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Posts Tagged ‘Alice Mei’

  1. How to Learn Choreo off of Video

    December 21, 2012 by Jo

    Originally posted on Jo & Kevin!

    It’s that time of year again, when many of the instructors at Lindy Focus are working on choreography either for an evening performance or the grand New Years Eve show. Since I, too, am working on learning choreography, I figured I’d share my process with you.

    Truth be told, I’d much prefer to learn choreography in person, however, most often that is not an option. I’ve had the priveledge of working with other talented, international travelers such as: Nikki and Shesha MarvinMikey PedrozaLaura KeatNick WilliamsSharon DavisAlice MeiThomas Blacharz, and Sarah Breck - to name a few – and more often than not, someone sends a video across the WWW and hopes the person on the receiving end can learn the choreography in full. In my last performance with Alice, I sent her my notes (I will give an example later), a few breakdown videos, and a link to me performing the routine.


    Check us out! Alice was a freaking champ at learning all of the details! We probably got 4-5 hours of rehearsal time in together before our performance, but that is rather unusual. Honestly, if you can get a full hour with your partner before performance time, it’s a blessing!

    So moving along. The wonderful, marvelous, and effervescent Evita Arce sent me a piece of choreography to learn and it’s a really fun number. The song is New Orleans Bump by Wynton Marsalis and the dancers in the video are trained, New-York-dancers. What this means is that I have my work cut out for me!

    To be specific, I have been sent a rehearsal video that is done to music; I didn’t get any prior notes or counts or explanations or anything of the sort. The reason this might be on interest is that I’m going to learn exactly what’s on the video, including any mistakes the dancers made in the video. Since I don’t have confirmation on the movement, I sometimes have to find the common denominator between the dancers when their timing isn’t together. Fun times!

    I’m going to give a rundown of my process learning choreography. This isn’t the only way to do it, but it’s how I am best able to learn/visualize the choreo on a number of different levels.

    1. Download the video so I can watch it forwards and backwards. This helps me break down transitions, tricky timing, or something much-too-fancy to see at realtime. I’m on a mac and I prefer using Quicktime over a different player because I can comb through the video second by second. Suuuuuuuuuper important!
    2. Get a hold of the song. Check Spotify, buy it on Itunes, check your personal music library, or get it from the choreographer.
    3. Breakdown the song. I first break it down into eight-counts so I can see how long it is. I go through it again and put in time codes. I go through it one more time and put in musical cues that can help me identify what is where. Here’s a screenshot of what that might look like.

      So what are we looking at?
      I have my downloaded Quicktime video (upper left), I’m playing the song off of Spotify (lower left), and I’m writing my choreo down in Evernote (righthand side).
    4. Now here comes the (potentially) difficult part: breaking down the movement 8-count by 8-count. What is helpful for me to know is what foot my weight is on (if you’ve taken classes from me you know how important this is), what my arms are doing, and what count something happens on. I don’t need all of that information on every 8ct, but I need at least one of those three things.
    5. After I annotate a few phrases, I’ll go back through the video and do the choreography with my body. I go through the sections slowly. First I need to know where my body is going, and then I need to learn to string it together with the movement on either side of it.
    6. Once I have a decent idea of where my body is going, I then put the video on and try to dance that section with the music at full tempo.
    7. Next, I break down a few more phrases, dance it, and put it to music. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but something that looks similar to the video :D
    8. Once I make it to the end of the choreography, I then try to run the routine while watching the video. I’m not worried if it’s a disaster. Again, I just want to be able to get through it.
    9. DAY TWO: Yup, this takes me more than one day if I’m really going to perform it. I put the video on and try dancing it again. This shows me what solidified and what didn’t.
    10. Go back to the sections that I can’t remember or suck at. I go through them slowly to build the muscle memory I am lacking. When I do this, I take my time.
    11. Once I can do it all the way through (again, it doesn’t need to be perfect), I turn off the video and do it just to music. When I find the next set of glitches I work through those (I’m always surprised how many visual cues I’m taking). This is helpful in order to attach the movement to the music. Again, I rework the sections I can’t remember or suck at.
    12. Almost there! Now I need to try it facing the other way! What?? Yes-sir-ree! I have found I can learn choreography faster when I keep myself positioned in one direction in a room. I know at certain points in the music I should be facing a certain direction. If you can get through your piece of choreo while doing the routine facing a different direction, you should be fiiiiiiine.
    13. Last step!! Dancing it in costume!! Perhaps that seems silly, but it makes a HUGE different. Every – do you hear me? – everyprofessional knows they should run their routines in the costume before taking the stage. If you learn the routine in flats but have to perform in heels, you’ll probably be surprised with where you balance is. If you’ve been practicing in one skirt but performing in another, you might not know how slippery the material is (that’s terrifying while doing aerials). That fun thing you’re planning on wearing in your hair? Yeah, that might get knocked off, stab you in the eye, or stab your partner in the eye. The thing is, you’ll never know unless you’ve had at least one run. So do it. Full costume. Underwear and hair pieces. Do it.

