Posts Tagged ‘waving’

Raw interview: Vadim Savenkov

February 2, 2011 Leave a comment

This is my interview with Vadim Savenkov, one of the great Russian performing artists, who is also an amazing waver and botter. He is one of my biggest inspirations when it comes to blending performing arts and street dance. Also visit his website to receive further info.

What led you to performing arts like mime and circus clowns? Were there specific mimes and performers that inspired you?

During my childhood, I went crazy with movies. That is why I always like to dress as a movie character (soldier, indian, musketeer), and play the parts from recently watched movies. We in the USSR did not have the chance to buy nor rent any “carnival ” costumes. I used old clothes ,hats,belts, threads, needles, and my imagination. Sometimes my parents would help. And at the same time I did like drawing . Everybody was sure that I would be the painter because I easily won drawing competitions ( I later got into an art school ). Plus I have been in a children theater where I play parts. Then I was mad about martial arts and east culture. And of course music. When I heard first time “the Rockets” I felt something strange. I liked that music very much and I feel that something is getting closer.

Unfortunately in Russia, most of the invitations to participate in tv show with your act go to humorous shows. If you do not have a humor in your act you have almost no chance to be seen on tv. That is second reason why I start studying humor as a genre.
When I started to dance there were people who inspired me : Aleksei Geroulaitis, Vjacheslav Ignatjev, Michael “Boogloo Shrimp” Chambers.
Later I was inspired by: Michael Moschen, Koichi Tohei,David Copperfield shows( all production team), Michel Courtemanche, Tommy Cooper.
My favorites actors which inspired me from my childhood are: Andrey Mironov, Jurij Nikulin, Georgij Vitcin. Unfortunately those actors were seen only in Russia.

My drawing skills helped me to create new characters, build a combinations of moves, how to do the right make up.
My martial arts gave me good physical ability and knowledge of the rules of harmony.
My theatrical skill helps me to find right gestures, pouses and mimicry.
As a movie fun I have in my brain collection of many screen plays, actors reactions, compositions…
My researching skill helps me to get all that things together .
I am still researching an illusion dance and stage performance. Reading scientific books such as ” Biomechanic”, ” brain’s reaction on a visual signal”…
As for mime and clown, I can say that in 1990 I have a trip with famous Russian mimes. And of course I learn many things from them. Then I participated in shows with famous Russian comics. I always liked good sense of humor and one day I started to analyze this thing.

What is your daily training regime, and has this changed significantly over the years? How does one train to develop the strength, body control and agility that you acquired?

When I was younger I spent lots of time in training ( 5-8 hours a day), but now I often have no time for that, unfortunately, because sometimes I make the shows as director and it means that after the working day you have no time and no power. But if I have contract as a performer( in South Korea,Switzerland….) I spend at least two hours a day on training(character movement ,dance ,conjuring,…)
I think that east arts ( wu shu, karate,yoga..) can help to develop good body and soul control. For example, after practicing kata in karate for years I can able to make quick movements and stop suddenly.
If we need we can practice with a little weight on our wrists…
But I think that the most important thing is control the tension and relaxation in muscles and not to overtax joints. Of course tension is good thing If we want to do something extraordinary, but the way of harmony is how to be a good friend to our body and our soul and not to break them in order to impress audience .
Another thing is how to make combination( act,performance ) look good. As for me, I often draw on my ideas and try to find the way how to fill the space and how to match the music. Plus I always pay attention to the Russian theatrical school. There are lots of answers on how to make the act, how to work with a character ,where to you lead your audience …..
It does not mean that every B boy must know all these things. No. It is just for someone who want to get to the bottom of himself and make something that will be very good for audience of all ages.

How did you come into contact with streetdance styles like the robot, waving, and electric boogie? How did the Russian youth come into contact with streetdances.

