Showing posts with label Reflections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reflections. Show all posts

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.

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.

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."

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Reflections: Unfamiliarity breeds consternation

While I should be embracing new faces for a dance scene that is expanding quickly, namely West Coast Swing, I found myself quite terrified of the exploded class size due to the upcoming Swingvitation event happening in April this year. I know I should be embracing change, but this is still quite a shock from the previous familiar faces that I'm used to seeing every Wednesday for my WCS dance class.

There's the phrase that goes like this, "familiarity breeds contempt." This is true only to a certain extent. It's actually comforting to be around familiar faces and doing familiar patterns. The contemptuous feeling comes from repeating the same stuff over and over, but I trust my teachers and classmates enough to know that this is a suitable speed of progression for their and my dance ability. For one, I still have many bad habits to get rid of, and one of the major ones are the way I walk, and another is the way I anchor: it still feels too heavy for the lead, but I managed to find the root in which this bad habit stems. It's mainly because I fear losing the connection that I feel the need to pull tightly on the lead's hand. Hence my teacher subtly teases and said that people like me anchor to make a statement like, "I'm here, I'm anchoring goddamnit!"

Anyways, having new people in the classroom threw me off guard, and the range of skill between classmates varied greatly, perhaps they had different schools of thought and thus their lead felt really different from normal. I'm also talking about people I don't see on the social dance floor too. I only recognised one out of the strangers whom I have danced on socials, and the rest were completely unfamiliar to me. It is also in dancing with people that I find out a few traits that I get particularly pedantic about with a partner: respect for proximity, and sense of tempo. These two things I look out for is mainly because of how I was nurtured dance wise and lifestyle wise. I am thankful of the presence of the regular goers that I've formed great friendships with, and knowing how we grew together eased my anxiety in the classroom.

I feel that my shyness is creeping in face of the strangers I see in class, but I hope that I can resolve my fears soon so that I can enjoy my west coast swing classes again.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Reflections: 2012 Wrap-up

It's been my most eventful year thus far. Other than the fact that I started this blog around the end of May this year and got into a dance scholarship, it's also the year where I forged new bonds with people I have least expected to have as well. From the salsa team to my current dance scholars, this is a year I won't forget for sure.

Swinging Salsera wrap up

Major events in 2012:

My first salsa dance class and salsa social, ever. I had a good time dancing with guys who were beginners like me (or maybe even advanced guys disguised as beginners just to make me feel better.) I was warming up to a supportive community of dancers in Jitterbugs Swingapore, a dance studio that is versatile in dance styles, pioneers of Lindy Hop, and possibly Singapore's biggest dance studio ever. You can't miss it, it's at the Basement level of The Grand Cathay. While movie goers are upstairs enjoying their date, dancers are downstairs plotting to take over the world practicing hard for performances.

I was introduced to west coast swing during March, but only started taking lessons in April. I recall getting my first west coast swing social dance either at the end of March or early April, and of all the details I could remember, I remember dancing in close hold to the song Hate that I love You by Rihanna. After that I was slowly introduced to the idea of tension in west coast swing, and they felt different than salsa. Usually salsa's tempo is really quick, so the push and pull is always easy to miss, whereas in west coast swing, you have a lot of stretch in order to feel the lead and follow. Then again, it was my beginning months into partner dancing, so I was still trying to grasp the concept of lead and follow, and how the feelings are completely different in both.

Watching Jitterbugs' Wanna Dance Recital got me pumped to get better in both salsa and west coast swing, and it also got me excited to perform and chip in a few choreography ideas for my tap dance recital. The highlight was definitely the ballet-jazz number with Zelia, Nicholas, Wei Cheng and Yee Shan. It was  hilarious to watch, yet they displayed technical prowess in dance too. A special shoutout to Fen for the awesome choreography.

