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Posts Tagged ‘salah’

Training tip: Don’t practice to your one favourite track

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I heard this one from Salah. It’s natural for us to practice our dance only to our favourite tracks, and come up with a choreo for only those songs. But this doesn’t help you with your musicality, freestyling, and creativity. It’s better to try and practice to songs you barely know and haven’t memorised. It even helps to listen to music that doesn’t traditionally belong to your style of dance. Still try to make your dance fit to the music.

Youtube and pornographic cooking shows

July 10, 2010 Leave a comment

These are just some personal thoughts that relate to the typical traits of performers and entertainers. Click here for all of my other ramblings.

Let me warn you of a behavior that may hold you back in your progress. It feeds on a human characteristic of dependence that we all have, to a certain extent. I like to call it the pornographic cooking show effect.

Let me explain. Most people who watch cooking shows don’t do it to learn new recipes. They watch them to have to a pleasant cooking experience without having to buy groceries, prepare the food, and wash dishes. Yes, they didn’t cook anything, they can’t eat the food, or even smell it, so it’s a weak substitute for the real thing. Nonetheless, people are willing to accept this because there’s no cost and no hassle. It’s the same principle with porno, a pale imitation of the real experience where you don’t take part in the activity (let’s not discuss details). Still, it’s instant gratification with no hassle, no demands from another living person, at nearly no cost. Billions of dollars each year in that industry attest to that principle (it is probably recession proof, for all I know).

Dance clips can have a similar effect, because they reduce your incentive to practice the dance yourself. With today’s wireless internet, Youtube, and the laptaop (or the iPad), you can watch the greatest battle events at any time, at any place. Instant gratification anywhere you are, no matter who you are, or what your own dancing skills are.

Yes, you weren’t there, and it wasn’t you who wowed everyone with your sick moves. But you didn’t need to practice the drills. On days where your energies are low and you’re flooded by self-doubt, you can watch the same clips on Popin’ Taco over and over again. This helps you feel better after not being quite able to execute those arm wave like you wanted to. Hell, on your laziest days, you can just imagine that you are Salah, and that it was you at at the final round of Juste Debout. They feed your fantasies, just like pornos do.

This wasn’t an option back in the 1970s/1980s (or even less than a decade ago to a large extent). If you didn’t dance and meet up with other dancers, then you had no other substitute for the experience. Hell, there were little options for entertainment in general (especially for the poor urban youth who invented popping and bboying). There simply was less chance of gratification of any kind without effort. This made you hungry, as Otis Funkmeyer told me in our interview. It spurned you to improve your skills, because you had to rely on yourself for gratification, not on technology.

Raw interview: Poppin John (part 2)

July 3, 2010 1 comment

5. Which dancers and teachers made the greatest impression on you at the beginning (and has this changed nowadays)?

So when I first started out poppin, I thought there were 5 poppers in the world (hahah). Salah, Mr.Wiggles, Poppin Pete, Bionic, and PopnTaco.

That soon changed when I started traveling and meeting poppers from nowhere and everywhere. I felt so small. I thought I was a beast and then realized that I was just a kid that had a few good waves. Salah was a big influence when I was beginning. I was amazed by his battle attitude and how he always had the crowd wrapped around his finger….I still feel the same about Salah, and after teaming up with him to battle in Juste Debout, I have so much respect and love for him. He definitely is super humble and very professional. A very good person all around and a good friend of mine now. It was a dream come true dancing with him…

Wigz was the first popper I ever know existed and I would say he was the biggest influence of mine…I watched a wigz tape over and over and over trying to learn moves and techniques. Now wigz is the person I go to for advice on my dance and business. He always has the time to answer me, and he was and always will be a huge influence of mine.

