Showing posts with label Lists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lists. Show all posts

Thursday, 20 December 2012

5 Things to do while Dance Studios are Closed

The end of year holidays are here! Which means studios are closing and dancers are left to fend for themselves. No space, no giant mirrors, no stage, no training, and more importantly, no audiences and acquaintances to accompany you through the cold, cold, wintery months (ok that was a relative term. If you count rainy days as cold, then my statement was correct.) So what has a dancer got to do during these lonely days, you ask? Fret not, I came up with a survival list that you could take up in order to kill time until the dance studios reopen again next year!
  1. Keep working on your muscles
    It's bad enough that we're going to fall behind on our dancing skills during the inactive months where bears hibernate. So why not keep to a routine to work on strengthening your core muscles (and other muscles if required) and stretching your tendons to reach the splits and whatnot. Do crunches every morning you wake up, scissor kicks, planks, splits, arches, toe-touching, calf and hamstring stretching, you get the catch here. It's just a matter of finding a spot for you to do such things, and imagining yourself in the studio.

    I know it can feel a bit claustrophobic, but don't be fooled. You also only take up a portion of the studio space to do your warm ups and aerobics. Don't attempt any choreography work unless you're abso-bloody-lutely certain your room is big enough for you to unleash your dance lines of fury. You don't want any accidents occurring in your room do you? Trust me on this one, I cartwheeled in my room before and I broke a glass panel, and ended up having 7 stitches on my left foot. It was a sight for sore eyes.
  2. Take dance photos
    If you're travelling elsewhere in the world, you could practice your lines by posing in front of a monument, cathedral, basilica, castle, plaza, or any other place of interest. When I mean pose, I don't mean those silly jump shots that somehow became trendy over the past decade. Disguise a ballet pose as a touristy pose so you don't get stares. I am not sure how I'm gonna do it, but I'll find a way when I go to Perth for the next few days.

    However, if you really must jump, then strut your double attitudes, fan kicks, a la secondes, piques, and the like. Cute poses are too mainstream.

  3. Haunt clubs that play jazz music, blues music, salsa music, etc. etc.
    Places like Blu-Jazz, Tab, Switch play music that are suitable to swing to. Union Square also has places that play salsa music too. So if you're staying in Singapore in the holidays, go grab your dance friends and check out different clubs, have a feel of their music, and see if you like it. Then, bust a move with your fellow partner dancers and then use that to catch the attention of that cute guy/girl standing there with their buddy.

    Some of my teachers also mentioned that there are kitchen sink drills that you could do. So practice those isolations, steps, ballet technique and whatnot. Then you can go chat up the bartender, sway your hips, do tendus, work on grounding your footwork, while keeping your upper body quiet and still. If you get weird looks from people behind you, you're doing it right, but if the barista is the one shooting you the weird look, you know you're doing something wrong.
  4. Spend time with family
    It's pretty self explanatory. If you've been dancing and neglecting your family, it's time to shift your focus away from your narcissistic tendencies - I mean, technique and lines in dance - into your immediate family members. Quality and bonding times are a must during the holiday season. Everybody falls back to their families eventually, and you don't want to sour any relationships with your family members.
  5. Eat, shop, and do things normal people are meant to do
    There are some days we kind of just forget how non-dancer people live: eat out, go on shopping sprees, go to a theme park, grab a book. Now is a good time to catch up with your other non-dancing friends and do some festive shopping and eating and having a good time. You know what they say: get a life! What better time to do it than now.

    But you should be warned: don't get a "life" that becomes too addictive ie: clubbing and bar hopping. Switching back to your dancer mode will be hard when the studio reopens by then. So it's best to still be a dance-a-holic if you're serious about maintaining your dancer lifestyle. I know I will, because of my dance scholarship.
With that, I shall end this blogpost by saying I will be disappearing from the face of the Internet until I return on 29th December. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and keep swinging on!

Thursday, 18 October 2012

5 Techniques to Refine in Dancing

Have you ever looked into the social dance floor and wondered, "Why do they look so elegant when they're dancing? How do they do that?" While there's always the option of constant practicing in the social dance floor, most of the partner dance classes and workshops I've encountered doesn't teach you the basic dance techniques that gives you graceful lines that you may observe from those with a ballet or jazz background. So here's a list of techniques for you to try out.

