Get Down Tonight

December 4, 2008

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Filed under: Uncategorized — tkzent @ 8:38 pm

Ah yes, 2 weeks before the end of the semester: finals time. And for the music majors: jury time. For the non-musicians out there, juries are our playing finals where we have to give a 10 minute recital. I had to sacrifice my dance time in order to get more run throughs of “claire de lune” on my harp. So I don’t really have any funny, dance-related anecdotes this week but I can give you an inside look at the life of a music major. Just so you know, my primary instrument is the harp and my secondary is steel drums — so you’re not completely lost.

I’ve got a lot of gigs coming up: I’m playing with Boulder Chamber Orchestra this month as well as at my friend’s church on Christmas, I’m accompanying a singer in January, and I get to play with the Longmont Symphony on the Chichester Psalms in April. I am really excited for all of them! Academically, next week the orchestra is playing the Firebird Suite for the graduate students to conduct. I’ve been instructed not to play unless cued. That’s going to be fun. I’m preparing for my jury by running through claire de lune a bazillion times a day and practicing el viejo castillo moro: a piece that I’m playing as a “work in progress.” During jury days, you can hear the halls go deathly quiet and then erupt with sudden laughter within about 20 minutes. I know before I perform, I pace constantly and wash my hands again and again and again to keep my fingers from getting oily and making the strings slick. It’s like watching a caged animal. Also, this sunday at 3:00pm at the UCA is my steel pan concert. It’s going to be really good so if you’re in the area and have the time you should come rock out with us … at 3:00pm … UCA … corner of Remington and Pitkin … this sunday … $5 for students/$10 non.

Other than music, I’ve been working like crazy on my comics. I’m hoping to start a homemade webcomic and, this is really exciting, I have a couple of pilot comics I want to submit to the Collegian to see if they’ll let me have a series in next semesters issues. I don’t have all the details yet and I’m waiting for an email to give me the go-ahead but I’m very hopeful! This will be a great way to get my name out there! As a comicker no less! It doesn’t get any better.

Again, I’m sorry about the lack of dance in this post but hopefully next week I’ll get to lose my mind on the dance floor instead of in the classroom!

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December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving at a Vegetarian’s House

Filed under: Uncategorized — tkzent @ 3:29 pm

Thanksgiving: the day we spend celebrating our habit of overeating. I spent Thanksgiving with my dad and his girlfriend, my brother, and my boyfriend. There was NO turkey –It makes sense when you have two vegetarians and no desire to spend that much time cooking. I am one of those veggies by the way. Ever had Tofurkey? Me neither. The disappointment I experienced when I found out that it wasn’t a turkey shaped mass of tofu still hurts me. It was a simple dinner: stuffing, yams with raisins and walnuts, mashed potatoes, and, of course, homemade pumpkin pie. I stuffed myself stupid. I only had the one meal for the whole day. Awesome.

I also went to see the movie “Australia” with my boyfriends’ parents. It’s about an English woman who inherits a ranch in Australia during WWII and her struggle to get her cattle droved to a ship that’s leaving for England … it’s long. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad movie, it’s just long. I just liked watching Hugh Jackman run around all rugged and tan like. There’s one very fan serviced part where he’s “taking a shower” outside with a bucket and a small piece of soap. The only thing I could think of was, “Holy crud it’s Wolverine without his shirt on!” Awesome.

There’s not much to say about a turkeyless turkey day. It was a nice respite from the chaos of school work which I am once again knee deep in. It seems such an odd place to put a vaykay — 2 weeks before finals … nice. Nothing like a week of brain rot and a food induced coma to kick off the most stressful week of my life. I have happy! I must say I am incredibly stressed out this time of year. I are is a college stoodent. Who is are with me? Awesome.

November 14, 2008

Blank Dancing

Filed under: Uncategorized — tkzent @ 5:51 pm

I had to write something about blank dancing because every time I say those two words together somebody always asks, “What is that?” … WHAT’S IT SOUND LIKE FOOL!?? I’m just kidding! I didn’t know what it was when I first heard it either. All you have to do is move your body and you’re blank dancing. It just means you have no premeditated steps. Needless to say, this dance is best done alone or if you’re with a group of people then keep a decent amount of distance so when you pull off that sweet michael jackson finish you just made up, you won’t injur anybody.

