Friday, 21 November 2014

The Dawn of Dance Recital -- Wherein the Students demonstrate to Babypea what they have learned!

It took a while to come down off the ceiling after the amazing weekend of the Dance Galaxy at LEA12 in which the Dawn of Dance students strutted their stuff for 70 people who filled the sim  to capacity.

But now I can look back and share a few highlights of the experience.   24 students started in the class, 17 stayed the course and 13 danced in the Dawn of Dance recital.  While not everyone felt ready to perform a solo, 4 of us did while 2 others danced a duet and 2 more danced in a group dance with some of their friends and all 14 (including Baby) danced in an energetic group dance choreographed by Babypea von Phoenix, our wonderful teacher and coach.

Roni at the Dawn of Dance recital - photo by (Roni) Ronda Saunders

Roni performed a lively electro-swing dance to The Swing Phenomenon by Bart&Baker, featuring Nicolle Rochelle, with a very minimalist black and white high tech set which she built.

Jo (JMB) Balogh at the Dawn of Dance recital - photo by JMB Balogh

I knew from the start that I wanted to perform a flamenco dance and I found Gipsy by Jesse Cook, some wonderful dances from A&M, poses from oOo studios and put them all together, with a outdoor courtyard set I built.

Anashra Dubois at the Dawn of Dance - photo by Aubreya Joszpe

Anashra Dubois danced to Fireflies by Owl City and she built one of the prettiest sets seen that weekend, with her lovely costume completing the effect.

Snow Mistwood at the Dawn of Dance  - photo by Babypea von Phoenix

Snow put our hearts in our mouths as she danced to Come fly with me - Frank Sinatra, along the length of an airplane in the sky and down along the wings!

Maia and Aytia at the Dawn of Dance  - photo by Babypea von Phoenix
After a musical introduction from Swan lake, Maia and Aytia, in their black and white tutus, changed pace and danced to Radioactive by Imagine Dragons.  Their set of moving islands was very innovative.

Empressdyme and Nasiyah with friends at the Dawn of Dance  - photo by Babypea von Phoenix

Empressdyme and Nasiyah invited some friends along to dance with them to  Shake it off. Their wonderful set even had rain with puddles!

Finale dance at the Dawn of Dance - photo by Babypea von Phoenix
Dancers:  Babypea, Cherri, Ruby, Barb, Jewel, Maarah, Anashara,
  Nasiyah, Jo, Roni, Empressdyme
Snow, Maia, Aytia
With her great generosity of spirit,  Babypea wanted every one of her students to experience performing at the Dawn of Dance recital, so she put together a group finale for 14 of us, which of course included her!  It wasn't easy on such a small stage but she managed it brilliantly with a high energy dance which had us popping up on the stage in groups at various times.   She even included the shadow dancer effect which everyone loves.    

Roni and I had to find our movers by camming under the stage and sitting on them.  This was rather daunting and due to lag Roni's didn't rez for quite a while and she was in panic mode for a brief period.   But eventually 14 dancers were shaking their booties to Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox's Sisters are Doin' for Themselves, which Baby had kept as a surprise for us till the day.

Dance performances are but fleeting moments in time but they live on in our memories and can be captured not only in photographs but also in videos.   Fortunately Renaissance woman Roni has mastered that art too and she made videos of her performance and mine on our dance platforms before the day.

Miss Ronda Saunders electroswinging to The Swing Phenomenon 
by Bart&Baker feat. Michelle Rochelle

Miss JMB Balogh dances Flamenco to Gipsy by Jesse Cook

Thanks to everyone who made that day so special for me:  to Roni, my dearest friend, who shared the whole experience of learning to create and perform a dance with me, to my fellow classmates and dancers, and to our inimitable DJ Gunner von Phoenix.   But most of all thanks go to Babypea von Phoenix who created the whole idea of the classes and the recital and showed endless patience with her scatty students as they floundered their way through a priceless learning experience, culminating in a truly enjoyable performance which was a triumph for everyone!

