Saturday, 30 March 2013

Reflections: Auditions for USS

Yesterday I grabbed the opportunity to audition for a casual contract with Universal Studios Singapore (USS), and I think that was one of my worst auditions that I did. So what were the chain of events that led to my downfall in a major audition like this?

It all started with knowing that my fellow dance scholars were also parade dancers in USS. They mentioned that it was easy to get in, that they just went for it with minimal preparation and got the job. With their stories in mind, I thought it no harm to just go ahead nonchalantly as well since it sounded easy to get in. 

I didn't expect it to go wrong on so many levels.

Firstly, I'm at that phase in dancing where I want to perfect my technique. My double pirouettes are definitely getting better, and I've increased my flexibility. Secondly, I'm more comfortable performing emotive, contemporary lyrical pieces nowadays, because I think it narrates stories better, and it allows more control. Thirdly, I was lethargic, even though I had an afternoon nap. The wait was horrible. Even though it was scheduled to be at 7 pm, they only called in the parade dancers around 10 pm, and thank goodness my dance friend was nice enough to wait it out with me despite the fact that he didn't want to audition for this job. The combinations of these three factors made me feel like dancing in my comfort zone of slow paced music and really controlled, smooth movements.

The auditions was the complete opposite. It was all high energy, street jazz style (or a mix of jazz and hip hop), improvisational, wily-smiley, happy-go-lucky which I have lost touch since my Dance Arts recital was over. There was very little time to stretch instead of the ritualistic warm up that I was accustomed to, and I haven't even moved out from hip hop intro classes since the number of students were too little to start a hip hop 1 class. That, and I was too worried about perfecting the choreo that I was flustered that I missed a few counts, and I had no idea how to improvise in terms of hip hop. So I did like some weird beat in the air thing into a capoeira-esque move, and with the second round I failed an attempt at a calypso while busting in some club moves in between to suit the music. I definitely hesitated a lot, so my energy level compared to the other 3 I got grouped with was definitely much smaller. I just hope that my near perfect double pirouettes were my saving grace for the choreography part. 

Oh well, there's always next year now that I know how it's like to audition for something like this. Results only come in around the end of April, so there may still be hope. But for now, I shall distract myself with my final projects of the semester instead of dwell in the fact that this was my most botched up audition in my life.

Moral of the story? Do your research before any audition. Do not be nonchalant even though it sounds easy.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Trite Trivia: Cynicism and Other Stuff I'm Doing

Generally you give people the benefit of the doubt. But there are exceptions.

You buy into many of the things that mainstream society believes, but you're not anybody's fool.

Thought this might be something interesting while I was on the topic of cynicism with my dance partner yesterday. I'm surprised my quiz score is this low though - I guess the only thing I tend to criticise a lot is the Malaysian and Singaporean government, haha (and on occasion, sappy romance like Twilight *shudder*. Then again I should probably come out of the closet and say that I like certain kinds of romances.)

Most people think that being cynical is a bad thing, which at first I thought it's ridiculous because it's a neutral trait. But after looking up the dictionary definition, I guess the better word for it is healthy scepticism, or being part of the informed public. Sure, I sound really bitter sometimes whenever I crack jokes about politics and whatnot. But I still don't miss out on life even though I have strong views about political news.

With that out of the way, I'm on my term break from the Developing Artiste Programme! Gosh, my poor shins need rest from all the grand jetes its been doing. But I probably shouldn't let my body slack off too much either. I have to work on my lower abs to gain more spinal flexibility because my choreography demands a sitting up position from lying flat on the floor which I can't do because of a really arched lower back...and a protruding tailbone. Ouch.

I'm also finally spending more time with family in the evenings. Gosh, with my mom constantly torturing me posting pictures up of delicious home cooked meals on Facebook I just find myself missing family time more. Although I've pretty much adapted to eating cheap hawker food (and developing a stronger sense of taste between the different chicken rice I've tried) nothing makes me feel more at home with my mom's cooking.

Good times for now, and eventually I have to get back to rehearsing for the Wanna Dance Recital coming up on May 25th. It's crunch period for both university and dance, how...nice. I'll pull through though. I'm sure.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Reflections: Powerlessness

I was recalling how my injury affected me and my mood today, how it made me feel useless that I'm able to move around yet unable to dance. I've always feared losing control - control over my mind, body, emotions, situations, relationships, etc. I liked a sense of control. It's one of my ways to assert and confirm to myself that everything is normal, or at least, normal by my standards.

Nonetheless, ever since my Jumper's knee injury, a part of my control has been lost: my body, and it eventually deteriorated into the control of my mind too. Not that I'm insane or anything - okay, maybe I partially am - but I haven't been as disciplined as I would've liked to because my body isn't in as much control as I want to anymore. Somehow, my mind derives its discipline from knowing that I have to dance, and when I dance, it takes up my time yet gives me a boost in energy in return. So, with this new energy, I use it to create works of art, derive more inspiration, and use that for my BFA course in university. Thus, with the abberation of my body not being able to express itself, my mind shuts itself down and I shrink back into non-productive passive work.