Not to blow my own horn or anything, because of course that’s the LAST thing I want to do, but I am a pro blank dancer. I can make up crap til the cows come home. What happens a lot is people will ask me what I’m doing and I say, “Well I’m blank dancing. I’m just having fun.” Then they ask how I can do it so well. So here, right here and now, I’m going to reveal ALL! Years of faking my way through dances has made me pro and now I shall pass my knowledge onto you, you lucky person.

Alright so tip #1. if you’re not dancing to your music, you’re listening to the wrong music. MOVE! If it’s a song you like, move to it. One of the reasons I can keep my wits about me in a dance is because I dance constantly when music is playing. If I’m walking and I have my mp3 player, I’m gettin’ jiggy with it on the sidewalk. Even when I’m running or working out I’m still pullin’ off some moves.

Tip #2. Get a feel for the rhythm. I’ve got a head start on a lot of people because I’ve been a musician for 9 years of my life and am currently going to college to be a better one. After 2 years of college orchestra, I can tell when 4, 8, 16, 32 measures have gone by without consciously counting them. That’s the kind of feeling you want to have when you’re dancing. After a while you’ll get a feel for when the cadences (a sequence of notes or chords that indicates the momentary or complete end of a composition, section, phrase, etc) occur and how the music drives to specific beats and such.

However, not all of us want to be good dancers. Fear not! There is a place for you! It’s called the club. I have something to say about club dancing: it’s not dancing. I’ve been clubbing once — a lot of people got hurt … *ba dum tink* All I have to say is shakin’ yo booty with your friends is a ton of fun but when some drunk wannabe gangsta boy comes up behind you and “asks” for a “dance,” there’s a problem. Seriously that’s not dancing! It’s a solitary act that’s been turned into an exhibition. Okay I’m gonna stop before I seriously injur someone’s fragile psyche. *gets down from her soap box* Well see you next week!

November 6, 2008

Crazy Stuff You Find on the Internet

Filed under: Uncategorized — tkzent @ 4:38 pm

First let me say how thrilled I am that the election is over and we now have the first african-american president in office. I think that is the most progressive thing America has done in a long time. I still can’t believe that we are witnessing such a momentous part of history. When our children get into grade school, they will read this in their history books! I just think that’s a cool thought.

On election day, I was in quite the patriotic mood. I went surfing the internet for whatever “memes” — unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another — I could find regarding the presidency. I’m sure everyone is familiar with “Obama girl” and her infamous “I got a crush … on Obama” song. It was recently named the biggest web video of 2007 by People Magazine. There are also the many SNL skits that skyrocketed in popularity. Seriously you couldn’t turn on the news in the morning without hearing something about a presidential SNL skit. My favorite ones by far are the ones with Tina Fey as Senator Palin. I’ve quoted them so many times now that my friends are getting a little annoyed with the Minnesota-ish accent. You just gotta be a Maverick, ya know there heh. Really, what accent is that?? YouTube has unfortunately blocked all SNL Palin videos but you can find them here http://www.fmqinc.com/snl-sarah-palin-videos/.

Also on election day, a friend of mine told me about this dance-off video between Obama and Mccain. I thought,  “That sounds like the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.” Then I watched it …

Aside from being hysterical, those guys can actually dance! Granted, I’ve never been much for street dancing but you gotta have respect for the amount of physical energy it takes to pull off those moves. There is one guy that I know that can do the robot like it’s nobodys business. You are not a Coloradoan until you have seen this man. They call him afro robot and it’s obvious why. I saw him once on 16th street mall while I was having lunch with my mom and was absolutely fascinated by him. I watched him for about an hour! The video does not do him justice but know that all the mechanical sounds that you hear are noises that he is making with his mouth. TOTALLY COOL!

Oh my … where was I? Patriotism. Well, if you’d like to gander more at the crazy political stuff you find on the internet then you can go to http://www.youtube.com/BarelyPolitical.

October 30, 2008

It’s just a Thriller Night!

