Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tap With Chester Whitmore

I took a tap class with Chester Whitmore last Saturday before I sped West Hollywood to teach my beginner class.  Chester is an amazing teacher.  We worked on the move called "up front," seen in This Is the Army starring Ronald Reagan.  (I couldn't easily find a YouTube clip so you'll have to check out the film.)

Chester really knows his stuff.  After two classes with him, there are two things that stand out about him as a teacher.  First, he is all about drilling the steps.  He teaches a step and has you do it over and over and over and over and over; repetition gets dance moves into your bones.  Second, he makes you sound out the rhythm with your mouth so you know how the steps should sound.  As a teacher, I've made sounds to communicate what part of the song required a certain move.  Having the students sound out the rhythm is a brilliant tool to get them to practice on their own at varied tempos so they can really get the steps down.

If you ever get the chance to study with Chester, do it.

NOBF: Standing Out at Pageants and Festivals with Jo Weldon

Let me just start by saying I absolutely love Jo Boobs and she's a huge influence on my career even though she lives on the opposite coast.  She's learned, studious and creative.  As a teacher and mentor, she's very generous with her knowledge.  Check out her blog for all kinds of burlesque information.

I don't want to give away the farm when I discuss the classes I've taken.  Careers take investment, and anyone who is serious about a career in anything will do whatever it takes to become better at that career.  Taking classes is a great start, especially at festivals where you have access to different teachers and philosophies than you do at home.

This class was a forum of current performers and aspiring performers, all wanting to move to the next level.  I walked away with an understanding of what producers really want at festivals, that being a good show.  Thinking about how much they spend to put on festivals, how many donations they solicit, how much time it takes to put a festival together, it only makes sense that they want to have a decent return on investment and demand for the festival's reprise because of the stellar programming.  With this in mind, I understand why my first festival submission video a few years ago was rejected.  The work-in-progress I showed didn't prove to the selection committee that I would help them sell tickets.  I had been performing burlesque professionally for three months when I made the video, I shot it in my living room, and the concept of the number had not fully arrived.  I finally understood why exactly I didn't get in as a direct result of this class.

I also realized that I really need to bring it.  I work hard on my numbers.  I work hard on my costumes.  I spend a lot of time thinking about burlesque and trying to figure out how to do something absolutely amazing.  I need to keep doing all of these things.  I'm in it for the long haul, and I want people to remember me as being amazing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Dance History & Appreciation: History of Black Dance in America

This week we had the amazing Chester Whitmore come to class and lecture on the history of black dance in America.  Holy mackerel, this man is so full of information!  He named so many dances that I'd never heard of before, and he had video clips of the most amazing things.  We learned "balling the jack" in class, a popular dance from 1914.  I wish he taught a series of these dances named after people, places and things.  I know I want to learn the "black bottom."

Chester is an amazing teacher.  He's teaching tomorrow as part of a fundraiser.  I'm catching the 11am tap class before I go teach my beginner class.  This is a rare and wonderful opportunity, so catch one of his classes if you can.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brolesque With Me!

I'm teaching a brolesque workshop today (burlesque for dude-bros who pound beers).  I'm very excited about it because I love working with men and I love teaching men.  Men aren't welcome in every burlesque class available out there but they still like participating in the striptease aspect of burlesque.  They deserve the same opportunity to get those skills, so I am championing their cause through Striptease Symposium.  I have a feeling this won't be the last workshop. :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dance History & Appreciation: Native American Dance

I'm enrolled in a class at my local community college on dance history & appreciation. As a dance teacher, it behooves me to know as much as possible about my chosen field so I can be a wise and understanding instructor. As a professional dancer, I like to know the roots of my craft, to connect to the past and draw new sources of inspiration.

A few weeks ago, we had a group perform a ritual Native American dance for us to welcome autumn. They burned the most amazing incense (like tar and sage or something clean like that) and danced vigorously in their shells and feather headdresses to drums. The steps were simple but required endurance. We got to participate in the ritual dance at the end, generating a greater sense of community within the class. The dance was much like a game of follow the leader. It was great fun.

I realized I should employ the use of community circles more in my classes. I use them the first and last day, but I should incorporate them more as the ladies in my class are their own community of neo-burlesque enthusiasts. These girls are going to have their own craft nights, and some will work their way through the ranks together to perform professionally. I can help foster that now.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.2

Sunday, October 10, 2010

NOBF: Developing Grace & Confidence With Dollie Rivas

I absolutely love taking classes at festivals. It's a great opportunity to be exposed to something new, and if you pick up one new trick then it's totally worth the cost of admission.

Dollie Rivas is the choreographer for Bustout Burlesque. Their numbers are so seamless that I knew I'd learn something great in her class. She taught a segment of choreography that gave me new insights into the number I performed the night before. Not only did I have a blast, but I also picked up a few tricks to improve my own showmanship. Dollie's class came along at the perfect point in my life. I highly recommend her class.
Published with Blogger-droid v1.5.2