To Dance Or Not To Be

One of the first things most people get to know about me, is that I am a dancer. It’s one of those most present, obvious things about me, apparently. NBI the dancer.

But I’m not taking dance classes anymore. I didn’t enroll myself, because of a few reasons. The first one, obviously, is that I believed I would be in Russia now. When I decided to stay, I only had one more week to enroll myself. But I also suddenly had to start my life in Belgium over again. The second reason is that I didn’t want to pay for a whole year while I could only attend classes for three months. And last but not least, they would be preparing a show, which I couldn’t take part in, because I will be abroad then.

Long story short, I’m currently not taking dance classes.

But how I miss it, how I miss it… Mentally, physically, I think I underestimated this. I don’t mind not getting up at 8 every Saturday morning, but that’s about the only bright side so far. I just really want to dance, I always feel the need to dance, but now I lack the space to properly do exercises. Every Saturday, every, every Saturday evening, I do dance in my room at home. It’s something. There is not enough space to do all the fun stuff though. No real jumping, no going from one side to the other while turning, no such things are possible.

There is also no good teacher who makes up new exercises, who corrects me, who makes good choreographies. What I do every Saturday evening is mainly to do something physical, to stay in shape a little, to not lose my technique and flexibility. Also, I do it to move. I still feel good when doing ballet exercises, even when space is limited.

I’ve come to realize that dancing makes me deal with things as well. It’s a form of meditation. You think of the music, the steps, all that, but you don’t really get the chance to think of the assignment you still have to do, that one thing you said to that person, what you still have to buy for dinner. And sometimes, when you’re really struggling with some issue, it helps to dance it out a little. Therapy in the dance studio. Yes, I know I’m getting cheesy.

I don’t just miss it mentally though. I’ve never had back aches so often, and I think I now where they come from : I move too little. The best cure for back aches so far for me, is to use my back, bend it, dance. It helps. Backs should be used often, and when you sit for too long, it will protest.

So you see, I’m made to dance. I’m not made to dance professionally, but my body screams for moving when I hear music. I still can’t go from point A to B without throwing in some arm movements or kicking legs. That’s what I’m made from still, that’s what I’m made for still. So I can’t wait to take dance classes again, to be in a dance studio again and to move, and to sweat, to feel elegant again.

I don’t want it. I just need it.

(To breathe, to feel, to know I’m alive – bonuspoint for anyone getting that Tool reference.)

Of course, no post on dance without a good video. This dance duet is so powerful, so beautiful, so heart crushing and impressive (all those lifts!). Warning: may beat you up mentally. But trust me, it’s worth it.

 

Is there something you cannot live without? What defines you for most people? Do you love dance? I promise not to hate on you if you don’t, however hard that will be 😉

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Taking the award, ignoring the rules

It doesn’t happen everyday, getting an award. I remember that when I first started blogging, I so enjoyed those. They showed you you were doing a good job. These days I’m less focused on more readers, more views and more awards, but I still like to be awarded, of course.
Now I’m not the best one at taking them. Something I just thank you and don’t post about it – it’s nothing personal, I just kind of forget about it, and I believe I’ve awarded almost all of my blog friends six times already at least – so the need to pass on the awards is not so big anymore. Still, I appreciate each and every compliment you give me, because I’m an attention whore, truth be told.

When I have run out of inspiration and I see someone is giving me interesting questions to answer though, I can give in to the award-craziness, which will happen now. I would like to thank Osyth once more for nominating me this time! If you are interested in more Russia, certainly check out her blog. It’s what got me into hers, and it’s definitely worth a read.

Of course, I’m still a rebel, so I’m not playing this by the rules. I nominate every reader of mine, but no one specifically. You know I like you! I’m not making up any questions either. I know, I know, how dare I?
But what I will do, is answer Osyth’s very interesting ones. So here we go!

