In need of inspiration

Originally I had planned for this post to be a video of some free styling improv to the music I have to kind of get an idea of what I want to do in the choreography. Unfortunately I have been at an inspirational standstill the past few days and all the videos I have tried to make are – for lack of better words – incredibly awful.

That is why I am asking you, the readers of this post, how do you become inspired? When you are experiencing a sort of writer’s-block, in any field really, how do you overcome that? What are a few ways you get your imagination and inspiration flowing again? I would even appreciate some inspirational quotes or anything you find helpful.

For this reason, there is no video at this point in time. In fact, as I have already started a bit of the choreography I will try to push forward with that as much as I can, and I will post a video of some free style (or my attempts at least) when my inspiration and passion are able to be evident in what I am doing – I will not guarantee it is to the music I am choreographing.

My apologies again for the lack of a video.

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Why do they like singing on the ‘and’ of 1 or 4? Why?!

I am impeccable at procrastinating typing up my blog posts – though it is not necessarily something I should brag about.

Nevertheless, on my original to-do list from my first learning project post is as follows:

 

  • Pick a genre and style. CHECK
  • Pick a song. CHECK x3
  • Listen to the music. A lot. DOUBLE CHECK
  • Start dancing – see if something works with the music and what I want to work into the flow of the music. YET TO POST
  • Research other dancers, choreographers, and dance moves/steps I want to incorporate. CHECK
  • Break up the music into sections. 
  • Creative moves to go with each section – write them down. YET TO POST/FINISH
  • Put the sections together and PRACTICE! YET TO POST/FINISH
  • Teach it? WILL DO AT A LATER DATE
  • Remember to contrast – angular vs curved, gentle vs strong, slow vs fast, levels of movements…etc.

As you can see, the green is what I have done, the red is what I have either yet to post or am still finishing up, and the blue is what this blog will include.

Breaking the music into sections

For those who might be from a musical background, like myself, it might be easy to think that breaking the music into beats and sections would be simple; for some parts it was. The first song (Madcon – Beggin you) was actually simple enough. Though a few lines started on beat 3, they were fairly precise and reasonably placed beats. No such luck with the other two (Shawn Desman – Dum da dum, and Austin Mahone – Mmm yeah). The full compilations of the songs can be found on my last update, here. For some reason the last two songs decided to hate musicians and their lyrics (in some parts) barely seemed to match up with the beats. There were even parts where they would sing only on the off beats. This almost made it easier, but it was still fairly annoying. I am sure you will see where I mean, as I marked on the page where exactly I thought it was dumb. Here are the pictures of my breaking it up.

Sections 12-17

Sections 12-17

Sections 1-6

Sections 1-6

Sections 7-11

Sections 7-11

Yes, they are fairly messy but I understand them so that’s all that matters right? The green highlighter is where the beats are (or approximately) and the purple is dividing it up into the smaller sections of measures that will make it easier to teach and work through, rather than just having one big, long, go at a 3-minute song all at once.

So there you have it: countless times listening to the songs over and over and over, and numerous attempts to find the actual beat (as seen by my scribbles), this is what I am working with. Oh joy.

In my next post (which I will hopefully get up in the next 12 hours) there will actually be a video of me dancing. Well, I will at least be trying. It is the improv stage of free-styling, working through the music, and seeing what feels good.

I also want to throw in here a few really amazing blog posts I was able to find and read, thanks to Feedly, that have really been helping me along this process.

How Yoga Can Help You Become a Better Dancer

This post is fairly straight forward in showing how beneficial yoga can be. Personally, I am awful at yoga. These are some tips that are actually helping me build motivation to start doing it.

18 Things I’ve Learned About Being A Professional Dancer

Although a few of these tips do not necessarily apply to me, considering I am not a professional dance, I still find them as useful reminders. Actually, some of them are fairly applicable to life in general in my opinion.

How To Improvise Movement When You’ve Never Done It Before

Finally, this is probably one of the most helpful, wonderful, awesome blogs posts that I am basically leaning on with most of my body weight. Not only is this post great, but it also leads to another post that is also helpful.

 

I commend anyone who can actually edit audio clips

I am still plugging away at my choreography – I promise! From my last post I had a short to do list of what I would get done for this post. While for the research/inspiration/planning I have actually continued passed just this list, however I was stuck for quite a while on the audio editing and felt it was important to unveil the full compilation of the songs.