On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet.

~George Gordon, Lord Byron

Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Dawn of Dance - Wherein the Queen of Dance shares her secrets with the Dance Noobies

One of the things I love about Second Life is that even after seven years plus,  I can learn something new every day I am inworld.

So when BabypeaVonPhoenix Bikergrrl, one of the acknowledged Queens of Dance in Second Life, announced she was giving a 6-week series of classes, The Dawn of Dance, on creating SL dance performances Roni and I signed up immediately.   What a golden opportunity for a couple of dance groupies!  Not only would we learn to put together a complete dance performance but we would actually have the opportunity to show what we learned in a "dance recital" at the end of it all.

BabypeaVonPhoenix Bikergrrl in front of her class of dance students at Dance Queens Centre
It turns out that Baby is one of the most organized people you could wish to meet in Second Life, which of course one has to be, to create and perform as often as she does with her own company of Elysium Cabaret Dancers as well as Guerilla Burlesque and a myriad of other companies and troupes around the grid.  So she was very well prepared indeed when she met with her initial 24 students in the classroom at the Dance Queens Centre.   

Baby spoke in voice but followed her very detailed and comprehensive notecards which she later gave to everyone.   However there was plenty of opportunity for the students to ask questions in local chat at any time along the way.  The Dawn of Dance classes were for people who were brand new to dance performance and designed to provide a solid foundation to help them get started in the wonderfully creative, artistic world of Second Life dance.  Not only would Baby share what she had learned over the past few years but she had arranged for others whom she considered experts in costuming, particles and stage effects to share their expertise with her dance noobies.   As she said in her first notecard:

 A candle loses no light by lighting another candle, thus we are happy to share what we know with others.  However, we are not teachers and are not all-knowing.  The adventure of SL dance is that the learning never stops.  We are also still learning.  Thus the information we share is not all there is to know.

The first class provided an introduction to choosing music and dance animations and the intricacies of the various dance huds which make life easier for the dance performer as well as the amazing Spot on choreography system.  Next class covered building and decorating sets with everything that entails.   Baby said she had no notion about building until she began to dance and learned all she knows about it now, which is not inconsiderable I might add, by initially taking apart ready made sets and props and she learned by doing!

For our third class on costuming SexyS Quintessa came to share her vast knowledge on the subject.   SexyS has been creating burlesque, comedy and art performance dance acts in SL since 2009.  She is an award-winning dancer in both lives, and an active member of Dance Queens. She dances in Guerilla Burlesque, Lady Garden Cabaret, Elysium Cabaret, and is Director of A&M MOCAP Maniacs.

SexyS in all her costume glory!   

Baby gave our fourth class on the topic of emoting which is one of the foundations of Gor dancing although it is used to set the mood or further the story line in other types of dance.  I can't say that I am a big fan of emoting since I tend to watch the dance rather than local chat, but recently Lat "Yummy" Lovenkraft wrote a post on the Dance Queen's blog called the Return of the Emote? which showed another point of view.

Misse Tigerpaw, who dances with Club Image and is a specialist in particles gave a very comprehensive lecture on the making and using of particles in dance performance.  Misse also shares her knowledge on her particle website which is both in Japanese and English.  She uses particles quite subtly here in the Raven on youTube.

For our last instructional class Baby had arranged for Klark Harvy of the Spirit Light Dance Company to demonstrate the use of stage effects.  He took us to a special demonstration area at the Spirit Light Dance Academy where the group give classes in all aspects of dance performance in Second Life.  We watched a video of the Company's performance of Tron which Klark had choreographed and which illustrated some of the stage effects for which the Company is renowned. He then proceeded to give us the details of how they were created.  While the amount of information was rather overwhelming for dance noobies, Klark introduced us to many of the "possibilities" in this area and when and when not to use them.

I have to say that taking these Dawn of Dance classes and creating a dance and set for the "graduation" dance recital has been one of the most fun things I have ever done in Second Life and I think Roni would agree with me.

