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Right after hitting “publish” on my last post, I navigated over to Twitter to really publicize that first most-accessible most discussion-worthy post.

Then I saw a fellow (though she was a full major and a year after me) JMU dance alum had tweeted an interesting article:

Dancing in a vaccum: The NEA says get online
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jennifer-edwards/dancing-in-a-vacuum-the-n_b_635492.html

When I read that article, I realized that in my last post I should have included:

What if entire household-name social networks were dedicated to dancers? What if start-up choreographers could raise money for their new piece online? What if people’s Facebook statuses were about going to performances just as often as concerts?

For the most part, I agree with Jennifer Edwards and the NEA’s assessments that traditional dance companies are stuck in 1998 when it comes to their interaction on the Web. But I have stumbled across some good online examples of where dance has the chance to soar:

AXIS Dance Company: I’ve already mentioned that I had a wonderful opportunity dancing with AXIS. What I didn’t mention is that I found out about their audition through Facebook (thanks to Dance Place, actually, I think), interacted with them on Twitter before the audition, and now love keeping up with their cross-country adventures on their blog. It’s no secret, though, that AXIS has innovation and blowing minds at the core of their mission, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they’re ahead of other companies in the digital world.

The Washington Ballet: Well, really, they just have a really well-designed website, which includes a blog written by Septime. They have lots of social networking accounts but I’ve never been able to get them to answer me on Twitter. Sad face.

Dance Plug: I haven’t really been able to explore this alleged social networking site for choreographers and dancers, but I’m considering finding my place there. I do enjoy their Twitter commentary and their YouTube videos so far, though.

I actually started this blog because I felt like there wasn’t enough places online for smart conversations about dance. (I also wanted to show off my dance & writing skillz, give myself an outlet, and connect to the D.C. dance scene but I’m not all selfish here y’all.)

SYTYCD forums are all, like, gum-snapping in their 7th-grade vapidness. Professional dancers’ Tumblogs and Twitter streams are jealousy-inducing with their quick updates and fabuloso pictures. My dance girlfriends don’t check their Gmail enough to keep a good email commentary chain going. Another fellow JMU Dance alum stopped updating her smartly-written blog.

Dance companies 100% need to get in the game and bring a fresh-faced audience – and revenue stream – to their live performances by engaging them online first. Let’s do this!

What if dance was like music?

What if trained dancers were as abundant as trained musicians?

What if self-taught dancers were as well-respected as self-taught musicians?

What if every music video was a piece of choreography, with less short-attention-span cuts and more artistry?

What if dance was performed on street corners, in subway stations, around the campfire and at school pep rallies as much as music?

What if the male dancer were as stereotypically revered as sensitive and sexy as the male acoustic guitarist?

I love music. I love people who love music. I love musicians. Music is behind every dance decision I make. And music is just such an easily accessible part of our culture – I have smart conversations about music 80 times a day. I hope we can make dance the same way one day in our culture!

Emma Dozier in "Ancient Ruins"

Dancing in "Ancient Ruins," choreographed by Nica Tran.

My second-to-most-recent dance performance was with Saffron Dance for their Casbah showcase at Georgetown’s Gonda Theater.

I’d only been practicing belly dance for about six months, but Saffron creates such a safe, beautiful, shimmyful space that they get you ready to perform right away!

It was also the first time I’d been backstage in a real-life theater in about a year. There’s something about tech and dress rehearsals that are just so magical… even though you’re seeing the “magic” of the theater in very non-magical real-life specific terms. As one of my fellow dancers with a background in theater said, it’s just so refreshing to sit back, know where you belong, and follow the rules.

The piece my group (Oriental 2 level) was in was called “Ancient Ruins” and was choreographed by the lovely and talented Nica Tran, who – like me – has a background in ballet and modern. I think because of this background, she created the most interesting piece of the show.

Belly dance is definitely a one-or-two-women-in-a-small-room performance art. But we were performing it on a stage. So Nica, at the beginning of her creative process, made sure we understood that our piece would technically be a belly dance-modern fusion.

We had a story: The ladies in green were the “Ancient Ruin” statues. The ladies in orange were the wind. The wind comes twirling in, wakes the statues, and we dance! This story line really added to our movement and gave us characters and stage personas to really work with. As a seasoned stage performer, it was easy for me to “turn on” and smile. But for some of my fellow dancers who were brand-new to the stage, I think Nica’s story-telling technique really helped them push their performance over the edge.

If you want a place to try dance for the first time, learn a new art form, work on your abs, or just have fun – then Saffron is definitely the place for you. Check it out if you’re in the D.C./Arlington area!

And find more images from the other pieces by our talented photographer (I wish I could find his name to credit him more specifically!) here:
http://saffrondance.smugmug.com/Dance/Casbah-2010/12676321_cQDng#912143154_g

The New Deal at the 9:30 Club

The New Deal at the 9:30 Club with friends and I dancing like crazy in the crowd. Who wouldn't want to choreograph like this?!

Last night I started choreographing for realsies to The New Deal’s “Intro” (from their album Gone, Gone, Gone). I have about one minute done out of the three-ish.

(Note to self: Don’t take a shower and then choreograph in your door-closed-in-95-degrees-with-just-a-window-AC-unit room. Much sweating ensues.)

Challenges and dilemmas so far:

  • I don’t know how many dancers I will have. So far in the choreography I’ve been able to stay flexible – it will work for any number between three and six.
  • What do I call the piece? I always name my dances the same as the name of the song, because the music is 100% my inspiration. But I feel like I can’t have a piece titled “Intro”… can I?
  • How should I end the piece? The song flows in a very bouncy way into the second track of the album, the oh-so-awesome melody of “I Feel Love.”  I think I’ll have to use some digital magic to fade the song out on one of its vocal harmonies.

I’m really excited to dive into the next minute of the piece. The first minute is really just a slow build-up of mostly arms while each dancer moves with a unique sporadically-placed instrument sound. For the second minute I’m going to start with a big, wide-moving unison movement to match the perfect vocal harmonies, then start to play with some partnering.

I’m going to need dancers to play with soon! Yay!

Emma & Melissa at Sofitel

Last night, my sister waltzed her way into town from college and we sashayed to the Washington Ballet’s Jeté Society happy hour.

(She let me wear a really cute green dress of hers. She’s a good sister.)

I was excited for the happy hour for a couple of reasons:

  1. It was a swanky event (chance to wear a cute dress)
  2. There was the chance to meet dancers and/or directors (I heart Septime Weber)
  3. I could network with D.C. dance enthusiasts

The night started off well when the doorman at the Sofitel was impressed with my pronunciation of jeté (spoken like a true gal who only took French in high school because of her history with ballet). We only had to stand awkwardly by ourselves with our glasses of wine – trying to decide how and with whom to network – for a few minutes before a gentleman started talking to us.

Then one of my friends showed up. Then the gentleman closest to us joined our conversation. Pretty soon, we were the happening-est table at the happy hour.

While I never glimpsed dancers nor directors (I don’t blame them – it’s their off-season!), a couple of my jokes fell flat (“Well, you guys know that Balanchine, amirite?!”), and it pretty quickly became clear that a few of the gentleman were there for eye candy rather than to contribute to ballet talk (“So did you see their Genius3 program? No? Great Gatsby? No? Oh, the Nutcracker… cool…”), it was still quite a graceful evening.

I have a ballet crush on the Washington Ballet as a whole. They’re the first ballet company I’ve seen with a really quality, fun-loving personality onstage. I’ve been a subscriber for almost two years now and I think maybe it’s time to bump up my support by becoming a member of the Jeté Society. After all, I love swanky parties and rubbing elbows with artistes!