It's a desolating feeling. The lack of discipline makes me think back to the days when I'm this quiet, reserved individual who is completely self-conscious about the way I walk, talk, and do anything in general. I was scared that everything I did would make me look like a fool, a nincompoop, a waste of space who does nothing but to provoke. I still have thoughts like these nowadays, but I've been able to avoid that chasm for a while. Does anyone relate to what I'm saying or are you also caught in this situation? Let me know in the comments section below.

However, thank goodness dance made me channel this destructive form of hyper-vigilance into something more beneficial and pull me out of hell's gaping void.

But it doesn't take away the fact that injuries cannot be controlled. All I can do now is to simply minimize such occurrences. Who knows when there comes the day that my ACL gets torn, or that my kneecaps are ground so much that I can't move them anymore? Fear. I can't let that emotion win. I can't let that get in the way of making the most of my time while I can, while I'm young, while I'm alive and breathing.

Being a controlling person also makes me feel like a bitch. But that's probably what the damned social media and societal rules establish female control freaks to be.


I hate that derogatory word. It's as though it's wrong for a woman to act like a man and be in control. So what? Is society that scared to see someone being able to rule their world? Is society so caught up in their minuscule clockwork lives that they're afraid of someone being able to take control of their lives and carpe diem? I say they're powerless only because they chose to be that way.

For now, I am living my every second like it's my last - until I have to make choices and decisions again that may affect my lifestyle after graduating from the DAP and university and whatnot.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Reflections: Love from the Dance Floor

Well, Valentine's Day is coming soon, and I'm single for the 20th consecutive year in a row during this day like Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak. Being within the social dance community for a while, I came to learn that love happens between dancers even on the dance floor. There are about 5 couples that I know of that got together because of salsa dancing.

In fact, my first love story actually originated from salsa socials too.

How did it happen?

I think it was just blatant spring fever (the incident happened around March), because all I did was to observe someone who I thought only knew how to dance salsa, dance west coast swing. In fact, he looked so cool from his original dorky appearance when he was swinging that I got twitter-pattered that instant. Somewhere in my head, this equation happened:

Dorky + Experienced dancer + cool = Adorkable = Dangit I want him so bad

So there, I admitted it. I like dorks. I like adorkable people. But one thing that would win me over for sure is if I have brain stimulation - it doesn't matter if it's left brain or right brain. Entertain me and I will fall flat head over heels. And you know what? Dancing activates my brains, period. Why do you think I've been dancing for so long?

What happened next?

The feelings were reciprocated, we dated for about 4 months, but because of circumstances, I was this major worry wart about going into university and how things might change in the future and being a mommy's girl I wasn't very sure - and neither was he - about how this kind of relationship should be. Hence it ended there. 

Was it true love?

Within that space time continuum of which these events took place, it's quite safe to say that there was love. However, if I were to look back at this present coordinates of space time, I would probably say it was infatuation. I unintentionally built a mirage image of myself in his head, and vice versa. Sometimes these memories feel vivid as I find myself sitting in places we used to hang out. Sometimes the heart wants to feel what it wants to feel. But my little love story is just one of the many that had happened because of dance.

So, here's my question to you, dear reader. Do you have a love story or know of a love story that happened because of dance? 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Reflections: Enough of Self-Loathing!

Well, I've gotten a major injury (relatively speaking from my own experience) and I'm out from dancing for 2 or 3 weeks. Patellar tendonitis is a pain in the butt, but at least I got my motivation back for doing stuff outside of dance.

It's been a week since my injury, and I'm on my 5th day of rehab. There's at least 9 more days to go. I'm working hard at those quad exercises, along with some eccentric exercises like heel drops and all. Hopefully after finishing my art projects I could get back to T-shirt designing again.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Exciting Events: Una Noche En Havana

Whoa, I've gotten quite a handful of event updates recently.

Una Noche En Havana aka A Night In Havana is organised by Singapore Management University's (SMU) Caderas Latinas, SMU's salsa club.

The event will feature a dramatic narrative by the Caderas Latinas. The setting is 1950, Havanna, Cuba.  Budding dancers have gathered at the Tropicana Club to compete in the reputable Tropicana annual salsa competition to compete for a rare prize - a chance to join the esteemed Bailadores Dance Troupe. However, the Mafia has an interest in the competition, and their intentions are unknown. How will their actions influence the outcome of the salsa competition? Get down to the event and you will find out!

The event will take place on 7:30 pm 8th February, 2013, at SMU T-Junction. Social dancing will start at 9 pm.

This sounds like a very unique take on organising a salsa event, as I have yet to come across a group that would narrate a theatrical storyline using salsa as a theme. Best of all, the admission is free! Truly a rare opportunity to watch drama being fused with a much beloved dance form.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Trite Trivia: Support these Dancers' Mission!

What do you get when two friends decide to challenge each other into getting the best abs within 100 days?

*electric guitar strum*

Join Derrick and Eugene as they challenge each other into different cardio workouts and a serious diet in order to achieve the best sixpack they've got within 100 days. You'll definitely want to go "Like" their FB page as they share their journey through web entries along with fABulous nutrition facts like the numbers you get at the side of cereal boxes.

