Sunday, August 28, 2011
Are you a fan of Dancing With the Stars and/or Strictly Come Dancing and find yourself wondering just what judges are looking for? Or why a couple didn't receive a 10 from a judge(s)? A good starting point to discuss how professional judges score and what factors they look for in real competitions, then apply these rules to the dances you see on TV.
To start, there's a difference between the requirements of World Dance Sport Federation adjudicators'(or Judge,both terms are used) licensing and television reality show judging. Of course you expect formal competition to have more stringent qualifications for the judges themselves, but did you know that some of the most famous television competitive ballroom dance judges aren't even necessarily ballroom dancers themselves?
One of the most well-known television ballroom dance judges, Carrie Ann Inaba, seems so incredibly knowledgeable in her critiques of the celebrity dancers in ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Carrie, who was introduced to American television as a Fly Girl dancer on In Living Color, doesn't actually have a background in ballroom. As a hip-hop dancer and choreographer, she has danced with Madonna and J-Lo, but wasn't a competitive ballroom dancer. I personally like Carrie very much. She's personable, open-minded, a great dancing judge. But Carrie would not meet the qualifications for an adjudicator's license from the WDSF.
Len Goodman, on the other hand, was a professional ballroom dancer and winner of the British Championships at Blackpool in his twenties, and currently owns his own ballroom dance studio in Dartford, England. It's the same with Mary Murphy, another ballroom dance champion and accredited dance judge and choreographer for So You Think You Can Dance.
The World Dance Sport Federation has a set of stringent qualifications for those applying for an adjudicator's license. The adjudicator applicant must have passed an exam in the Technique of Standard and Latin American dances. He or she will need to know precisely every form and figure in the syllabus of the Waltz, Tango, Foxtrot, and every dance included in ballroom dance competition.
Additionally, the judge must include his or her Curriculum Vitae (CV), which will list formal education, dance experience as a competitor, dance instructor adjudicator or lecturer, and list dance education such as examinations, seminars and congresses. These Professional Dance Qualifications give the adjudicator the background and experience to knowledgably judge the competence and skill of the
Not only must judges ensure that competitors adhere to the rules of ballroom dance competition, but judges themselves have strict rules to abide by. For instance, a judge is not allowed to do any coaching at all during the competition. A judge cannot even converse with competitors or coaches during the competition in order to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.
Judges must also be careful to mark dancers solely on their performance of the dance being adjudicated at the time. They cannot take into consideration any previous performances, championship titles or reputation.
One of the greatest qualities of a judge is the ability to remain objective, to give marks that are based completely on the technical skill and quality of the performance. When you are worried about your marks and maybe feeling intimidated by the scoring process, it may help you to remember that judges have been in your shoes before. They know that jittery feeling you get in the pit of your stomach just before the music begins. And they also know every detail of the syllabus, every step of your dance, and exactly what a pair of champions should look like.
Levels of Competitive Ballroom Dance
Bronze, silver and gold levels of ballroom dancing each have their own syllabus of steps, goal for the dancer and difficulty level. Learning what they mean help the dancer know where they belong based on their skill level.
Bronze Level Ballroom Dancing
Bronze level is the most basic level of ballroom dancing, and this is where all new students should start. The goal of this level is to teach the dancer good balance, rhythm and how to move their body. They learn how to dance with a partner and work as a team.
In American Style ballroom dances like Waltz and Foxtrot, there is very little “continuity”, which is where the dancers pass their feet and flow into the next step. Instead, they end most patterns by bringing their feet together. The patterns in bronze level tend to be fairly simple, although they increase in complexity and difficulty as the dancer moves from beginning bronze to intermediate bronze and then to full bronze.
Silver Level Ballroom Dancing
When the dancer has mastered the basics of bronze level, they are usually ready to move on into silver. This is when ballroom dancing really gets fun—the steps flow more gracefully from one to the next, and the dancer learns to make bigger movements with more turns and arm styling. They are expected to use good technique, balance, partnering skills and do it all with flair.
While the beginning silver steps are more difficult than bronze, they are still fairly easy and most dancers can execute them with varying levels of success. For example, bronze level dancers often add silver steps to their repertoire, but they do not execute them as well as they should. As one moves up the syllabus toward full silver, the patterns become much more demanding.
Gold Level Ballroom Dancing
Gold level is the highest level that the syllabus goes to. Dancers at this level have even better balance and perform even more difficult patterns than silver level dancers. At this level, it becomes very apparent if the dancer has not established a good foundation in their dancing, because they are unable to perform many of the steps at all, let alone well.
Open Level Ballroom Dancing
“Open” in a ballroom competition means that the performed steps do not have to adhere to any syllabus. Choreographers for these events are able to either modify syllabus patterns or make up their own. Dancers who do open level choreography should have a firm grasp of all of the syllabus requirements. This allows for a lot of creativity and fun.
By starting at the bronze ballroom dancing level and moving up through gold, a dancer gets a good foundation in technique, balance and partnering skills.
What Judges Look For
Judges use the “Impression Judging“ system. The criteria that a judge might choose to consider are actually too numerous to examine individually in the brief time allotted, (1½ to 2 minutes), since at least six couples are being judged simultaneously. Therefore, the judge must rely on the impression each couple makes relative to the others. The experienced judge, having seen and studied dancing at all levels, can quickly assess these factors collectively. When you watch DWTS and/or SCD, keep these things in mind and do your own judging.
The judges' evaluation of performance is based on originality of the particular genre. Did the couple execute the dance and make it their own? Did they sell it? Was there chemistry between them? Were their respective personalities highlighted during the performance, along with their skills? Did they exude emotion? Was the performance real? Was it believable? Contenders must be actors as well as dancers.
Posture - One of the most important aspects. Good posture makes you look elegant and exude confidence. It improves balance and control, and allows your partner to connect well to your body in the smooth dances. One's competition result is often directly proportional to one's postural correctness.
Timing - If a couple is not dancing on time with the music, no amount of proficiency in any other aspect can overcome this. The music is boss
Movement - If the couple executed and coordinated the movements of the Feet, Legs, Body and Arms based on the Characteristic Style of the Dance in question.
Styling - This involves the dancers' lines which include posture, full graceful extension of their legs, arms, center balance and fluid continuity, giving the look of big, yet flawless and seamless.
Evaluation also includes the couple's individual and combined strengths as supporting partners. Did they hold their own on the dance floor, yet dance as a unit?
Musicality and Expression - The basic characterization of the dance to the particular music being played and the choreographic adherence to musical phrasings and accents.
Presentation - Does the couple sell their dancing to the audience? Do they dance outwardly, with enthusiasm, exuding their joy of dancing and confidence in their performance?