Filed under: Uncategorized — tkzent @ 4:29 pm

Halloween is upon us. You know what that means: Michael Jackson. We lucked out because this year is the 25th anniversary of the Thriller album!

Thriller

Thriller

I must confess I am a Michael Jackson fan. The man is a great entertainer! I don’t know or care to know anything about his personal life. All I’m interested in is his music. Seriously, pop artists are still using his beats today. You could reference just about any MJ song and everyone will know what you are talking about. Jackson is credited with turning the music video into an art form and kept him as a staple on MTV into the 90’s. Come on, Thriller is 13 minutes long and he made a 35 minute video for Ghosts in 1996. It’s still up in the air whether Ghosts is a short film feature or a music video. He’s been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, has 13 grammy awards, and 13 number one singles in his solo career. He has been cited as one of the world’s most famous men.

In my opinion, Dangerous is the best album to ever come out EVER. The first time I saw the music video to “Remember the Time” back when I was about 6 I was hooked. It’s all been down hill from there.

Remember the Time by Michael Jackson

Remember the Time

Remember the Time

Maybe I should get on with my blog then eh? Nobody really wants to hear me do my Michael Jackson impersonation. The reason I’m bringing all this stuff up is because with stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. I like the Thriller dance WHICH I got to learn on Monday. Totally awesome! I wrote the entire thing down before I forgot it. But rather than give you a blow by blow I’m just going to point out the highlights of the dance:

1. Zombie Crawl! Bring your arms out like your swimming but turn your hands into claws. Face left, step out with your right foot and bring feet together every two beats in an eight count.

2. Zombie Steps! When one leg pivots around the other in little steps.

3. Zombie Dance! You know what I’m talking about! Get your zombie claws out and lift your arms and leg to the right and then to the left.

I’m not even going to get into all the pelvic thrusts. Jeez Michael keep it in your pants! Anyway, I’m sure you’ve had enough Jackson for today. Tune in next week for some more!

MOOOHAHAHAHAHAHAHA HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

October 21, 2008

Holy Tango, Batman!

Filed under: Uncategorized — tkzent @ 5:03 pm

Don’t tell my boyfriend this but … I’ve found someone new. Well, okay not really someone but something — the tango!
Here’s the scoop: I went to the Wild Goose Masquerade Ball on Saturday. FUN FUN FUN! I can’t write fun enough on this page to explain just how absolutely fun it was! I wore a black dress with a black and silver mask. I thought I looked very elegant but I had NOTHING on some of the people there. There were beautiful dresses and interesting masks — it was like something from a fantasy. There was a live orchestra and a grand march, food, and drinks. Very “Phantom of the Opera” esque. Anyway, my date was giving me a crash course in waltz: viennese waltz, no less, which is one of the hardest dances to learn even though it is also the dance with the least amount of steps.

The floor was a little bit too crowded to do anything this extravagant but we did get to do what is called a progressive where, as a follow, you step back with your right foot, over with the left, then bring your feet together. You repeat the process with the left foot leading and you have a progressive. The hardest part for me was trying to make my stride as long as possible so as not to run into my date (I’m quite a bit shorter than he is).
I’m sure by now that you’re wondering why I’m talking so much about waltz when my title explicitly says “tango.” Right, well, the orchestra did play a couple of big band tunes which were perfect for jitterbug and the like. There were also a couple of tunes that you could dance foxtrot or even bachata to. And then there was the one that we decided to tango to. Now I had never done tango before but I’ve seen it done and it’s a wonderful, intimate dance.

Needless to say I wasn’t doing anything even resembling this on Saturday. I was doing just a very basic tango step that was like foxtrot (slow-slow-quick-quick). The difference was the position. My legs were right on top of my dates so that when he moved, I moved. Every sway and every motion that he did I did because of how my weight was balanced on him. *drools* This dance is to die for! I hope that I can do this dance more often!

October 16, 2008

Foxtrot, Rumba, and Polka: OH MY!