I revisit my love-hate relationship with solo dances outside of tap as I step into my first Jazz class with Jitterbugs. All I can say is that the teaching here is much different than what I had experienced 5 years ago. But that's maybe because I was in the kids class, and the teacher was probably more focused in fun choreography rather than technique. I probably wasn't that good, technique-wise, in the advanced kids teens class, and I doubt there was any across the floor work back then. This jazz class was a big sucker punch, as I found myself face to face with a crunch routine that lasted for 3 and a half minutes, and to top that off, planks...I was trembling by the end of that class, and I even suffered from delayed onset muscle soreness. But thanks to the support I got, I decided to audition for the Developing Artiste Programme 2 days later, and I got in!

The Dappies before me perform their graduation show this month, and the fresh Dappies and I were backstage helping them out. Initially, I was quite pressured by the fact that their 10% looked like my 60% - their dance technique seemed like an external limb for all of them! But then I took the time to digest and dissect each of their moves, and decided maybe it can be done with practice during a year or two's time. Needless to say it was an inspiring show as well, and I can't wait to go out there to be like them, or better than them. You'll never know, as aesthetics are generally subjective.

This was the month I had most fun with - performing a tap number, bonding with the salsa team, swinging around with the Mosaic people, and then ending it off by putting on weight and losing my hard earned abs. Damn, I had too much fun for 10 days, and I have to get back in shape for 2013. Oh well, at least I think my demi pointes are getting better. My feet still needs to support my weight though, because my arch looks good on tendus, but not on releves. However, I'm still glad to say that I've definitely lived my life fully in 2012.

Here's to 2013, everyone. Keep swinging on!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Reflections: The Pressure to Look Good

It's inevitable that dancers constantly face the pressure of having to look good all the time, especially when they have an audience. They'll feel constantly watched, and have to be vigilant with every move that they do. Any misplaced finger or shaky ankle can break the lines and render their photo-moment imperfect, and they'll beat themselves up for it.

I'm beginning to get this sensation too every time in dance class. At the choreography sections of each class, we are often divided to smaller groups to perform the steps. I feel watched. Although the audience is a small one, I still feel the need to go full out and ensure that every move is done correctly and with pinpoint precision. What contributes to this pressure further is when you know that there are seasoned dancers in the same class as you. It could be really demotivating when your style, lines, technique and expression aren't as good as theirs, as they set the bar really high.

Knowing that you probably won't be able to do justice to the choreography is probably what hurts more. In the more advanced classes I take such as lyrical jazz, I find that my dance vocabulary is still very limited. My body isn't strong enough to carry axis turns properly, I can't do barrel roll turns, illusion turns, fouettes, back attitudes, arabesques etc etc.

There are also times where you feel that you're lost in your head in your dance comfort zone. This is the time when your instructor will probably call you out, "Amanda, turn out more," "Squeeze your inner thighs," "Don't sickle your feet", "Collect your Passe", "Your toes are slightly clawed", "Louder heel sounds", "Sharper movements." These comments abruptly snap you out of the clouds and ground you back to Earth, where you realise your imperfections and have to adjust accordingly. But when overdone and hyper-vigilance switches on, your train of thought catches every imperfection your doing, that sometimes you feel like you want to stop whatever you're doing. But when you're going across the floor, you're not allowed to stop. Sometimes, it's better to let subtle details like your derailing ankles, misaligned tailbone, and stiff fingers slip away, only to come back on work on them at a later time.

The only times when I feel that my comfort zone can exceed my expectation to look good is during my tap classes. Then again, I've been in tap for about 13 years now, so it's like an extended limb to me. That way I can always put on that sprezzatura look whenever I'm in class.

I can only hope that I'm diligent enough to strengthen my core, work the inner thighs, and maintain a correct posture through the holidays. I should probably do some ballet poses and exercises to work on the lines too.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Reflections: My tap number with Dance Arts

I still have yet to recover from my performance high (and soreness.) Gosh, that fleeting moment on stage again becomes something that would etch on my mind for a very long time. Although my brain decided to fart at the first verse of the song, the rest pretty much went smoothly.