Being in the Army in 1985, I suddenly saw Break Dance on TV! I saw people who were walking normally but the floor was moving, then you saw that it was a normal floor. Those people moved like robots, sometimes it seemed like the space changed, and the music sounded futuristic. From that particular moment I understood that this is what I have been waiting for such a long time!
I found that Break dance consist two things:
Demonstration of incredible physical ability. Audiences see ordinary people who perfectly operate with their bodies.
Demonstration of the ability of illusion. Audiences see people with abnormal physical ability who don’t seem human at all.
But I saw a stage version of Break dance . Maybe that is why when I got a chance to see the Breaking movie I was disappointed by some of the clothes. They looked like clothes for rock. But of course I liked very much electro rock , and the dance with the broom. I liked the happy face of a man who had no legs but had a chance to dance, being in harmony with the music and sharing his ability with an audience.
Later I bumped into the differences between street style and stage rules. As for the professional stage there were many obstacles. On the street there is more freedom.
Mostly I was on stage then on the street. But you know that we have cold weather in Russia, so most of the year you should dance inside.
Now the Russian youth can see break dance in a night club shows and on the internet, but very seldom on TV.

How was your experience in the Volzhskiy Circus School? How did it improve your skills?

When I was in a Circus School I like acrobatics, juggling and conjuring. I learned many rules about how to do tricks using only power which you actually need to spend to do that and avoid injury. And of course I learned what exactly it is to be a professional performer.

Is there any government support for the performing Arts in Russia? It at all possible to make a living as a performer?

Thank you for this particular question . As far as I can see, our government does not pay enough attention on these things. If you do not belong to classical ballet or folk dance, you are sailing on your own. It is difficult to even find out if someone casting because the casting system is hidden.
Our show business is based on singers and stand up comedians. If you want to go abroad you have to have a visa. Some of my friends (performers) are dead already and they were young people and not lazy at all but for them it was too difficult to get used to the situation. In the last years, the situation has changed a little. Our dancers can be seen on a world championships…( Top 9).
Anyway, it is possible to make a living as a performer in Russia.

How were your experiences performing in American venues like the Beau Rivage Casino.

I had a jolly good time there in USA! During my work in the USA I received many interesting ideas. In Las Vegas I saw most of the greatest shows with outstanding effects,scenery,costumes…!It was not my first visit to America but I always like to be there. Very quickly I met with local B boys . That was fun.
As for experiences… in one of those show I had character which performs thoughout the whole show . It is such a pleasure to feel yourself as a fantasy character, but at the same time you have to work hard and control your body as to be interesting for the audience; An who have already seen many shows,actors,dancers. You have to do something to make audience believe that you are not an actor or a dancer. You are real character.

What are your current projects?
Two months ado I finished with an ice show ” Alice in wonderland on ice” as a director and visual effects creator. Then one month ago I worked in a circus and gave lessons for the whole troupe and participate in a show as a wizard. Then took a part in Alterum theatre performance ( you can see on Youtube as” Alterum theatre” HD ,I was a Chess man).
At this moment I am participating in different shows which belong to Russian New Year celebration( December – January ).

What one piece of advice would you give people who are interested in the performing arts?

Try to get to the subject matter itself!

Best of luck for everybody!

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Showcase: Paulo Genovesi (a.k.a. Hitman)

August 29, 2010 Leave a comment

For some reason, I keep coming back to Canada. I was just rounding up my contacts with the Canadian lockers when I happened to catch a video of the Canadian based group The Moon Runners. They are an amazing crew, and each individual member holds up in their own unique way. The group deserves a proper introduction (and I’ll give it to them soon), but let’s focus on one of its members: Paulo Genovesi, a.k.a. Hitman.

You can see from his above videos his incredible isolation control, his waves that creep through his body, and his ability to make his botting movements look unreal. I don’t think it’s wrong to compare his qualities to those of heavyweight botters like Madd Chadd and Tyson Eberly.

The following clip not only shows Hitman’s talent, but also the spot-on choreography by the entire group. They describe the type of music that they dance to as glitch hop. The music is defined by sound effects, and the group interprets these sounds with their unreal movements.