Filed under: Uncategorized — tkzent @ 10:30 pm

Last weekend I had my first run-in with the foxtrot and rumba. This weekend I’m going to be learning polka. For an introductory crash course, I liked both dances very much! Foxtrot is smooth and classic while rumba … well rumba uses A LOT of hip. I faked not to know what I was doing with that dance just so I could watch my instructor shake his hips again and again. Okay so I have a problem! Just don’t let my instructor know that.
*Ahem* Anyway, the Foxtrot: ballroom dance with the basic rhythm slow-slow-quick-quick. For the follow it’s (right foot) back, back, step right, together. For lead, (left foot) forward, forward, step left, together. Foxtrot was the most popular fast dance from the teens to the 1940’s because of it’s musical versatility — you can dance foxtrot to a lot of different styles.
Rumba is perhaps my new favorite dance. It’s almost like foxtrot in reverse — quick-quick-slow. The basic is a box step with the follows stepping to the right then together (quick-quick) and going back with the right. Then the process is repeated to the left, feet together, and step forward with the left. Same goes for the leads but in the opposite order. It doesn’t sound like there is much movement going on in this dance but it is all in the hips. Seriously! Get up and do this dance and you’ll see what I mean! Rumba is the second slowest Latin dance and sometimes considered the most erotic and sensual. Oh and get this, there are two different kinds of hip motions: Cuban hip motion (hip sway arising from the bending and straightening of the knee) and Latin hip motion (stepping on a straight leg). American style rumba uses the former. This is also considered a ballroom dance.
Polka polka polka! This word usually strikes fear into the heart of men and women. I know that when I hear that word I think of a german guy in lederhosen with an accordian playing “sol-do” again and again. Granted if you pick your legs up high enough you can make this dance emulate that stereotype or you can look like a country bumpkin. But polka really is a ballroom dance. It can actually be very elegant.

It’s four counts of step-half step-step-hold. It simply puts a little hop in your step. The word pulka is Czech for “half step” referring to the rapid shift from one foot to the other.
This weekend is the Wild Goose Masquerade Ball. Needless to say, I’m excited — I have my mask all ready to go. It’ll be my first time waltzing in public, though, and that’s a little nerve wracking. Luckily, it’s a masquerade ball: no one will know who I am!

October 14, 2008

Potatoes!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — tkzent @ 4:52 pm

I just got back from Ireland last week. I was mesmerized by the accent and driving on the wrong side of the road was a blast! I don’t think I’ve eaten so many potatoes. Every meal there had a potato dish — I had potatoes with my potatoes! With the way those people dance, though, they need all the nutrients they can get.
Irish stepdance is probably what people in the states are the most familiar with. Also categorized as performance dancing, it was popularized in the 1994 production of “Riverdance.” For those who have seen it, you already know how crazy this dance can get. For those who haven’t …

Those cats can really fly. Irish stepdance is known for its controlled, but not rigid, upper body, straight arms, and quick, precise movements of the feet. There are several different forms of step dancing (including sean-nos and old style step dancing) but the one most familiar to the public is the Munster form. There are two types of shoes worn in step dancing: hard shoes and soft shoes. The hard shoes are very much like tap shoes and the soft shoes resemble ballet shoes without the hard toe and ribbons. Today, women wear highly ornamented dresses and curled hair for competitions while men wear a shirt, vest, and a tie. The tradition of step dancing in Ireland grew from a form of percussive dance that developed alongside traditional irish music.
Aside from performance dances, there are also social dances including the ceili and the set. They are usually danced by formations of couples, often in squares of four couples. Irish social dancing is a living tradition and in some places, dances are modified and new dances are choreographed.

Ceili dances are often fast and complex. They can be performed with as few as three people and as many as sixteen. They can also be danced with an unlimited number of couples in a long line or in a cirlce.
Ironically, I have seen more Irish dancing at festivals in America than I saw in Ireland. It’s a beautiful dance — one that I’ve always wanted to learn. I just hope my legs are ready for it.