I wasn't too happy that I was under-rehearsed, but I guess my projection was fine (I think I winked at a couple of kids sitting at the front row, lol) But hey, 10 months of training with the routine paid off quite nicely.

It didn't matter that the hand styling was still pretty foreign to me, it didn't matter that I screwed up a bit, it didn't matter that our entire group was a bit skewed to the left of the stage near the finale. All that mattered is that we sounded so good and in sync, and the applause we had was phenomenal! I mean, yeah, second last item of the show - who wouldn't forget?

I'm going to miss my time in Dance Arts now that I'm fully devout into Jitterbugs. The past 4 1/2 years of dancing tap with them has been fun, and I learnt a lot from the Al Gilbert syllabus there. But it's about time I started pushing myself further and beyond in my tap dance, along with my other dance genres too. Wanna Dance recital 2013 here I come!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Reflections: My First Tap Jam

It's been a week since my first tap jam, and I must say that it's still an unforgettable experience. Tappers of all levels went in and felt the music that was playing, and basically improvised on rhythms that came as we played to the music.

I love that no matter what your skill level is in tap, you're still able to draw inspiration from each person in the circle. Sometimes during your turn to tap, you may run out of ideas on which technique to employ. But the less experienced one next to you can suddenly come up with a sweet riff that you just have to continue the beat and then add your flair to those steps. I've been inspired by Bryan's syncopated beats - his experimental style and sharp skill makes me want to push my tapping to the next level. My next aim would be to dance "out of beat" and then hit the down beat again at an unpredictable moment.

Tapping is also a dance that I feel is really versatile like West Coast Swing, maybe even more versatile than WCS because there's no restriction on tappers to do only 4/4 songs. I remember my old tap syllabus from ISTD had waltz, 7/4, and even the current Al Gilbert syllabus I'm in has 5/4 time. As long as you're able to count the beats of the song, you're good to go.

All in all, I can't wait till someone plans out another tap jam session - I could really work more on experimenting with syncopation. I found out that my favourite moves were flash steps and toe stands (like en pointe.) Yeah, I'm a flashy showoff. I should tone that down a bit so I don't scare off newcomers!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Reflections: Progress Report

The first ever dance technique class happened today as part of the Developing Artistes Programme requirement. My inner thigh muscles hurt like mad, but hey, it's part and parcel of important ballet technique, along with any other dance for that matter, because spins and turns are featured prominently across all dance genres, and it requires tons of control.

Now that Salsa Swingapore is going to be a part of my dancing regime *fingers crossed on survival aka time management skills* I hope this means that my follow can be leveled up better too! For now, it's working on the isolations and making sure they glide along smoothly.

One tip though, if you want to work on inner thigh muscle strength, clamp something in between your thighs, turn out, and go up on releves. It's a great workout. You may or may not have a phantom object sensation later, but yeah, you've been warned :P

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Reflections: Live, Love, Laugh...Dance!

My senior cohort of the Developing Artiste Programme (DAP) just graduated yesterday by putting up their show "Live, Love, Laugh...Dance!"and it was awe inspiring to say the least. I had the privilege of being a stage helper for them (as part of the programme attachment) and see them in action backstage. Not the best view to see a performance since the projection and blocking is usually directed outwards, but it's still awe-inspiring enough to make me want to push myself further.

It's something to think about - how the dancers have to juggle with stress about how to plan their performance, yet at the same time, during the tech runs, they actually enjoy themselves and goof around at appropriate times. If the positives outweigh the bad, then definitely the entire journey will be a rewarding one, as seen with the performance. But at the same time, I'm venturing out of my comfort zone and into something new - juggling 2 commitments at one go, and it can get lonely upon overanalysing it - no one else is studying at Nanyang Technological University and doing the DAP programme concurrently. It's scary, but I shouldn't let pessimistic thoughts take over my vision of wanting to be a great dancer and to teach dance too.

