of being judged, in public. 
  • I don't like getting up additionally early. (Ok 3 things.) 

So, since this IS my blog, I'm going to take the time to tell you about a little something SwingColumbus is putting together in my home scene of Columbus, OH. (Also, I'm on the planning committee.) It's a workshop weekend called Rocktober. The auditions are different than anything else I've heard of for a weekender.

design by Binaebi Akah

Rocktober will offer 2 tracks, one "Open" track and one "Audition" track.  

The audition track will be more expensive, because it's capped at 40 dancers (20 leads and 20 follows) and those 40 dancers will have 10 hours of instruction with Kevin and Jo.  Kevin and Jo all weekend!  

The open track will be capped at 60 dancers (30 leads and 30 follows). Instructors for this track are not yet set in stone, but we promise they will be good. And if you choose this track, you will have them all weekend.

*UPDATE June 18, 2012: Mike Roberts and Laura Glaess will be the instructors for the open track!*

"How will that work with registration?" you might ask, "Making one track more expensive than the other?" 

The auditions for the audition track will be conducted ahead of time, by video. So you'll know what track you're in before you come.

(more explanation and link to submission form below the jump)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

re: Lindy hop as "challenge" (now with more Venn diagrams!)

So this post is a response to the thread of an idea that's been batted back and forth between Rebecca Brightly and Bobby White, as well as a couple other people.

The first posts is "31 Signs you're not an advanced dancer yet" (Brightly). It is an interesting article by itself, but my response is only to a very small part of it, a nearly-parenthetical aside toward the end of the piece.
"We don’t start lindy hopping because we want easy popularity. We take the journey to becoming lindy hoppers because we crave challenge."
This is a very inclusive "we" statement, as BW points out, positing motivation for basically all lindy hoppers.  Is it true?

[long post after the jump]

Monday, April 9, 2012

Random rant on being told to do it "naturally"

Possibly my biggest pet peeve in taking dance classes is when I am told to do some movement "naturally" without any additional explanation.

I am intensely awkward*. You tell me to do some shit "naturally," and I will do my best, but it will still be wrong.  

Friday, March 23, 2012

Steel City Blues Festival TR

So this past weekend, I was psyched to be able to attend Steel City Blues Festival up in Pittsburgh. It was great! Fun music, people, comps, and classes. All the ingredients for a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

So I went to a tango class

I have a friend from a different city who has gotten really into Argentine Tango over the last year or so, and every so often we nerd out about dancing. Tango has always sounded fun to me, and I happened to be in town this weekend, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

re: Plight of Lindy Hop Followers

So, over at Rhythmic Rambling back in December, Rachel wrote of followers slogging through learning/skill plateaus:
Suddenly, after dancing for 6 months or a year, followers realize that they’re pretty much relearning how to do everything in order to dance with well with others.

She talks about how it can be more frustrating/ego-crushing for followers than leaders at this point (a year or so in) partially because the leaders get a lot of the ego-crushing "you know nothing" out of the way early. Whereas it is reasonably straightforward to be able to effect a basic level of following, which people can often pick up very quickly, so at the beginning, followers' egos have an easier time.

I totally agree with her, especially since I went through this you-know-nothing-relearning HARD in about that time frame in my dancing, and feel like I repeat it cyclically. I would like to add another thought to this discussion, also, that I talked about with one of the instructors at a recent weekend. I had booked a private lesson, and when they asked if I had specific questions or goals for the session, the answer was no, because...

Monday, February 27, 2012


omg, y'all. smackdown.

This past weekend was *amazing,* the culmination of months of really hard work for all the teams in the form of a team performances in front of so many of our friends and family, down in Dayton, OH. Fact: it is scarier to perform in front of friends than strangers.

Big shoutout to Josh Forbes for organizing the weekend- Smackdown is Josh's baby. ::sniff:: and it's getting so big now! Gonna start kindergarden next year.

For those that don't know, Dayton Swing Smackdown is two competitions rolled into one; both city/regional and college teams compete. And two rankings are tabulated, overall and collegiate. Collegiate teams can win overall, but non-college-student teams cannot, obviously, win the collegiate division.

All of the teams brought it hardcore, but I am just bursting at the seams with pride for the Columbus teams. Cbus brought home both trophies- the OSU Jitterbucks took the Collegiate Cup despite fierce competition from Miami University, Ohio University, and University of Dayton teams. And Team SwingColumbus took first overall out of 6 entries, the college teams plus two teams from Lexington, KY.

So, videos! (Thanks to Dave Martin of Columbus for the videography, videos below the jump.)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Talking about dance on the internet...

is frustrating.  You can say something, but whether or not the other person understands the kinesthetic impression you're trying to convey with your puny, inadequate words... who knows? So in honor of a conversation I had with a friend this morning, I made this:

Applies to many cases/topics of trying to have a discussion/argument online.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Blues comps at lindy events and cross-competition

So there was a very active thread recently on Bug's Question of the day, about
Why don't more blues dancers go to events like ILHC and Lone Star to compete in the blues divisions? Why don't the lindy hoppers who compete in the blues divisions at ILHC and Lone Star come to Blues events and compete?

