So I’ve been ghost for a little over a month now. And for good reason too. The last I left off, I had something to do every weekend in March. That did not really stop when I got to April. That in conjunction with finals from all my classes pretty much had me unavailable 24/7. I specifically remember having a not-so-pleasant conversation with my history teacher about it towards the end of the semester. There was one of those semester projects due where I had the entire semester to go watch a show of some sort and then write a report on it. Seems easy enough right? Well what is a student to do when he is in about 3/4 of the shows in town anyway? I didnt mention anything about my dilemma at the beginning of the semester because I assumed, rather incorrectly, that eventually I would have some free time in my schedule. Well, there I was at the end of the semester a little crunched for time trying to ask my teacher if I could write my report from the performer’s perspective because I was in too many shows. She was like “I can’t believe you were that busy all semester,” and wouldn’t let me show her my calendar on my phone. I remember saying something to the effect of “I’m borderline too professional for this” or something along those lines. It was a diva train of thought, I know. The scary thing is that I’ve been having a lot of those recently and I really don’t like it. I’m trying my hardest to fight it because nobody likes a diva….ever. Within the last month I’ve had too many encounters with two different types of divas and I’ve really tried to keep myself clear of it. Just gotta keep myself in check I guess. Anywho- that’s a blog for another day. Lemme just do a quickie recap of my last month and change of dance:
Week 4- Daytona Beach
Don’t let the title fool you, this was a pretty intense weekend of dance. The title only tells you where I went for competition. I was under the flag of Cameron’s DanceCompany of Gainesville for the weekend. It was also my second time going through an actual competition season with a studio. The world is really different for dancers here. Most of the dancing is a circus show of flexibility and crotch shots with a little bit of dancing in between. Remember “Chicago” the musical and that one song by Billy Flynn- “give ’em the old razzle dazzle, razzle dazzle ’em”? That’s what I feel like dance is all about at these kinds of events. Not really my scene but I support the company in giving the kids a well-rounded dance experience. Sometimes you have to go through a river of crap in order to come out clean on the other side. After the weekend, I went home with a good feeling about what I do and the girls got a good ego boost out of the event too since we placed very high in almost everything. Its also quite possible that I may have enjoyed a drink or two by the beach when I wasn’t dancing….haha
Week 5- The Brown Dance Project
Immediately after returning from Daytona Beach I had to get back to business. No time to breathe, the Brown Dance Project had to go and perform the following weekend. Luckily, most of the dancers in that company are also in the same modern class. So for one week we used some class time to finalize our rehearsals. This work would prove to be some of the most challenging choreography that I had to perform all year. Link to that fact, that Professor Brown our director, had just choreographed a duet that I was a part of the week before. It probably wasn’t the only time I’ve ever learned a dance in 45min but it was definitely the most intense. There was to be only one performance so we had to get everything right- there was no second chance on this one. Saturday night came and there was a weird hodgepodge of random circumstances and occurrences that would lay the framework for a really disappointing night. Firstly, our company was performing in the blackbox at santa fe. This meant that there could be a maximum of 80 some odd people to watch. Some people had to be turned away unfortunately. Next, we had no help from other members of the faculty or staff on the show. No sound person, no lighting person or rehearsal director besides our own Professor Brown who was also in the show. We were pretty much on our own. We also had to recruit a few fellow classmates who were planning on just watching the show to come and be ushers. Also, none of our other dance teachers were present for moral support. They had things that came up last minute but it was just funny to not have them sitting around anywhere. Despite all these little things, we were on our own but strong enough to still make things happen. We started to run the show and we had a great energy and rhythm. Things were going great until all hell broke loose. By a random act of something- the power all throughout campus flickered. So there we are in the theater, directly in the middle of the show when the lights and music go off for about 1 second and come back on. Strange… but manageable. We continued. Then the fire alarm in the building decides to go off. Apparently, the power and the alarm are somehow connected, so when the power came back on the alarm just had to go off. We didn’t know any of this at the time. We just kept on going even as the fire alarm was going off. The audience was a little annoyed but they figured it was all part of the show. We played it off as long as we could but when Professor Brown found that we couldn’t go on anymore he had to have everyone exit the building. We waited outside hoping to still continue the show despite a horrible trainwreck/impromptu intermission. Unfortunately, we had to call it a night and leave the show unfinished. Quite a few drinks were had that night as well as discussions about the night and all the hard work that we put into the show only to leave an unfinished taste of show in our mouths. Still, I have no regrets about doing any of it because it was a great experience of choreography and how to handle being a professional company. Still kinda wished we had gone through the entire show though….
Week 6- Performance at Downtown Spring Arts Festival
This weekend was not too bad. Aside from stressing over getting to the actual performance area and trying to figure out how I was going to make my Latin hip hop work with less than 1/4 of the dancers, I really wasn’t too worried about it. Around about this time though I was starting to lose my mind a little bit though. Classes were starting to wind down with final assessments and projects to end the semester. And here I was on a sunny Sunday afternoon dancing away blissfully and ignorantly procrastinating on other schoolwork. As for the performance itself, its a good experience to be in charge of every aspect of a dance on the most unprofessional dance space imaginable. But these is where the roots of dance really reside. The only audience we had were passer-by folk who were looking at artwork. Our stage was a rough gravel parking lot. Our lights were the sun. And there we were- a handful of us from the original cast flying by the seat of our pants just having fun and dancing. Some of us were a little more stressy than others about the situation but i told them to just let go and have fun with it.