During the tech runs and performance, it also made me realise that working backstage is equally crucial for the success of a show. Those little hilarious moments that happened during rehearsals & showtime were a good example. If it hadn't been for a naggy crew on stage props, scoldings on looking really slack with the white screen, dragging your performers out from staring at themselves in the mirror too long, along with improvising what materials to use for wiping sweat (this part being the disgustingly funny one, LOL!), the show wouldn't have ran smoothly.

All in all, this should mean I should start setting goals for myself, in class, short term, and long term, in order to make the most out of this journey. DAPees 2012/13, let's go!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Reflections: Entries On Socials archive 13-18

The Entries on Socials series have been discontinued. I'm archiving them here for future references.

14th August
So I decided to check out Mosaic's WCS social dance floor (before university work starts to pile in) just to see how different it is than Jitterbugs's scene. Apparently the same people are there (with the exception of some other people who take classes at Jitters)

I found out one of the primary reasons why my knees feel like jelly everytime I'm done with socials - my centre of gravity is too low. So I took Zee's advice and brought it up to the core instead of below it, and I felt a lot better, looked a lot better, and had more stamina.

However, I'm still having a hard time juggling two seemingly contradicting rules in West Coast Swing, that is the travel a lot rule with the take small steps rule. I'll try to figure this out with time.

Acronym of the day: NTU WCS CCA FTW. I am so doing this organising thing.

Update in 2013: I decided to take on a dance scholarship rather than organise a west coast swing club in my university...I wonder how different will my dancing life be then?

17th August
I got really tired on the second half of my socials and I have no idea how. It came like a cloud of lethargy hitting me hard on the face and suddenly I was going off beat in WCS more often than I usually do.

However, in the first half (meaning the salsa half), I felt fine. But I'm beginning to see that my salsa is subpar compared to my west coast swing. I can still follow, but I think I've shied away with styling and became less daring since my shines vocabulary is still limited. I have to buck up somehow, but I am seeing myself enjoy west coast swing a lot better nowadays. Unless my new salsawesome 3 classes kicks my butt and go DO THIS COMBO AND THAT COMBO AND PUT IT TOGETHER YOU GET SOMETHING AWESOME. Or that I'll need to watch more salsa videos. Or stuff. Idk.

One memorable quote from yesterday coming out from a stranger to Zee (aka Mosaic Dance's director) : "How good are you?" (in the context that she was completely new to the scene. She had no idea what was coming.)

25th August
You know you had an eventful social dance night...when you had to sustain multiple leg injuries (aka getting stepped on), having your salsa teacher scream "KING OF THE WORLD!" out of the blue as he lead the titanic in class before socials, and getting cut in to go for a dance while you're trying to lead the whip on your girl friend. Ahh, it was fun for me last night.

I also found out one of the primary reasons why I always take big steps in both partner dances was because I don't clip my inner thighs together (I guess this is where the duck walk comes in) and I still have the bad habit of turning on my heels when I lose balance (mainly because WCS heels have a bigger surface area)

Aside from my faults, I finally figured out how the touch and go New York prep double turn works now! This is how the lead gets you to switch to left over right crossed handhold to lead into the titanic. I may want to elaborate more on the technique soon, but right now I want to catch up with my beauty sleep. Till then!

1st September
Today's socials had more people in it, maybe it's due to Melissa Rutz and Chuck Brown being there to party it up. I didn't have my chance to dance with Chuck though…

I feel like I'm hitting a plateau in my technique nowadays. Hopefully by going to Melissa and Chuck's workshop I can better myself in West Coast Swing. As for salsa, I'm beginning to lose my interest in it, but hopefully it's something temporary, it's still a fun dance!

8th September
It's fun to be the lead once you grasp the concepts down for WCS. The only pain is that I gotta know how to balance and root myself down so that I can redirect the follow better in the whip.

I've also got my salsa game back on! I feel like I can follow better now, but I still have to stop taking such big steps when dancing. The weird thing is that I find that the steps I take in west coast swing feels ideal, yet in salsa they feel too big. I wonder why?

16th September
I now realise what is it I'm doing wrong with the whip. I'm not squaring out during 3 & a 4, and not whipping the follower during 5 6. I shall get to a tutorial on the whip soon.