This Saturday, November 15th, at 3pm SL time, some of Baby's students get to strut their stuff on stage as part of the Dance Galaxy festival on LEA12 here.  Yes Roni and I will be taking part.

Thank you Babypea for the opportunity you gave to the lucky students who signed up for the Dawn of Dance classes and for all the information you so generously shared with us.   In Baby's own words and which she uses to sign all her communications :

Dance with Passion!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Euphoria presents! Superheroes!!! The Supermetropolis!!

Some of you know of my involvement with the Linden Endowment for the Arts, firstly as a volunteer and now an advisor to the LEA Committee.

Imagine my delight when I discovered that Babypea vonPhoenix, acknowledged as one of the Queens of Dance in Second Life, had been granted one of the LEA sims for 5 months.   A group of Second Life's most talented dancers, who call themselves Euphoria, built a sim sized urban metropolis set for a very different kind of dance performance which they will present in the coming weeks.   

The audience for these performances will board the Supermetropolis Train which will make stops on its journey around the sim where they will 
"arrive just in time to witness justice being served to a dark villain!!  Or perhaps, you'll watch in shocked amazement as the villain gets the best of the superhero!!  NO!!  Say it isn't so!!!  You'll have to see for yourselves, ladies and gentlemen!! " 

Each choreographer/Superhero built her own set while Chrissy Rhiano, one of the most amazing set designers and builders in Second Life, built the city around each set and in this manner, blended it all together into one uniform, continuous build.

BabypeaVonPhoenix Bikergrrl - Silver Surfer
SexyS Quintessa - Superwoman
Chewie Quixote - Dark Phoenix
Madison Pinelli - Wonder Woman
Chrissy Rhiano - Black Widow
Mytholus - Storm
Jilley - Iron Man
Diiar - Hitgirl

Producer: Chrissy Rhiano
Asst Producer: BabypeaVonPhoenix Bikergrrl
DJ: Gunner VonPhoenix (Masterperry)
The Riddler (Train Conductor/Host): Lat Lovenkraft

Your taxi:

Showtimes and Dates below!!  Holy Superhero Show Batman!!
Seating is limited so don't be late!!

Saturday October 18th      
3pm SLT - Sneak Peek
5pm SLT

Wednesday, October 22nd
5pm SLT

Saturday, October 25th
3pm SLT
5pm SLT

I always conclude my posts on this blog with a famous dance quote and today's comes from Babypea herself.

Dance with passion!!!
--Babypea Von Phoenix 

Monday, 1 September 2014

Friday Night is Dance Night - The Elysium Cabaret

Friday nights are very busy ones for us dance groupies!

We start off at the very elegant Empire Room at 6pm, where the amazing Elysium Cabaret Dancers entertain us with their creativity through music and dance and their wonderful stage settings.

The Empire Room at Copperhead Road

Paul Woodrunner, the man behind this elegant venue as well as sometime dancer with the group, is on hand to greet the guests as they enter and move in to find the ideal chair for the upcoming performance.  

It's best to arrive early to find a good spot near the stage and the music stream will entertain you while you wait.  Suddenly I Gotta Feeling with The Black Eyed Peas begins to play and the excitement in the air increases as everyone knows, with this theme song, the show is about to begin.  

Gunner Von Phoenix, DJ and dancer with the group, announces the first dancer and the blue curtains open to reveal the set with the dancer or dancers in place and the show begins. 

The group describes themselves as follows:
Elysium Cabaret is a performance group that does a variety of acts, mostly dance. Something naughty, something nice, something wicked, something sweet, something hot, something cool... never know what we are going to do!  But you can count on surprises and a lot of fun!!  We are only limited by our imaginations!! Performing in The Empire Room at Copperhead Road!  Dedicated to friendship and honour above all.

