Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Now Subbing at Edge PAC

As a part of my 2013 initiative to be more involved with dance I decided to embrace the idea of teaching and choreographing more (as mentioned in a previous post). In years past, I was nervous whenever the mere thought of teaching came to mind. 

Don't get me wrong. To me, the act of teaching was never the terrifying part. It was the pressure of creating "interesting" and "unique" work that used to be troubling. I felt (and continue to feel) that people are always looking to learn the coolest moves from the coolest teachers who appeared on the coolest television shows. I felt rejected even before I made an attempt. 

But today I made a very important realization: I'm not going to be good at choreographing someone else's style. My physicality, range of motion, and vocabulary is drastically different from those of the prominent LA contemporary teachers. My choreography doesn't look like Mandy Moore's, or Tessandra Chavez's, or Erica Sobol's. 

And who says it has to?

My challenge as a choreographer and teacher is not to come up with something that is already accepted and "cool". It is to explore what I know on a deeper level and to push my own personal movement boundaries. Only then will I have something worthwhile to teach. 

All of this insight on teaching could not have come at a better time. As of today, I am an official substitute teacher for Edge Performing Arts Center

Edge is a well-known Los Angeles institution serving the southern California dance community since 1992.  While it offers a great laundry list of styles and levels of classes, I mainly rely on it for my contemporary and jazz needs. I started taking classes there when I was 13 years old after receiving a scholarship from LA Dance Magic for a week of unlimited classes.

Even though I'm only subbing classes at Edge for the time being, it nonetheless provides me the valuable opportunity to share my work with other (hopefully) eager dancers. 

I will be subbing my first class at Edge this Friday, 2/1/2013, at 1PM! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Class to Haim's "Forever"

After nearly a whole month of teaching at Movement Lifestyle I finally found the courage to record some of my material (I did my homework Suk!). While it lacks the fancy lighting and the professionalism of those well thought out concept videos that are all the hype these days, I'm proud to post my first video of the year:

Yesterday's class, albeit small in size, was full of familiar faces and talented dancers. It was amazing to see how they interpreted what I was saying and teaching.

I was astounded to have my new healthy-treats-baking-pal, Channing Cooke, in class yesterday. She's an accomplished dancer who's been on the stage with the likes of Travis Wall's "Shaping Sounds", Florence and the Machines, and even Jennifer Lopez.

Our duet in the above video is competition-ready if I do say so myself.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Movement is a Lifestyle

I have set many goals for myself this year, and one of them is to further develop my own craft as a dancer and artist. There are many ways to accomplish this, but the approach that I am taking this year is to choreograph and teach more.

That is why I snatched up the opportunity to teach at Movement Lifestyle when the studio manager asked if I was interested. And for the entire month of January I am the featured contemporary teacher. I will even start subbing at Edge PAC as a contemporary/jazz teacher very soon. In fact, my very first class is next Friday (2/1) at 1:00PM!

While I am not exactly a novice at teaching class, I am completely new to the dance education scene in LA. To me, teaching in LA is drastically different from teaching in my home town. For one, a majority of the dance population in LA are professionals. These kind of dancers seek a different kind of training than that sought by recreational and non-professional students. 

For what it's worth, I've very much enjoyed my 3:30PM slot at ML thus far. My classes have been small and therefore very intimate. 

Tomorrow will be my 4th class of the month, and I will be teaching to an awesome Haim song:

You only have 2 more opportunities to boogie with me on Thursdays this month at Movement Lifestyle at 3:30PM, so come while you can!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Post-Christmas Cheer in Dubai

It's always amazing to be home, but it's especially wonderful to be home for the holidays. This year we had an extra special gathering with our future in-laws, the Trinhs:

Practicing being Cool Aunt Karen
A "candid" shot with my brother and future sister-in-law
Immediately after Christmas (and after a delicious vegetarian Christmas meal courtesy of yours truly) I boarded a 5-hour flight to Atlanta and then a 14-hour flight to Dubai. The grueling trip would have been even less tolerable had it not been for the extra friendly and super interesting passenger next to me, George.

George, as I learned during the 14-hour plane ride from Atlanta to Dubai, is a weapons technician stationed in Afghanistan. He's served a total of 27 years in the army, and is currently on a 30-month tour of Afghanistan. I spent the better part of my flight asking George questions about his job and what exactly he does for the U.S. army. I won't bore you with details, but let's just say I walked off the plane feeling more grateful and indebted to our nation's heroes than I ever have before.

Dubai was an interesting place, to say the least. Being there felt like being in an amusement park: everything was perfectly placed and painted. The flowers were in neat rows, the road signs were brand new, and the buildings were a little too picturesque:

Doesn't this remind you of Legoland or Autopia/  

Of course, I had a lot of fun performing with these guys:

Luckily, we had a chance to explore the city before we left for our flight home the next night. In addition to downtown Dubai we also visited the undeveloped part of Dubai. "Bur Dubai", or "Old Dubai," is a stark contrast to the extravagant and pristine part of Dubai in which we stayed:

We took a 30-minute boat ride in the Dubai Creek that ended up costing around $3 a person:

All in all, it was a very enjoyable trip to the Middle East:

Not sure if or when I'll be back in Dubai again. But maybe next time I'll get to ride a camel!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Masterclass to Haim's "Send Me Down"

Over the holiday break I taught a master class series with Ryan Ramirez, Judson Emery, and Reed Tankersley. All four of us grew up dancing together, and it has been a long time since we've all been in the same studio. Thanks to fellow Bruin (and old dance friend) Kenzie Tankersley, we were brought together on December 23 to teach a workshop.