Anyway, doing salsa 3 moves on socials have been fun. Observing the tense look of the leads while I try to execute what was learnt in class - it's quite like doing choreographed partner work. If your guy fails, you have to make up for the mistake and still make him look like he's doing the move right. Along with that, I realised that I haven't been using my salsa heels for a long time, so my calves have been hurting since two days ago.

Moreover, I'm thinking about refining my dance technique further and joining the DAP programme, but I'm not sure how that would affect my studies. I don't want it to be like last time when I got into the salsa team and set my expectations up high, only to turn the offer down later because my parents don't agree to it...

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Reflections: Entries on Socials archive 7-12

The Entries on Socials series have been discontinued. I'm archiving them here for future references.

8th July
Say what?! Not another Friday yet and you already have a socials entry here? You got that right, I went to Swouk socials yesterday at Le Danz and swung to some Brazilian zouk beats. I intended to get a preview of how Brazilian Zouk is danced, and unlike salsa where I came in quite prepared (hooray addicted2salsa), I couldn't find any tutorials that taught the zouk, so I had to start entirely from scratch. The only thing I figured out was that the beats to step on were 1 34, 5 78. The rest was a blur. That, and I was pretty uncomfortable with dancing really close hold as my paranoia of stepping on the guy's feet/crashing our kneecaps kept on surfacing. He even commented that I move like a salsa dancer (oh well), and that in zouk, you're supposed to slide a lot.

Looking at the dance from afar, it looks really beautiful. The motions are fluid, more fluid than west coast swing, and the girls have a tendency to look like vines/snakes/ragdolls but that's what makes the dance unique. By the way, did you know that you can also combine zouk with swing too?

Anyway, after that trial session with Zouk I decided to stick with just swinging WCS. Dancing with a pro (like the owner of Mosaic Dance) is really really FUN. They'll actually know how to adapt to your level and at one point even help you introduce some moves into your dancing repertoire or vocabulary. I now have an idea on how the rotating dip feels like, along with a few "ducking under the arm" moves. I also realised how one can combine moves like the reverse whip into a basket whip into an outside turn into asdfghjkl; before one can anchor too. So girls, don't hesitate to go to a social dance when you think there are too many pros, because they can slow down for you, and introduce variations that will make the dance fun. Plus, earning a compliment from them can be a major ego boost.

So anyway, I shall be seeing my WCS 2B classmates on Wednesday to further elaborate my story concerning this swouk social dance, which will include all the movements that I would find hard to describe in words. What can I say, a dancer's language is non-verbal (thanks Captain Obvious)

July 14th
That awkward moment where you accidentally elbow a stranger in the face, feel absolutely guilty about it, and to add oil to the flames, he goes up to you and tells you off, "I know you're a beginner but I really don't like it when people hit my face."

Ouch, major guilt trip.

That pretty much soured my night at salsa socials. Although that managed to help me take my mind off dancing and pretty much do a lot of following with other salseros, (and my frown kinda killed the fun for some guys, oops) I was pretty reluctant to dance salsa for a while. Then again, I was still able to execute some salsa 3 moves, which was pretty cool :) There were also a couple of songs that played during Black Mambo night, and that brought back memories too. So all in all, I guess it was alright.

West Coast Swing socials were pretty okay. Just caught up to more stuff I missed from class (but they were moves that I got to know from dancing in the Swouk socials) so it was easy to catch up, except maybe the whip to double turn. I kept forgetting to spot, and I kept forgetting to step forward more for the basket whip. I'm still pretty reluctant to go off beat in WCS, mainly because if I don't feel an anchor there and I'm already lead forward I'll feel off balance and it'll mess up my footwork. Maybe I should improvise less so I don't mix up the signal for an anchor as well. Sometimes it feels like an anchor on the hands, but if the feet has one pointing in the air and the other being brick solid and not moving to a triple step, and then the guy pulls forward, you're like OH GOD STEP WITH RIGHT FOOT IMMEDIATELY.