Previously, I did mention something about Mike Chang's training routine for increased core strength and I'm glad they're using it - as you can see it is indeed intense! If you missed that post, you can still get Mike Chang's Sixpack Shortcut program here. This challenge is a very interesting take as you're actually able to watch - publicly - how they're doing thus far. It's been 5 days now, so you'd definitely want to show some demand and ask how they're doing by commenting on their Facebook page.

They're also doing this in conjunction with Swingvitation 2013, so ladies, you would expect to see two (or more*) muscular men on the social dance floor during April this year.

I hope you guys can take your time to like their FB page, because they will reveal their "before" bodies if they hit 150 FB likes. That will definitely be quite a sight to catch, so what are you waiting for? Go show your support for them now!

*They've also set up two teams to train together and aggregate the best quantity and quality of abs. This  is going to be interesting.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Video Vault: Frankenstein tapping experiment

So I recently found out that iMovie '09 can create split screens in the advanced features...goodness I had to just let my creative juices flow. I must really say that mix media performances can be quite tricky to execute. At the end of the day, this talent cum camera woman cum director was just exhausted. I don't even know how some of the youtubers do it like MysteryGuitarMan and Kurt Schneider, they must have had a big team or something.

The last few seconds in the vid didn't come out as strong as I wanted to. I wasn't very sure why. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Reflections: On Being Humble

It's pretty much common sense for everyone to be humble. When we're young, we're told by our teachers to be humble because there's always going to be someone better than you, in Sunday school, we're told that being humble is a virtue. Yet, in our adulthood, we sometimes forget this simple merit.

I recently came across Joshua Johnson's story. He busks with tap dancing in NYC train rides to pay for his college funds. He's been featured in Ellen Degeneres, and his skills are quite impeccable for someone who has been tap dancing for only 6 years. I guess it's really in the drive that allows someone to learn quickly and get over the plateaus.

Anyway, back on the subject at hand. As I gain experience as a dancer that explores many different genres, I have the tendency to forget basic etiquette, especially in dances where I consider myself an "intermediate" level student. I form dance cliques, and then get comfortable with the same people you see every time. Then, almost on autopilot, I shut off people who are new to the class. I don't know if it's got anything to do with me being an introvert or not, but this behaviour definitely needs correction. I'm trying to correct it with my west coast swing classes now with the exploded classroom size. I have to accept that people come from different dance backgrounds, and some don't even have a dance background at all. This should especially apply in social dances: no one wants to dance with an arrogant twit. I've at least complimented two guys on the social dance floor last week even though they were beginners.

I always find myself more encouraging to my classmates in tap than in my other dances, and I don't mind revisiting basics again and again just to make sure that my sounds always come out correctly. I remember once lying that I only picked up the wing steps much later than a girl in my class, and used that little story to encourage her and give her hope that she can indeed surpass other people's skill level if she works hard at it. But still, teasing people by showing off can garner funny reactions.

The same also applies to when I'm a complete beginner. In my ballet and contemporary dance classes, though I do focus in class, I was still able to socialise around with my classmates. I must say that my contemporary classmates are really enthusiastic - they've already formed a whatsapp group and are starting to talk about dance like crazy. In the future, I hope we can be welcoming to the newer people in our open classes, and act like we're all in the same level, with the same goal in mind, "Have fun in dance."

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Exciting Events: DanceWorks 2013

The only anti-drug dance competition in Singapore is back with a more interesting theme for dance groups to express themselves. "Choreograph you life" is very open to interpretation - you can take it literally to narrate your life, or it could even mean you trying to pave the way of your life, hence "choreographing" your life.

Dance Works! is a competition aimed at youths to promote a healthy drug-free lifestyle through dancing. This is National Council Against Drug Abuse (NCADA) and Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB)'s 15th year of organising this dance event, with the competition standards being raised higher every year.

There are three categories to compete in. Category 1 is for students in primary schools and youths under 13. Category 2 is for students in secondary schools and youths between the ages 13-17. Category 3 is an open category for youths under age 25. There isn't a restricted genre of dance for this particular competition as you are judged by originality, technique and relevance to the anti-drug theme. In fact, some past winners have taken up cultural themes like Chinese and Indian dance and fused it into their choreography. There has yet to be a tap dancing troupe in this competition, which is a shame, really. So if there are any salseros, salseras, swingers or any other dancers who want to compete and show their finesse in their dance, no one is stopping you!

Last year's competition had 95 teams participating, so this year there may be more teams competing. It's definitely going to be tough when you have nearly 100 teams battling it out for a few spots in the semi-finals, and eventually, the finals. But it will be worth it, as the prizes are very attractive: the winners of category 1 wins $3000, category 2 winners walk away with $4000, and category 3 winners will get a whopping $5500!

Registration for the competition closes at Wednesday, 23 January 2013. The competition period is between February to April. Venue TBC.

Meanwhile, you can drop by Live it Loud's Facebook page here.