September 25, 2008

Attire? Well, no I was going to walk.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — tkzent @ 12:24 pm

Girls: high heels, twirly skirts, lip gloss for that pouty look.
Guys: … just make sure it didn’t come out of the “dirty pile.”
Okay so maybe my gender makes me slightly biased on the topic! But it is an interesting point to bring up: what is proper dancing attire? Obviously you want to look nice but comfort is a huge priority when you’re cutting that rug. I can’t tell you how many blisters and calluses I’ve gotten from dancing in uncomfortable (but FABULOUS) shoes. I’ve had dance instructors tell me, “Ah, you’ve got dancers calluses.” Yeah, that’s just what I want to hear. My best friend is a ballerina and if you want to see “dancers callus,” look no further!
Attire tip #1 — Be comfortable! Don’t kill yourself wearing those pants that are two sizes too small or those new Dior shoes that you just bought on sale. When you’re really into the dance, you’re not thinking about what you’re wearing anyway!
So guys … I’m serious about the dirty clothes thing. I’m not saying that you all have to go out and buy a new suit and some Burberry cologne but atleast look presentable. The best outfit I’ve ever seen on a guy was a solid colored collar shirt, black pants, and black shoes. Simple, professional, and it impresses the ladies. Just keep in mind how a simple change of clothes can influence how people view you as well as how you view yourself. I think everybody’s experienced that, “I look GOOD in this!” and the confidence that comes from that.
Attire tip #2 — Casual is reserved for fridays at the office. You’re going out tonight, baby! Try to look nice. Granted, I don’t always dress up when I go dancing but it’s the fun of the scene.
Contrastly, GIRLS! Don’t see this as an invitation to go nuts with your accessories or wear nothing — you know when you see those girls that just reveal too much and you have this incredible urge to yell, “Put some clothes on!” Well, they exist in the dancing world too. I know that in the salsa scene, a certain amount of mid-drift is perfectly acceptable and certainly you could get away with it in a sultry blues dance. I doubt you could pull it off during a ballroom dance though.
On the flip side, having too many loose items on your person is a bad idea too. Don’t get me wrong, necklaces and earrings can look very classy and pull an outfit together but certain necklaces and earrings can be weapons. Again, be aware of your dance. No one I’ve ever met would wear jewelry during aerials in a swing dance.
Attire tip #3 — Less is more. Be fashion conscious. Dancing is probably not the place to wear all that bling you’ve got. Save that huge belt buckle for the electric slide, partner.

September 18, 2008

C’est L’amour

Filed under: Uncategorized — tkzent @ 12:25 pm

Slow dancing … no, not like that incessant shuffling you and your date did at prom. I’m talking about a waltz or blues — some of the most intimate dances two individuals can still do in public. I’ve heard that the beauty of a dance is in it’s brevity. It’s a sweeping moment of passion where two people express so much of themselves without saying a single word. When someone asks me what blues is like, I always respond with, “Have you ever seen dirty dancing? Well, it’s like that.”
Blues, though, is my favorite kind of dance. There really are no set moves or a precise count because it’s all about the feel of the music. The music, by the way, is jazz — slow jazz.

*sigh* It’s such a beautiful dance. The frame for blues is your normal closed position with a bit of a twist. The lead’s hand that would normally be on the waist is moved to the middle of the follow’s shoulder blades. This really helps in creating a strong connection. As you can see from the video the other hand that would normally be “curved fingers in a tea cup” (that’s how I was taught) is usually left to the side. Again, this dance is about expression, not precision.
The basic for blues is simple. It’s just back and forth, back and forth. The footwork is a little more complicated. The follow’s feet have to work inbetween and outside of the lead’s and vice versa. So rather than facing straight on, you are a little offset of one another.
If you haven’t figured this out already, blues dancing is going to severely burst your personal bubble. If you are a person who doesn’t want to be that close to someone you just met, I suggest you start with a square dance or the electric slide.
Many people find the lack of structure to be a challenge but it can also be a very freeing experience. If you decide that you want to break frame and dance in circles around the other person you certainly can … not that I’ve *ahem* ever done that before.
Another fun aspect of blues is the amount of control that follow has. Normally the lead has all control and the follow just has to … follow. If a follow tries to control the dance it’s called hijacking and creates a lot of problems. However, in blues, hijacking is acceptable. The follow has more say in this dance and can direct the moves a little bit. Like I always say, it’s a good dance if you pulled off your mistakes.
So is it love that makes the dance or is it that the dance mimics love? C’est l’amour? Say no more.

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