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Urban Dance Just Blew My Mind

So, if I had a mini crush on Ski Ballet, then I have fallen head-over-heels, love-at-first-sight, in love with Urban Dance!

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. This is about as street dance as I get. (The street dance part is me rocking the hoodie)

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So, I’m clearly no expert. Everything I am writing on this post is just my opinion about this group of dancers.

I had NO idea what was coming when I typed “Urban Dance” into YouTube. A little while couple of hours later, and I’m all like “Get me to Germany, man! No I can’t dance, but damn, I wanna go and watch and absorb!”

These dancers are ah-maze-ing! They are a bunch of dance artists who perform on their own and together, and they put on these incredible Urban Dance Camp workshops each year — in a different country each year (this year they are meeting in Germany!). They are focused on studio styles and street styles. I think this means they basically include everything? From what I gather, studio styles are choreographed when perhaps the street styles aren’t? I’m not 100% clear on this though, and there does seem to be routines that are choreographed but contain many different styles.

They use popping, crunching, hip hop, jazz, contemporary, dubstep (no, I didn’t just make that up), and a whole lot of types of street dance that I don’t know the names of — I tried to find out what they were, I really did!

Some of the routines contain a huge amount of classy swagger, like these two. I LOVE these routines. CANNOT get enough.

This one is danced by Keone and Mariel Madrid, and it makes my heart sway…

And this one is danced by Hilty and Bosch and man have they got some swagger!

Some performances use great costumes, adding to the characters in the dance. This surprised me. I wasn’t expecting characters or a story in these dances at all. It makes them so much more enjoyable to watch and gives them a lot more depth.

They use fantastic music, which they match with their fantastic musicality. They are just all round incredible dancers. Technically great and original.

Are you feeling the love yet? No? Need more convincing? Okay, here ya go then…

Keone and Mariel Madrid again but in a sexy street/contemporary (streetemporary?) dance…

And last but oh so not least, the first Urban Dance video I ever watched. The one that started it all. A performance by Nonstop (Marquese Scott) and Poppin’ John. You’re welcome 🙂 …

You can find many more awesome videos of these dancers on YouTube. And I will be adding these videos to a new “Dance Inspiration” page for future reference.

I hope some day I can delve further into these guys and gals. I’d love to know how and why they all started. And how Urban Dance Camp came into being. And I would really love to attend a workshop to just watch and absorb. So inspired!

I would love to hear from everyone, what other forms of dance you have tried, outside of ballet? Or are you a ballet purist?

I’d sign off by saying, “Now go crunch and pop something”, but just in case any of you see that and think of eating crisps and popcorn, I will sign off with…

So, go fall into the dance form that you love, disappear, and then find yourself. 🙂

Bush

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Thoughts From Nowhere — Travis and Amy on SYTYCD

I was doing some important lounging around body recovery today, but my insatiable need to plug into dance saw me arrive at YouTube, watching dance routines. My thoughts on connecting to emotion through dance have continued to swell over the past few days and when I saw the dance routine in this video, it demonstrated my thoughts perfectly.

There were so many things that I loved about it, and I so much I wanted to say, so I thought I would write about it (my darling hubby can only hear so much dance stuff). Is it a review? Not quite. More like just my thoughts. I’ve never written anything like this before, but I feel compelled to write about this. 

So, here we go, my thoughts from nowhere, of a contemporary dance routine choreographed by Travis Wall and performed by Amy Yakima and Travis Wall, to the music “Wicked Game” by James Vincent McMorrow.

Before the routine, in this video, Travis says that this routine is about the games we all play when we are first entering a relationship. He also says that there is a want and resist battle going on inside Amy. This seems pretty accurate of early relationships, from my experience. 

When I first watched this routine, I kept catching myself holding my breath. You know those performances? You want to see every little detail and you think somehow your breathing might get in the way of that? So let’s just not breathe. Let’s just watch. Let’s disappear into their world.

Okay, so the beginning: From the first moment, Amy is completely absorbed in her character. The breaths she takes right before Travis’s hand crosses her chest, and then the pained look on her face as it does, just sets the emotion of the dance up perfectly. 