The following clip showcases Hitman’s command of speed changes. He alternates slow movements with quick bursts of explosive movement, which then come to a dead halt just as quickly as they started. I found this his most impressive solo.

There are many other videos of him and the crew Moon Runners, and I’d advise you to check them out. You won’t regret it. Also check out Hitman’s youtube account and facebook page. The youtube account of the crew Moon Runners can be found here.

Showcase: Brian “Footwork” Green

August 9, 2010 Leave a comment

This is my feature on House and freestyle dancer Brian Green where I showcase his dancing. For my interview with him, click here.

I saw House dance for the first time at the Munich Express your Style event. It seemed like a fun dance, and I later watched a few clips here and there out of interest on Youtube. But when I stumbled onto Brian Green, and I saw something quite different and unique. Like the best dancers, he fused different dance styles together without degenerating the integrity of the individual styles. Look at the following clip, and list the flow of different styles. I see not just House, but also tap dance, some snaking, and a little bit of boogaloo, all flowing into one.

Researching him, I found out that Brian Green started to dance at the young age of 8 in Salsa, tap dance, and African dance. His brother introduced him to poppin and boogaloo in the late 70s, while two friends (Damien and Spanky) introduced him to House and Freestyling. So it’s clear that he is well-versed in a large number of dances, which allowed him to develop his unique fusion of the dances.

I found the moniker “Footwork” attached to his name sometimes. You’ll see that it fits when you see his dancing in the following clip. It’s rare to see a dancer who varies his footwork and uses the entire space of the venue.

I found out that Brian Green judged the previous years Express your Style event. Too bad I missed out on his judge demo. Pay attention to his excellent upper body isolations that he executes independently from his footwork.

In the following clip, you can appreciate his sense of timing and pacing. I have to say that his movements are unreal in this clip, which fits the unreal quality of the music track that is playing (Theo Parrish – Orchestral Hall).

Green acted as a choreographer for a large number of recording artists and dances, such as MYA. He is also the cofounder of World Soul and House Dance Convention, and also served as staff for the Red Bull Teamriders event. For more information on these events, read my interview with Green.

I leave you with the most fun clip of Brian. Here he’s absolutely freaking the beat, which is very difficult to do when executing these type of complex movements.

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Interview: Brian “Footwork” Green

August 9, 2010 3 comments

This is my interview with House and Freestyle dancer Brian „Footwork“ Green. To see some of his great dancing, click here.

Please explain how you turned to dance at a very young age of 8 and what dances you initially pursued. What influence did your mother play?

All things go to GOD first, who gives us all a talent to express ourselves, live from, and that serves others in some way. In the human sense, at a very young age, my Mom, brother, and cousin danced; all different dance styles.  Brother did Rocking, Electric Boogie, and Snaking/Waving. Mom did Salsa, Hustle, and just hustle freestyle steps with alot of funky grooves behind it. My cousin did Ballet, Tap, and Jazz dance.

Also, my Mom showed me many TV shows,  Beta Max tapes, or reel to reel of various dancers and dances when I was young. I wanted to copy them and learn them all.  My Mom noticed that talent to music and dance before I did ( as GOD says, HONOR THY FATHER and MOTHER!!), and I just followed her advice. GOD told her, and she was right.

I’ve read that your brother, but also two individuals called Damien and Spanky, helped you to pursue different dance styles that you. What led you to freestyle, popping and house, and what were the influences of your brother and two friends?

My brother introduced me to the Boogie style/Snaking ( or people know it as Waving). That was in the very late 70s ( like late 78 or middle 79). Damien was a club head (a.ka. house dancer) that I met in late 86 or early 87 that was great in a style in House dance known today as Skating. It was very different from what people were doing, so I was influenced by him. Same for Spanky, who I met 2 years after in the House club. His freestyle was very different from other people and I was influenced.