Foot and Leg Positions - The stroking of feet across the floor in foxtrot to achieve smoothness and softness; the deliberate lifting and placing of the feet in tango to achieve a staccato action; the correct bending and straightening of the knees in rumba to create hip motion; the extension of the ankles and the pointing of the toes of the non- supporting foot to enhance the line of a figure; the sequential use of the four joints (hip, knee, ankle, and toes) to achieve fullness of action and optimal power; the bending and straightening of knees and ankles in waltz to create rise and fall; the use of inside and outside edges of feet to create style and line all fall under this most important of categories.
Shape - Shape is the combination of turn and sway to create a look or a position. For instance, in Paso Doble does the man create the visual appearance of maneuvering his cape? Does the lady simulate the billowing flow of the cape through space? In foxtrot, does the man use the appropriate shape on outside partner steps to enable body contact to be maintained?
Lead and Follow Does the man lead with his whole body instead of just his arms? Does the lady follow effortlessly or does the man have to assist her?
Floorcraft - In Ballroom dance, this refers not only to avoiding bumping into other couples, but the ability to continue dancing without pause when boxed in. It shows the command of the couple over their choreography and the ability of the man to choose and lead figures extrinsic to their usual work when the necessity presents itself.
Intangibles - Things such as how a couple "look" together, whether they "fit" emotionally, their neatness of appearance, costuming, the flow of their choreography, and basically whether they look like "dancers"; all have an affect on a judge's perception and therefore on his markings.
Different judges have different preferences in what they want to see, and weight these factors differently. One judge might be especially interested in technique, while another wants to be moved by musicality and expression. While both factors are obviously important and need to be considered, it can result in couples getting widely disparate markings. Because the judge sees each couple for only a few seconds, anything that draws the attention, either positively or negatively, could very well be the deciding factor on how you are marked. Most judges try to do a conscientious job. And the use of a panel usually insures that the end result is the correct one.
Don't worry if you don't do well in a competition. Concentrate on what you learned from the experience and use it. Dancing is a process. The more practice, the better the performance.
Scoring on DWTS and SCD are a good bit easier than competition ballroom dance. Most competition dance floors can really only hold about 12 couples dancing at a time. If the field for an event is larger than that, organizers will hold qualifying rounds (several groups in separate rounds of about 10-15 couples) until they whittle the field down to about 24 couples, then the quarterfinal round (2 separate rounds of about 12 each), then the semifinal (1 round of about 12), and finally the final (1 round, usually 6 or 7 couples). The rounds for a particular event may run in succession or may be interspersed with other rounds for other events.
In preliminary rounds leading up to a final round of an event/heat, the judges are asked to "recall" a certain number of dancers to the next round. Judges select to recall couples they think are the best and the couples with the most marks moves into the next round.
Once six or seven couples reach the final, DanceSport uses the skating system method to determine the results. This means that the judges rank every couple in every dance from 1st through 6th or 7th. The couple with the most 1st place marks is the overall winner. The couple with the next highest number of 1st or 2nd place marks will place second, and so on. Tiebreaker rules determine which couple finishes higher in the event of a tie. These rules can be very complex, and an official known as a Scrutineer has the painstaking task of taking all the judges' marks and tabulating the results for callbacks and making the necessary calculations to determine the placements, applying the tiebreaker rules in close cases.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Improvisation exercises are used by dance teachers, counselors, and performing arts coaches to improve kids' concentration. They are good for stimulating flexible thinking, creativity, and for helping young students overcome stage fright. Improvisation exercises also assist kids in developing empathy because they often involve taking another person's point of view.
Improvisation helps kids improve their ability to concentrate especially when the exercise includes other people. A well known improvisation game is the Mirror Game. Each person has a partner. The two must stand facing each other as if one kid was looking at himself in the mirror. While maintaining eye contact, the two kids must move simultaneously to simulate what happens when you look in the mirror. The longer the game continues, the more the kids become able to predict and match their partner's movements. As soon as one partner loses their concentration, they also lose their ability to mirror.
Here are Some Other Dance Improv Exercises to Try
Basic 8 Count Game - Have the students begin in a pose of their choice. Let them know that Lindsey goes first, Jack second, Susan third, and so on. They can free dance for 8 counts and then they must freeze in a pose of tehir choice while the next person free dances for 8 counts. You can clap the 8 or count it or just do the 'one' and 'five' depending on their level of experience.
ABC In groups of 2 or 3, have group 1 make a lower or capital 'A' and group 2 do 'B' and so on, and when they make it, give them a different letter until they are all used up. A variation is to spell words in the mirror, ie. their letters need to be done backwards so that they show up forwards.
"Magazines Have students cut out pictures from dance magazines and draw a make up a combination (either in groups or independently ) that incorporates that picture.
Add On In a line for across the floor,tThe first person does a repeating step, like chasse right all the way across. He/she then goes to the back of the line, and the next person adds to the combination--chasse right, step left, for example. and so on.
Props Handhelds like batons, capes, hoops, etc. are good. The student dances with a prop but in a way it was not intended, for example, don't hula hoop; use the hoop as a mirror instead. With older kids, use bigger props like chairs, table, bench, a huge box that opens and closes, doorway, etc. and have them use these in creative and different ways.
Name Circle - Students stand in a circle and the first dancer says his/her name and has a gesture that goes with it - ex: "Suzie!" while jumping up and down. Everyone repeats the gesture. Go around the circle until you have a combination of everyone's names. Then do it without saying their names outloud.
Energy Ball - In a circle, an "energy ball" (invisible) is passed from student to student. The ball can change size, weight so that each person passes it in a different way. Encourage students to pass it with something other than their hand.
Association - Try choosing a moving piece of music and asking students to dance the lyrics, or call out a color and have them perform a movement that they associate with that color. This exercise also works with other words, such as foods, where students have to interpret the word through dance. Example: Ice Cream or cake.
Mystery Solo The kids sit and watch and one by one they stand up and have to improv to whatever music gets put on. They don't get to choose the genre or artist or even get a hint. You can also do this with duets or stations. Put 6-8 stations around the room: a hat, a hula hoop, a chair, a bench, a mat, a scarf, a cane, whatever is handy and they have to rotate every 64 or 32 counts through each station while the rest of the group watches until it's their turn. The music is random and they have to incorporate the prop into their dancing.
Monday, August 22, 2011
Being a good dancer is all about having your weight positioned in the right place at the right time. It can be confusing, especially if you are studying many different dance styles. But ii is important not just for better technique, but to help avoid injuries.
How to place the body weight on the feet is often referred to as the ‘tripod foot’, dispersing the weight on three areas. The ball of the foot, the little toe side of the foot, and the heel. Feeling wise, it is as though there is a little more weight on the ball of the foot area, than the other two areas.