Has anyone ever actually successfully used an audio editing application? I found that there were innumerable different websites with different programs that were seemingly all the same. Scanning through the list I would randomly select one and try it out to see if it was easy enough for what I needed. Eventually I became sick of this method and realized that I am simply really bad at using audio editors, so I did what any sane person would do at this point – I called up my good friend and asked (told him in a very polite way) if he could help me cut a couple of songs together. He is one of those guys that, when searching for something it is somehow always the first thing he looks at and makes you seem silly for not trying it. Yeah. In the end we used Audacity, which looked like it was made for Windows 98, but it worked really well nevertheless. Originally I was thinking I would screen cast editing the clips together, until I realized it was taking way longer than my naïve mind had anticipated. Finally, out came the end result with not too bad of transitions, not perfect but they are definitely better than if I had tried to do it on my own. My mashed up version of the songs can be found HERE if you are not able to see the YouTube link below. Also, as said on the video, I feel the need to remind everyone that none of these sounds are actually mine. I am not that talented.

So after cringing at that first transition, the second one was not too bad, right? Maybe? Okay so that is that. Also, aside from watching all of the Step Up movies, here are a few videos that also led to a bit of my inspiration. Remember, please feel free to send me any videos or choreographers you think are good. I will take all of the resources I can get my hands on. Please post the link into the comments or tag me on twitter @SaraBeth1008.

This clip includes various scenes from the movie, in which I first heard this song. Street Dance is basically a European Step Up.

YouTube does wonderful things. This is simply a video I found when searching for the song. Some of it I like and some of it I don’t, but it definitely shows some possibility for this rhythm.

Now, I am in love with this choreography by Dustin Pym. I am seriously hoping to incorporate some aspects of these steps into my dance. This is all assuming I am ever able to successfully do them.

As far as the Austin Mahone song goes, I could not find any particularly good choreography that I really liked, however here are a few more videos of other inspiration I have found (not to mention watching So You Think You Can Dance).

While you’re at it go ahead and check out all the Continual Surrender stuff, it is all amazing.

I really struggled which video to actually share here, however I would highly recommend checking out this choreographer’s whole channel HERE because he is incredibly talented and is always releasing new routines.

These guys are crazy.

I suppose I should end with the highly anticipated (by me) announcement of my extra song. Hopefully, if not by the end of this semester, over Christmas break I will find the time to put something together for this song because it is so fun. As you will be able to tell by listening to it, however, it does not exactly fit into the other songs I had chosen – I will likely make it a lot rougher in the movements and dancing style. This song was featured in the first Step Up movie, I believe, and it is just one of those songs I can not get out of my head. So here it is:

Over 100 million songs, I picked 4

OKAY! So, to keep going with this learning project of mine – learning how to choreograph – I left you last that I had yet to decide pretty much all of the details, except how I was going to go about doing it. Here is the big surprise (to those who know me, it is not likely to be that surprising at all), I am going to choreograph (or attempt) a hip hop routine! I have chosen this genre for a number of reasons:

  1. It is significantly easier than trying to do a solo ballroom dance routine
  2. I have 0 idea how to do contemporary or ballet, much less am I flexible enough for that
  3. There is a huge amount of resources
  4. I know a good number of people who are able and willing to help me, whom are extremely talented
  5. It is more fun

That is that.

Second, I will explain the songs I have chosen. It was an internal debate as to how exactly I would go about this, whether I should just pick one song and choreograph the whole thing or mix 3-4 different songs together to make one. I decided to do a mix-up because I have a sneaking suspicion that adding the changes to the music will make it easier for me to also keep the changes in my choreography going and to not get repetitive in the movements. Here’s hoping. I picked 3 songs because I figured 2 would be too few and 4 would be getting on the excessive end of it. The tentative order of songs are as follows:

Beggin’ you – I chose this song because, ever since hearing it in the movie Street Dance back in 2010, I have wanted to choreograph this song myself. Unfortunately I never had the time or ability to put something amazing together for it. I also am starting with this song because the intro is so fascinating and leaves so much room for starting however I would like.

Dum da dum – Now, I am not exactly sure when thought to include this song. It may have been when I heard it on the radio, though I also found an amazing set (piece of choreography) on YouTube as I was browsing for some inspiration. Which of these came first, I am not entirely sure, but either way I decided this song has a nice strong bouncy beat that would be easier to listen to (meaning the beats of each movement would be easier to hear) when feeling out the movements in the choreographing stage.

Mmm yeah – Originally I had another song (Here comes the hotstepper) picked, but as I was listening to music randomly one day I stumbled upon this song and decided it would fit better with the other two. It is also more modern.

