This year I attended 3 different events, all of which are mostly related to dance. However, though they are all similar in dance, the different styles of dance as well as the setting and conditions for which the dances occurred offered much to learn.
On October 28th, the night of the Reno Zombie Pub Crawl, I performed in the annual performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller under the Reno arch. The performance was of the iconic dance from the 1990’s legend, and was executed entirely by volunteers who were either self-taught or participated in one of the many practices set up by event coordinators. This was the 3rd year in a row that I participated, and just like the years before I was stationed in the front row for the performance. The event typically boasts 100+ member participation and a 300+ captive audience. Though the event was much larger in scale, because the event had no entry costs and was fueled entirely by volunteers, many of which who had no dancing backgrounds, the event was marred with a couple interesting issues that smaller but more formal performances typically did not have.
One of the largest larger issues was dealing with stubborn performers or stubborn parents of performers. With no entry costs and no centralized standard of skill for the performance, there were many who believed they had the right to the front row of the event. Though there were assigned volunteers to deal with situating these people, dealing with them was too much of an issue. This led to a large amount of crowding towards the front, with many who were either unskilled at the performance, not dressed in costume, or otherwise unfit.
Despite the issue of stubborn participants, the event was still a large success. Notably, the issue is not necessarily exclusive to volunteer performances and the size of the event undoubtedly compounded the issue. Overall though, the Reno Thriller performance continues to be a wonderful and fun event that I hope to attend while I am in Reno.
Hip-Hop Dance Classes
Over the semester I’ve managed tried two Hip-Hop dance classes. One of the classes was taught by an instructor at the Heart and Sole Dance and the other was taught at the Sparks Elite Dance Academy. However, despite teaching the same discipline, both focused on entirely different aspects of Hip-Hop.
The session at the Heart and Sole Dance Academy started with a quick warm-up to loosen the joints, and then led into different techniques and principles that compile Hip-Hop. For this specific session, the instructor taught hitting, speed changes, isolation, fixed-points, and miming. Hitting is the art of leaving a movement relaxed, then tensing up. This is essentially the basic building block into “pop and lock”. Speed changes are similar and start with a quick movement that slows down, typically to match a tempo change or “drop” within the music. Isolation is the practice of isolating a single body part and moving that part without moving the rest of the body. Fixed-points anchors a body part to some point in space and moves the rest of the body around. Isolation and fixed-points are then combined into miming, which is just mimicking a mime.
The session at the Sparks Elite Dance Academy started with an elongated warm-up to get the blood flowing. Afterwards we worked on choreography for Will.I.Am’s “Screen and Shout”. The choreography was broken down into short sections. The choreo for the first couple seconds where taught slowly and broken down step by step. Afterwards it was taught faster, and then once again to the music. After the group got it down, the next part of the choreo was taught and so on.
Despite being of the same practice, the two sessions were entirely different. Elite Dance Academy focused more the different techniques and theories that comprised Hip-Hop, whereas the Heart and Sole Dance Academy focused on the application of Hip-Hop and how it is appropriated to fit the music. In the context of learning and building up to be a Hip-Hop dancer, one builds the foundational knowledge and the other builds the stamina and works one’s body to the music.
Argentine Tango Class
Starting in November, UNR was hosting an Argentine Tango Class in the KC Rotunda. Since I had taken a social dance class before, I was quite interested in the class, especially since I had not yet had experience with Argentine Tango specifically.
Argentine Tango differed from many of the other social dances I had learned before. Despite having Tango in the name, it was far different from the regular Tango. The differences can best be illustrated through the “basic” step of each dance. In regular Tango, the basic step travels in one direction. Tango in general is meant to be a dance in which all the dancers on the floor follow the same line of dance, which is in a counter-clockwise direction around the floor. Argentine Tango, however, uses a “basic” step that is more like the Waltz basic step. The Waltz basic step, or “box step”, goes in 4 different directions, typically following a box shape. The Argentine Tango basic step however seems to take that box and stretch it out. Whereas the Waltz starts with a step forward, step to the side, step back, and a step to start back where the couple started, the Argentine Tango starts with a small step back, a step to the side, two steps forward, a step to the side, and a step back and ending a bit further forward. Argentine Tango also has a few nuances that are considered taboo in other forms of dance I have learned. For instance, in each other form of social dance, the couples mirror each other – a step with the left forward with the left foot is met a step back with the right foot of the other. However, in Argentine Tango, it is legal for the couples to take crossed steps – the couples can both use the same foot, and both take a step forward to cross legs.
Just like any other social dance, Argentine Tango differs from the other dances despite all being under the social dance umbrella. These differences all preserve the culture of the dance’s backgrounds, but more importantly give me something to do with my life.