  1. Why should people read what you write?
    Because I like to have feedback and response actually. And because sometimes I write interesting stuff – but above all because I tend to write better if I know people are reading.
  2. Fruit or cake?
    A cake with fruit? I like both… (Does this remind anyone else of Cake or death?)
  3. What is success?
    Success is getting what you want, whether it’s a grade or buying a house. It’s being happy – after all, that’s what we all strive for in the end.
  4. Advice to your 14 year old self
    Other people don’t always care about what you do, so do what you want. Don’t be afraid to be a little different, to have your own opinion, your own taste in things. In the end it will only make you feel better if you embrace these odd things about yourself.
  5. Favourite place on earth
    There are many places I can feel good – but I do want to return to Prague very, very much, because I remember it as a very nice place. Though I can also thoroughly enjoy a good bar for example, or a bed.
  6. Pictures or words?
    I’m better at words, and words for me can often do a little more than pictures. I like good photography as well, but give me a good book and I’ll be gone for longer than just a few minutes. I can express myself way better by words than by pictures too.
  7. If you could spend an afternoon with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
    This is a very hard question. In my current situation, I would like to spend my afternoon with my friends who are abroad at the moment. Sometimes I really, really miss them, and it would be nice to go for a drink with them.
  8. First love
    I’m not sure if I’m supposed to name a person, but I’m not going to do that. My first love is dance. I started dancing before I could properly read or write. I adore reading and writing, but dancing is something so necessary, something that lives in me, something that will never fully leave my body.
  9. Town or country?
    Town. I like nature and calm, but in the end I always need to see people, to feel like I’m surrounded by them. It takes away loneliness, even when I don’t talk to them. Just to know they are around is enough sometimes.
  10. The greatest invention of the last 100 years
    Maybe the Internet, if that counts? For making it possible to write this to you. For making music and information so close. Of course it’s also a curse, but it has very good sides.
  11. What is content?
    Content as in satisfaction – that would be this moment for example: looking forward to a nice evening. Doing what you want to do. Feeling loved. Feeling like you did exactly what you wanted to do. Finding the perfect shoes. A nice cup of coffee. A good song.
    There seems to a lot to be happy about, maybe it’s just because I’m in a cheerful mood 🙂

 

This was written yesterday, while looking forward to spending the night with a friend at a bar. It was a great night indeed, which helps a whole lot to be cheerful and positive in general. Maybe I should add to ‘what is content’ that going for a midnight snack (french fries) at 2 am is very satisfying.

So, that is as far as I will take this award. Thank you, Osyth, for the interesting questions! And feel free to answer these questions yourself in the comments – I’m curious as to what you guys would respond.

Treasure Hunting # 8 : The Hunt is On

It’s been a long time since I took out my gun to go on a hunt. The hunt for music, that is. I think I kind of forgot this more or less series. But I need your help. Recently I stumbled upon a video of a danced duet including my favourite ballerina (Ekaterina Kondaurova, if you’d like to know). I immediately recognised the music as being Arvo Part’s work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was exactly. Even after using my high tech systems (Shazam, Google music recognise thing) I couldn’t find it. I’ve searched on YouTube for a while, but this piece of music seems to be hidden away.

So now I would like to ask your help. Do you recognise this? Do you know a way to find out what it is? Pretty please?

I think I have found the choreographer on Facebook, but I find it a bit weird to send him a message asking what that particular piece is. He’s Russian though, so it would be good to send him something in Russian. Still I’d first like to try it this way. The last time I asked your help, it worked, so I have good hope that this time you will hunt the treasure for me.

The music I am searching for starts at 2:03 and ends at 7:24. Meanwhile you can watch the interesting pas de deux. It’s a good pas de deux if you ask me – especially with such music!

Side Effects

Note: fear no dance clips or dance talk! I will only talk about the weird things you start to do when you are a dancer. Because it affects your life in the weirdest way… I have been dancing for twelve years now, and let’s take a look at the weird habits I’ve got now thanks to that.

1. Looking at feet and legs and having full conversations about them

Nice feet and legs are important in dance. Archy feet are admired. So you can easily spot dancers: when you hear someone having an entire conversations on feet, it’s prettyy safe to say you found him. Plus: as a dancer you tend to look at legs and feet, whether they belong to a boy or girl, and judge them by how they’d work out in dance.

