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Rocking it in Hollywood

January 26, 2010

Last month I responded to someone looking to put a nightclub show together.  Since the rehearsals were actually local to me for once, instead of up in Los Angeles, I jumped at the chance to do less driving and stretch my dancing into a new realm. Little did I know when I signed myself what an amazing experience I would have or the wonderful people I would meet.

It turned out to be a whirlwind project, with less than two weeks to show time and our music getting changed halfway through rehearsals due to restrictions by the venue.  Nothing like learning choreography only to be told most of it has been scrapped.   But we managed to get it pulled together in time, thanks to the dedicated efforts of everyone involved.

The show itself was a success, even in spite of the short timeframe.   Previously I had only experienced nightclubs as a member of the throngs of people on the dance floor, and never had I encountered one with a full stage and performances (at least not outside of the typical go-go dancers).   I have to admit the energy of performing in front of a crowd of 2000+ people rocking out to the music while watching you perform is almost beyond description for me.  It’s like a positive feedback loop, with each group feeding off each other’s energy and ramping it up.

This project marked my official, first foray into pop/music video style of dancing. While most of the movements were new to me, I discovered that the sass and attitude I have cultivated through Latin dance training is very applicable to that style of dance.

One of the most interesting differences I have learned between ballroom and performance dance, in particular more pop/jazz styles, is the approach to body movement.  In ballroom, everything is precise, controlled and at any given moment you know where every muscle is.  I often feel like pretzel at dance lessons, my coaching stretching and shaping my body to produce the perfect look.  So much effort is put into perfecting every minute detail.  However, in my experience with performance dance, the attention is focused far more on the performance element from the start – producing the right impact and big picture instead of the mechanics of how you are producing the result.

For someone who has spent countless hours just practicing the basic Latin hip movement while walking, doing a performance where there were only a few hours to learn an entire routine and the final result was more important than the how-to was very liberating.  It was a timely reminder as I come up on the spring competition season to make sure my focus in practice includes both elements – the technical and performance aspects.  In ballroom it is all too easy to become narrowly focused on internal mechanics that it behooves us as competitive dancers to remember we are also providing entertainment to the audience.

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