I quite like some of the advanced WCS combos that employ torque, but unfortunately not many guys did stuff like that. Those moves that send me spinning around in circles makes me feel like Tatiana Mollman, just for that split second LOL. These moves are now my latest obsession, I got over my craving for dips already because I've done them too many times to count.

21st July
I am in love with yesterday night, it's almost perfect (minus the wardrobe malfunction.) I had a couple of memorable dances from both salsa socials and west coast swing socials. Though I wished I could balance better doing stuff with momentum, I don't know whether being sick had anything to do with that (swollen glands causing less air space in the Eustachian tube on one side? Then again I'm not a doctor...)

What's more is that I had a friend to tag along and try out WCS for the first time too, and I think I got him hooked! I feel like a social dance missionary or something.

I'm glad that the memorable dances had been the first dance and the last dance, it feels like writing a composition. Strong intro, solid ending (with a nice dip to add for that matter!) Anyway, I'm on a drowsy expectorant...I should actually go and sleep.

28th July
I'm. So. Hungover. Because. This. Happened:

In fact, there were TWO birthday dances yesterday! (The other video was on Facebook and I can't embed into my blog) And I had to do the West Coast Swing one before the salsa one, so guess where the salsa footwork went when I got to the salsa dance? Yep, down the drain! LOL. Though actually it didn't look that bad in the salsa birthday dance video, but my hand position was very WCS styled :P

Other highlights for yesterday evening included me giving a "crash course" within socials for my old WCS 1 classmate and a new WCS dancer too. One of the biggest disadvantage in giving all the technical stuff in one single night, is that it becomes really dense to absorb it all. Hopefully they'll get to practice in their own time and remember as much as they can.

At another point, there was this dip that I did, and I had to plank and fall backwards doing it. It resembles one of those trust exercises you do with a partner and they catch you from behind, and I haven't had that experience for a long time (and most of them involved me kicking and flailing about because I didn't trust my partner during the exercise LOL) However, this time around, I actually planked properly and fell back nicely, it's like a miracle or some sort! Then I got dragged backwards a bit and pushed back upright and continued dancing and boy, that felt awesome. What is the name of this dip, seriously?! I also felt like this guy while doing the move:

"Swish swish, clang clang" - Slim, A Bug's Life
Don't get me wrong, it feels kinda awesome to be like a walking stick. Just don't pick me up to hit someone with my body.

Good game, Amanda. Tap class nearly killed your body off, but at least you're alive enough to post an entry here.

4th August
Alongside discovering my mistakes, I've pretty much enjoyed the company at socials. I somehow find myself enjoying the company of the swing dancers more than the salsa dancers though. Maybe because the salsa crowd feels too big and unpredictable, and it's hard to pinpoint the regulars other than the Jitterbugs fellows and a few NTU Salsa En Sync people.

At this point in time, is it also possible to say that I've developed a style? I think the moves I'm doing at invitations in west coast swing socials are becoming predictable and repetitive, even for songs with different feels and lyrics. But I should probably take a look at myself in the mirror as I don't think some of my moves are graceful enough lol.

But anyway, my feet are dying. They've Thai massaged the floor enough to feel like I've given an elephant some spa treatment, alongside a gassy tummy ache right after.

11th August
Last night felt a bit uneventful on the dance floor. In salsa, I did manage to have a more relaxed and open frame for the good leads to lead me around this time, because after asking my dance instructor, I finally figured out what was wrong with my frame all this while. I had been getting them too closed at the back, when in actual fact, they're supposed to be open, like a ballerinas's preparation.

However, this would cause my arms to open outwards too much for WCS train tracks, and I had to adjust a bit to fit into the WCS socials that night. There wasn't anything much for me to catch up on WCS 2 class either, just the ones that I got a sneak preview on the previous revision class that I stayed back for. I also realised different dancers in WCS tend to either swing me out into big steps, so I'm assuming that on some occasion, it's completely ok to take really big steps for added styling.