Each dancer choses the music, choreographs the dance and builds the set.  It's a very large stage so the sets are large and while some are simple others may be very detailed.  The talents of the performers as builders are showcased in the way they use lighting, particles and special effects as well as changing the set along the way and fading from one scene to another during one dance.  It may be a solo dance or a dance with multiple dancers but one dancer is the creator of each dance.

I don't usually take photos during the performance as I am too busy enjoying it and trying to avoid crashing out.  Besides I think a video is more effective than still photos of dance so I'll show you one performed by the incredible Queen of Dance,  Babypea Von Phoenix with her partner and RL husband, Gunner Von Phoenix.   In this case Gunner choreographed the routine while Babypea built the set, with Gunner also videotaping the performance!  

May I present Gunner and Babypea dancing to Parov Stelar's Booty Swing!

The group consists of a large number of women (mostly) and men, not all of whom choreograph routines every week but many of them appear as "back-up" dancers for others.  The administrators and driving forces behind the group are Paul, Gunner and Babypea, Wiz Nirvana and Jilley Resident both of whom are also dancers.  

The performance lasts for an hour.  Sometimes it's a little more, sometimes a little less.  Sometimes there's a theme, other times not.  All in all it's a very professional event on every level.  

But for dance groupies, like Roni and me, the highlight of the evening is at the end of the show when the audience is invited onto the stage to dance in a group routine with the Elysium Cabaret dancers. One of the dancers chooses the music, choreographs these dances and creates a set and for five glorious minutes we can believe that we too are dance stars in Second Life.   Occasionally I manage to take a few photos during this although sometimes I just relax and enjoy it.  

 Roni leads the "Chorus Line" on the Stage at the Empire Room

After this Gunner spins us some music and the dancers and audience adjourn to the Empire Room's nearby dance floor to wind down after the evening's wonderful performance.   Yes Friday night is dance night!   And that is not the end of the evening which I'll talk about in another post. 

Dancing can reveal all the mystery that music conceals.
                                             ~Charles Baudelaire 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

ToySoldier Thor -- Fellow Dance Groupie

ToySoldier Thor - Photo by Toy

Points her finger up at ToySoldier.  That man up there.  Yes him.  He's the reason I became a dance groupie!  

ToySoldier Thor is another of the artists who exhibited at the art gallery which I curated and co-owned and who became a good friend.  If Roni is Renaissance Woman, Toy is SL Renaissance Man! 

A Second Life artist who also has shown and sold his SL work in Real Life exhibits, he's the creator of landscape sculpties which are used all over the grid.  He built a wonderful five storeyed gallery to display his 2D and 3D artwork and also sells his artwork through Deviant Art.  As a music lover, he follows many live music performers and attends multiple concerts every evening in SL. Karaoke anyone?  Yes, he loves to sing at the various Karaoke locations around the grid! Besides having his own website and blog, ToySoldier, he is very active on Facebook and the new Avatar Social Network.  Yep, SL Renaissance Man!

But he too has a passion for dance! He kept telling me about the Guerilla Burlesque dance performance group, how professional the show was, how much I would enjoy it.  He never missed it!  You get the idea!  There was just one little wrinkle.  It starts at 12 midnight on Friday nights!  Plus you have to arrive at least an hour earlier to get into the sim before it fills up!  Sighs.

Persuaded by his enthusiasm, I braved the witching hour and the long wait and I too was hooked! Even though I crash out at least three times during the performance and sometime before it even starts I try to go as often as I can.  Fortunately logging into last location seems to get me back into the sim again. I dare not take photographs there, although Toy usually does and posts them to his Facebook wall.  Of course I persuaded Roni to come along too.  She'd love to be a dance performer in Second Life if she had more time so it wasn't hard.

So you see, it's all ToySoldier's fault that I've become a dance groupie!  Oh and of course the amazing dance group at Idle Rogue, the Guerilla Burlesque!  But more about them another day.

Of course besides being a dance groupie, ToySoldier Thor has created one of the most beautiful dance- related objects in Second Life in my opinion.   If there's a fire in my SL collection gallery, this is what I'll be grabbing to take with me and save from the "flames".  