2. Random arm movements

My arms are my weak spot in dance, so I tend to train movements when I’m not using them. Mostly when I’m studying or moving from spot A to spot B. My family is used to that by now, but I sometimes forget that I shouldn’t do that when there are other people around…

3. Moving from spot A to B by pirouettes

Or arabesques. Or piqués. Or whatever. It’s very hard not to throw in some moves when you get the chance. Though just like the arm movements, you should watch out where you’re doing that…

4. “I can’t have short hair, how am I supposed to tie it up in a bun then!?”

Look. This is a nice leg and a good foot. Not hyperflexible, but with a nice line. From Pointe Magazine I believe. Ekaterina Kondaurova.

5. Appreciating the smell of hairspray

It’s the smell of performances, so it’s a good smell, because performing is fun. I really like the scent, though I’m probably one of the few people in this world…

6. Turning out your legs when waiting in line

Why not train your turn out when you get the chance, right? Turnout is not as easy as it looks. So when you’re waiting in line, it’s the perfect setting to train it. Unless you don’t like to get weird looks, that is.

7. Having an extended knowlegde of classical music and French

It’s not unusual to like classical music, but as a classical dancer, chances are high that you know more about it than your neighbour, to name someone. You hear it so often, dance to it, see performances with it, it’s just a common thing. Right?
Everything in ballet has a French name, so wherever you live, you will know a bit of French.

8. Judging music on it’s ‘danceability’

I tend to like music when I can dance to it. I know I like music a whole lot when I really, really, want to dance to it. That’s why dubstep is a no-go for me. You can only dance it to it when you’re high or drunk, which I am not. So what’s the fuss about then? I also see movements in my head when hearing music. Thinking about dancers can keep me busy until I fall alseep. Making up random choreographies to the music playing in my head. It’s very calming.

They should put a warning on dance. ‘Affects your life in a serious way!’

So what are your hobbies and what weird habits have you got because of them?

Inspiration came when discussing feet over here.

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul” ― Martha Graham

Just one second in no man’s land, on the edge between dull reality and glittering illusion. Ready to run, but for just one more second waiting, waiting, until the music starts to play. Darkness. Silence. A deep breath for courage, a last adjustment of your clothes- and there you go. Off the deep end.

A few weeks ago, my dance school had its dance show. I participated in three choreographies and for one of them, I had to wear a purple tutu. With pink fake diamonds. At first, it felt a bit all too glittery, but as soon as you walk on stage in those, you feel awesome. I enjoyed it, the performing, the clothes, the music, everything. Shows have their very own atmosphere – think hairspray, water, sweat and the mess backstage. There is no feeling like being backstage at a show.  We sat in the wings, watching the people on stage performing. We get to see things no one sees: the spotlights at the sides, the back of the curtain, the stage when it’s empty.

It’s a promising sight, you know, an empty stage, or a stage that’s being prepared. It feels good to be a part of the ‘elite’ that gets to see this. And it feels like magic could happen. Add some lights, add some music and dancers, and there you go: a perfect illusion. A veil of beauty over everything. A stage is a chance to be different, to let go of everything, it’s just a chance.

And you can feel that when you are about to walk/run/jump on stage. That silent second in the wings, right before crossing the border, the moment I described above- it’s the moment you know you’re going to make that magic happen (or at least, you hope so). Though I didn’t really have stage fright anymore, you can still feel the tension. You’re out there, you know, and everyone is watching you.

But sometimes, the audience doesn’t even matter. Two years ago, I participated in the most beautiful choreography I ever danced in. When the music started to play, a spotlight was turned upon us, a sort of soft, eveninglike yellow light. We, as a group, started entering the stage. It felt as entering a movie. The music was so very beautiful and just sort of carried me away. I believe you can dance at your best when the music is the trigger of every movement you make. That’s what it felt like. And at that moment, honestly, the audience didn’t matter at all. What mattered was that the music was playing and I could only show its beauty by dancing this choreography, as if the music notes turned into energy inside me. (I know this sounds sentimental, but there is no other way of really describing it as it felt.)

