Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How My Passion Relates to Life

My passion is dancing, particularly hip hop. I love to dance. Frankly, everything about hip hop culture intrigues me, but hip hop dancing has always been my number one hobby. I have been dancing for about 8 years now unprofessionally, and I am currently a part of my school's hip hop team. Ever since I first started dancing, it has become a big part of who I am. It has affected me on so many levels, and it still has a big impact on my life. Without my deep passion for hip hop dancing, I can truly say that I would not be the same person that I am today.

Over the years, I have always valued my talent for hip hop, however it was not until recently that I truly realized how much it has positively affected me. My passion for dance has helped me to fulfill several of the basic needs in my life, first and foremost being my self-esteem. Before I was ever introduced to hip hop I felt out of place. I did not have a special talent for anything in particular. I couldn’t play an instrument, I couldn’t sing, and I was never outstanding in any sport in particular. I felt like I was good for nothing. However, after I took my first hip hop lesson, my instructor was astonished at my abilities at such a young age. This truly boosted my self-esteem. I felt like I was finally good at something, and best of all, I enjoyed it. I continued to work on my techniques, and after my first performance at a school talent show, people began to recognize me for my gift. Up to this day, dance is still a major source of self-esteem in my life.

My passion for hip hop has also contributed to my needs for love and belonging. Over the years, I have met plenty of new people through the various hip hop teams and programs that I have been involved in. Many of these people have grown to become close friends of mine and are now a big part of my life. Currently, I am a part of one dance crew, called “D’ynamic”. We have been dancing together for around three years now and it is safe to say that the team has grown to become a second family to me. We share the same interests and get along phenomenally. When I dance with my team, I truly feel like I belong.

One significant lesson that I have learned from my experiences in dancing is that persistence and dedication is essential. This idea shows how dance can be related to life in general. For example, last year I was struggling to grasp the routine that my hip hop team was supposed to perform with. After weeks of practice it seemed like I had not improved at all and I felt like giving up. Nevertheless, something pushed me to keep practicing until I could grasp the routine. I refused to give up, and by competition time I was able to perform the routine without any difficulty. This concept applies to life, because to become prosperous in your endeavours, determination and perseverance is required.

My Experiences As a Blogger

My experience as a blogger has been quite eye-opening. At first, I did not completely understand the concept of blogging. I did not know why people devoted so much time to write about something on a daily basis that wasn’t required for academic purposes. I did not appreciate it nearly as much as I do now. After blogging for several months now, I have come to realize that it is not just another form of writing. It is a way for me to express myself and share my feelings with the public without being censored or edited. Also, due to the fact that I can keep my personal information anonymous, there is no risk of expressing how I truly feel and being bashed for my opinions. Overall, I believe that it is a highly effective way to communicate my thoughts with the public.

Over the past few months, I believe that I have undoubtedly improved as a blogger. During the beginning of my blogging experience, my posts were too formal and lacked character. I was too reserved in my blogs as if I was writing a research paper or an informational paragraph on hip hop. However, I eventually learned how to blog properly and what elements make a blog interesting to read. I began to share more about myself and my personal experiences with my passion, and as a result I was receiving better feedback for my writing. Even after the past four months as a blogger, I have not yet reached my full potential. I still have much to learn about blogging, and hopefully my skills will improve with experience.

One reason why I have taken a liking to blogging is because it has greatly helped me to gain insight into my passion. For the past four months, I have been blogging about hip hop dancing about four times a week. In doing this, I have had to research about it and truly analyze it from an intellectual perspective. This has helped me to formulate different opinions and ideas about hip hop dance, including my very own “rubric” or “criteria” for a good performance. In my research I have also discovered exceptional hip hop crews or individual dancers that I never knew existed before my blogging experience. In this way, I have been able to explore the many different forms of hip hop, as each group has their own unique style. Through my blog, I have also been able to learn more about the origin and history of hip hop, which I was not very familiar with prior to my blogging experience. These are just a few ways that blogging has helped me to gain insight into my passion and explore it in a different light.

Writing in my blog has definitely affected me in a positive way. Blogging about my passion for hip hop dancing has helped me to fulfill my needs for self-expression. Frankly, as a grade 11 student taking university courses, I do not have much time to get in touch with my artistic side. However, blogging about my passion has truly allowed me to do so on a regular basis. In this way, I find blogging to be a breath of fresh air, where I have the opportunity to share my love for dancing with the public.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Styles of Hip Hop Dance


Today, I am going to inform you about the style of dance that I specialize in, which is popping and locking. This form of hip hop dancing has grown considerably over the years and is now incorporated into almost all hip hop routines. Popping is a very important technique to master for those who wish to become high profile dancers. It is the basic skill that all professional hip hop dancers possess and rely on to choreograph their routines.

Popping is one of the many dance styles that originated from Fresno, California in the early 1970s. It is based on the technique of quickly contracting and relaxing muscles to cause a jerk in the dancer’s body, referred to as a pop. This technique is done continuously in sync with the rhythm of the song in combination with various movements and poses. Related styles include tutting, waving, and strobing.