Week 7- Lakeland Competition and RUE Solo
Yeah, you read it right. The 7th week of straight dancing. When do I have time to study? Who knows. This weekend started super early with the presentation of my RUE solo. Remember those writings I did a few months ago for that project? Of course you do- I wrote them in Artistic Expressions: Romance of the Douchebag and 2 men,3 seats. Well on that Friday I had to present my 11 page paper on the embodiment project AND I had to perform the solo for the Research in Undergraduate Education Symposium. Holy frijoles- that was a tad stressful. I also came to find out that day that our projects were being adjudicated and ranked. I was not really all for that business, I just wanted to get it all over with at that point. After the performance there was a huge sigh of relief and I was pretty proud of myself for taking part in the whole thing. I feel like I really expanded my mind in the dance world and I accomplished something I never thought I would be able to do. It was a pretty crazy time. That night I kicked back and enjoyed some of the other projects that were on display. There was cool stuff on psychology and physics and posters galore. That night there was also a ten minute play festival featuring a ton of cool one act plays that were all student written or directed. Special shout out to my buddy Alan Medrano and his play that he wrote and directed called “Ballad of Off-Campus Living.” It was pretty hilarious and I was thoroughly impressed.
The very next morning I had to leave with my partner in crime Matt McEwen to dance in another competition in Lakeland, Florida. This was a huge competition sponsored by something called “Starquest”. I have been to some competitions in my day but damn, this one was ridiculous. It was the epitome of everything I have come to loathe about dance competitions. The stressy kids, the stressier parents, the unneccessary booty shaking, the pimping out of little kids, crotch shots after crotch shots, circus act flexibility, and turns without probable cause. It made me realize how important it was for me to be doing the dancing that I was doing. Once again, I went for the experience of the younger kids. But I didn’t enjoy too much dancing of that weekend. Even when I walked through the main entrance of the extravagent Lakeland center, I could feel the negative energy of the area filling me up. I’m not even into all that hippie vibe energy stuff either. I just know that once i entered that place, i was instantly brought down about 5 notches. Weird how that stuff can affect you. There was a shining light at the competition though. There is a studio out in Port Richie called Sell’s Dance Company that is doing some really cool stuff with kids. The rest wasn’t as hopeful. One of my better facebook statuses of the weekend went as follows:
“how to choreograph for competition. pirouttes, fuetes, trick flips, wannabe freezes, into a la second turns for a minute. jump into 8 counts booty shake (especially if they’re under 15), and if there’s room, maybe some dance. high gold or platinum routine….”
I got quite a few comments back on that one. I had a few other tweets that were equally sarcastic:
- lakeland day 2: if I see another 8 yr old smack her ass at the audience, I might quit dance…. 10:35 AM Apr 18th via mobile web
these kids are gonna real surprised when they find out the hip hop they scored so high with gets laffed right off the real world 5:52 PM Apr 17th via mobile web
shot out to sell’s dance company out in port richie. those 9 yr olds ripped it forreal. 5:33 PM Apr 17th via mobile web
there are good things here too tho. some of these kids are gonna have good long dance careers if their teachers care a bit. 5:03 PM Apr 17th via mobile web
pre-teens in vegas outfits. whose parents were okay with this? the kids aren’t even comfortable with it. 4:11 PM Apr 17th via mobile web
So needless to say it was an interesting weekend. Once again, I don’t regret going. I found out a lot more about the person I want to be and the dancer I want to become. And it was a good experience for the kids too. Maybe they’ll realize the same.
Week 8- Final week of school and Photo shoot
I always have these phone conversations with my mom about school that I have just come to accept as funny. I know she loves me and she just tries to help with her advice but its just overly simplistic. I have no choice but to laugh about it afterwords. It goes a little something like this:
Me: Yeah mom, things are good at school. It’s just so busy these days.
Mom: Like what kind of stuff?
Me: You know, tests and papers and quizzes and final projects. They’re all due at the same time and it’s a little stressful.
Mom: Well you know, just make sure you study the whole time and you’ll be okay.
Really? Haha. Apparently the way to get through a lot of work is to study. I know, I know- she’s trying to be supportive in her way and I love her for it. The thing about college is that Professors tend to pick a lot of the same due dates for things. So even if you are an expert planner and anti-procrastinator, you still end up having to do multiple things on the same day that are all heavily prioritized and stressful. There really is no way around it. This semester was no different.
The end of the week was pretty fun though. On Saturday morning most of the members of the Brown Dance Project got together for a professional photo shoot. Here is one of the best shots of the shoot:
That’s hot right? Yeah, we thought it was pretty cool too.
After all that, I had one more week of finals and then a week to relax before starting up summer classes on Monday. So my life continues on. The drama that is my life is not quite over in the dance world quite yet. And I’m back to write about it all over again.