Month: November 2010


Modeling and Dance

Lucky you!  I think.

Not all models are created equal.  There are so many forms of modeling too; hand models, feet models, hair, body, teeth, you name it.  Cat walk models are thin and tall.  Catalog models are the kids next door.  The younger the better.

When I was selected, I was selected for my hair, and strong facial bones, and walk.  Believe it or not, the one thing I always struggled with was my hair, and that is what they wanted.  I won out over other models who had auditioned 5 or 6 times before.

My dance background also helped.  I could walk well,  the agency lady told me.  At age 13 I also had developed  body wise  in areas my competition lacked.  I had the hair, the body, the face, and the walk is what I was told.  I was also young with attributes that could be made to look older.

Training up in dance you learn a lot about control and pose.  In dance, you have technical skills that do transfer over to modeling.  Presentation being number one.  Although you have to learn how to give your face, space.  LOL.   That’s what I said “Face Space”.

If you have ever watched the show Top Model, there are a lot of things on there that are true.  We studied everything from table etiquette, hiking clothes, swim wear,  to evening gown modeling, and grunge. Modeling is different than being selected as an extra for a part.  There are no similarities.  Yes, it is a different field altogether.

During one of our longer breaks (two weeks), I decided to get chunks put in my hair.  It was the going thing at the time in school. Then the phone call came.  We were told “not so gracefully” to remove the chunks  or leave.  They let me know – they owned my hair!

Apparently the agency also called our hair dresser, Jason.  Going back to Jason to get the chunks out of my hair was probably one of the worst things I had experienced as a young woman.  I don’t think they were nice to him on the phone.  He didn’t deserve to be treated so poorly.  He only did what I asked him to do.  Jason is one of the few people that really “gets” my hair, and can style it properly.

Some of the things you learn while modeling are that you don’t change anything without the agencies approval.  You are also on their clock.   I had to go through three levels of administration to get permission to have time off to attend a dance competition.

Many dancers assume that make over photos make them glamorous, and model worthy. While glamorous is nice,  it is probably the last photo I would put into that port folio.  As a model they are looking for more variety and less glamour.  Glamour models are a dime a dozen – Victoria Secret models aren’t.  Also, at 5’7″  you are not going to be a run way model.  Lose the idea.

Models who can show a wide range of comfort in a host of activities will probably be more successful.   I beat out two glamour models for the spot, and I was wearing my dance travel suit.  My hair was down, not straightened, and it was in its natural state.  I didn’t have any make up on either, just mascara.   You really don’t know what they will be looking for.

Some will tell you what they are looking for – so read up on what it is they want.  Be prepared to show versatility.

Some of the things I learned from the agency will last a life time.  Other’s I’ll never use.  The business is very stressful, you lose time and sleep, and you are never perfect enough.  If you want that smile that dazzles, get your braces when you are 10 or 11 years old.  Get used to being on their clock.

I look at some of the people who went on to model for things like Toyota and Pantene, and I am glad for them.  That was what they really wanted.  I did choose dance for myself.  I wanted that 6 foot  overall competition trophy.   Modeling did help with that.  It helped me break out of my shy stage.  I was more able to feel comfortable in dance clothing than I had ever been.  I learned how to really use clothing and my body frame as part of the overall dance.

Would I suggest modeling to others?  Yes.  But only if you really want to work hard.  You can’t be shy.  You will have to step outside of your genre of clothing, look and feel.  You do have to ask yourself questions like:

1. would you cut your hair?

2. would you quit dance?

3. at 13 would you be willing to wear ballroom gowns straight off the red carpet? Slink?

4. are you willing to move?

5. how do you like competition – in your face daily? Adult competition?

6. how well do you handle criticism?

These are the simple questions.  You just have to learn as you go.  You must have parental control all the time!   I guess that is what really ended it for me – the “mom”.  Now that I look back at it, it was the right decision for me.   I was a dancer first and foremost.

That 6 foot trophy – it had my name on it.  I ended up owning it.   In that respect, I have to thank the agency.  They gave me a sense of who I was and how I could use the knowledge I gained from them on the dance floor.

Modeling is not for everyone.  If you get picked, it could be for toes and not your glamour.   Good luck.