If you stand with your weight held too far back, you usually can see and feel tension in the tendon at the front of the ankle. Placing the body with weight back in the feet also brings the lower leg muscles into play, and will create tension there in the tibia, or shin muscles.
The correct way is more comfortable. It also keeps the weight placed so that you are poised to leave a closed ballet position
and move with ease.
And it is not all about the feet – correct posture and pelvic placement allows you to stand on the feet with no unnecessary tension, ready to dance.
Being aware of this “triangle” on the sole of your foot helps you notice yourself when the knees, hips, waist and upper body are not strong enough, and are getting into misplaced positions. Incorrect positions then cause awkwardness or require additional effort for ballet movements. Correct dance technique helps you prevent or relieve muscle pain. Here are examples of weight placement in Jazz, Ballet and Tap.
A Look at Some Common Jazz Steps
Ball changes involve both footwork and quick shifts in placement of the dancer's weight. The word "ball" refers to the ball of the foot; in jazz choreography, you execute ball changes typically in conjunction with steps and/or kicks. For example, in a kick ball change, you might kick forward with your right foot, then step back with your right foot. You would then quickly transfer your weight to your left foot: the 'change' of the kick ball change, since your weight is then transferred from right to left.
This complex dance step combines an arched back with a leg extension or kick. In the most impressive-looking jazz layouts, you see the leg raised as high as possible, and the back arched far enough to resemble a partial backbend. Many dancers consider the jazz layout to be the quintessential jazz dance movement.
This is a multi-step dance move where the dancer's footwork forms a loosely defined square. Variations exist; dance the jazz square with or without arm movements, and incorporate it into a variety of dance routines. The first step: one leg crosses in front of the other, or sometimes, behind the other. Initiate this movement in either direction. For example, start by standing with your weight on your left leg. Your right leg crosses in front of your left leg. Shift your weight onto your right leg. Next, swing your left leg back and place your weight on it. Step with your right leg and place your weight on it. Step forward with your left leg to complete the jazz square. At this point, you could begin another jazz square by crossing your right leg in front of your left leg again.
Jazz Walk and Jazz Run
A jazz walk is a walk that incorporates the plié position. The jazz run is a faster, more intense version of the jazz walk.
There are multiple ways to perform a lunge; lunges are typically characterized by at least one bent leg. They may also include dramatic sweeping movements with the arms, in combination with an arched back. Dancers can perform either full lunges or half lunges.
Adapting Basic Steps from Ballet and Other Dances
Jazz choreographers include pirouettes, turns, kicks, leaps, falls, and a variety of other movements into their jazz dance routines. These movements are not unique to jazz dance, but are easily adapted to include a "jazzy" flair.
Characteristics of Jazz Dance
Each body part has its own vocabulary of typical jazz movements and poses. Incorporate these bits and pieces into the basic jazz steps described above.
To form jazz hands, spread your fingers wide apart. Your arms can be in any jazz-friendly position, but, typically, the palms of your hands will be facing outward. Jazz hands are particularly effective when combined with sharp, precise arm movements.
It is critical to incorporate hip motion into jazz dance steps. It is not sufficient to learn only the footwork; hip motion is one element that brings jazz dance to life.
In Ballet, your weight needs to be over your toes and front. While you are thinking of standing up straight and putting your chest up towards the ceiling, you also need to make sure your weight is forward. While turning out your legs and feet, think of someone pulling a string on the top of your head forward.
This may take some getting used to, but once you get your placement correct, you’ll have better balance and improve your ballet technique.
With Tap, make sure you make a concious effort to relax your ankles. Try using your legs, starting from the hips, limiting movements from the ankles. Allow your legs to do all the work, letting your feet just follow along.
Many beginning tap dancers tend to rush through steps, speeding through combinations. Rushing will cause your steps to run together, blending individual tap sounds into one. If you find yourself skipping steps of combinations, slow down. Producing clean tap sounds is much more appealing than sloppy speed tapping.
Both of your feet must be capable of being lifted at any moment, so your center of gravity has to stay primarily in the middle. Try holding most of your weight forward when dancing, balancing on the balls of your feet.
You’ll be moving your feet and transferring your weight from one side of your body to the other quickly so it’s important to keep your stomach tucked in and stay balanced. If you are a beginner, you’ll probably make big movements and slam your taps into the floor to make sounds. However, as you advance, you’ll realize that you need to keep your body up and light so that you can move your feet fast and get better tone qualities out of your taps.
Where you place your body weight while dancing is very important to your technique. Once you learn where you need to put your arms, legs, feet and upper body for each dance style, you’ll see your dancing improve dramatically.
And if you’re not sure where you need to place your weight, ask your teacher. It’s something you’ll want to perfect over time because when your body is in the right place, you’ll increase your balance, strength and overall, dance performance.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
1. Think Abundance - Autumn is all about pumpkins, gourds, apples, wheat, and colorful vegetables. Scout out the local farmer's market and start decorating. Fill to overflowing a large basket or bowl with your fall bounty and use that as your centerpiece. Tablescape on a grand scale with pumpkins, wheat and other fall favorites. Drape your fireplace mantel with bittersweet and grapevine. If you like artificial flowers that can be used again and again, there are many craft stores that sell seasonal flowers at very reasonable prices.
2. Now is the time for texture. Put the summer pillows and linens away. Reach for rich autumnal colors and interesting textures. Treat yourself to a new throw with great texture in chocolate brown, rust, or orange.
3. Group candles on a tray on your dining or coffee table. Again, think abundance and use a lot of candles- vary the height and size, but keep the color the same for maximum impact.
4. Use Nature for Art - Hang a textural wreath where a picture was, or place baskets on an angle on a shelf. Top off a bookcase or hutch with gourds, pumpkins, and baskets.
5. Don't forget the entry. Fill a vase, urn, or terra cotta pot with branches from your fall garden clean-up. Scatter colorful leaves that you gathered on walks on your entry table or bench. Hang a pretty umbrella, jacket or bag in autumn colors on your coatrack.
6. Place birch logs in your fireplace when it's not in use. Or gather them in a basket on your hearth. Beautiful and within reach for those crisp autumn evenings.
7. Bake something! Nothing says autumn like the smell of cinnamon and spices, even if its cheating with a pre-bought pie placed in the oven. Use simmering pot pourri in spice scents to makes everything cozy and warm.
8. Don't forget your front door. Add instant curb appeal when you paint your entry door. A rich color will freshen up tired landscaping, and usher in the fall season. Place a fall wreath or new doormat to usher in the season. I love scarecrows and make my own pumpkin patch with scarecrows and bales of hay to add to my front yard.
9. Plant those mums. Splurge on some new fall plantings in great colors. A splash of color will brighten up any garden this time of year. Group them all together in terra cotta pots for maximum effect and more cost effective.