My Brother: Creative, fearless, crazy angles, glides, and hand play in the boogie style. Clean Snaking/Waving (late 78 or 79-84).

Damien: He was about 6ft 9 or more, could spin, do floor moves, and travel around the club with very smooth syncopated footwork (86-88)

Spanky: syncopated and polyrhythmic footwork combined with very precise body isolations and rhythms, and arms that were coordinated with it. THIS WAS A CRAZY FREESTYLE!! CRAZY!! He was only 15 when I met him!! GENIUS. (88-92)

You did the choreography on a number of videos for music artists, including for the recording artist Mya. What qualities must the choreographer bring to such projects (e.g. willingness for collaboration, ability to endure time pressure). What surprised you most about working in such projects?

A choreographer or dancer in any form of this industry must realize it’s a business. So, realize what is “in” in the industry, but study other things to be able to have your own thing to show, and feel when it’s time for you to freestyle ( as a dancer) or choreograph. Also, be very humble, quiet, attentive, and knowledgeable for your longevity. Unless you are very versatile, I would say you can speak your mind and be aggressive, honest, and humble; be warned this is a hard way ( as I lived this one!!). Same results. You still make it to what you want and people will know you ( if that’s a person’s focus).

Surprises as a choreographer: just the lack of seriousness in dancers towards other dance styles. The lack of seriousness by artists to learn dance styles.

Surprises as a dancer: just how you are treated; expendable. But it was a  great experience to be on stage and to perform.
Can you describe a particularly inspiring moment in your collaboration with recording artists?

Really can’t say I have one in actually choreographing with an artist. I have some in choreographing with my group WORLD SOUL and HDC CREW. This is why I teach more, in hopes of raising the level in dance, physically and mentally. It’s a business, and some of the greatest artists (known or unknown) don‘t have the budget, or the industry doesnt give them the time to show their full talents. Artists like Mya, Barbara Tucker, and countless others were great dancers and performers that can raise the level on how people look at dance and can hold a note; they need more support.

Please describe the function of your projects World Soul events, Red Bull Teamriders, and the House Dance Conference.

WORLD SOUL is a dance group GOD allowed me to create back in 1992 in order to show the world the different feeling, soul, or grooves behind different dance styles; in order to try unite people in the dance world and the world ( as much as GOD will allow).

Red Bull beatriders was a RED BULL event that was to bring a certain amount of children around the world to train them in Hip-hop culture from experienced people in that culture. I was part of the advisor staff on this event/project, along with other prominent dancers in the Hip-hop culture.

House Dance Conference was like an event that focused on edutainment. With the same premise and ideas as my group WORLD SOUL!! HDC was an event that was financed and provided by GOD and me, but it was a collaborated idea that answered the cry of the scene of NY.  NY’s powerful dancers wanted an event to show children and up and coming dancers how it is to party for the love of music, but also respect and learn the art of dance styles they love from the pioneers of those styles. These people were flown in to perform, judge, and teach them from around the world. It was an event that had full-out dance and music on all levels. It lasted for 10 years in NY and is now traveling.

How does your spirituality feed into your dance and creativity?

GOD is life, gave life, and nutures it. Dance is my life’s expression. GOD is my life. JESUS is the example.

What role did ego, competition, and agression play in your dancing community when you started?

Funny, when I first started, I was a shy kid from Bayside, Queens. I went to church ( the building) in Harlem on Sundays to attend, or during the week to help my grandmother. I realized at the block parties in front of the church ( the building) that there was alot of violence in certain area  (Bayside was residential and on the upper middle class side).

The dichotomy was crazy to see and too complex to explain. But it’s a part of the dance and mentality of Hip-hop and other dance styles/culture that is important to know and realize. But many don‘t realize this importance and fall into the same pit falls in life, mentality, and work that keep them down.