Dance on

PS:  One thing I know they won’t want at a gig, or on the dance floor for that matter, is a big fat flower sticking out the side of your head.  LOL.  If they want a flower  there, they will put it there themselves.  They own you!


How important is your “team”

You don’t have to take my advice, or the advice of someone 300 miles away. If dance is really what you want to do – go somewhere or train with someone that will respect you, understands the genre and the terminology of the dance you perform in.

Learn technique, learn the terminology.  Find those instructors who know how to teach all the levels.  When you really search them out, you will find there aren’t as many as you thought.

What you also need to decide is whether or not the clic~ is more important than the dance? Who do you want yelling at you – inexperienced or experienced trainers? It’s a no brainer.

Is being on a team the most important thing to you? Or, are you the solo type?

Deciding to dance on a school sponsored team, or a studio team, can make a big difference in your life. If you are on a team (school or studio) and you spend more days being miserable than happy – it’s probably time for a change. You need to decide as a young adult what really fits your personality, your needs, and your comfort zone. You have decisions to make!

Do you want to be a part of a team because you enjoy dance, or because you want to be part of a social clic~? Is your team friendly? Does it have fair policies? Does your team have a trained instructor?

If your team does not seem to be up to the levels of the past, that can be very discouraging. It’s hard to continue being a part of something that may looked “stalled”.  You come back each year, to see the same poor judging, the same types of unexperienced  coaches or assistances; and the same types of  choreographers that just don’t put together winning material. Counting those things on your fingers yet?

There are options to getting your dance career off the “stalled” block. You don’t have to be on the discouraging  end.  I would hope there are studios in your area that you could explore as an options. All it takes is four or five really dedicated dancers to pull away from a “stalled” team and create their own winning team. I’m not talking about building a new studio either – just get floor space, and a name to dance under. Pay the fees; buy the jacket “feel good again”.  Be careful however, not all studios are created equal, and may be below your level, and can pull you down quickly.

Just about any studio would love to have you, if you really want to be there. But, don’t be wishy – washy. Don’t bring any past problems with you either. You shouldn’t be looking to destroy anything, or bring any names into play, when you finally decide to leave your current team. You just have to let your coaches know that you feel like you could learn more someplace else. Don’t feel guilty about it either. Leave on good terms. Burning bridges behind you leaves scars. So don’t do that please.

There are people who get into positions just so they can boss people around. It’s that need to control. They don’t mind telling you about it either. Not a good way to be.  If someone is a professional or semi-professional dancer, they have probably earned the right to say “I’m in charge”. But, the average dancer,  or instructors who teach outside their own genre, has to learn that being a dance authority has added responsibilities that may be over their head.  Instructors who teach outside their own genre will struggle.  It’s not a nature flow, and things will not right themselves.  You have to teach what you know.

There is always the parental aspect of any decision that is made by those still underage. My suggestion is to take your parent with you to the new studio, school, or location you are interested in. Generally if a dancer can win over the parent, they pretty much get what they want. But winning over a parent takes craft. I say that because, there are a lot of parents that are tired of hearing their student come home with stories of nepotism, favoritism, elitism, and cruelty from dance practices.

Sometimes parents have to endure these complaints month after month. This is what your directors and school administrators are there for – to deal with these issues. But a lot of parents are just as afraid as their student. Too afraid to make waves.. The mind set is to just get it over with. The sad part is – you don’t. You have to make choices somewhere along the line. Hopefully parents and dancer can make those choices together.

I’m not real fond of people quitting mid-stream. It is always better to not begin in the first place – if you are the wishy-washy kind. No offense – but hey, I like dedicated dancers. Most trainers do!

You have to evaluate what it is you really want. Going with the flow will only get you more of the same. You need to have the guts to help yourself. Stand committed.  FINISH!

*You don’t have to challenge any authority – leave on good terms

*You don’t have to stay on a loser team – excel somewhere else

*You can pick where you want to train in most cases – school or studio

There can be just as many competitions available at a studio as there are on a school team. Generally more at a studio. You still can go to the games!Your possibilities are endless – but you have to take the first step. Pick that thing that will bring you peace throughout the year – not despair.