10. Decorate with Orange. Add this color with pumpkins, linens, candles- anything you like.
Enjoy the autumn season, and bring it indoors! Open up your home to nature's seasonal bounty and start decorating. Use pumpkins, gourds, grapevine, wheat, and other fall foliage to compliment your decor.
The cool crisp weather of autumn naturally beckons people outside. That call to the outside is the perfect opportunity to get some exercise, and to do so in a comfortable environment, on your own time, and without having to spend money to do so. There are many easy ways to get your fall exercise, and you can even incorporate your exercise into other activities you are doing.
Here is a look at some great exercise ideas for autumn.
Walking doesn't cost you a penny, and it is something you can do at any time. You can even incorporate it into a busy work day simply by going for a short walk on your lunch hour, parking your car further away, or even opting to take public transportation to work, and that will inevitably require you to walk to and from the transit stop and to your place of work. While getting healthier and getting the benefits of exercise in an effortless way, you are also reducing your carbon footprint considerably.
Especially if you have a four footed companion who loves to go for a walk, this is a wonderful time simply to get moving. Enjoy a stroll through the park or a romp with the kids. Meet your neighbors and walk together. It will benefit your body and lift your spirits. The more you walk, the more you want to walk. So just do it. Tomorrow you’ll feel more like doing it again. Soon you will have established a new habit, and you’ll hate missing your walk during bad weather. That’s when you move indoors to the gym.
The cool crisp air of fall beckons people to go for a hike and to enjoy the beautiful changing colors of the leaves. You can hike on nature trails, through parks where there are hiking paths, in forest preserves, botanic gardens or anywhere where there are designated hiking trails. This is another ideal way to get some great exercise, enjoy the wonderful fall weather and not have to pay a cent to get your exercise.
Fall is such a great time to bike ride. Make this a family activity, and it’s even more fun. Find a safe biking trail and enjoy the scenery. Sing a few songs, if you have the breath. See who can take that hill without stopping. If you are a student, you can certainly bike to school and back, and if biking to work isn't an option, you can go for a fun bike ride with your family, with friends, or with a significant other. Turn your bike ride into an outing for a day and carry along a picnic. You can bike along designated bike paths and through nature areas and then arrive at a place where you can enjoy a fun picnic, enjoy the scenery and then ride back home.
If there are places where you can go rock climbing outdoors, you can spend an afternoon rock climbing. If you've never done this before, you'd be wise to sign up with someone or some place that takes people on rock climbing expeditions and has experts on hand to be of assistance. You will definitely get an invigorating workout and you'll get to enjoy the great weather too. If you don't have actual places where you can go rock climbing, look for an indoor rock wall.
There are always chores to be done in a garden all fall. You can rake leaves, prepare the grass for winter, clean up your garden beds, plant things, remove the supports from your garden, dig up dead vegetable plants and so on. No matter what you are or will be doing, you'll use almost all of your muscle groups, and this will give you a pretty good workout.
If you go to an apple orchard or one of those places where you can pick stuff yourself, you can walk around all over the orchard. You will also get to reach up into the trees and climb up ladders to get the apples. Between the walking around in the orchard proper and the climbing up and down the ladder, your legs will get plenty of exercise. You don't have to worry about not getting an adequate upper body workout because you'll be using your arms to stretch and reach for the apples, and you'll need arm strength to climb ladders.
Football in the Park
Go to a park and start a game of football. Even if you don't have a lot of players and can't play a real game, you'll be getting some exercise. Don't be surprised to find that other people meandering around in the park may come over and ask if they can join you. It won't take long before you have enough players to turn your pseudo game into a real one.
Soccer, Kickball or Dodgeball
Fall is the perfect time of year for soccer games. If you're not the soccer playing type, why not gather some friends and have a friendly game of dodgeball or even kickball. You don't need to have a lot of fancy equipment, and other than the cost of the ball, you won't have to pay to get your exercise.
Raking the Yard
Leaves may quickly pile up in your yard during the fall. While raking may seem like a chore, think of it as a way to burn extra calories and get in a good cardio workout. Allow your kids to join you in this activity. Find a way to make raking the yard both fun and productive.
Use some of your free time to help others, while you can continue to do your own exercise regimen. Offer to gather and bag leaves for an elderly relative, friend or neighbor. Join in or start up a community clean-up campaign at the local park, sidewalks or streets.
Organize or volunteer to join in on an autumn run to raise contributions for a local charity or civic improvement campaign. Do the same with a scheduled run especially for local kids who want to earn money for their choice of charities.
There is no shortage of things you can do to get adequate exercise all fall long. You can even get to enjoy the wonderful weather and see every change of the autumn foliage, simply because you're outside being active. You don't have to have any formal exercise equipment or expensive gadgets to enjoy a hike, a bike ride, a run, a walk or anything else.
You can gather some friends and head to a park to shoot some baskets, or play touch football in your front or back yard. The key to discovering great exercise ideas for autumn is quite simple: just go outside and do something that forces you to be as active as possible.
Autumn offers a vast variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Moreover, a bit of healthy food indulgence is just what you need to beat the autumn blues and pep up your spirits.
Apples – Apples contain flavonoids, which are one of the most powerful antioxidants available in food form. From lowering the risk of health diseases to preventing cancer, apples have many health benefits. Have them with your morning breakfast, or as a mid-day snack, and you can really keep the doctor away.
Cranberries – Cranberries are delicious, juicy and absolutely healthy fruit widely available in the autumn season. They are low in calories and are packed with Anthocyanins, heart-healthy antioxidants. Cranberries also play an important role in treating gum diseases, mouth ad stomach ulcers, urinary tract infections and various forms of cancer. You can find fresh cranberries from September through December, but most of it is used for cranberry sauce and juices.
Pumpkin – Pumpkins are loaded with antioxidants, beta-carotene, Vitamin C and Folate. Even the seeds are packed with nutrition and are a rich source of Zinc and Omega 3 fatty acids. The air gets quite dry in autumn, which can affect your skin and make it look dull and chapped. Making pumpkin a part of your diet can keep your skin moisturized, supple and free from infections.
Garlic – Garlic truly is nature’s own medicine. It contains Allicin, a chemical that is highly effective against viruses, fungi and bacteria. Internal consumption of garlic can reduce the LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and prevent cancer. As for the autumn blues, eating garlic can significantly improve your mood too.
Ginger – Ginger has a lot of inherent heat, which is what makes it an ideal autumn food. Whether you prefer ginger tea, or ginger pickle or just plain julienned ginger with honey, the benefits of this root are many. It can heal cough, cold and throat congestion, soothe your stomach and provide relief from digestive problems, fight nausea and even work wonders in driving away allergies.
Parsnips – Parsnip is a root vegetable that belong to the family of carrots. They are a rich source of Fiber, Vitamin C, Iron and Calcium. These are abundant in colder areas, and are mainly a winter vegetable. You can either eat them raw, for their sweet and delicate flavor or you can steam and cook them with different vegetables.