    So there you have it!  What do you think? Ridiculous? Amazing? Unnecessary? Fun?

    _____________________________________________________________

    ADVICE IF YOU’RE CREATING CHOREOGRAPHY TO SEND TO OTHER PEOPLE:

    • Send the song along with the videos (yes, plural)
    • Make a video with you performing the piece full out to music (don’t mark it, do it)
    • If you’re feeling extra generous, do it again but facing away from the camera so someone doesn’t have to transpose
    • Make a video with you walking through the movement with counts. Remember to say things like “the weight is on the right”, “left arm on 7″, “move downstage starting count 5″, etc.
    • I’ve you’ve broken down the song, send that as well
    Is this overkill? Yeah, maybe, but it’s almost everything someone would need in order to learn somebody else’s choreography. I don’t often have the time to put this much together when I’ve sent videos in the past, but I’m also working with other professionals and can get by with less information. That being said, if I had more videos from the back (or even side view), it would help me out :D

    _____________________________________________________________

    Here is a short list of routines where I’ve had to do this:

    Everybody’s Trucking – Choreographed by Sharon Davis
    Evenin‘ – choreographed by Nathan Bugh
    Blues – Choreographed by Sarah Breck
    Shake that Thing – Choreographed by Hot Club Stomp
    Honolulu – Originally performed by Eleanor Powell

     

    ‎”It turns out that the process of working toward a goal, participating in a valued and challenging activity, is as important to well-being as its attainment.” – Sonja Lyubomirsky


  2. Camp Swing It 2012 – looking into the lights

    April 11, 2012 by Jo

    Last weekend Kevin and I were in Seoul, South Korea and had one of those weekends that I’ll never forget. As per usual we were treated exceptionally well, over fed, translated, inspired, and supplied with Soju. What put this weekend on the top of my list were the performances. I was on a “performance high” during the weekend, and now having watched the videos, I’m getting to relive it.

    The teachers performed both Friday and Saturday night. Due to the large number of choreography competition on Saturday, the teachers felt it was best to show their lindy hop numbers on Friday and cabaret numbers on Saturday.

    Friday Line Up:

    Juan & Sharon, Tommy & Alice, Kevin & Jo, William & Maeva, and the Fantastic Four (that’s not really the name, but I don’t have a better one. Suggestions?)

    Friday Night

    HAhahha!! Did you make it to the end and see BB bounce around while cheering?! Perhaps that is my favorite part!

    So why was this performance so special? The audience! Good heavens, when Kevin and I were introduced, it sounded like the crowd went bananas. It was …… touching, and surprising, and heartwarming. Even now, trying to put words to the swells of happiness that rushed over me….. nothing I can write will do it justice. It was ineffable. (Regardless, I will continue. *smile) As we hit our “ready position”, I couldn’t see anything because of the spotlights.

    As I looked into the blinding darkness, the crowd continued to cheer. It was an awesome experience not being able to see anything, but hear everything. After hushing them so we could start, Kevin and I danced, and we danced well. As we finished the routine, the crowd erupted again! Gaaaah!!! THIS is what a performer lives for – the roar of the crowd, the cheers, the applause, the noise, and the joy of doing what you love! If I hadn’t felt like I had “made it” before, the experience of performing for the crowd at CSI 2012 put me over the moon.

    I watched the video of the performance and it doesn’t do it justice. The crowd was so much more than what was captured on film. Even though we were performing in an enormous space, the audience still managed to fill the room with their energy and appreciation. I am not sure if the other performers felt the same way I did, but I certainly hope so. So CSI 2012…..thank you for being apart of a performance I will always remember.