Good luck dancers.

I hope you pick wisely.

Technique – Formula for Success

Technique – It is the formula for success.  Growing up I  danced side-by-side with many good dancers; I could list names all day long – but you all know who you are.   You were the girls who cared about technique and what the team looked like in the end.

I also danced with a few who couldn’t  turn or leap – to save their bacon.  There were a number of girls who tried out each year for the team and never made it.   Some are still in denial.   Others can laugh about it, and enjoy the moments we all shared.  I worked with training a  number of lefty’s.  They had double the load by having to move in a direction unfamiliar to them.   But they did it!   Why don’t others who are not directionally challenged  manage to learn proper technique?

As an instructor what can you do  when you can’t get them to learn anymore?  Or even try?  Do you hide them in the mix?  Rearrange choreography?   Maybe you do hide them, but after a while, you learn that you can’t keep dummying down the dance to fit in one individual, or a pair.  At some point an instructor or director has to take the necessary actions and cut a member from the team.  Parents don’t like that.   Neither do the dancers.  Neither do coaches.

I know of dancers who still hold grudges because of a cut.   Others take it quite gracefully.  A small handful take it to extremes and actually violate the very trust that is needed to learn in a dance environment.   They use deception and manipulation to get their way.  SNAP…..

There is your dilemma.  How to have a successful  well trained team, and  keep everyone happy.   The bottom line is, you can’t keep everyone happy.  You aren’t there to make them happy.  You are there to train them how to be successful dancers.  If you are going to be successful you are going to have to make cuts, and you WILL have to deal with that small handful of the disgruntled.

A lot of problems can be avoided at try-outs.  If a dancer isn’t  on their game, just don’t pick them.  Better to have a small number of good dancers, than a large number of gangly dancers that can’t turn or leap, or can’t recognize 5,6,7,8.

I understand that it is extremely hard to work with a school team that doesn’t studio train on the side.    Training, is not an hour or two a week, with a little practice before or after school.    That isn’t training for competition.  That is what is called recreational dancing.  I think I’ve said this before somewhere, “that is why soloists are born”.

If you are a competition instructor or director you should demand quality.  Parents too, after all you are putting your money on the line thinking your child will be ready to perform, and do well.    When a parent goes to a performance and sees their child for the first time for the season, what will be the overall effect?   What lasting memory are they going to come away with?   Are they thinking “Oh my gosh” or are they thinking “they held their own”?

I have a ton of images showing the many different types of dancers that I performed with.  A camera catches a lot of things.  We are ALL on film doing our worst and our best.   I would be tarred and feather and kicked off the planet if I ever let some of them out.  No worries, feathers aren’t too tasty – I understand.

Technique snap-shots.  Money back – guarantee, a photo says a lot.  SNAP….  It is a grading scale for instructors and directors.  It tells the story better than anything ever can.   If not money, then honor later in life.  Never should a performers honors be over shadowed by a want-a-bee dancer or instructor.  SNAP….\

You can pack your pages with images on facebook, and youtube, and twitter sites.  You can try to keep them as positive as you can, but at some point, those images will come under review.  Even your good ones.  Every flaw, every point, every little directional turn that someone messed up on year-in, year-out, will  be reviewed.

Critics are everywhere.  Generally it is the least amongst us who take aim at those  they perceive to be above them.   Jealously?  You bet.  They can’t control the past, or the future.  All they can do is stir the moment.    As members of my own household would say, “if you see a pot of crazy, it is best not to stir it”.

There is always a lot of people  trying out for the  TV show, So You Think You Can Dance.     I watched a couple of my friends in SLC try out a couple years ago.  I have to say I’m guilty of wanting to watch them fall on their better ends.    I told them I needed a good laugh. They had no real dance back ground other than recreational and a little drill.  They had been pushed by their parents and “money motivated directors”  all their lives.  They never even performed a solo once in their dance history.    Now they were going to try out for SYTYCD.    I could of saved them a heart ache, but it was just too much fun not too.  I’m guilty!

Together we laughed about it afterwards, and we are still friends – but I will never let them live it down.    I think if you are going to try out for something at this level you really need to have a good sense of humor.