I've had Haim's songs on repeat ever since I heard their tracks, and was even more enamored with them after watching a live performance at the Palihouse about a year ago. Here's the end product:

Thank you everyone who came out and danced with us! Keep on the look out for more of these kinds of workshops in the near future!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

VH1 Divas Live 2012

Immediately after I arrived back into the states from Australia, I had a special opportunity to be a part of the VH1 Divas show. VH1 Divas was first launched in the late 90's as a means for the network to support its Save The Music Foundation. This year, the show was dedicated to dance music divas including Madonna, Whitney Houston, and Blondie.

Artistic Directors/Choreographers Nick Florez, RJ Durrell, and Tovaris Wilson created a beautiful show with delightful visuals and stunning routines. I got to dance with Demi Lovato for her performance of, "Heart a Break", and Adam Lambert for his, "Ray of Light" tribute to Madonna:

The "House Dancers", who were the backup dancers throughout the show, was an amazing group. It included fellow Nicki Minaj dancer Jae Fusz as well as Teen Dance Company alumnus Judson Emery and Katee Shean. This was our first job all together since dancing together at TDC, and it was fun being in the professional setting with them. And as always, I had an awesome time working with power duo Nick and RJ! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Wrapping Up the Pink Friday Tour: Perth, Australia

The last stop of the Pink Friday Reloaded Tour was Perth, Australia.

My only knowledge of the city is through the Bon Iver song by the same title, and I don't think that Justin Vernon is singing about the city at all. Regardless, I was excited to visit.

Though we didn't stay in the heart of downtown Perth, everything fun was still accessible. There is a free city bus that runs from the eastern part of the main road (where are hotel was located) to downtown. From there, one could take any of the 5 trains from Perth Station to any beach town or hipster neighborhood for about 4AUD.

My first stop was Northbridge, which was only a ten-minute walk from downtown Perth. I walked along William Street and stumbled upon New Edition Bookshop:

Soy Chai Latte at New Edition
The well stocked book store is full of good reads and good food. The owner, James, was very friendly and helpful. I stayed there for about an hour poring over a vegetarian cookbook while sipping on a chai latte. I also met new friend Annie who is the owner, designer, and buyer for the fashion retail shop, Tu. She graciously invited me to hang out with her and her pals that evening, and we ended up having a great time at Andaluz Bar.

The next day was a show day, meaning that we had the entire morning and afternoon to ourselves. Cara and I decided to check out the Leederville Market:

Jedis celebrate Christmas too
The Leederville Market is a typical flea market similar to the one's that exist in LA. But instead of an empty lot, the market is organized along a street with retail shops and eateries. We spent all afternoon shopping and walking around before the show.

The last show was a real celebration. Not only did it mark the end of Nicki's first arena tour, but it was also her birthday. We celebrated with fancy bottles of champagne and extravagantly large cakes:

The next day, I made a quick trip to Cottesloe Beach right before we left for the airport:

I found an amazing website that details all of the major neighborhoods in Perth, so if you ever find yourself in this Australian city check out http://weloveperth.net.au/ . It'll provide you with all of the information you need to know on where to eat, where to shop, and what to do!

And for those of you wondering: No, I did not try vegemite this time around :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

A New Year: 2013

The beginning of a new year always feels like the beginning of a new journey. Someone magically presses the restart button and all one's sins and mistakes from the year before are wiped clean from consciousness.

Resolutions are made. Goals are set. And the hope is that over the course of these next 365 days, what one failed to accomplish in the year before will be achieved now.

I began 2012 as a college senior struggling to define my post-college plans. I had an incredible job as a PR Assistant at a major high fashion company; the optimist in me thought I could hang on to that job forever. But reality kicked in and I had to quit that job in October to go on tour. One door was so wide open that it forced another shut.

I don't believe in new years resolutions, but I do believe in short-term and long-term goals. This year, as I really step out into the world as a real "professional dancer" (with no college courses to take, no part-time job to do, or any other strings attached), I feel a sense of anxiety.

It's not a nervousness that I can explain, and it's definitely a sensation that I have never felt before. It is a mix of excitement and worry with a dash of contentment. Contentment that I didn't settle for something with which I knew I wouldn't be happy. Contentment that I at least tried to do something sensible and practical. Most of all, contentment that despite my indecision through all these years, I finally decided.

So to the handful of readers who every so often devote their precious time to my blog: you might notice a slight shift in the kinds of things I post about. And you might not. I suppose we'll find out as the year progresses.

Here's to 2012. An amazing year of accomplishments and realized dreams. The year I was in love, the year I graduated, and the year that I danced on a world tour.

So bring it on 2013! I await the many surprises you shall bring.

Shanti to you from the Dubai Creek