During the first 5 years of my dance, I decided I wanted to be a boogaloo popper…all the poppin jams were full of them and I really didn’t fit in with any of them. So that was a big focus of mine. I wanted to boog sooooo bad, so I bought a Poppin Pete tape and he broke down a lot of boog positions, and I started to boog in this period of my dance career. I was learning very slow. I really couldn’t find the feel of boog and the positions were foreign to me. But I stuck with it. A couple years went by and I had been to a few more big jams freestyle session. I saw J-Rock win freestyle session 8 and that’s what I wanted my dance to look like. But it wasn’t happening so I still kept pushing it…

I just couldn’t feel it one day, and I said “Fuck it, bro. I’m gonna do me.” I started looking in the mirror, seeing what I liked. I always loved it when I saw a popper get really “clean”… isolated, animated, clean waves. Popn Taco’s a beast in my book and always will be.

[Liquid Metal: I second that opinion on PopNTaco]

So Poppin Pete was an influence of mine when I really wanted to fit in with the boog world, but not so much now. I think he is amazing and a legend, but not really what I’m going for in my dance. Nowadays, I get influenced by everyday students of mine and my crew Soulbotics . But I try to influence myself and learn new things by myself. Its easy to watch videos on youtube now and really pick up that persons feel without knowing it, so I try to stay conscience of that and try to keep my own feel.

[Liquid Metal: This echoes my post Youtube is our friend and enemy]

6. What does your daily practice session consist of (including any supplementary conditioning and flexibility training)?

Daily practice consists of a studio solo session for 1 to 2 hours. Then I have choreo practice for 1 hour. I put a wall up for myself a few years ago and said I was not good a choreo. Now im trying to break that mental block, so I jam out with a crew in El Paso. I have been getting pretty good.

Then after that studio session I head home and change, go off to the club to really session. When I’m in the studio I “practice”, and when I go out I “session”. They are very different in my book. When I practice, I practice styles. When I session, I transition in and out of different styles, flip styles, and really connect with the music.

As far as warm up and flexibility goes, I really don’t focus too much on those. I just GET DOWN as hard as I can.

7. What is the most common mistake beginning poppers make, and what advice should all new poppers know?

I think a big mistake beginning poppers make is trying to cut corners. I feel there are no short cuts in this dance . You have to learn the techniques of poppin and the styles of poppin before you can execute “moves”. I see many beginners just jumping from move to move to move, but they don’t have the control or technique to execute them…but I can also say that’s not a mistake, its just how it is today. I feel that those dancers are doing all they can with the skill level they have. If they stick with it, they will eventually learn the techniques and control. So I would say the mistake is not knowing that there is a lot of technique to learn before you can make moves look good.

And that brings me to my advice. You have to practice as much as possible to get better. This dance is a life long dance, meaning it takes YEARS to learn many of the techniques that are in poppin. So my advice is to never take a break. Always practice and try to find motivation in every situation to train more. When I lose, I train. When I win, I train. When I feel that I’m not as good as this guy, I train. When I feel I have a high skill level than this guy, I train. I find that fire in every situation to practice more.

8. What are your thoughts on the competitive nature of popping, and how should one deal with the success of others?

Well, when I started dancing that’s what it was all about. In battling, I was sooo hungry and I wanted to prove myself in every circle. I learned so much about winning losing and using it all for motivation.

But there are a few things that I would like to say about the competitive nature of poppin. Be careful not to get too caught up in the drama of this dance. We can forget that it is a positive thing and we do it because we love the dance and the music. If you cant take losing very well then you should not battle. You are putting your dance in front of someone to judge it and critique it. If that is something that will hurt you don’t put your self in that position.

That being said, competing is a huge part of my life and I cant seem to get away from it. It is tough at times to take a loss and also to take a big win. You can’t let either of them get to your head too much. And about the success of others: the way I look at it, the better other poppers do, the better it is for the whole dance. I believe that we have the most talented people in this culture and we should all get exposure and the fruits of hard work. This dance is hard to learn, and when that much time is put into anything, I think there should be rewards greater than personal expression. But that just is my view. There are many people who view that subject differently… But to be successful in this industry you have to work hard and go get it you can’t just stand around and wait for the opportunities to knock at your door.

Click here for part 3 of the interview.