Interview with a Dancer #6 – Isabelle Mavendorf

I’ve known Isabelle for a long time and she is one of the nicest people on the grid.  She’s also one of the most amazing choreographers.  She DJ’s, she builds, she takes photos – she does it all!  For this edition of ‘Interview with a Dancer,’ please welcome Izzy!

Isabelle Mavendorf-Burlesque 2014



SL Name:           Isabelle Mavendorf
Display Name:    Isabelle Mavendorf
Rez Day: 05/19/2008
Location: Seattle, WA





What led you to/How did you start dancing in SL?
IM:  The first time I got invited to dance on someone’s HUD, I knew I wanted to have that ability. I bought the Deluxe Huddles HUD and started buying dances and began using it at clubs where I DJ’d. I didn’t think to create sequenced dances until about three years ago, when I suggested to a friend that she bring her fashion show to a club to show her designs in motion rather than just on the runway. She did me one better and hired a choreographer for her runway show, which I DJ’d and then learned about sequenced dance cards. I started practicing on my own and created some routines just for fun. A couple of years ago, a friend asked me to join her cheerleading squad and do some routines and then I was truly hooked.

How long have you been dancing?
IM:  Technically, I’ve only been doing stage dancing for about a year.

Where do you dance?
IM:  Currently, I only dance at “The Naughty Box.” It is a small, very intimate Burlesque club that comes closest to RL Burlesque as I’ve seen in SL.

How much time, on average, do you spend in SL each week?
IM:  A lot more than normal recently, but I’ll be back to a fairly regular schedule of about 15 – 20 hours . . . holy cow, that’s still a lot, eh?

Of that time, how much (%) is spent working on dances/performances?
IM: When I’m working on routines, I’ll spend all my time on doing only that. I have been trying to get a bunch of them “in the can,” so to speak.

How long does it take you to create a set (start to finish)?
IM:  Even when I was creating large sets, I honestly preferred minimal clutter. I suppose on average, I’ll spend an hour or two. I have spent more time in the past.

Name your ‘go-to’ store for dance animations.
IM: A&M MoCap.

What dance HUD do you primarily use?  Why?
IM: Spot On Performance Director. There’s just nothing better.

Do you use a movement system?  Which one?  Is there a reason you prefer one over the other?
IM:  Spot On Choreography Design. It’s the only one I’ve ever used. However, I can’t see switching to anything else because it is essential to using the Performance Director.

Do you use other huds?  What are they?
IM: I do not use any others now.

Do you build your own sets or work with a scripter/builder? 
IM: Build my own and I occasionally use purchased scripts to, for example, animate stage objects.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten about dancing?  
IM: Do it because you love it and can afford it.

Do you emote?  Why or why not?
IM: I personally never liked emoting of any kind until I met Vivienne Dufaux, owner of The Naughty Box. Her emoting style isn’t like anything I’d ever seen in SL and I’m striving to create routines that focus more on the humor of Burlesque. So I guess the answer is, I do emote but still have a lot to learn about doing it well.

Where do you find your music?
IM: I’ve been collecting music for such a long time, it comes from all over. Record albums that I have converted to MP3s as well as CDs I buy new and used. Over the past couple of years, the majority of music I get is from Amazon.

What is your stance on the issue of music copyright in SL (and also in YouTube videos you might post)? 
IM: I do feel that streaming music in SL should be considered exempt from the strict copyright laws. However, that’s probably because I stream music in SL. I do not post anything to YouTube.

What are your preferences when it comes to dance performances?  (Large/small sets, particles/none, effects/none, lighting/none, faders/none, emotes/none, movers/none?) 
IM: Small sets with movers, no special effects or lighting. The reason I prefer this is because I have seen too many performances where the set overwhelms the dancer(s). In SL, lag plays such a huge role in the enjoyment of a performance and the farther away from the dancers you have to zoom, the less likely you are to enjoy the performance. Large sets force you to zoom out to see them all and then dancers are out of sync or are dancing in weird, jerky movements.

What’s your favorite store for costuming?  
IM: I cannot really say I have one right now, there are so many fantastic designers in SL.

Is there a particular artist (in SL or RL) that inspires you?
IM: In RL, there are too many to mention. I am a huge fan of Broadway and Hollywood musicals.  In SL, all the girls I work with at The Naughty Box are wonderful; whether they are expert in choreography or simply enjoy being in the chorus, each of them inspires me in some way.

What’s the most embarrassing or frustrating thing that has happened to you during a performance?
IM: Always the worst thing is missing the music cue and starting to late or too early. Maybe the audience doesn’t notice, but it’s frustrating to me because I spend careful hours matching each dance to the music.

Do you ever consider how an audience member’s computer set up might affect their enjoyment of your performance? (ie – particles, effects, lag, etc)
IM: I always consider that. It’s one of the reasons I think special lighting or special effects are a waste of time and can be detrimental to a performance. In addition, you never quite know how any particular lighting will look to the individuals in the audience. You may have carefully created your performance for midnight settings, for example, and half your audience is using daylight or some other setting.

What’s the best comment/compliment you’ve ever received about your dancing?
IM: I guess it was when I created a series of 6 dance routines spread out over half a sim. As I was getting paid, the woman who hired me said, “This isn’t nearly enough. You should have asked for more.”

What’s the most helpful piece of advice you would give to someone new to dancing in SL? 
IM: Same advice I was given – Do it because you love it.

How long do you think a show should be in SL?  Is there an ‘optimum’ max length?  
IM: One hour seems to be the optimum for me and others. Any longer, and people get anxious to leave or they get bored.

What is one thing you’d like to see ‘arrive’ in SL dance? (Something that is not currently possible.)
IM: Can’t think of anything in particular except more creative and different styles of dances (MoCap, of course). It’s not that there aren’t amazing dance creators in SL – they are fantastic. However, many of the dances are starting to be too much of the same thing. In addition, I’m still waiting for really good tap dancing styles, more international styles and better Burlesque dances (they are all wonderful, but the movements are all slow.  I’d like to see the quick bumps and grinds classic to old style Burlesque).

Any other thoughts/ideas/comments you’d like to share?
IM: Where are all the dancers?  Is everyone who wants to dance already dancing? And is anyone interested in collaborating on a large-scale musical? I don’t have my theater any longer, but I know of at least one we can use.

Isabelle brings up a point I’ve pondered a time or two myself.  Sometimes it seems as if you see the same dancers at many different venues.  Dancing is a lot of fun, so if you are interested in dancing, contact Isabelle.  Try it, you might like it!