Kale – Kale is a deep, green leafy vegetable mostly available in the autumn season. Kale works as an immunity booster (a must in autumn), clears lung congestion, wards off the allergies and infections. It is particularly beneficial for stomach and liver infections. Kale is rich in iron, beta carotene, calcium, potassium and Vitamin C.
Sweet Potato – Apart from the fact that sweet potatoes are widely available in autumn and taste great, they are also a storehouse of health benefits. These yummy delights contain high amounts of beta-carotene (vitamin A) and Vitamin C, so you can easily ward off cold and other infections. Sweet potatoes are a great food choice for diabetics, as they are low glycemic food. The high amount of dietary fiber present in sweet potato promotes a healthy digestive tract and relieves constipation. For best flavor, eat these hot.
Cinnamon – It’s one of the oldest known spices, and a perfect choice for autumn. Cinnamon is often used in traditional Chinese medicines for treating cold, cough, nausea, flatulence, diarrhea, diabetes and many other physical ailments. It can soothe your senses and keep your body warm and comfortable in the cold season.
Cinnamon is also believed to improve energy and vitality, and is especially useful for people who have warm upper bodies but cold feet. You can sprinkle cinnamon powder over salads and side-dishes, mix it with juices or drink it with tea.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Improving Cardiovascular Fitness
Older people may cut back on exercise due to the normal aches and pains that come with age. However, it's very important to exercise the heart muscle through cardiovascular exercise.
The body's muscles begin to deteriorate with age, which often leads to a higher body fat ratio. Through dance, senior citizens can work their muscles and help to combat the effects of age.
Improving Social Outlook
As children grow up and move away and spouses and friends die, senior citizens may feel increasingly isolated and alone. By joining a dance class-no matter what type of dance-they can enjoy the company of being with other dancers.
All Types of Dance on the Senior Dance Floor
Increasing Balance and Control
Senior citizens need to be careful about falling and breaking their bones. The improved balance that comes from dancing helps prevent this problem.
Increasing Bone Mass
Both men and women begin to lose bone mass as they age, leading to more broken bones when they fall. Exercises many seniors do involve walking or riding a stationary bike. While that's great, dance lessons give more variety to their exercise plan with side-stepping movements, turns, low kicks and heel- and toe-touches and lift-backs.
These added movements burn more calories per the same amount of time than walking. In addition, the dance lessons help seniors develop better posture and build strength and muscle mass that helps prevent osteoporosis. When their bones are strong, there is less likelihood of a fracture or broken bone in a fall. This could save a senior many months of recuperation should they fall.
A good dance workout will include stretching time, which can help senior citizens increase flexibility and reduce muscle aches
MUVE to the Beat
Created by Maggie Kunkel, MUVE is a multi-generational dance video class that allows both young and old to work out together. MUVE videos provide the music and on-camera dancers to demonstrate the movements. Suggestions appear around the dancers as the video progresses. "It provides an easy getaway from our busy everyday life and creates quality time using the power of original music and dance," said Kunkel at Muve.com. "MUVE strengthens muscles and improves flexibility for all your body parts in a natural way." Seniors can order the DVDs and organize dance groups where they live to get a group of friends dancing together.
Seniors who take dance lessons may originally do it for the health benefits, but what really happens is that they discover they are having fun. They are up, moving, socializing and engaging in life. Seniors who take dance lessons are less likely to be depressed. The dance lessons help many seniors develop a more positive self-esteem and a more positive outlook on life. Many local gyms and senior citizen clubs offer dance classes. To find one that suits you, check with your local organizations catering to seniors. If a dance class isn't offered-start your own!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
All dancers have heard that they need to enhance their lines or lengthen their lines. What are lines, or body lines, for dancers?
Dancers' lines are the way in which their limbs extend through the space in which they are dancing. Line describes the dancers' use of the space around them. Whether or not a dancer has exceptionally long limbs or lengthy proportions does not matter in terms of lines. There are ways for every dancer to elongate what he or she does have. Here are some steps that dancers can take to find their perfect lines.
Be Aware of the Space Taken Up by the Body
Dancers should always be conscious of their bodies, whether in motion or standing still. There should be a constant effort to extend the body in every direction, lengthening the neck, lowering the shoulders, and extending the limbs.
Dancers should also be aware of what works for their individual bodies. They should learn which angles can appear to shorten their lines, and which angles add length to their limbs. In most cases, parallel lines (an arm extended toward the back with the leg up in first arabesque, for example) will give the illusion of length.
Keep your chin up. Your head is an extension of your torso, just like your arms and legs. Instead of always dancing in the mirror, which keeps you looking directly at yourself, finish your lines by lifting your chin and upper chest, and focusing your gaze beyond your fingertips.
Don't slouch, even during moments of stillness. If your shoulders round and your chest caves inward, or you sink into your lower back or tuck your hips, you'll seem shorter than you really are. Instead, use oppositional forces to create length in your spine: Imagine your body pressing into the floor while simultaneously lifting to the ceiling. Use the mirror to experiment with how subtle posture changes can lengthen or shorten you.
Use the Space around the Body to the Fullest
Unless otherwise instructed in the choreography, legs should be fully extended at all times. Straight, high leg-lines can make everything else on the dancer appear longer. A more open attitude position, for example, can make the upper body appear more open and lengthened through the torso. Straighter arms with lowered shoulders can also make the arms and neck lines look longer.
A dancer's head is an extension of his or her torso, and should always be lifted. Body lines can look more finished, or polished, by lifting the chin instead of looking straight to the front. The gaze should always be focused beyond the dancer's fingertips, to complete the illusion of extended lines.
Keep the Posture Intact While Extending the Lines
Even during periods of stillness, dancers should never slouch. If the shoulders pull forward, the chest caves in to the body, and the hips tuck under, a dancer will seem shorter than he or she actually is. Instead, dancers should continuously think about lengthening the spine - pressing the body into the floor while simultaneously lifting to the ceiling. Practicing this posture in the mirror can help dancers to achieve perfect lines for their own bodies.
Continue to Focus on Extended Lines During Movement
Dancers should remember to extend their lines through movements, as well. Transitions are important between large movements, so that dancers maintain their energy throughout a piece. Creating longer lines is not only about the grande jete in the air; it is also important for the transition steps that take the dancer into the air.
Travelling steps should be taken as large as possible. If a dancer keeps his or her movements small and in place, he or she will appear to be short or timid on statge. The larger these steps can be, the longer the lines appear on the dancer.
Dancers should also keep in mind that stopping short after each step cuts off their lines. Extending an extra inch through the feet or fingertips in any movement, before moving on to the next step, has a large effect on the length of a dancer's lines.