    Saturday Night Line Up:

    Tap, Jo & Alice, Three Boys, Sharon, and the Ninjammerz.

    GAAAAHHHH!!!! I’m thrilled! Alice worked her booty off to learn this routine and I think she was freaking amazing! We. Were. Fabulous.

    Originally, Alice started learning this routine off of the video of me performing this solo at Lindy Focus. I then sent her a video breakdown of the first half of the routine, and then again with more detail a week before the event. I don’t know how much time she was able to put in to learning it prior to seeing me – I know it was fewer hours than I put into it originally – but when we first checked in with each other, she solidly had the outline of the routine. We rehearsed for 3 hours on Thursday at a dance studio, an hour on Friday to check the floor, and on Saturday we got an additional hour to rehearse with mirrors. Holy cow, our lines were really together!! I was thrilled.

    Costuming: Alice had gone shopping on Thursday and bought a LBD for the performance. On Friday, I went to the same shop and bought the same dress. Not only that, but Alice had black gloves on her, and as fate would have it, Maeva had a matching pair on her. Luckily I remember to bring garters, stocking, and fascinators for us (this might seem like a given, however, I somehow managed to forget a quarter of the things I should have brought with me). Goodness! Everything fell into place…more than I could have hoped for.

    Back to the performance. As I described above, the crowd was marvelous. While performing, I rarely hear the crowd because I am so focused on the music, so I didn’t hear them until the end; however, as I watched the video, I was delighted with how the crowd “oooh-ed” and “aaaah-ed”. Oh Korea, how I love thee.

    So there you have it. Enjoy!!


  3. Shoes at Ruche

    February 8, 2012 by Jo

    I would looooooove to have all of these shoes. Click on the pictures to be redirected to the site where you can buy them. :D

    Chelsea Crew Nova T-Strap Heels In Red

    Nik Nak Heels By Chelsea Crew In Green

    All Dressed Up T-Strap Heels By Seychelles

    Bronx Heat Of Nite Lace Up Flat

    Pembrokeshire Floral Heels In Brown

    Chelsea Crew Pauline Suede Pump In Gray

    To be honest, I can see Alice Mei wearing most of these shoes :D Perhaps one day some of them will end up in my closet!


  4. The Ninjammerz Show – Rome 2011

    December 5, 2011 by Jo

    ninja ladies

    Here’s a little teaser until the full videos are posted. Enjoy!!!


  5. Highlights from ILHC

    August 30, 2011 by Jo

    1) Watching the Junior Division!! They were amazing. Videos coming soon!!

    2) Showcase Division:


    I am kicking myself for not seeing this live (I missed it by 25 seconds). This must have been unreal!! Sitting in the kitchen watching this was still an emotional experience, so I can only imagine what it must have been like being in the ballroom during this momentous occasion. While watching the video, I was screaming and hooting and hollering for them!! I actually shed some tears in honor of their awesomeness. Fuck, this totally touches my heart.

    SOOOOO many people have talked about doing something like this, yet they actually put it together and threw down! Uh, the blue balls experience of them doing Balboa instead of swinging out left me wanting more. Thank goodness they finally provided the much needed release by teaming up and swinging out!!

    3) Cabaret:

    Dargoff showing us the importance of good hygiene. And lemme tell ya, sex sells!

    Tips & Tops and their newest routine:

    Nothing quite like Man-on-Man + hat-on-hat dancing if you ask me! Well done Gentlemen, you were wonderful.

    Everyone!

    The ending is my favorite part. I LOVE Footloose!

    4) Classic Division:

    In my eyes, Tommy & Alice won this competition. Their choreography is stunning, easy to understand yet still complex, exceptionally well danced, beautifully performed, and they both make the other person shine. To me, this is one an example of one of the best partnerships out there today. You two are such an inspiration!

    For more on the Classic Division, click here!

    5) Nathan Bugh in the Solo Charleston spotlights. Genius I tell ya!!!

    6) Champion J&J:

    This one knocked it out of the park for me! I’m always super impressed with how Peter is able to dance with the ladies of any size and still retain the integrity of his movement. Uh! Check out his kick ups at 0:37, his spin at 1:09, and how they play off each other at 1:25! And Alice is just amazing! Favorite moments by her: swing out variation at 0:22, her swivels forward at 0:57, and her shapes on her Rocks at 1:43!