My god, how I loved it. I was never tired of doing it, not even when repeating it over a thousand times in class. I still get goosebumps when I see the performance on DVD. It wasn’t the only beautiful dance I’ve been in. My dance teacher can make the greatest modern pieces you can imagine. It almost feels like an honor to be in one.

You all know I love dancing, but it’s hard to describe that feeling. It’s hairspray and warming up behind the scenes, it’s the back of the curtain, the music of the first act starting to play, the second before you enter stage and the music lugging you along. Something like that. And once on stage, you become that illusion, a smile, a character, and no one (not even you) cares about anything happening behind the scenes. You are meant to be nothing but beauty, the spotlights on you and the rest darkness – because once on stage, the outter world doesn’t matter anymore.

theater

Dance Day # 4: El Tango de Roxanne

Sometimes you watch a movie when suddenly, there is a scene that won’t let you go, a scene that gives you goosebumps and takes away your ability to talk for a short while. We’re lucky enough to have YouTube these days, so there aren’t many scenes we can’t watch over and over, but some scenes just won’t be ruined, not even when having watched them a thousand times.

For me, El Tango de Roxanne (Moulin Rouge) is such a scene. It’s a great example of a perfect combination between dance, music, light and everything. It’s this combination that struck me when I saw it for the first time. The more you watch it, the more shots you will discover. If you only watch this once, you’ll miss a lot of things. The great amount of shots is what makes this scene so dynamic and powerful. But there are other things too. For those interested, here’s a more technical approach to this scene.

A More Technical Approach

First of all, there are three storylines in this piece: there’s the Argentinian guy who tells the story of ‘a prostitute, and a man who falls in love’. He picks out one of the girls of the Moulin Rouge as the prostitute, Nini. She’s the cheeky one, but as soon as the AG (Argentinian Guy) picks her out, she changes and plays her role.

So, AG tells this story, that is really similar to Christian’s story. He’s a writer who has fallen in love  with Moulin Rouge’s greatest star, Satine.

Last but not least, the third storyline is Satine. She is having dinner with the Duke, who has fallen in love with her. He’s important because of his money, and Satine is forced to do whatever he wants to. But of course, he’s a total asshole, and she is in love with Christian as well.

Our dear AG starts to tell his story and Nini and he dance, so this story isn’t only told by words. The Music also plays a big role: Ag starts singing Roxanne by The Police, but in a slightly adapted version. At 1:20, you can see how Nini’s eyes are illuminated, a great use of light. Many moves during their dance are repeated later on by the group. The kicking leg, the arms spread, this kind of moves. At 1:43, AG has gripped Nini’s wrist (watch her face after he let her go! the cheeky prostitute is replaced by a real actress). At 3:05, the group has a more or less similar move: the men hold the girls by their wrists. Watch their eyes, it’s almost like they’ve been crying. It adds a dramatic feel to this scene, especially combined with that vulnerable move. At 5:22, the Duke has taken Satine by her wrists.

At that moment, Satine and the Duke have seen Christian passing by, and the Duke realises Satine doesn’t love him. He goes mad. Really mad. (He’s freaky guy after all…) The music was gone for a little while, but at 5:22, the violin starts playing again, an Arabic sounding voice appears, and tension’s built up. Then there’s a sort of explosion: all three storylines have come to a point of brutal action, all together. Watch the group at the end of their dance: it’s almost as if they are fighting, just like Satine and the Duke. At the end of the scene, everyone’s shouting and you feel that this can go but in one direction: the end.

During this scene, there are also small moments where the feeling of intimacy is nicely built up. 3:30, 4:12, 4:40 to name a few: moments where we see people of the group as if they don’t know we see them. Vulnerable, intimate moments.

This scene is by far one of the most dynamic, powerful and touching scenes I’ve ever seen. Here’s the best video I could find on YouTube so you can see it again, or for the first time. Enjoy!

 

Dance Day has its own category! Look on the right for more.