By practicing these techniques regularly, dancers can achieve longer, leaner, more effective lines in performance.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
But when those problems divide your students, you’ve got a negative force in your studio. At their worst, cliques can lead to bullying, with pottenially tragic results. Understanding the causes behind a clique gone bad will help you keep your studio environment safe and healthy—a place where bullying doesn’t get in the way of learning. And while they’re a normal part of social development, and not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes cliques cause problems.
Problems resulting from cliques typically show up as a type of bullying, called “relational aggression,” most often found among girls. Relational aggression refers to any act that prevents a person from making or maintaining friendships or being integrated into a peer group.
The motivation for relational aggression might be fear of exclusion from a group or a desire to gain power within a desired group. It can take the form of spreading rumors, exclusion, gossiping, eye rolling, pitting friends against each other, using sarcasm at another’s expense, and revealing friends’ secrets. These behaviors are often subtle and may go unseen by teachers, making it difficult to identify who is involved. Additionally, teachers and parents may view these behaviors as typical within female relationships.
In the Studio
There are ways to prevent relational aggression within the studio.
With any negative behaviors, the first line of approach should always be prevention. Preventing behaviors is often easier and more effective than attempting to change them once they become a problem.
Nip comparison in the bud. Focusing on individual goal setting for students may be helpful. There’s no way to avoid variability in students’ skill levels within each class, but helping each student focus on an individual goal may inadvertently reduce comparisons. Fewer comparisons may help to minimize relational aggression.
Teacher comments that focus more on effort than on mastery of skills during class may also reduce the likelihood of a social hierarchy based on skill. For example, mentioning how hard a student is working on a particular skill instead of how well she mastered it places value on self-discipline rather than skill perfection.
When selecting dancers for lead roles, consider not only the candidates’ skills but also their attitude, work ethic, and treatment of others. If a coveted role goes to a talented dancer who displays a poor attitude and is ill-mannered toward others, then that dancer’s behavior becomes the norm for the studio. Letting parents know ahead of time what factors will be considered in casting for lead roles is important; that way they know what is valued in your dance community.
Implementing a dress code may be helpful since it minimizes or prevents the implied status associated with name brands and cost from affecting any social hierarchy in the studio. Establishing and enforcing rules about cellphone use in the studio can be helpful. Because texting may be one of the breeding grounds for relational aggression, it may be best if students are not allowed to text or make calls, even in the waiting room, except in the case of an emergency.
Encourage Teamwork: Promoting partnering activities among dancers of various skill levels creates an atmosphere of teamwork and may reduce the effect of any comparisons.
Consider educating your preteen and teen dancers about what relational aggression is, what it looks like, and its effects. This may take 10 or 15 minutes of class time, but it can be invaluable in establishing norms of appropriate behavior. A similar session for parents may also be beneficial. Setting the tone for what is and what is not allowable for both dancers and parents may decrease negative behaviors.
Establish and post an anti-bullying statement and review it at the start of each class. (This is the norm in academic schools’ anti-bullying programs; dance studios may have to adapt it to accommodate the fact that some students who take multiple classes a day would hear the statement each time.) Be specific with students about what is considered inappropriate, even small behaviors such as eye rolling. It may also be helpful to have a parent meeting to explain the anti-bullying statement and what behaviors would be considered a violation.
For each class of preteen and older students, set up class-wide goals such as no eye rolling. Give each class a rating on how well the students meet their goals and announce the top three classes at the end of the month. This sets the norm of positive behavior in the studio, recognizes the students’ efforts, and can help to promote a sense of teamwork. If any competitiveness results, it’s about being well behaved and motivated and thus creates positive energy.
If individual students persist in bullying, meet with them and their parents.Depending on the severity of their behavior, a behavioral contract that both the students and parents sign may be necessary. Schedule a follow-up meeting to praise any changes the students have made or to discuss termination of their enrollment if their negative behaviors have persisted.
Addressing bullying will make your studio a nicer place, and it could also help your students—both victims and bullies—have healthier, happier social relationships for life.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Light Emitting Dance in Olympic Colors
One of my favorite sports in the upcoming Summer Olympics is Rhythmic Gymnastics, a relative of dancing. My favorite event in the Winter Olympics is figure skating. And since figure skating is probably the closest Olympic sport to dancing, it also holds special interest to me. As I soak up the the precision, graceful lines and the technique which makes difficult moves easy, my natural tendency is to compare the sport to dance. Gia Kourlas did a 2010 article for the New York Times considering the parallels, but her main focus was on whether figure skating was sport or art. (She concluded, “It’s a sport with delusions of grandeur.”) I would like to consider the flip side – could dance be a competition? A sport? An Olympic event?
First I’d like to look at the similarities. Dance involves movement of the body, which makes it physical, like a sport. Like figure skating, dance can be considered athletic and technical, with individuals varying on execution of the movements. Dance can be a performance just like a figure skating routine. While dance is often considered artistic, skating also values artistic elements, even considering them in half of the judging score. Both dance and figure skating are usually done to music, which plays an integral role in the performance. Finally, like Olympic figure skating, dance can be done solo and in pairs. With all of these similarities, it starts to seem that skating is simply dancing on ice.
And yet dancing is not in the Olympics, no summer off-the-ice equivalent. Is dance not in the Olympics because of its origins? It’s hard to pinpoint what unifies all the events currently in the Olympics. Putting aside contemporary trends and financial persuasion, I would venture that most Olympic events began as some sort of recreational activity that rose in popularity to the point of becoming competitive. I imagine the shot putters out on the valleys of Greece and the crazy Scandinavians that first attempted to put boards on their feet to slide down the snowy mountain. And so perhaps the origins of dance – as performance, social activity, or religious expression – were simply different than the recreation and competition of the other sports. Dancing as part of a theater production, or inside a royal court, or central to a religious ceremony, was probably not thought of during the races and rock-throwing competitions by the Parthenon. And maybe this separation is because dance is considered a performing art.
So the question is, can dance ever not be considered as art? In other words, can dance be dance without being art? I’m not even going to give an opinion on this because this question could probably be eternally debated. It is certainly subjective as it depends on an individual’s definition or perspective on art. And in the end some might believe that dance could be an art AND a sport, thereby making this an unnecessary distinction. In any case, when I think about this whole topic, the pivotal question seems to be whether dance can depart from the realm of art and enter the realm of sport.
For further investigation, I’d like to assume that dance can be a sport, whether still an art form or divorced from that identity. And so the next question is, can dance be competitive? Can it be judged? For this answer, one only has to look to the myriad of dance competition shows on TV (DWTS, SYTYCD, ABDC, etc.). Without regard to the integrity of those shows (surely a topic of later discussion), it is clear to see that many believe that there can be winners in dancing.