Like other styles of hip hop, popping is usually easier to improvise or freestyle as opposed to choreographing it. Personally, I would rather freestyle while popping rather than follow a set routine during a performance. In fact, in my last few competitions, I was given the opportunity to do my own solo in the front and centre of the stage during the group performance, and I chose to do a popping freestyle instead of making my own routine for it.

If you wish to see how popping looks like when it is perfected, click here.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ways to Stay Fit - Maintaining That Hip Hop Body

In one of my earlier posts, I explained the importance of physical fitness in hip hop dance. Today, I would like to share with you a few tips that can help you to stay in shape, which will in turn help you to move forward in dance.

The first step to becoming physically fit is to correct your eating habits. A common misconception is that workout and exercise alone can make you fit. The truth of the matter is that proper eating habits can help you more than exercise would. What you should try to do is stay away from saturated fats and trans-fats. A build-up of these fats can cause plaques to form in blood vessels, which results in less distribution of oxygen to cells via blood. This in turn provides insufficient energy for the body, and as I have said before, hip hop requires a lot of energy.

The next step in maintaining that hip hop body is to exercise every day. This doesn’t mean running on a treadmill for hours and pushing 100-pound weights every day. It simply means that some form of a work out is necessary. Half an hour of dance practice daily is enough to stay in shape.

All in all, the key to staying physically fit is proper eating patterns and daily exercise. You’d be surprised at the results if you haven’t already been following these rules. If you wish to add a few pointers, feel free to comment below.

Never Give Up!

This message goes out to everyone. Whatever your passion is, whether it’s dancing, playing an instrument, playing a sport, etc., don’t be so quick to quit when it begins to get tough. There is no doubt that you will regret it in the future. If you keep pushing and pushing, you are bound to succeed. Perseverance is the key to all your endeavours.

I understand that sometimes you may feel frustrated when you can’t accomplish something, but trust me when I say that it is all worth it when you succeed. For example, a few years ago I was attempting to master a technique called “the windmill”. This was a very hard task. I spent days after days, months after months practicing this one move, but I wasn’t getting anywhere with it. I began to get frustrated and thought that I wasn’t so cut out for dance, but something kept pushing me to keep trying. Eventually, I was able to master the move, and now I am so glad that I didn’t give up.

So again, to all you dancers, musicians, athletes, or scholars out there, never give up in whatever your attempt to do. Always put your best effort into whatever you do, and if you still are unable to accomplish your goal, do not get discouraged. Your passions define who you are, and it would be a shame to throw them away.

Penny for Your Thoughts?

For all my fellow dancers out there, I would like to ask you a question. What motivates you to dance? In most cases there is something that stimulates or inspires the person to indulge in their passion, and I would like to hear your opinions. What is it that keeps you dancing? Is it the rush that comes along with dance competitions, or the dream of one day becoming a dance instructor? Or is it the fact that you can show off your remarkable talent to all your friends? What inspires you?

In my case, I would say that the number one thing that motivates me to dance is the distant hope that I will one day make it big as a professional choreographer. As of now, my role model is Misha Gabriel, who is living out the dream that I so deeply desire. For those who have read my earlier posts, you probably recall that I chose Misha for my weekly choice of my favourite dancer. Misha is a well-known choreographer living in Las Angeles who is renowned for his amazing ability to put together remarkable dance routines (mostly hip hop). He has choreographed dances for a number of pop and hip hop legends such as Justin Timberlake, Usher, and Michael Jackson himself. To one day be as successful as Misha Gabriel would be a dream come true. This dream is the factor that motivates me the most to keep dancing.

So, what drives you to keep dancing? I would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to respond in the comment box below.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Styles of Hip Hop Dance


Tutting is the name given to the abstract dance style that utilizes the body's ability to create geometric positions and movements predominantly by fixing our joints and limbs into right angles. It is performed with little attention to the musical rhythm, typically by altering positions in a stop-and-go fashion. Although tutting is currently a prevalent style in many dance routines, it is not considered to be a major part of hip hop. It is instead seen as a branch of popping and waving.

Tutting gained popularity during the early 1980's. Within the popping community, dancers woould use the tutting poses while performing routines. One would "hit" one position and then move immediately on the the next, similar to the robot popping routine, only slightly faster. These movements made use of the wrists, elbows, and shoulders to create the desired right angle.

This is a technique that I deeply desire to master. In my opinion, it is one of the most difficult styles to work on. It is does not necessarily require a lot of energy, but it requires much coordination and control of your body. People who are flexible are generally the best at tutting. Honestly, I feel that it is one of those techniques that you either get or you don’t. Some people are talented enough to pick it up easily, and others can work on it for ages (such as myself) and never master it. For months now I have been watching this tutorial to try to learn how to tut, but it just isn’t working out. I hope to one day develop my skills to the point where I can tut because in my opinion, it is one of the most entertaining styles of hip hop when done correctly.

To see an example of how basic tutting looks like, click here.