1. Chaine turns
Squaring off, keeping your toes pointed, spotting - these are the important things that you should keep in mind when executing this move. This can help ease any form of dizziness from spinning for beginners. But do keep in mind that not all partner dances wants you to keep your legs extended out when you're turning. This move also requires your arms to look like they're holding a large beach ball, these are first position arms.

2. Pirouettes
Like the Chaines, you also have to spot in pirouettes. There's also the added challenge of spinning on one foot while doing this move, so it'll help with your balance immensely. Your entire body has to be held like a plank throughout the move so you can achieve multiple turns. As an added bonus, you might feel more comfortable with doing one legged spins on the social dance floor too!

3. Isolations
This is especially important in latin dances like salsa. A lot of styling comes from isolating your body parts. For example: the shoulder shimmy, body wave, hip rolls, etc. Knowing which body to isolate can help you look good, and gives an extra oomph to the moves you execute.

4. Rotating kicks
For an extra challenge to add to your WCS styling, try perfecting this move. It can look fierce or soft, depending on the way you play to the music and whether you're being accelerated or decelerated.

5. Spins
This is definitely a move that you've gotta be comfortable with doing before any more of the advanced accelerating moves can be done. As an added challenge for yourself, try to not push off the ground to balance yourself when making multiple spins.

Take note that you should refine your body movements from the tips of your arms all the way to your toes. I also encourage you to take ballet or jazz classes, as those will help you see the placement of your muscles better. Happy dancing!

Monday, 20 August 2012

5 Dance Dares To Try Before You Die

**I'm going to make an important disclaimer here. I am not responsible or any injuries that occur on the dance floor because of you attempting these little stunts. Use dares with caution.

1. Swap your roles.
You heard me. Leads will follow, and follows will lead. This is going to screw up both you and your partner's coordination badly, like how the leads are supposed to step with the left foot first for both salsa and West Coast Swing, whereas the follows have to step with their right foot first. Let's not forget that leads have to be the one holding the weight of the follower's hands, and that anything wrong that happens is the lead's fault. So girls, if you're really thinking about doing this dare first, I respect your imaginary balls, now panic and run! Either way, it'll help you respect the other party's role in making the dance look good.

2. Dance blindly.
I would take that phrase literally. Blindfold yourself, or at most squeeze your eyes shut and don't peek. Let the feel of your partner guide you through the dark abyss that is blindness. Pay special attention to the tug, the cushioning, the spins he guides you to, and note every signal you get from your arms properly. Be sure not to auto-pilot...or crash into any object or person for that matter.

3. Be a major chatterbox.
It can be a very distracting thing. Mutter a tongue twister, keep talking about your day. We'll see how much focus can the lead or follow have in a dance while having external distractions such as an annoying voice. It'll be hilarious to see the screw-ups!

4. Get dizzy.
Before a dance, turn on the spot 7 times (without spotting!) And then dance like you've downed 15 shots of booze. All the better for you to move around and adjust to your environment when you realise that your slot is really tiny at the dance floor.

5. Lose a limb
Whether it is by holding a crutch as you dance, or using only one hand to lead, this would help you appreciate the fact that you have all four limbs to dance and express yourself with. I know there are some people who can lead with one hand throughout a dance, but let's see if the follows could do the same!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

5 A Capella Songs to WCS to

A Capella, as a genre, is pretty versatile. It simply needs vocal range, talent and a bit of vocal percussion, and pretty much any genre can be mimicked by using voices in place of musical instruments. This is pretty similar to the nature of West Coast Swing where you can dance to any 4/4 count song and not being confined to slow, bluesy songs. Hence I've compiled a list of A Capella cover songs that you could try your hand - and feet - at west coast swinging. If it fails, enjoy listening to some sweet, raw vocal talent anyway.

Misery - Mike Tompkins (originally by Maroon 5)
If you were to type in "A capella cover" on the search bar in YouTube, Mike Tompkins' name is guaranteed to come up at least once on the first page of search results. With a song that is already good enough to swing, why not go for a cover that utilises only one person's voice and an audio editor?

Forever / With You / Yeah 3x - Committed (originally by Chris Brown)
The Sing Off Season 2 champions arranges a medley of 3 Chris Brown hits into one catchy song. Smooth transitions, romantic vocals (especially when they were signing in "With You"), and dance related lyrics, what's not to love? This can be a nice challenge for dancers to adjust our styling on the spot as soon as the music changes as well.