The Princess and the Goblin
3D mesh sculpture
created by Toysoldier Thor - photo by JMB Balogh, in his gallery

Of course there's a story behind this exquisite mesh sculpture which so reminds me of Henry Moore's work.  From the artist's notes for the work:

One morning I was reading the daily paper.  I came across a lifestyles photo of two premiere ballet dancers from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet as they were in mid-pose while rehearsing for their up-coming lead roles in THE PRINCESS & THE GOBLIN.  The Dancers were Alexander Gamayunov and Serena Sandford. 
The position the local newspaper (Winnipeg Free Press) captured them in immediately caught my eye on the intimacy of the embrace.  I do not know what inspired me as soon as I saw the photo but I wanted to try to create a 3D digital model of this pose as an artwork. I tore out the photo from the newspaper and went to work.  Over a week later, I completed my 3D model as well as this 2D rendered artwork from the model.

 The Princess and the Goblin
in 2D and 3D
in my collection gallery

Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.   
-- Martha Graham

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Electric Monocle - Electro Swing Anyone?

Pirate Lindy Hoppy!
Photo courtesy of Dax Dover

I first ran across Lindy Hopper (AKA Subversive Vavoom) when she was DJing for an opening at the Tart Art Gallery.   Although I couldn't stay long I was enjoying her music selections and patter and continued to play her stream through iTunes, while I was doing something else and IMed her to tell her so.   I even sent her a tip from afar!   

I discovered that she owned a club called the Electric Monocle, a modern day speakeasy, where she shares her passion for electro swing which was a quite "new to me" style of music and in fact is relatively new.  With a revival of an interest in swing dance in the mid nineties and new melodies in that style the genre began to become popular and the first Electro Swing club opened in London in 2009.  

Besides the very personable Lindy, several other DJs entertain the club patrons during the week, most notable being Speelo Snook, a longtime DJ in Second Life and a RL musician who brings his considerable knowledge of music to share with us, along with his wonderful choices in dance music.  "Professor" Pavi  spins tunes on another evening but I have yet to encounter him.

Roni - At the Electric Monocle

I persuaded Roni that we should try this club and we have spent many enjoyable evenings there since our first visit some months ago.   While Roni enjoys dance matching the music with her own dances, she really doesn't need to bring her own to The Electric Monocle.  Hopper has one of the best selections of dances on the grid by far.   There are over 450 dances in her dance ball and while that sounds incredibly daunting they are well organized and easy to navigate.

Where Hopper shines is thinking up themes and events, giving the patrons an excuse for going absolutely wild with costumes.  Often there is even a special build for the event.  Who can forget Purple Rain, the Prince Tribute with its grand stage where the audience joined "him" as back up dancers in an exuberant choreographed routine?  Silent Films, Grease, Dirty Dancing, Drag Kings and Faux Queens, Pirates and Ninjas, all these event evenings and more have been a lot of fun for those who attended.

Purple Rain -- Prince Tribute
Jo - with the red hair and glasses

The highlight of the week has become the Late Night Swingers event on Saturdays at 11pm SLT. Lindy Hopper was a burlesque dancer in Second Life for a long time and has many friends and supporters among the performance dancers, especially those of Guerilla Burlesque who often join her for this themed event. Like Lindy, they excel at costuming and it's a delight for the rest of us to see what they are wearing.

The full DJ schedule will resume in September so do yourself a favour and drop by the Electric Monocle and dance up a storm to the music at this very friendly club.   You can check Lindy's profile or her blog for the schedule.
Dance till the stars come down from the rafters 
 Dance, Dance, Dance till you drop.
~W.H. Auden

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Introducing Roni

Roni - The Dancing Queen

I call my friend Roni  Renaissance Woman.   We met in the Art World of Second Life, more than three years ago, when I was looking for artists for the exhibition gallery I co-owned and curated for some years.   She showed her work there and we became very close friends as time passed.