Other than that, it was kinda hilarious watching my classmate who was tipsy explaining the whip to my university friend who is new to the dance. She sounded really fierce to the poor guy, its almost as if she's gonna whip his ass for messing up!

I currently have a song stuck in my head though. It's Good Feeling by Flo Rida - Wild Ones (Deluxe Version). I can't help but to pop around with my partner during the song's breakdown.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Reflections: Last WCS 1 class!

Alright, I'm finally done with our beginner classes for West Coast Swing! Here, have a picture of my classmates and instructors.

Somehow I regret not going to last Friday's socials because I couldn't remember the cue for a whip while in class, which was pretty stupid since it's quite basic. Eventually I caught up to it, and we finally were introduced to the idea of extending patterns and us ladies can have tons of fun adding more styling before finishing off with an anchor. Along with that, guys can also add 2 extra counts before the anchor  so it can act as a breather before leading the next step, which is pretty awesome so you're not caught doing the sugar push all the time.

Phew, 2 hours of class, and then due to the lack of girls in the 2A class, I stayed back for another hour, so I get to pick up some intermediate stuff while I wait for 2B to begin, muahahahahahaha!

Some sparse West Coast Swing 2A class spoilers:

1- overstretched + understretched anchor styling, free spin + left side spin
2- shoulder & hammerlock wrap (there was another one I forgot its name. Goldfish memory after 3 hours of dance classes.)
3- girl & guy baskets, guy's sugar push variation.

Unfortunately this is as far as I will go in spoiling classes for you WCS1 people, so sign up for 2A classes after 2B anyway :P Learning the technique is important.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Reflections: Entries on Socials archive 1-6

I have discontinued the entries on socials series. I have now compiled them into an archive for future references.

26th May
I felt that I could've done better on the dance floor last night. Especially in WCS, where I kept on breaking my frame for the whip, and traveling out of my slot. One thing I also realised while dancing both salsa and WCS in the same night is that I find it hard to move back into the basic step for salsa and kept on finding tension from the lead right after dancing WCS.

I should also start finding YouTube videos to link here for some west coast swing styling. It's not fun when one is unable to express your interpretation of the music because of the lack of dancing vocabulary. Gonna keep you all posted!

2nd June
Yesterday's socials also happens to be my birthday (not that it's important for my readers to know, but I'm just pointing out that due to this reason, social dancing was more fun and I got to stay past my curfew.) Yep, this swinging salsera's got her game on, but before I talk about my socials, I'll be a shameless promoter and say I've signed up for this.

Hang on Amanda, you haven't been dancing salsa for more than 4 months and you already wanna perform? Well I figure that I should step up my game first before university sinks in. So yeah. I'm going for it. All I gotta worry about is if there'll be equal number of guys who are interested. During salsa socials I also managed to figure out that not all raised hand signals equate to a turn. Strange, I know, but I break my frame and end up doing turns from anticipating the move. I'm probably thinking too much about doing the pattern rather than leaving it up to the leader's discretion.

As for West Coast Swing, I managed to be more brave with styling, and received compliments on that. Less thinking and more feeling works! That and I got a bonus "private" lesson from my instructor on how to maintain my frame on my fingers. So I'm tensing less now, which also means my arms aren't sore (thankfully. How will I type if my arms feel like I've been suspended on pull up bars for hours?) One of my classmates are also brave enough to add his salsa leads into WCS. Great experimental work, really.

To conclude it legs hurt (wish me luck surviving Tap classes today.) But dang it was fun (and tempting to do this every social night.) It's also a wonder how I'm up now typing this away, I should catch up on sleep. Catch you all later!

8th June
Note to self: RELAX! Even if salsa auditions are coming up tomorrow, RELAX!

I can't remember how many spins I done during the salsa socials. I'm still told to relax, but I'm not really getting how relaxing will help me hold my frame. Perhaps it is one of those things where I need to keep on practicing before I can finally get that feeling where I can balance both a relaxed posture and a good frame. One of the main highlights of the night was dancing with a guy who could style like mad while I let my hands get tossed around, and I'm left with that flabbergasted look. I wonder when will JBugs teach the guys to style like that?

