I have a confession to make… I once left work early in order to make it to a dance class that I usually would not be able to make. Why? Well that week we were doing a routine that I really, really, really liked! It was a few years ago and the song itself that we were doing was pretty popular. It was Kesha’s Tik-Toc. Although I wasn’t initially on the Tik-toc bandwagon, just because of the song itself or because everyone else seemed to like it, after doing the routine, I got into it. Yes, the tune was catchy, but there was more to it. The choreography was challenging and cute, the lyrics of the song were evocative and escapist, the beat just sort of carried the listener along, and the make-up of the class at that time was just really cool. Although there is usually a core group of people in classes, many tend to come and go. We had a sort of “group chemistry” at that particular point. I suppose perhaps it was probably also simply a good week for me after an unfortunate succession of really bad ones but at this point, that is pure speculation. Anyway, I found the routine online and wanted to post it.
Here is the youtube link-
Although this post and associated posts on Facebook etc. will be called best routine ever, don’t rack your brain. I just want you to come up with the routine that strikes you as having been just a really great experience in the past year so. So tell me, what has been the most memorable routine that you’ve done in the past few years and why? Did you just like the song a lot or was there something in particular about the class at the time or technique that was taught? If you have video of the routine, please post to my Facebook page Recreational Dancers!
So Misty Copeland’s commercial for Under Armour is the buzz this week. The commercial featuring Copeland who is the first Black soloist for American Ballet Theater, concludes with the copy “I will what I want”. The commercial is somewhat autobiographical since Copeland is not only Black, but started dancing at the age of thirteen, which is very late in ballet terms. With Copeland in motion on-screen, there is a voiceover of a thirteen year-old girl reading a rejection letter from a ballet school. At the end of the letter, it states that she has the “wrong body” for ballet. This message resonates on multiple levels. Women- and women of color in particular- are constantly being told that they have the wrong bodies. The wrong bodies for a particular clothing style or haircut or, perhaps most painfully, the wrong body for a certain man. Ballet is not the only dance genre to send this type of message. Although so-called “street style” dances tend to be more inclusive from an ethnic and racial standpoint, there is absolutely a feeling that to be above a certain weight or to have a certain type of hair texture is a no-no if you want to perform at the highest levels. Dances traditionally performed in gentlemen’s clubs (and now routinely taught at gyms and studios everyday) such as lap dancing, pole dancing, and burlesque also carry that same stigma. If you are what they call “curvy”, it can take a lot of courage just to take these types of classes on a casual basis let alone try to get jobs in those industries.
The attitude carries over into other parts of life as well. On a recent episode of the morning talk show, “The Talk”, one of the hosts Cheryl Underwood, was taken to task by fans for the lip-lock she and guest John Stamos engaged in on the show. Underwood, has a running gag on the show where she crushes on Stamos. When he appeared as a guest, he gamely played along all in the name of fun. Underwood, who is at least a size ten, was reminded over social media in no uncertain terms that men like Stamos do not go for women of her size. Women also have a tendency to resent it when someone they deem not skinny enough or simply not pretty enough, dares to dress or hold herself in a way that emphasizes her femininity. The cost to that woman is often a certain level of castigation– a reminder that she has stepped out of her proverbial “place”. So yes, if you want to be who you feel you were born to be, you must exercise a tremendous amount of will and determination. Kudos to Copeland and those like her who dare to do so.
Usually, I like to focus on the more practical aspects of dance. That is, I like to share with you the news about our local dance instructors, or cool dance gear, new dance classes, or cheap/free dance classes. However, I realize that every so often, we also need a real “culture fix”. What I have learned from taking dance classes over the years is that dancers tend to have a wide spectrum of genres that they are interested in. B-boys and B-girls like to go to the ballet (heck some b-boys and b-girls started out as ballet dancers!), House dancers like to find out what is happening on the modern dance scene, ballerinas like to know about what is going on on the club dance scene etc. The same can also be said of dance history. There is a great thirst for knowledge just about the history of the various dance genres which sometimes gets overlooked in the hustle and bustle of learning dance routines in the studio. So here, I have assembled a group of links to articles that I believe go toward rounding out the dance experience by opening a window into the dance culture across genres. Enjoy!
This article focuses on the work of photographer Sebastian Rich. Rich started out as a war photographer but has branched out into dance photography- shooting everything from ballet to pole dancing…
I personally wanted to make sure I added this. It is not an article, but a mention of one of Time Out magazine’s critics’ picks- Pilobolous dance theater. Eriko Jimbo, currently one of the members of Pilobolous, will be leaving the company after this season so these are her final performances. I have seen Eriko “perform” on the underground house dance scene and not only is she incredibly beautiful, she is a wonder to watch as a dancer. It is worth the price of the ticket just to see her dance. Catch her while you can!
Groupon for the Hip Hop Dance Conservatory’s production “The Blame Game: Original Sin”. Finally, due to people like Safi Thomas, Founder and Director of the Hip Hop Dance Conservatory, Hip-Hop dance is starting to be treated as and recognized for, the discipline that it is. Please buy a ticket, see theperformance and then go check out the Friday night open class offered by the Hip Hop Dance Conservatory. It won’t be exactly what you expect but I think you will be pleasantly surprised.