I pretty thoroughly regret* having jumped into the fray the way I did, but tangents about specific events aside, if I may take the liberty of synthesizing some of the answers, there seemed to be some consensus that, beyond the overlapping-but-not-identical pool of competitors, competitions at blues-specific events ("blues comps") and "blues" OR "slow" comps at lindy events (often used interchangeably even if labeled one way or the other) have different judging outcomes because the two communities value different things. One of the specific things that the blue community values is a particular blues aesthetic. Little to no value is placed on a blues aesthetic at an unspecific "slow" competitions.

In counter to that, some people were all like "what does that even mean?"

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A happy coincidence (in which I westie to country music.)

So our local weekly swing dance is at a country bar. Because they have a lot of line dancing and country dancing, they have a real dance floor, which is pretty sweet.  Also they have half priced burgers and beers before 9 on Wednesdays, which just happens to be our local swing night.  This is also pretty sweet.  The happy hour special was in place before Wednesday became swing dance night, but they've kept it in place despite the now-much-larger crowd that's in there mid-week.  By whatever alchemy, our group and this venue have hit a sweet spot, where the dancers buy a lot of food and drinks, and we get to have a weekly venue at a bar and not a studio, and it has a real dance floor.  And the venue management likes having us there.  Win all around.

But the bar does have a crowd of regulars, and it's in a not-unpopular area of town, pretty near campus, so there's always a steady subpopulation on Wednesday nights that's not there for the swing dancing.

Last night, a couple of instructors from a local dance studio randomly walked into the bar to have a beer, near when our music was ending, though they danced to the tail end of it. After the swing music ended, the bartender put the country music back on, and played a song at my request:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Dance goals in 2012

So, just recently saw a facebook post about "what are your dance goals in 2012?" which was quickly deleted, so I didn't end up posting there, but I figure this definitely fits in the category of "what my blog is for."

So without further ado, cla dance goals 2012:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Lindy Focus Trip report (aka/LFPT.)

Holy shit, y'all. Lindy Focus. Now that I've had a couple whole nights of sleep, I almost feel ready to try and write again.

Lindy Focus was awesome, in the "inspiring awe" sense of the word. (This was my first Lindy Focus.) The scope of the event is just incredible, with something like 700 people coming for the week (more on NYE), 3 areas to major in ["main tracks"] (Lindy, 8 levels; Balboa, 2 levels; Advanced Jazz; Comp and Show), and 12 more things to minor in ["side tracks"], from fundamental movement training to burlesque to tap to 2 levels of Charleston emphasis to aerials and even blues. Oh, and also dancing every night from 9 till LATE (multiple late night options: lindy, bal, or blues), with 4 of the 5 nights boasting live music from incredible bands. It is almost too much to take in.

No, it really was actually too much to take in. One can only be in one place at a time. There are only so many hours in the day, and one has to devote a few of those hours to sleeping. Presumably.

And while it sounds very structured, the camp was not, in fact, over-scheduled. There was enough time pretty much every single day to just wander off and dick around and see what people were up to. There was actually a whole day in the middle of the camp with no main track classes, full of side tracks and electives and talks and open practice. I took a nap, even. It was glorious.

Look, I made sections:

FAVORITE MOMENTS (including but not limited to):

- Seeing so many dance friends from *everywhere* and making new ones
- MIDWEST REPRESENT nye pizza party and group photo
- realizing I do have girl skills, doing one roomate's makeup and another friend's hair. It was a wicked faux-hawk, but still... it was hair, and I did it.
- balboa in flip flops 'cause I stumbled into a practice session and wanted to dance.
- swingout battle in the bal room at 630am and 230bpm. The DJ turns around and is like... "wait what? I LOVE YOU GUYS!"
- having someone tell me just past midnight, midweek, that they WERE going to go to bed, but after dancing with me they felt like dancing all night.
- mind-reading dances with a buddy from baltiMORE  late at night, when we're both too tired to care if failure happens.
- baltiqurque. and, hey, I *can* still lindy hop after that much liquor. or at least everyone was kind enough not to disabuse me of the notion.
- learning the phrase "c'est que what the fuck," which needs no translation.
- being the follow who happened to be dancing with a badass dancer when a couple of other badass dancers came up to him to be like, "show us that thing!" and being along for the ride.
- Chance juggling my shoes to end the dance after I lost one and kicked off the other.
- sunrise on new year's day.
- (that's what the dead hooker said.)
- a bunch of specific dances, but I told those people in person that they were awesome (or at least smiled dopily and gave a big hug), so they don't need named here. jus' smiling to myself.
- a couple of girls told me that I was fun to watch. compliments from other follows are the bestest.
- none of this is in chronological order.
- I'm still wearing my bracelet.
- live music!

Talkin' about least favorite moment, spending money and classes, all below the jump, long as usual...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dispatches post-Lindy Focus (5 of ?)

Woke up in my own bed this morning for the first time since before Christmas.  Wow.  Swung.over.

There is a reason there are no posts after Friday afternoon of Lindy Focus, btw, lol.  The reason goes something like.... Baltiquerque, dancing till 6 am, classes, NYE, dancing past sunrise and then staying up till like noon-thirty, karaoke focus time, staying up till 4 or 5, driving home, snow, going to bed at a reasonable hour and sleeping in.

But there will be a more extensive trip report soon, promises.  I will probably do several posts, because there is just SO MUCH and a few divergent things have sparked my brain.