In the beginning, I had alot of love for dance because I saw it that way. As I started to enter into battles and all, I started to see anger, showing-off, and violence. This fueled my skills, but definitely corrupted my mind in my late teenage and all of my 20s. Finding myself having to constantly read the BIBLE here and there on tours to check myself. Though that wasnt working till GOD had me realize ( thank GOD), the power of believing, faith, and praying; HE answers. AMEN!

I realized ( thank GOD), that ego, competition, and aggression must happen.  It’s a part of the nature of human beings when they dont understand what to do with their lives when they are rejected, tested, or pushed or work to something they like, don`t like, or don‘t understand. It’s life. It’s humans.

But those emotions in those categories of life help fuels their dance. Once feuled,  you change back to the love that once brought you to the dance. Then your dance grows even faster and crazier. And it becomes LOVE for real. Which serves people, yourself, and nature.

What does your daily dance training consist of (including suplementary training like stretches or weight training)? Has this changed significantly over the years?

I stretch every day considering the movement I will do. If I am going out to a club, then I stretch in the club and at least an hour before,  because I dont know what I will do in the circle. This is so I dont pull a muscle or something.  This has become more intense over the years in a cellular way. Studying heavier on my eating and physiology.

What mistakes do beginners typically make in the different dances, and what one advice would you give them?

We are all human and all make mistakes. We are all beginners in something. The mistake we all make is when we think we have arrived and stopped practicing and learning from others and ourselves.

How does age affect dancing in general (not just your own experiences)?

It doesn‘t.

Can you explain what led to the backlash by the mainstream public to certain streetdances like popping? It seems to have lasted from 1988 to 2000.

The popularity of certain dance style and seeing it everywhere behind different artists, videos, TV shows, and stage.  Has made people want to learn what it really is and it vast history and techniques. This is why it always re-surfaces.

Finally, the hardest question: What was your most memorable moment in dancing?

Dancing after GOD obviously made HIMSELF known to me. Also, the first time watched my MOM dance.

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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.

Featuring: Poppin John

June 5, 2010 4 comments

Being asked to choose my favourite dancer makes me uncomfortable, because I feel that I am disrespecting all of the dancers who have influenced me in their own different ways. But I can answer the question if it is posed a little differently. “Which dancer has the strength and qualities that you want to attain?” or “If you could only watch and learn from one dancer, who might that one be?”

In these cases, my answer comes without reservations: Poppin John. Isolations, dime stops, speed control, variety of styles. He excels in all of them. He happens to incorporate my favourite styles (what luck!), and his moves are always spot-on perfect.

Me stringing a line of praise and superlatives may come off as unconvincing, even disingenuous. So let me provide video footage of John’s dancing and point out why they blow me away like no other dancer. I embedded the videos so that they cut immediately to the part I want to discuss. That means that I’m going to post a lot of videos, but you don’t have to watch the entire clip (that’s your own choice afterwards).

My favourite moves involve head-and-chest isolations. I learned them first before attempting anything else.  A small number of dancers do it, but I have never seen anyone pull it off like Poppin John. Below you can see what I like to call “chicken head”

and here you can see what I like to call “head swipe” or “madd headd” (after Madd Chadd).

Note how isolated his head is from his neck and chest, and that it remains so even when he takes steps (not just standing around).

How about arm and body waves? No worries, that’s his specialty.

His footwork is varied and original. Look at his floating and gliding skills.

This clip below forced me to learn liquid hand waves.

Strobing is perhaps my greatest love, and there’s so little of it around (thank God for David Elsewhere, Tyson Eberly, Madd Chadd, and Flat Top). The best strobers are those that strobe more than just their arms.

I’m not the biggest fan of finger tutting, but tell me if this doesn’t bring a smile to your face.

Speed control. Moving your body real fast, then incredibly slow, perhaps even stopping on a dime, then going into overdrive again. Often overlooked, but it’s real important to build up contrasts in your dancing. That will make your dancing stand out. Check out his shoulders in this clip.

Too bad there’s no interview planned. That’d be too crazy, right?
You’d be surprised. Stay tuned for more.