Dance Day # 3: Every four years, sadness

The Games are over, we all sob and cry because of this loss. Suddenly there’s too much time to do other stuff. Something is not right – where’s the Aquatic Centre gone? Why can’t we see rhythmic gymnastics anymore? Where’s the hymns?
We all feel how it hurts, how clueless life has become. Fortunately, there are ways to get over your grief. Try to make a painting that shows your grief, talk with a psychologist, or dance around the house or street randomly. Nothing can cure wounds as much as random dancing. Trust me. Have you ever got the feeling you should dance to this or that song? Never resist that urge. Never ever just sit down while actually you want to move like a fool.

There’s one song that always makes me jump up and go insane. You might remember this group playing at the opening ceremony of our deplored Games. They didn’t play this song, and that’s just a shame.

Need an example to see what random dancing can be like? Here you go – Lykke Li dancing around a restaurant to fight off sadness. Her dress is amazing by the way. I don’t love this song in particular, but I like the video. It’s really artistic and beautiful.

Dance the pain away, people. You’ll see it works.

Want to see more Dance Days? It has its own category – check on the right!

Dance Day # 2: I don’t always repost…

…but when I do, it’s because I think the post got less views than it deserves. It is the first post you’ll find on this blog, so barely anyone has seen it. It really fits here and thats why I thought ‘let’s give it another chance’.

Do you know Swan Lake? Probably. Have you seen Black Swan (the movie)? Possibly. The movie tells us that the black swan should be sensual and edgy, a bit dangerous. But let me tell you the story: a prince, Siegfried, falls in love with Odette. She is cursed by an evil magician, Von Rothbart, and now she’s a swan during the day and a girl at night. But the curse can be broken if Siegfried keeps his promise and will be loyal to her forever. But Siegfried’s parents are having a ball and Von Rothbart and his daughter Odile come too. Odile resembles Odette so hard that Siegfried thinks she’s his love and they dance together.  Then Siegfrieds announces that they will marry. At that point Odette arrives at the ball and discovers that Siegfries has broken his promise, and they both know she will be a swan forever now.
There are different endings: sometimes it’s a happy ending, sometimes the two lovers commit suicide, sometimes it’s something else.
But now you see that Odile can’t be that different from Odette, because the prince thinks she is Odette. Someone on Youtube said that Odile should be sensual, seductive and even more perfect than Odette. But that means that they can’t be real opposites.
Altough, I have liked the movie and of course the dual personalities are way better for the movie.

My favourite short black swan variation is the one of Elena Nikolaeva. Watch how she flows just like the music… Ahhh, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.


The version I like less, is this one. I don’t really like the beginning. And it seems less fluent and powerful than the other version.

But they are both great dancers.

Dance Day # 1

Okay, it’s the worst title I could have come up with for this post, but let’s say that it says exactly what it has to say.

I’m starting a new series of posts here. And it will be about… dance! How strange. Guess you’d never have guessed it. So, I’m starting with this series because Internet is full of awesome videos and I want to spread them. It won’t just be about ballet only, if that takes your fear away. To start with, I’ve got a nice little video of Cyd Charisse and Gene Kelly, two great dancers of another time, in Singing in the Rain. Enjoy!

How to judge in a second

I have a sort of talent. At least, I want to believe it is a talent and not just something annoying. Let’s give you the circumstances: if you are the brave one who dares to enter a shoe shop with me, and you show me some shoes, you’ll find me saying ‘No’ with the greatest of ease. One second is enough for me to judge whether I want to give that shoe a chance. The problem is, now I spend my time in shoe shops saying ‘No’ all the time. I just can’t find beautiful shoes. Although, today I saw a very basic black pair of boots with heels (4 cm, approximately, for the ones interested). But I need a second opinion. Such a scaredy cat I am.
So, a few seconds and I deem like a god. My friend and I are searching for a good song to dance on, but eerm, we don’t find any song that a) doesn’t force us to go hiphop, b) is not too classical and c) of which the length is 3-5 minutes. (Help us. Please help) We’ve been searching for it, we’ve been listening to songs, but a few seconds and…. ‘No’. The rhythm. The sentimental piano. Too emotional. Too classic. No no no. There are always reasons to throw something away, the best option is mostly the one with less reasons to do so. And that’s okay, I think. But nowadays I say ‘No’ so often that I start to believe I have to say ‘Yes’ every now and then.

No

Yes?

No