So then is dancing not an Olympic event because there is no extra factor, like skates and ice? Is it that moving around on solid ground with friction is too easy or not athletic enough to be a sport? As a dancer, of course I would rise up against the idea of dance being easy. So, while others may contest it, I’m going to quickly move past this point to…
Would dance just be too impractical to be an Olympic event? To me, the only way dance could be fairly judged would be if it were separated by genres/techniques, gender, and number of performers. Yet this would make for a hundred possible categories of competition, far more than any other current Olympic event. And if only select techniques were included, like ballet and tap, then many would be left out, making for an incomplete representation of the form as well as many angry dancers worldwide. So is dance just too broad and complicated to fit in easily as an Olympic event?
Lastly, even if all of these things could work out – dance could be included, separated from art, considered a sport, considered athletic and competitive, and fit in as an event – maybe those in the dance community just don’t want it to be an Olympic event. On one hand, it would broaden the audience for dance and bring many into appreciating the form. But on the other hand, it could take the focus away from dance’s ability to be art, to be expressive, to be transcendent, to be culturally important. Maybe since dance can be so much more than sport, we have no desire to reduce it to such.
There is hope for Ballroom Dance. In 2002, DanceSport submitted a request to be considered for admission to the Olympics. The IOC considers several factors in adding a sport, including the sport's history and tradition, popularity and cost. DanceSport will not be included in the 2012 Olympic Games, but it could be added in 2016. In its report last summer on future Olympic Games, the IOC asked DanceSport to increase its spectatorship and TV viewership, both of which the dancing community has been doing steadily. Another point in their favor is gender parity. DanceSport is one of a few sports in which men and women compete against each other in the same playing field, which is a big deal for the IOC, said Peter Pover, President of USA Dance.
In Ballroom Dance, couples are competing against each other. The question is, will we ever get to see one couple's Rumba or Foxtrot compared to another couple's? That is certainly something I'd love to see.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Benefits of Warming Up
One of the most crucial rituals for any dedicated dancer is to warm up adequately. One of the biggest mistakes is to overlook this element of safe practice. The nature of the warm-up depends on the physical activity that will follow and as a general rule it should incorporate movements similar to those which will be performed later on, but smaller in size and gentler in execution. However, this is an oversimplification to the true definition of warm-up.
Each dance session should begin with five to 10 minutes of low-intensity activity and some gentle stretching. Include movements that do not over exert or over stretch the body. Some examples are: Stepping - jogging - marching to a steady rhythm, isolated movements of the shoulders, hips, knee and ankle joints, arm swings, knee swings, ankle circles, gentle stretches, and exercises to improve posture and balance.
The effects of these: Gradually increase heart-rate, breathing and body temperature and to prepare the dancer for more vigorous conditioning exercise to come, ensuring the efficient and safe functioning of the heart (for example, lessening the chance of any cardiac arrhythmias), blood vessels, lungs and muscles. It is the first strategy employed during training itself which minimises the risk of sustaining any injuries. At the same time as being a vital part of injury prevention it also serves to reduce the non-injury-related muscle soreness and joint stiffness which is a possible consequence of any physical exertion.
The length of time the warm-up takes will depend on age and fitness. The older and fitter you are the longer your warm-up will be. If you are young and less able, then a shorter time allowance will be needed.
Another benefit of a good warm-up is the effect it has on the joints, as it increases the synovial fluid in the spaces between the joints and gradually increases their range of motion. Formalised exercises are often used (for example, mini-barre exercises at the beginning of a ballet class), but structured improvisations may also be appropriate, depending on the nature of the rehearsal material.
The Importance of Cooling Down
Every session of dance activity needs to be brought to a close with a cool-down, the purpose being to reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications and injury caused by stopping exercise too abruptly. During this phase of the workout the heart and the blood pressure will return to near baseline levels, thereby preventing the pooling of blood in the extremities and reducing the likelihood of fainting or dizziness. The ongoing pumping action of the muscles increases the removal of waste by-products of exercise including lactic acid and the delivery of oxygen and essential nutrients to the various parts of the body and ultimately reduces the occurrence of any muscle cramps or stiffness. Also, it allows the gradual dissipation of body heat so that there are no potentially harmful sudden drops in internal temperature.
Stretching exercises may be repeated during the cool-down and because the body is warmed up, this is a good time to work on flexibility. Note, the other good time to stretch for the purpose of improving flexibility is during rest intervals between technical exercises or between stints of aerobic activity – as long as the stretching is not so static or prolonged that it causes the body temperature to return to resting level.
Psychological Benefits of Warming Up and Cooling Down
The cool-down should last five to 10 minutes and should involve the same movements as those included in the main body of the rehearsal. A good way to do this is to use the same activity as that used during the warm-up, but with the level of intensity gradually reducing rather than increasing.
Warm-up and cool-down do not only benefit the dancer in physical parameters. They are also valuable in terms of cognitive conditioning and psychological well-being. The warm-up provides the opportunity to cast aside any preoccupations from other areas in life, to focus the mind and calm any feelings of mental hyperactivity, whereas the cool-down allows time for the mind and the body to assimilate the information worked on during rehearsal, to visualise progress made and to carry out a personal evaluation of the session.
While the opening and ending elements of a class or rehearsal may be tempting to overlook, it is worthwhile giving warm-up and cool-down the attention they deserve and reaping the benefits in the process.
Hamilton L, The Dancer's Way: The New York City Ballet Guide to Mind, Body and Nutrition, St Martin's Griffin, 2008.
Heyward VH, Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription, (5th edition), Human Kinetics, 2006.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Location of a dance studio is important, as you might have to drop your child off frequently. Normally, people prefer a place which is nearby their house for easy access. So try to find out a dance studio which is easily accessible for you.
If a studio is being run for quite some time, then it is a good idea to get feedback about that studio from other people, namely other parents, who have been to that particular studio. This will give you an idea whether the studio is suitable to start with or not. However, remember that while a studio might be perfect for one person, it doesn't mean that it will be perfect for you.
Dance Education Offers:
Does the studio provide different dance styles and classes? It will depend upon your choice to either go for a studio teaching a specific type of dance style, or should be the one teaching a variety of dances. Most of the dance studios will offer a variety of dance styles including ballet, tap, and jazz.
Another important thing is the type of dance education offers made by the studio. Does it offer both group and private classes? Practice is important - A good studio is one which offers regular dance practices.
Are the Dance Instructors Professional?
It is also very important that the dance instructors be professional in dancing. They must be well aware of the latest dance techniques and styles. You can ask them about their personal accomplishments in their individual dance field. You can also ask about the teaching method they use in their studio for teaching purposes. Does the instructor possess any degree in his field? Is he/she a registered instructor?
