Interview with a Dancer #11 – Zed Karas

This little lady has one of the wickedest senses of humor I’ve come across on the grid. 😛  Please welcome Zed Karas to the Interview with a Dancer series!

Zed 2014


SL Name:  Zed Karas
Display Name:  Same
Rez Day: February 1, 2007




What led you to/How did you start dancing in SL?
ZK:  Very soon after coming to SL I rented a small skybox, just somewhere to base myself from and unpack and play with things I’d bought.  This included animations. I’d always have the radio on so I’d dance along in my chair (admit it, you do it too) and I just played animations from my inventory (apparently this is called Freestyle, who knew?) to songs I liked. As my collection of animations grew, I began to develop little routines to songs purely for my own enjoyment.

How long have you been dancing?
ZK: For my own personal enjoyment, since I came to SL over 7 1/2 years ago. I started performing at MJ’s Burlesque Review when it opened about three years ago as a filler as they didn’t have a huge amount of people to put on a full show; I still consider myself a filler act.

Where do you dance?
ZK:  Mostly at home and at MJ’s Burlesque Review.

How much time, on average, do you spend in SL each week?
ZK:  80 – 100 hours.

Of that time, how much (%) is spent working on dances/performances?
ZK:  About 5%.

How long does it take you to create a set (start to finish)?
ZK:  This depends on my mood and motivation.  I’ve made a full routine including sequencing, set build and emotes in less than two hours. Usually it takes much longer depending on the idea and what resources I have to hand; most of the time is spent sourcing materials and textures.

Name your ‘go-to’ store for dance animations.

Name your ‘go-to’ store for non-dance anims.
ZK:  Kuso.

What dance HUD do you primarily use?  Why?
ZK:   I use the Barre HUD v3.0. I like to see a visual representation of exactly where I am at in the routine and if, for whatever reason, something goes wrong, I can resume from the next animation. I don’t use a more recent version because I don’t need the extra stuff like group functionality and I’ve found it to be stable enough not to have to upgrade.  More recent versions seem to come with free bugs that I can live without.

Do you use a movement system?  Which one?  Is there a reason you prefer one over the other?
ZK:  Only if the routine demands it, which is rare. I use the Spot On Choreography Design System for very basic movements, I’ve never found it reliable enough for more complex routines.  Otherwise I move manually.

Do you use other HUDs?  What are they?
ZK: I’ve used many different HUDs in the past to control separate things like curtains or effects, but if I need something special now I script the object to work from my Barre commands.

Do you build your own sets or work with a scripter/builder?
ZK: I build my own sets and edit scripts to suit. I’ve had scripts made in the past for specific tasks but I now write very basic scripts myself. I try to keep my sets simple; I’m a burlesque performer dancing on a stage in a small intimate club, not a music video star.

Do you emote?  Why or why not?
ZK: I do emote. It’s compulsory at MJ’s, but I also feel that it can enhance a performance and explain the moods, emotions, or story of the performance. We’re stuck with sets of prefabricated movement in SL so subtle movements aren’t possible; a RL dancer may be able to convey a certain mood or emotion to her audience, emotes fill this void in SL. My routines are usually story driven with a comedic element so emotes are rather essential in that respect, whether people choose to read them or not is up to them, but they’re there if they do.

Where do you find your music?
ZK:  I have a vast personal music collection so much of what inspires me comes from there. I find new music from listening to various SL DJs, YouTube,, and personal recommendations.

Do you make your own mixes?  If yes, where do you find music and/or sound effects?
ZK:  Yes, I do. YouTube has a surprising amount of sound effects, also, sites like Soundsnap provide royalty free sound effects that should cover pretty much any sound you’ll ever need.

What are your preferences when it comes to dance performances?  – Large/small sets; particles/none; effects/none; faders/none; emotes/none; movers/none; lighting/none;
ZK:  Personally, I prefer small sets/ stages.  I’ve been to so many shows where it’s difficult to even spot the performer on the stage because it’s so vast;  fair enough if you have a large troupe on stage at once, they all have to be able to fit, but as a solo performer small suits me. I avoid particle effects; it seems that a lot of people use them for the sake of using them, combine that with a large stage and you have no chance of finding the dancer at all. Same thing applies to lighting and other effects, if the act needs them then use them, if not it’s just shiny for the sake of shiny.

Do you ever consider how an audience member’s computer setup might affect their enjoyment of your performance?  (ie. – particles, effects, lag, etc.)
ZK:  Always, as I mentioned before I dislike too many effects/ particles.  Everyone sees SL differently so lighting can look terrible to some people, particles can appear as little (or big) grey boxes floating about, even large amounts of high poly mesh in a small area can crash people with slower computers. There’s no point having a hugely complicated show if people can’t see it.

What’s the best comment/compliment you’ve ever received about your dancing?
ZK:   I’ve seen a couple of my acts replicated by others, almost identical sets and costumes.  You can see them inspecting things when you’re on stage; it’s kind of flattering but some credit would be nice.

What’s the most helpful piece of advice you would give someone new to dancing in SL?
ZK:  Take a break when you get frustrated. Expect to hate your favourite song by the end of your choreography, be prepared to spend a lot of money and time making something, and don’t expect to get rich from it.

How long do you think a show should be in SL?  Is there an ‘optimum’ max length?
ZK:  No longer than an hour, people get bored very quickly in SL, no matter how good the show is. It’s better to leave them wanting more than have them fall asleep.

Where is your favorite spot to spend time in SL if you are not dancing?
ZK: On my own sim, I potter about building and playing with stuff, riding my horse, drooling over my coveted gacha items and counting cats.

What is one thing you’d like to see ‘arrive’ in SL dance?  (Something that is not currently possible.) 
ZK:  I’d like to see walls, props, and bits of set that prevent people dancing through them or a sense of spacial awareness.  I’ve seen so many people dance off a stage into mid air or disappear through a wall.

Any other thoughts/ideas/comments you’d like to share?
ZK: Gadgets/ HUD’s do not make a good show. People jump on the bandwagon to have the latest thing thinking that it will add that spark of “magic,” but if you don’t have the original concept right then it’s all for nothing. Don’t believe the hype people spout constantly, not everything that’s new is really new. You’ve always been able to move about the stage (Xpose), you’ve been able to change your costume at the touch of a button (any amount of RLV assisted wardrobe HUDs), even appearing to play an animation from somewhere other than the start has been possible for over two years (The PieceMaker).

A big thank you to Zed for taking the time to answer all my nosy questions. 😀  Stay tuned for the next interview!