    Otherwise, the dance between Andy Reid and Mia Goldsmith just flowed. It was magical. Honestly, I couldn’t remember anything they did after the dance was over other than being swept away by how well they connected to each other and the song. Oh yeah, and the dance with Todd and Frida was ok (I’m being sarcastic)…….it was fabulously hilarious!!!

    7) Pro-Am

    This cat has been dancing lindy hop for a year and a half (or something close to that). How ridiculous is he?!!! Uh yeah……wow is right!

    Isn’t she fabulous?! Sasha Gross was in the Junior’s Program and she killed it!

    8) On a personal level:

    Getting 2nd place in the fiercest Classic Division I’ve seen in the Lindy Hop world. I was told the difference in score between Kevin & me and Skye & Frida was only one judge which means there was someone who thought that was a first place routine! Looking forward to seeing the score sheets!

    Taking 2nd place in the Solo Charleston contest! Normally I try to prepare by creating routinelettes so I have something to fall back on in case I go blank in a contest, but this year I just didn’t have time to get any together. I spent some time working on my lines using the Big Apple choreography, but otherwise, that was just me dancing (*chin up…..very proud of myself). Would love to see the scores on this one as well!

    Having a blast in the Champion Strictly!! We had to battle our way out of prelims and since Kevin and I haven’t gotten to train the way we’d like (he’s been injured), we decided to fall back on the ol’ personality thing. Thank goodness we had Baltimore’s support!! I don’t remember much about the prelims other than doing swing outs across the entire crowd (crowd pumping anyone?) AND having our seamless room take-over thwarted by the ever-so-gorgeous Pontus and Isa. Luckily we didn’t completely run into them…..our awesomeness was just slowed down.

    Fortunately, Kevin and I made it to finals which gave us the opportunity to crowd surf the Baltimore contingency!!!! The second half our our second solo starts with The Move of the Weekend, The Chase, and ended with us hurling ourselves on top of the crowd!!! Glory in it’s finest red & blue outfit if I do say so myself!!

    9) MOVE OF THE WEEKEND: The Chase

    You know the old adage “pink is the new black”? Well, “the chase is the new swing out” according to this weekend. SERIOUSLY, it was a college kids drinking game dream!! I need to watch through 2 more divisions, but I’m confident in saying that there was at least one chase break in EVERY division. I’m even guilty of it myself. I’ll compile a list of people who are guilty of such things and hopefully someone will put a video together of all the Chases from the weekend. *wink wink, nudge nudge lindy scene

    10) Last but not least, just being there was a highlight. Getting to see so many friends, having someone buy me cupcakes (thanks Michelle), having some incredible dances, teaching with two of my favorite people, being asked to work with the future of our Lindy Hop community and having a blast doing so, competing against the best lindy hoppers in the world, being cheered on by the community I love, dancing to extraordinary live music, and seeing the fruits of everyone’s labor were a few of the many reasons this weekend was sensational.

    Thank you to Tena, Nina, and Sylvia for running this event AND to all of their staff; without you the event wouldn’t happen. I’d also like to give a shout out to all the competitors that came to compete this weekend; you are helping lindy hop continually grow and your contribution is duly noted. A huge thank you to all of the people that filmed the event and put video online for the world to see! Finally, an enormous thank you to everyone in the audience; thank you for coming to support and cheering for everyone as they put their heart and soul on the floor. Baltimore especially, I love you. xxoo


  6. I Charleston – Berlin

    August 21, 2011 by Jo

    The videography work and the direction of this video is awesome!

    Musik: Good Night Circus : http://www.myspace.com/goodnightcircus

    My favorite part is when people are dancing on the cement blocks (1:54) and with the guards (2:10). Gaah, I want video doing that!

    The question is, when are the Ninjammerz coming to your city?


  7. Ballerina

    June 30, 2011 by Jo

    0629-christian-louboutin-english-national-ballet_sf

    Holy goodness! Look at these staggering 8-inch heel Christian Louboutin designed for the English National Ballet–inspired by ballerina toe shoes auctioned off at the ballet’s “Summer Party” on Wednesday in London. Not sure how many of us could walk in them, but you can’t argue with how spectacular they are.

    Yes please!!

    Agent Provocateur, Moschino, Erdem and seven other designers joined Louboutin in donating couture items to help raise money for the world-renowned dance company. While couture tutus are never going to be anything but insanely beautiful, it’s Louboutin’s jaw-dropping ballet heels that really stand, um, a foot above the rest.