One of my first favourite moments in this routine is at 2:05 when there is a magical thing called space. It’s a physical space between the dancers and a pause in movements but this gave me a mental space. I absolutely loved this. Yes, the space is a deliberate movement in itself, but it’s double purpose for me, was the reminder that there is a story being told here. Not just flashy dance moves.

The choreography and performances in this routine all exude meticulous musicality. Watching them hit their extensions perfectly in time with the music is, of course, stunning. But what was more beautiful to me were the physically silent moments where there aren’t dramatic movements but rather small, yet important beats to the story. Like at 2:34 when Travis is picking Amy up through his legs and both her feet suddenly make contact with the ground, at the perfect moment musically. It almost looks to me like she is trying to break free and take the floor in that moment of the story. Then there’s 2:53 when Amy spins through the air into his arms and at 3:11 when they both extend their leg out of a triple pirouette. Perfect musical timing.

There is a difference between musicality and synchronisation. This routine is an example of performers who can do both. It’s so beautiful to watch.

So, did the choreography stay true to the story? Well, I watched the two people in this early relationship twist each other around and push and pull each other. I watched him chase her and I watched her throw herself at him. Sound familiar? Sounds like the twists and turns of a young, tumultuous relationship to me. 

I loved the physical dance lines in this piece. Lots of parallel lined moments, which I happen to be a huge fan of. And also lots of amazing soft curves. There were some interesting and different lines, but not so different as to distract me from the classic story being told. And every line was delivered with liquefied perfection. Yeah, I kinda liked the lines. 😉

The controlled athleticism of this routine is perfection. Just because it’s slow, doesn’t mean it’s less difficult — case in point at 3:04.

I thought the costumes were a great fit, with the story, too. The earthy tones gave it a real and natural effect. This story is not just a fictional one. Love hurts. For real. Of course Amy’s dress allowed for the visual flow of emotion, which was lovely. 

I have had a second thought that it might have been nice to see the performance before knowing what the story was about, to see if I still understood it. But that’s a very small second thought.

So that’s it. Those are my thoughts on this wonderful performance. I loved it. I feel It is an example of what amazing things can come to into being from dance. And it reminds me of how dancing makes me feel when I disappear into a story and express my feelings through it.

Thank you Travis and Amy. You guys are invaluable souls in the dance universe.

(PS, in case anyone was wondering, I didn’t pass out from all the breath holding. We’re all good.)

BB

Here is a recording of the routine. Enjoy. And remember to breathe!

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Dance Emotion. Dance Magic.

I used to love contemporary dance. Wait…. scratch that. I have ALWAYS loved contemporary dance. I still do. But I tend not to attempt contemporary movement myself because it’s less structured movements makes it less predictable than classical ballet.

But yesterday I wanted to disappear for a little bit and I chose contemporary dance as my vessel. It was really nice. I danced to Alicia Keys’ Empire State of Mind. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

When I stopped dancing and went to the kitchen for a glass of water. My husband broke down into to tears. “It makes me cry when I see you dance like that” was all he said. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know exactly what made him so emotional. This is a man who doesn’t cry often, so it kind of felt like I had done something wrong. I made the guy cry! Maybe I shouldn’t have danced? We held each other for a while, and as we did it occurred to me that I don’t need to know why he cried. I knew there were several possible reasons. But why do I need to know? That was his experience. If he wanted to talk about it, he knew he could. But he didn’t want to. He just wanted to acknowledge the feeling. Have the experience. And move on. News flash, BB, we don’t actually need to talk about everything!

The ability dance has to connect to emotions within both dancers and spectators continues to fascinate me. It’s like magic. It just happens. Not all dancers and spectators are emotionally connected to dance. It’s not something that is a given. It is something special.

I have been rendered a helpless, blubbering mess, or been left with goose bumps down my arms, from simply watching great dance pieces. And it always feels amazing. Like I’ve plugged into some intense energy source. It always feels renewing.

I’m not claiming, by any stretch of the imagination, to have the magic in me! But I witnessed my husband experience that emotional connection as a spectator yesterday. I saw him tap into that amazing emotional source. And that’s like seeing magic happen, for me.

Thank you dance. I love you loads! ❤

BB