Not only is Roni an excellent artist in Second Life,  it was there she found her creative side.  In her profile she says:  

I have no RL training or experience in any of the visual arts,  my passion for SL photography was born and developed entirely here inworld,  just like me  :-)

Besides being an excellent SL photographer Roni's a wonderful builder and her latest gallery is one of the most creative galleries on the grid.    She also does installation art on a large scale which you can see here and here on her sim and she dabbles in video on occasion too.

But this blog is about the Joy of Dance in Second Life and that's something Roni has in spades.   She spends time at her favourite dance hangout, Fogbound Blues, sometimes dancing with friends but often dancing solo using dances she owns, carefully matching the tempo and flavour of the dances to the music.   She's very skilled at this and as I began to spend time at Fogbound she would invite me to dance with her  as a two person chorus line.   I was delighted to let her choreograph our "routines" and we began to dance together at other clubs and places we visited.

Roni and Jo - Dancing Duo
at the Electric Monocle 

Roni will be sharing her love of dance along with her thoughts and wonderful images on this topic with us here in the very near future.

The more you understand the music, the easier you can dance.

           ~ Orlando Gutinez ~ 

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Joy of Dance in the Virtual World of Second Life - Introduction

Jo - The Dancing Fool
I don't dance in Real Life.  To tell the truth I'm the proverbial cliché of a person with two left feet.  

I went to an all girls' high school and I didn't take dance lessons until I was in my late teens.   Perhaps I have no "dance" gene or perhaps I left it too late, but somehow dancing didn't take with me.  But that's not to say I don't admire dancing or regret that I can't dance.  My foot starts tapping, just like everyone else's when I listen to dance music, of any genre.  But for me to get up and dance would only lead to embarrassment for everyone. 

When I go to the ballet or see it performed on television, I imagine that I too have the perfect control over my body that those dancers have.  I don't know if they have the "dance" gene which inspires them to work so hard to attain that perfect control.   I do know what it takes to achieve it and what dedication they show to their art.  But above all they must have an enduring, driving passion to express themselves in movement with music. 

In Second Life, I too have discovered that passion for dancing.  In its simplest form there, dancing is just going to a music venue and using dance animations created by other people.   You can dance alone or as a couple with another.  Usually there are a variety of dances to choose from, although their names can be meaningless and totally not in synch with the rhythm of the music being played.   

More experienced dancers buy dances themselves, using them instead of depending on the dances provided, which can be minimal or extensive depending on the club or venue.    There are usually more couples dances of better quality than individual ones and not all solo dances are unisex.  Some are very feminine or masculine and I think many owners just don't want to get into the complication and expense of providing something for everyone for the singles.

But solo dancers have the advantage of being able to use the dances they own and matching them to the music as it changes.   Of course there are specialized venues which keep strictly to one style of music, like Blues or Latin Dancing, Rock or Fifties, Electric Swing or Ballroom.  That makes it a little simpler in some ways.  Whatever your taste in music it's playing somewhere in Second Life in a place where you can also dance.  

Matching dances to the music is an art indeed.  It requires not only talent and a feel for the music but also a deep knowledge of the dances you own.  Yes, some creators name their dances clearly like Salsa or Hip Hop but a dance named Club Dance 15 give you no idea if it's fast or slow paced until you've tried it a few times.

Roni and Jo - Ladies in Red

I'm very fortunate to share many of my Second Life dance experiences with a dear friend who is very talented in matching dances to the music.  Roni owns a vast array of dances which she has installed into a personal dance hud which makes it easy to switch dances quickly as the musical numbers change.   The hud has the added advantage of being able to invite other avatars to dance along in a "chorus line" or group so we are often seen dancing as a duo around the grid.

The idea of this blog is to share some of our dance experiences and photos and our impressions of the World of Dance in Second Life, in its multitude of forms.  I hope you will find it of interest.  

Dancing is creating a sculpture that is visible only for a moment.

― Erol Ozan