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