Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Song of the Day!: Samba - Need 2 B Loved - Debi Nova

Rockin' three-quarter, quarter, one beat; party feeling; beautiful singer - what more could you want in a samba? :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Random Ballroom Musings: Salsa on 1 vs. Salsa on 2? And Mambo?

I have always been confused by the distinction. Here is my list of questions. SOMEBODY HELP PLEASE AHHH.

1. The 1 vs. 2 means when you're supposed to break forward, correct? 1 = salsa, 2 = mambo?
2. If that's the case, though, don't on 1 and on 2 look completely different in terms of footwork?
3. Which one should I take classes in if I want to apply the moves across to my mambo routines in Rhythm?
4. Which one is "Los Angeles style" and which one is "New York style"?
5. What does that even mean?
6. Why is life so complicated?

Every site I look at online seems to contradict another in terms of the answers to these questions. Here's a video from Howcast that purports to describe the difference. Is this accurate?

The reason why I'm asking is because I'm interested in a Zozi deal that my friend Eugene posted - $40 for three months of classes (RIDICULOUSLY AWESOME), but I want to be sure I'll be taking the right style before I commit to it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dance Media: GO IVETA! #SYTYCD8

FINALLY! Not since Ashleigh and Ryan DiLello in season 6 have we had a legitimate ballroom contender amongst the finalists of So You Think You Can Dance. And not just any ballroom contender - Iveta. Freaking. Lukosiute. World Ten-Dance Champion. Mary Murphy really drove the point home, listing every single dance in those ten dances, and Nigel backed up her point, and rightfully so. It's one thing to have a strong ballroom dancer - it's another entirely to have the best of the best representing ballroom on that stage.

See Iveta's performance with Pasha Kovalev of season 3 here:

Why would a world champion, as Nigel put it, humble herself to join this sort of mainstream reality competition? On the one hand, it's very ostensibly a personal thing - she's been turned down twice before, and now that she's 30, it was her last chance to make it. And make it she did. On the other hand, we need a ballroom dancer of her caliber to represent against the heavily favored contemporary and hip hop dancers. And represent she will.

My early favorites are Iveta (can you tell?), Melanie, Jess (as mentioned in a previous post), and Nick, of whom we saw pretty much nothing during Vegas week, but that Christopher Scott tap routine between him and Jess was AWESOME. See that here:

Who are your favorites? Who do you hope gets paired up?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Random Ballroom Musings: Gold Rhythm?

For the Rutgers Dancesport Competition this past semester, my partner and I worked on the cha cha, rumba, swing, and mambo routines that we had used and built upon for MAC, NYU, MIT, and Harvard, but we'd always been missing a bolero routine. So, with the help of one of our coach's newcomer lessons, we started building our bolero repertoire and essentially did what we do for swing and mambo (lead and following, but having a bunch of codified figures to help make it not as much of a spur-of-the-moment sort of thing).

We spent hours working on those moves with the advice of friends ringing in our ear: "Silver is practically Open. Gold IS Open. And Open is Open, but everyone acknowledges that it is." We thought that that (plus, we found out afterward, a nifty provision of the NDCA Gold Syllabus that said that if a move can be led and followed, it's permissible) was our safety card for the Syllabus Bolero event, so we began the routine in shadow and included a cool picture line.

See the round here:

The chair of judges (another of our coaches) called us up after the event and informed us that she had to disqualify us because of the picture line. Both of us were disappointed, though I was happy that we at least got out there, had fun, and entertained an audience, which is really what it's all about anyway. Still, disqualification is no fun. And it's an experience I wouldn't like to repeat again.

So, as Claire and I prepare to compete in both Silver and Gold rhythm this fall, how would you guys recommend we prepare routines, especially in Gold? What kind of moves are permissible and what are not? Any videos you'd recommend or places to go for help with crafting routines, besides a lesson with our coaches?

- Daniel

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dance Media: SYTYCD8 Utah & NYC Auditions!

Summertime is here. That means three things: flip flops, sunshine, and my being glued to the TV every week for SYTYCD. This season brings back the Top 20 and, from the looks of it, hopefully some much-needed ballroom into the family! Tonight's episode highlighted the auditions in Utah (audition site for Chelsie Hightower of SYTYCD4 and DWTS fame, and Ashleigh & Ryan DiLello), but the producers decided to save the ballroom fun for New York City.

I was honestly a bit ambivalent about Kristen Dobson, the Latin dancer with the yellow fringey dress, and beyond some technical quibbles, I couldn't put my finger on it, until Mary pointed it out - that overhead leg extension that was plopped right in the middle of the cha cha and followed promptly by a well-placed "Why would you do that?" from Nigel. Yes, it's an impressive move, but definitely more appropriate for rumba, instead of the cheeky, flirty, fast-paced cha cha. Still, a solid showing of ballroom talent, and the return of S6's Green Mile cut Iveta. Here's to hoping ballroom is well-represented in Season 8! I mean, really, Nigel. A single salsa girl amongst the Top 11 of S7 doesn't count, especially when you have EIGHT contemporary/ballet dancers.

See Kristen's video here!

Now that I got the ballroom out of the way, a special shout out to my fellow Jersey boy and thespian, Jess LeProtto. Favorite audition of the NIGHT for me, no matter how hard the judges came down on him. Classy music, astounding technique, knows how to work an audience. Broadway represent! So glad he made it through to Vegas. Hope he makes it all the way to the Top 20! See the video here.

Who were your favorites? What did you think of the ridiculous time-wasting Ringo Starr bit? Do you think our NYC dancers made us proud?

Personal Progress: The Quest for Gold!

So, during the summer lull between competition seasons, I'm planning on taking a bunch of lessons and dancing regularly with the goal of becoming Silver-proficient and Gold-competent in Rhythm and Latin. I had a Latin practice session yesterday with my friend Laura, where I learned the following:

Things that are going well:
1. My checks in rumba and cha cha are looking much better than they have in the past.
2. I'm becoming much more aware of where my free arms are instead of having them flop around like wet noodles. Still a work in progress, but at least I'm aware now.
3. My basic samba actions are looking pretty darn good for Silver.

Things that need work:
1. My core. Natural samba rolls were so unstable because I didn't have the core strength to keep it up.
2. Spotting and spinning. Even forward walks turning make me a little unstable. But I guess balance comes with continual practice.
3. Staying turned out. Dear frog exercise, you are certain to become one of my best friends.

Once I'm done with my internship in a few weeks, I plan on going all out, not only in terms of classes and practice, but in conditioning my body properly. Ballroom puts the "sport" in Dancesport. (Okay, that was lame.) So, it'll be back to the gym, like I did last summer, to work on my core strength (and, yknow, get rid of the belly), and I also want to try some other activities, like yoga and swimming. Any recommendations on gyms and yoga studios in the city to try out?

- Daniel