They tried to con me into it.  It may have been fun to try out for SYTYCD.  But that meant quitting school if I even got lucky to make a cut.  I’m too ambitious in other directions.  Those who know me, know I’m a competitor by heart, but I also know my limits, and expectations.    Besides I get to watch my friends make fools of themselves.    It was one of those college moments.

A  Jazz kick line would be a much better choice if I was going to try out again for anything.   That or follow in the foot steps of one of my mentors Amanda VanAsdole (former Denver Bronco Cheerleader).   I would probably put in a few months of hard core training to get myself into shape first too ( Solo mode).   I wouldn’t expect it to be easy.  I wouldn’t expect SYTYCD to be easy either.

Teaching and judging is more a reality that I can live with.  But then again, who knows.   As an instructor I’m pretty keen on students learning proper technique.   There needs to be a number of us die hards around  who are going stick with it and  train future students on how to get out of poe dunk, and actually try out for college teams or professional organizations.  You aren’t going to learn technique by watching SYTYCD, you are going to have to get out there and learn the steps, take the classes, and try out.

It’s okay to dance at a recreational level.  Thousands do it all the time, and they have just as much fun as the movie stars.   So don’t be discouraged by it all.  Some people really will land a career in the dance field.  For others recreation gets them on a bus and to a game.  Each person has their own goals.  Follow your own.

Don’t count your chickens

Dance Champions Coop - Hens only!

Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched.

Sometimes we forget to think about the future when we start to count our chickens before they are hatched. That old cliche’ has gone around the old hen house more than once.

Ever wonder why things don’t turn out the way you want them too? Wonder why someone else got the lead in the dance and you didn’t? Or why you got the lead – but really didn’t want it? It probably has to do with chickens.

Yes… you heard me right, chickens.

The real problem that younger dancers struggle with is “peer” pressure. You are pressured to be the best, act the best, hang with the best, dance the best, etc…. Whew~! Talk about burn out. Being the best all the time is hard work. As a matter of fact – it is spoiled work! Spoiled, as in rotten.

Sometimes we allow our friends to hen peck us into submitting to their likes and dislikes. We generally find that even well after we have given in to the pressure – inside we feel incomplete. We feel like something is missing. That something little chicks is called “self respect”. Fortunately the loathing feeling is curable! 🙂 Self Respect can be renewed very easily. Just believe in “You”

When you start to stand up to the peer pressure and emerge into that hen you always knew you could be, then you’ll start to feel like your old self again. Happy, content, and rested.

Bad hair day “honey” cluck!

Prom Queen

Drama takes energy chickee’s. It takes a lot of un-necessary brain energy away from your well being.

Think about what I’m saying real hard:
“Close your eyes and imagine you are a little chick newly hatched. You bust onto the dancing hen scene with a little crack in the side of the egg. You can’t wait to be free from the boundaries that
have held you so tightly for so long. Your little downy fluff is so soft and smooth – you are priceless.

Then…at the very moment your head is fully freed from it’s shell you hear clucking sounds all around you. Each clucker trying to out cluck the next….. cluck, cluck, cluck. You quietly “peep peep”, but the sweet little sound is quickly stifled by the obsessive clucking.

Not only do you have to walk in that hen house – you have to survive it. Giving into the pressure is easy. Hanging true to your values – now that’s the hard part.

So you say you don’t think you are a chicken? Good. Don’t let what others think guide you into losing site of your values and your goals. BE a Rooster@! Crow! Rule the roost.

So, what does this all have to do with dance? Everything. Just because someone claims they are the best, and they deserve the “special spots, doesn’t necessarily mean its true. Generally, it is the other way around. They are clucking their little hearts out hoping to keep the sweet chicks down.

High school doesn’t last forever “thank goodness”… Once you leave the hen house (school) you will get the chance to take your feathers out for a test drive. College is a good place to do that.

Be your own bird. If a chicken is all you will ever be – then by gully, be the best dang bird you can be. Don’t let your feathers get in a ruffle if some spoiled clucker gets front and center. Just shine it on, knowing that you are goal minded and haven’t lost your values.

Be your best – not someone else’s best. Rise above the roofs!

🙂 Giggle snort reporting

Originally posted 4/2009