I didn't do much swinging last night. But I did try to do some leading moves with a salsa classmate of mine and it's pretty hilarious. While she was able to follow my signals, I think our footwork was messy, but we still had fun.

All in all, I wish I could spend more time during socials last night because I didn't manage to feel that same level of enjoyment as before (please tell me that this isn't the start of a bad addiction.) I had so many things going on: choreographing for my tap dance recital, my internship, and just preparing for the auditions. Why do Fridays always have to end so soon?

23rd June
FINALLY! A SALSA DIP! And I don't mean the sauce dips for nachos, I'm finally lead to the actual move itself. Speaking of which, the lead was really strong. From close hold, he was even able to guide me to do side steps and double back breaks. How awesome is that?! Another awesome part was I also managed to get to know a few girls during yesterday's socials as well, which is quite a rare occurrence, since most of the time I'm paying attention to the guys instead. This sounds politically incorrect. I feel quite rusty with some spinning techniques though, wearing west coast swing heels forges a bad habit of relying on the heel to turn. That's really bad, I need to stop neglecting my actual salsa shoes.

West Coast Swing didn't fare too good with me either. My shoes were annoying while I was swinging, the strap kept on unbuckling, and my constant paranoia of tripping over the strap spoilt a bit of the fun. I should get more holes punched through it, or safety pin it I guess...While I did have tons of fun styling (especially since being introduced to extensions and the 2A class sneak peek,) I've neglected the basics - the flashlight, train tracks, and anchor, oh my. My WCS instructor's words ring true in my head, "You can never practice your anchor enough." Getting critique from him made me realise where I stand - can look good grooving, but totally messing up the footwork LOL. I love critique, seriously. It acts as a good motivator.

Along with that...I unintentionally showered holy water upon one of my leads. (It was accidental, I swear!) I don't recall exactly how it happened, but I think I was anticipating too much and when it didn't go as I expected, the waters flew. Luckily enough it was with one of my established friends. If it had been with that cute stranger I met, I would've died and not update this dance journal/blog!

To end it all, I have no idea how I managed to wake up at 7:15 in the morning, and I still have this funny churning feeling in the stomach like I have some sort of motion sickness. My fingers are crossed that I don't puke out my breakfast during tap class today.

30th June
WOOWHEE another dip! This time in WCS socials, aww yeah. While I was able to have that adrenaline rush (albeit underwhelming when compared to a roller coaster ride) socials didn't feel as fun because my WCS classmates aren't there, le sigh.

However, I came across a new group of people, one of them did ballroom dancing before, and the rest are there just to hang out. So I showed them the ropes of west coast swing, and boy was it hard to explain all the technical details! So I stuck to teaching them footwork and paying attention to the tension (hah, that rhymed.) I felt that I could do a bit better with my anchoring though, along with the styling, I felt like a dancing drunkard.

Along with that, I also tried shutting down my brain for salsa socials, to try and be a zombie that follows what the guy wants you to do, but I guess that gave the impression of me looking really lost to one of my guy friends LOL. I didn't think I was making that many mistakes as I danced that night as well, but I wouldn't be too sure about that.

It was nice meeting new people and showing the ropes. It helps test my patience, and makes me a bit more confident in being a potential dance teacher too. I'm also quite hungover, but I didn't even drink anything more than Coke.

7th July
Yesterday was a big blur. I only recall practicing a Salsa 3 move with some of the Salsa Swingapore team, and it was really complicated - the spinning has to be really quick in order to execute the move and now I can't remember how the hand gestures are done either.

Was I also mixing up salsa with swing yesterday? I guess so. I couldn't even remember the 123, 567 counts yesterday after swinging and then moving into salsa. This is bad. But I can sort of forgive myself for that because my Orientation Camp left me disoriented anyway. I'll try not to be this bad the next week.