Jan 12 2010

Dance Year Resolutions

By Alison Moss              2010 welcomes the dancer in all of us! Where has the past decade gone? It’s hard to believe that ten years ago Dancing With The Stars and So You Think You Can Dance didn’t even exist?   Nerdel wasn’t an internet sensation either to make us aware of our healthy habits and all of the exciting things we can do to keep our bodies thriving. How did we survive without them?             Have you given any thought to how you can make 2010 a better year for you and your body?  If your house is anything like my house, we still have Halloween candy lurking in the cupboards, but the turkey is finally gone from Thanksgiving.  Our Christmas holiday was full of preparations, both in and out of the kitchen. In fact, with so many preparations and parties, there hasn’t been much time at all devoted to moving around and keeping my own body healthy. I’m certainly paying for it now. I did the best I could by parking as far away as possible in mall parking lots (actually, I tried to do most of my shopping online).  I cranked up my iPod speakers in the kitchen to dance, while I baked, and with nonstop holiday music on one radio station, many passing cars saw me rocking out in my seat at stoplights!  But all ...

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Dec 15 2009

Hip Hop Holidays!

 Hip Hop Holiday! Hip Hop Holiday! Hip Hop every day… Oh, what fun it is to dance And stay healthy Nerdel’s way…Hey!  Hip hop dance is a form of street dance. It’s often improvised and representative of a dancer’s style. The words, “hip hop”, bring images of DJs, rap music, graffiti, and battles between two groups. Breakin’ and Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo are two movies from the eighties that highlight hip hop dance and ciphers, circles that dancers formed around a soloist showing off his or her stuff. Many people gravitate towards hip hop dance as a deviation from classical styles that dictate who your partner is and rehearse with strict schedules in a dance studio. Hip hop dancers form their own ‘crews’ with friends and rehearse at home or in the street. Hip hop dancers don’t have a union or auditions to be in their groups. It is a “come as you are” philosophy; each person has something unique to bring to the table. Believe it or not, hip hop dance has been around since the seventies. James Brown used drum solos in his songs to strut his stuff. Soul Train was responsible for showcasing so much of this talent. When Don Campbell appeared on Soul Train doing “campbellock”, his stylistic short pauses within movement, our version of “locking” was born. The world was watching, and many more young artists used Campbell’s inspiration to ...

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Nov 03 2009

Calling All Turkeys! Dancing Your Way Into Thanksgiving!

By Alison Moss Gobble! Gobble! Thanksgiving time is near. Are you prepared to find the moves that groove you on the big day? Think about it…one word comes to mind when I think about Thanksgiving—TURKEY!  And lots of it! But, all turkey and no movement can be a bad thing; so, I’m here to help you create your own movement playground at home on Thanksgiving Day. I’m sure Mom, Dad, and maybe even Grandma are in the kitchen prepping for the special meal.  There are lots of activities you can do in your own home to keep you busy and moving. My favorite part of the morning is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. I love to grab lots of pillows and blankets and hunker down on the couch to watch the balloons and parade floats go through the streets of New York, while an apple pie bakes in the oven. Sometimes, I dance with the singers on the parade floats. Often times, it’s a hit artist playing my favorite song. I’ve even been known to belt out the lyrics too, until someone reminds me that I am not a singer, nor should I ever quit my day job and try to be one. Another thought while watching the parade is making use of the commercial breaks. Those three to four minute breaks are perfect for working on stretches to improve flexibility. Why ...

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Sep 04 2009

Jump into Jazz

By Alison Moss             “Come on Babe, why don’t we paint the town?... And all that jazz…” If ballet is the foundation of our house of dance, jazz is the colorful, individualized paint on each wall of your home.  Jazz dance emerged in the late 1800’s tied to African American roots and jazz music. The American Heritage dictionary describes it, “Any of the various dances characterized by the use of improvisation and influenced by rhythms and techniques of jazz music.” Whereas ballet is graceful and predictable, the dancer performs the step to the right side and then repeats it to the left side, jazz dance is syncopated and unexpected. In jazz dance, choreographers play with the downbeat and include moments of improvisation, where the dancers (like jazz musicians) spontaneously create their own movements playing off one another.             The beauty of jazz dance is that it’s forever changing with musical trends and each choreographer’s personality.  If synthesized music is hot right now, the performances will follow suit, and if slow, sultry voices fill the airwaves, sinuous movement will fill the dance floor. It’s not unusual to see a mix of fast and slow movement inside of one choreographic piece. The footwork in jazz dance is what appeals to me most. When I teach my jazz classes and it’s time to go across the floor, I experiment with different levels and directions. Each ...

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Sep 04 2009

Tap : Keep the beat in your feet!

By Alison Moss            Flap-heel-heel…Brush-heel-toe-heel…STOMP! Did you ever get a rhythm stuck in your head and suddenly find yourself tapping it on your legs or moving your whole body to keep the beat? If you answered yes, then perhaps, tap dancing is a new exercise to try for you.  Tap dancing is made possible by shoes that have metal plates nailed into the bottom of them.  You could call tap dancers “percussive musicians”, because they make the music they dance to with their own two feet.           The best tap dances are those done without musical accompaniment, or a cappella.  The beauty of tap dance is that it plays with the beat, sometimes syncopating music and not making each section sound even, but more interesting and complex for your ears. Lots of times, tap dance is improvised.  The dancer may start with one common rhythm and then experiment with new combinations of sound and return back to the main theme.           Tap dancing isn’t new to our generation.  It is an extension of Irish step dancing and clogging. Those types of shoes are also specialized in that they have a harder toe and materials to accent sound, when the shoes strike a surface. As shoes have developed and improved over time, dancers from many decades have created and changed tap as we know it today.           Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers come to mind ...

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Sep 04 2009

Ballet Rocks!

The Foundation of Dance Ballet dance is the foundation that all other dance forms build their structures on and incorporate ballet's elements into their moldings. If you were to look closely at the basics of any jazz movement or tap step, you could find ballet technique hidden within its parts. A Broadway or jazz dance auditioner can tell by watching the casting call candidates who has had ballet training by the strength, flexibility, and finesse of their movement. What is it about ballet that makes heads turn? Where did ballet dance come from? What do you wear for a ballet class, and how do you strengthen your own body to participate in ballet dance? Ballet is graceful, effortless movement that is full of control. It's a series of turned out moving shapes that defy gravity and balanced poses that stop time. Ballet dance is often set to classical music. There are no words or dialogue to tell a story, but rather lots of pantomime and facial expression to get the message to the audience. More contemporary ballets of our lifetime have included singing, world music, and even silence as the soundtrack. In the early 1990's Joffrey Ballet went so modern as to create Billboards, an entire evening of dance set to the music of Prince. It was one of the first modern rock music ballet pieces choreographed. Ballet dance first started in the ...

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