Next on my to-do/to-blog-about list includes:

  • Download the songs.
  • Find and use a good, but simple, audio editing tool to mash the songs together (if anyone knows of any please let me know).
  • Browse the Interweb for ideas of choreography, moves, and inspiration. Also, probably have a Step Up marathon.
  • Start breaking down the songs into sections, measures, and beats.

BONUS INFO:

As you may have noticed the title of this blog says that I have chosen 4 songs when in fact, so far, I have only mentioned 3. This is because this last song I found while getting-my-inspiration-on and listening to some ‘heavier’ music, which does not mix well with the songs I had already chose. I DO, however, still want to choreograph something for it, but it will be in a different style of hip hop than the other songs. I will release the song and style of this last song in my next blog. The suspense is unbearable!

Dance like No One is Watching

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? I am not sure I would call myself an old dog yet, but I am going to try! In an attempt to learn something new, I am going to learn how to choreograph. First, yes I realize I was supposed to start this a tad earlier (for ECMP 355), however I did in fact. I have just realized that I am horrendous at actually getting around to typing and posting the blogs I write out. That being said, here we go…

So to start I will note that I do have a limited background in dance. I say limited because I was in Baton for a few years growing up, the occasional year of Jazz and Tap off and on for a couple years, and I was in a ‘casual’ Hip Hop group for two year in high school – I am not a professional at all. Also, there is a huge difference between learning choreography that someone has prepared and actually preparing the choreography to work together with the music. I chose to learn this because I really do love dancing and I think it is a valuable skill to know and develop the ability to coordinate dance and music together. Also, as an Arts Education student my major is in dance and my minor in music concurrently with my Bachelor of Dance. That being said, it is a skill I would like to learn and develop sooner rather than later. I have also noticed that I am rather oblivious to the actual technical side of dancing. While I like a good jam session and can learn choreography relatively well, I do not actually know much about styles or specific moves. Getting started the first thing I did, naturally, is go ahead and Google “how to choreograph” and interestingly I did not find anything very useful. I’m not sure what possessed me to do so, but a few days later I figured I would try again and see if the results had changed, surprisingly and thankfully they had. I then began to compile all of the lists of what is important to consider while making choreography and what I need to do to make a successful piece. According to a few wikihow pages the 9 step guide includes:

  1. Select a style
  2. Choose a song that complements your style
  3. Before beginning to write the routine, compile a list of workable steps
  4. Listen to the song carefully and identify sections
  5. Sometimes it helps to draw the music – draw a squiggly line that identifies how the melody flows
  6. Just start dancing
  7. Get basic foot work (routine) down, then add arm movements
  8. Practice
  9. Be yourself!

While another 10 step guide said:

  1. Pick a song
  2. Pick your partner or dancers, if anyone
  3. Divide lyrics in song into groups (sections)
  4. What dance moves can you do? Make them fit to the beat
  5. Create moves to go with the musical sections (Step 3)
  6. If teaching, make sure everyone can keep up and is following along
  7. Practice!
  8. Get the opinion of others
  9. For performance: coordinate outfits
  10. When performing: smile

And lastly, a less step-by-step guide and more of a quick-tip-reminder:

  1. Get inspired: find a piece of music and listen to it over and over.
  2. Be prepared – not rigid: come ready with a plan for rehearsal, but be open to making changes as things go.
  3. Get your message across: make sure you are explaining the movements in an understandable way.
  4. Keep things fresh: stay true to your unique voice and make sure the dance is coming from you.

As I am gathering the information and understand what I have to do I am realizing there are so many different aspects to take into account as I am going, and there is an abundance of each dance company’s own suggestions. After looking over a multitude I will compile my own list (in a somewhat general order) of what I should be doing to learn how to effectively put something together.

  • Pick a genre and style.
  • Pick a song.
  • Listen to the music. A lot.
  • Start dancing – see if something works with the music and what I want to work into the flow of the music.
  • Research other dancers, choreographers, and dance moves/steps I want to incorporate.
  • Break up the music into sections.
  • Creative moves to go with each section – write them down.
  • Put the sections together and PRACTICE!
  • Teach it?
  • Remember to contrast – angular vs curved, gentle vs strong, slow vs fast, levels of movements…etc.

I feel that this is a fairly good start of a to-do list for now, and as I go if there are any extra things I should consider I will have to add them then. As for now I am off to go listen to some music, jam out, and pick some good songs to complement the style of dance I want (I already know what style, but I have to have a few secrets for my next post).

Until next dance break…

Sara