    Louboutin reasoned,”“I could not help being inspired by English National Ballet… after all…isn’t the classical dancing ballet slipper the ultimate heel? The heel which makes dancers closer than any other women to the sky, closer to heaven!”.”

    What do you think? I’m hoping Sharon Davis or Alice Mei will do a number in them. :D Would you even try to walk in something like this?


  8. CSI 2011 – Friday Performances

    March 29, 2011 by Jo

    It was opening night and all the teachers had a little sum’im-sum’im to throw down. Heheh, we might have done the Friday and Saturday show differently had Sharon’s luggage arrived sooner. Regardless, it was a great show! Juan & Sharon opened the Friday night show with Ballin’ the Jack, which looked amazing! Unfortunately, I can’t find video from it. Anyone have it?

    Bear Mash Blues

    That floor was SO slippery in those shoes, my goodness! Otherwise…..booty!

    Hat Trick Tranky Doo

    I think this might be the first time Kevin performed this without his buddy Tops. Good on ‘im!

    Black Swan

    Isn’t she gorgeous! I talked Alice into doing some ridiculous makeup and I’m so pleased she followed through with it (picture on FB). Not that you can really see it here, but still, it’s there. And Tommy!! Omg, he played his part perfectly!
    I think Alice went about this routine perfectly. She was inspired by a costume, bought it, found a song, and choreographed something brilliant to it. Her points are gorgeous and lace-removal is stunning.

    Stud Muffins!

    Brittany and Dargoff being amazing. I love their movement and am totally inspired by it. Again, congratulations to both of you; you were fantastic all weekend. xoxo

    Later that night we had the student cabaret. I think I have a performance idea for all the girl instructors for next year. :D

    CABARET NIGHT


    Dance performance to popular K-Pop songs by “Orange Chocolate” during Cabaret night, Camp Swing It (CSI) 2011 / Korean Lindy Hop Championships (KLHC)

    Eeek, I can’t find the second cabaret number. I guess it’s not up yet OR it is and I just can’t read Korean. :D


    Korean traditional fan dance performed by Crystal Lee, at Cabaret night of Camp Swing It (CSI) 2011.

    Here are some of my favorite pictures I’ve found on the web from the weekend:

    Thanks for having us Korea!!! xoxo


  9. CSI 2011 – Saturday Performances

    March 28, 2011 by Jo

    What an amazing show this turned out to be! Even though this was thrown together, it couldn’t have worked out any better. The best part: the audience.

    You might not know this, but those fans are significantly heavier than they look and Shaz makes them look effortless. I’ve seen this number a few times and it just gets better and better. Not only does she worked the crowd, but she did a great job of keeping her straps from falling off!


    How amazing was that?! It was even better live, if you can believe it. I love Alice’s knee socks, I love the swing outs, I love the rhythms and syncopation, I love their dynamic together, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the audience watch this dance.


    I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to perform after seeing Tommy & Alice do their thing; how could we top that? As Kevin and I stood in our “ready position”, I could feel the energy of the crowd. When the music began, the audience got louder, and every time I swished my skirt, the audience cheered! This has made the list of Favorite Performance Moments for myself, and it was all because of the crowd. I’ve danced the routine better before, but the roar of the crowd was sensational!


    Nailed it!


    G-dang it! They are bloody fantastic. I find their movement to be super-inspiring and their shapes and lines make me want to wiggle (that’s a good thing)! Well done you two; you totally earned your stripes! It was a pleasure to perform along along side of you.


    Sharon choreographed this piece for Rock That Swing (which I’m dying to see but hasn’t been posted yet) and I think it’s a fab little piece. We all were super-sucking in rehearsal, but managed to pull it together for the show. Yeah us!!


  10. CSI 2011

    January 8, 2011 by Jo

    Yeah, look who’s on the CSI 2011 Poster??!!

    Hey, btw, if you’re free March 25-27, you should come meet up with Kevin and me in Korea! In case you need a few more reasons to come, how about Juan Villafane & Sharon Davis and Thomas Blacharz & Alice Mei?!l

    Korea Lindy Hop Championship

    Korean Lindy Hop Championships (KLHC) will take place on Saturday, March 26, 2011. Come out and kick butt!!