Looking Elsewhere – Mirrors and shadows

May 4, 2010 1 comment

This is an entry in the David Elsewhere series where I analyse his training methods and philosophies. The quotes are derived from his myspace post. In this entry, I discuss the following quote.

Using a Mirror – I have found that using a mirror is extremely helpful when practicing because it gives instantaneous feedback. I know exactly how my moves look and can immediately critique myself. The only thing I would advise against would be getting so used to the mirror that you can’t perform well without one. To prevent this I try to practice just as much without a mirror.

Videotaping myself – I try videotaping myself once and in a while. It is just as helpful as using a mirror to me. The only drawback is that it’s not instantaneous feedback; you don’t see what you’re doing when you’re doing it. Videotaping has several advantages over a mirror. You don’t have to pay attention to your reflection thus allowing your mind to concentrate on just dancing. By recording yourself you, are able to observe things that are difficult to see in the mirror, like spins and ground moves. Videotaping yourself also gives you the opportunity to see what your moves look like from a variety of angles.

David Elsewhere, source

Many of the illusionary tricks of popping require a lot of practice and trial-and error. Most of the movements required to perform such tricks are unusual and essentially unnatural. Your body requires a lot of time and repetition to memorize these movements.

Take waving, for example. It requires you to isolate certain parts of your hands, wrist, shoulders, and chest, but to do so in a rapid and smooth fashion. Or take strobing, where you need to perform a rapid series of stop-and-go movements that have to be performed at a constant rhythm, every movement equal in distance from the previous one.

While there are many dance teachers and friends who can provide you with invaluable tips, you need to rely on yourself to criticize your performance and judge what you need to do so as to get where you want. That’s why it is necessary to perform in front of mirror. You can gain immediate feedback by watching yourself perform an arm wave and being unsatisfied with the result. This is particularly important when you first start practicing. Most likely you misunderstand how to perform an isolation or a dime stop, and only seeing yourself in the mirror will point that out. This allows you to try something different, find out what you misunderstood, what you need to work on.

Be aware of the drawbacks, though. Looking at the mirror means you are not fully concentrating on executing a move. It’s difficult to perform a move and concentrate on how it feels if you are looking at a mirror. Another possible drawback is that you may get used to performing in front of a mirror but are unsure how to dance without the aid of one.

Then we have the most simple negative effect: It can be disheartening for anyone to try to execute a move and failing hundreds of times, particularly in the beginning where you will almost certainly fail at everything you attempt.

Therefore, it’s necessary to divide your individual sessions into separate blocks. In the first half, you will practice your moves without a mirror, simply focusing on the sensations in your body as you perform them. Then you can practice in front of the mirror to see where you have improved and what you still need to work on. Spend more time performing without a mirror, but check your progress  with a mirror in every session.

At some stage your own shadow can replace the mirror as your toughest critic. First pointed out to me by Otis Funkmeyer (who learned it from Tyson Eberly), you can detect the effectiveness of your isolations and dime-stops more clearly with your shadow then your mirror reflection. I suppose it’s easier to focus on the movements of a simple silhouette than a distracting mirror reflection, and I guess that the blown-up size of your shadow helps you detect every unwanted movement, no matter how small. In fact, it’s infuriating to see how clearly your silhouette reflects the imperfections in your dime-stop or in your wave. That’s why I’m advising you to switch to your shadow only after achieving some success in your training (let’s be easy on ourselves at the beginning, after all). But I was surprised at how quickly it helps me to improve technique. After you convince your shadow, you’ll convince everybody else.

What about taping yourself? There are drawbacks here also. It isn’t instantaneous feedback, and you can feel even more self conscious with a camera than a mirror. Nonetheless, it helps you see focus on more than just one move, allowing you to judge your dancing as a whole. It also allows you to see the effect of your dancing from different angles. Better to tape yourself dancing once in a while so as to judge your dancing from a fresh perspective.

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