Quality of Teaching:
The trainer/instructor must have the qualities like he should be caring, patient, disciplined, encouraging and must have knowledge of what he is going to teach.
Dancing can give you injuries if not danced on the proper floor or ground. So, always look for a studio whose floor is properly designed for dancing. The best surface for dancing is the "floating floor," which is cushioned so that the floor is soft, not hard or concrete.
Some dance studios are opened for only specified hours, but there are some which are open for regular hours, so they can be approached at any time. Choose the one which will suit you in terms of daily hours.
It is also important to clarify about the fee for the dance lessons. If a dance studio is offering an initial few classes free, then they might get you with high prices later on. So, always check the packages available and compare them to see which one is more affordable for you. Do not forget to ask about the price of the private lessons, which your child may require in the future. Ask about the fee per private lesson, and for how long?
Class Size and Number of Students:
It is true that the lesser the number of students, the more you get the opportunity to learn. Always try to find a studio with less number of students and enough spaced dance areas/rooms, so that your child gets full opportunity of dance and practice.
Make sure their equipment/clothing policies aren't ridiculous. For basic classes, most studios generally only want a basic black or pink leotard, with white or pink stockings and appropriate shoes for the dance style. Anyone requiring anything more than that for children or beginning students might just be a little too hard core for your family, or the studio owners are just wanting to make some extra money (especially if you must buy the supplies through them). Do remember, however, that later on in more advanced classes, such as a ballet pointe class, your child will need special shoes that might be a little costly. But that's down the road, and shouldn't be required up front or for the very basic classes.
Involve Your Child
Bring your child with you to see the studio, the classes and the instructor. He/she needs to feel relatively comfortable there and like the instructor. After your child has been taking lessons for a bit, try asking them what they've learned. If they start telling you about specific positions or dance moves, then it means that they're being taught more than a recital dance and actually learning dance. This isn't definitive, but it can be a good way to figure out what's going on in the class when you're not there to see it.
Ask questions about how the classes are structured and whether or not there is a performance attached to the class. The end of the year recital or performance (if there is one) should be a showcase, icing on the cake, not the focal point of the class or the studio. Students will enjoy the costumes and the excitement of performing, and you'll enjoy seeing your child on stage. Just make sure that dance and building up a solid foundation of dance basics is the most important goal, not putting on a stellar show.
Competitions and Conventions:
There are many studios which also take part in competitions and conventions. This can help your child to improve his or her dancing skills and have fun.
A Word About Competitive vs. Recreational
After deciding on a dance style for your child, the next step is to decide whether to enroll your little one in a competitive or recreational class. Before making that decision, find out what his/her preferences are and weigh the pros and cons of each type of class.
In recreational dance, children are not pressured to competitively perform and they learn the fundamentals of dance with other children in a relaxed atmosphere. Learning is enhanced when children enjoy the classes and have fun first before concerning themselves with achieving the goal of winning in a dance competition.
So, when is it safe for children to participate in competition classes? Age and safety are two important factors that should be considered in making your final choice. Some of the dance styles for competition classes may be too hard and too physically demanding for younger kids. There are recreational classes with specialized programs fit for younger children. These classes expose younger children to the proper techniques of dance and movement without compromising their safety.
If you are interested in enrolling your child in competitive classes, ask your dance instructor for the right time to transition from recreational to competitive. But before you do so, make sure that your child is prepared for the transition.
There are benefits to enrolling your child in a competitive dance class. Performing in front of an audience is an important part of competitive dance. If recreational classes lay the foundation of proper dance technique and movement, competitive dance provide opportunities to develop your child’s confidence in his/her dance skills.
Once children are properly transitioned and progress to joining dance competitions, they can learn the value of discipline, sportsmanship, and goal-setting. Competitions provide opportunities to learn and share techniques from other participants and schools. Competitive dance can also instill dedication in the art since dancers have to spend time practicing and improving dance routines.
Make an informed decision when choosing the right dance class for your child. Inquire about the program, ask the instructor, and weigh the benefits of each option.
Do not rush in selecting a dance studio for your child. Take your time, ask questions and choose the best one in terms of cost, location, timings, offers and facilities.
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Your performance is not just about dancing to the music. It’s about expressing emotions and telling a story. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. If you start and end your movements abruptly, you are not a good storyteller. The best dancers are good actors. They make us laugh, cry, shout, and more.
Do you make an audience feel an emotion when you dance? If not, it may be because of your thought process. Instead of simply starting your movements right when the music begins, take some time before your performance to think about what you are doing.
Think about the audience. Maybe there is someone in the audience who wishes he or she could perform and has a physical limitation? Maybe an audience member had a bad day and is there to forget about his or her problems? Make up a story in your mind about why that person might feel that way.
Think about telling an honest story that turns your choreography into a performance. After all, dancing is much more than moving to a beat. It’s about playing a character, even if that character is just a dancer entertaining others. Then, when the music stops playing, it’s important to stay in character a few moments before relaxing your body, taking a bow or running off stage. This way, your story has a beginning, a middle and an end.
Teaching Students How to Tell a Story Using Swan Lake
Select a part of the ballet video that you can play for students (the whole ballet may be too long, especially for younger students).
Tell students that you are going to "speak" to them without using any words. You will point to one of them and ask them to translate into words what you are doing. For example, pretend to cry, point to student. A student might say "I'm sad" in response. You can do angry, frustrated, happy, excited, etc.
Give the students a turn at pantomime. Have them walk about the room as if they are at the mall. Prompt them to:
Stop and look closely at something in a store window
Try on an article of clothing that they like
Meet and greet a friend
Loose something and try to find it
Complain to a friend or relative that they are taking too long and you want to go home
Initiate a discussion about what they did and how they expressed their feelings in the movements.
After you read the story, tell them that you are going to act out a part of it through pantomime. Can they tell you what part it is? Choose a scene that is expressive but easy for you.
Play the part of the Swan Lake video that you have selected. Look for a section that is a good example of the dancer or dancers expressing their characters. Ask the students what they see happening. Also ask:
How did the music help with the expression of feeling and movement?
How were the dance movements different from your pantomime in class?
What did you like best about the dancers and the video?
Tell them that it is their turn to recreate a scene. In small groups, select a part of the story and work together to re-create it in pantomime and movement. Students may select roles based on the scene they select.Possible roles: Prince Siegfried, His mother the Queen, the evil Rothbart, Odette the Queen of the Swans, Rothbart's daughter Odile, and the Swan Maidens.
In this session, ask students to either write a short story or scene, or find a story or fairy tale scene that they like. Once they have their stories, they can interpret them with pantomime and movement, as inSwan Lake. Students can work alone or in pairs to do this. The first part of the session can be devoted to developing the story or scene; the second part to practicing and performing. In the last part of the class, students perform their stories for other students and the students have to tell them what the story is.