Somebody That I Used To Know - Sam Tsui (originally by Gotye ft. Kimbra)
A song that became so viral it has an internet meme now has a cover that turns its eerie level up to 11. Like Mike Tompkins, Sam Tsui layers his voice to create the background music before singing the lyrics. It's also pretty impressive to think that he didn't even need a female vocalist to do Kimbra's part - Sam has one heck of a countertenor range.

Grenade - Delilah (originally by Bruno Mars)
Delilah as a group brings out the emotional aspects of this song, mostly due to Amy Whitcomb's powerful vocals and the group's silky voice as the background. They've turned this song into a nice slow ballad to swing with, and I would applaud anyone who can move people to tears with a choreography with this song. (It's not like it hasn't been done before, just look up Jordan and Tatiana.)

Piece of My Heart - Pentatonix (originally by Janis Joplin)
This song has been stuck in my head for quite a while, simply because the swing beat is really catchy here. The group's voices blend with each other so well, even if they only have 5 people in the group. I especially love Kevin's honkytonk solo in the middle of this song - it really helps demonstrate his vocal range. That, and he's also the group's beatboxer/rapper.

A Capella is an increasingly popular genre due to a revived interest from the internet. It'll be great if the dance scene can incorporate some A Capella music into a social night's playlist, or even in a performance.

ps: If you love the Sing Off as much as I do (3 out of 5 of these artists I listed here were from that reality TV show) you should sign a petition to bring a 4th season back on NBC. I'm an advocate of encouraging and positive criticism from the judges instead of what dramatic shows we get these days. #SaveTheSingOff

Friday, 8 June 2012

5 Silliest songs to WCS to

Let's face it, at some point in life you'd actually want to take a romantic partner dance, give it a 180, and do the most unromantic and silly interpretations that you can come up with. Perhaps it'll scare your dance partner, but you're doing it all in the name of fun and games. Here's a brief list of songs to swing to that is sure to make people think twice about your sanity.

You're Pitiful - Weird Al Yankovic
When it comes to making parodies, Weird Al is the boss. Take a slow romantic song that's naturally fit for the relaxed style of west coast swing and give it a sick twist, and you can say goodbye to that second date. Really, who else would want to interpret the lyrics of someone mocking a 42 year old shut in who lives with his mom? Maybe silly people like me would, but then again I wouldn't wanna take my chances.

Sexy And I Know It - LMFAO
Is anyone brave enough to try west coast swinging to a song that has heavy bass and provoking lyrics? Me neither, but a small part of me wants to. NO, please DO NOT STRIP AND WIGGLE THAT JUNK. Have you no integrity and self-esteem?! Anyway, if it so happens that you're caught dead shaking loose to this tune, bye-bye second date...maybe you won't even get the first. However, if we're talking about Noah Guthrie's cover, it might turn out completely different...I'll leave it to you to find out.

Barbie Girl - Aqua
Autotuned squeaky voice and lyrics that are riddled with innuendo in all of its bubblegummy cheesy glory? Thanks but no thanks. Barbie and Ken can go have that happy time together but no, I don't have plastic boobs, nylon blonde hair, pink clothes that have hook and loop stickers at the back that would make me prone to rape, and I am never, ever, anyone's doll. Would you still party and dance with me though?

Я очень рад, ведь я, наконец, возвращаюсь домой - Eduard Khil (otherwise known as the Trololo song)
If in some rare case there's a West Coast Swing social night in Russia, dancing to this song would make sense. It's slow, happy, arguably sexy due to the baritone voice, and catchy. But thanks to the internet, a song that was supposed to mean "I'm very glad I'm finally returning home" took a big uppercut to become a sensational trolling internet meme. Even I can't get over this song, and you have no idea how much I resist wanting to mock people around me when it plays, along with the many times I busted my spleen trying to mimic Eduard Khil's laugh (may the good man rest in peace.)

4 Chords - Axis of Awesome
Recognise the song? Yes, you do. You pick up your partner readying yourself with the side steps, but suddenly you realise the lyrics sound a bit different than normal. You internally curse in your head realising that the current song playing is the internet's most incoherent song (lyric-wise) that takes apart the "sekrit" formula of pop songs and mashes it together into the catchy viral song we know today as 4 Chords. Good luck matching your styling with the lyrics that changes at every 4 bar...unless you're crazy or silly enough to memorise the lyrics like I have then I shall take back everything I said. Enjoy yourself! (In the meantime, you can support indie artists like Axis of Awesome by purchasing their song here.)

Now I wonder who's the insane person that would actually take this list and sabotage the stereo? Any takers? *cough*