Choreography Theory

dancer
Image Source: http://www.imgneed.com

Yummy and I often get into deep discussions about what makes choreography ‘good.’

For me, other’s choreography is often like art – I know what I like when I see it.

I don’t know how other people choreograph, because it’s not generally something you watch other people do.

You could, but it would probably be incredibly boring, because much of what goes on is internal – personal decisions about what will/won’t look good, how to put things together, what overarching concept the choreographer is trying to achieve.

When I choreograph, it starts with an idea – sparked from a song I’ve heard, a costume I’ve seen, a fantastic prop piece I’ve found, or it can all start with the end vision.

I never know.

I went out internet searching for information on choreography theory.

What I found was a good Prezi presentation (albeit with a few errors) about choreography theory.

You can find it here.

It’s worth a watch, if only for the fantastic Fosse video embedded in it. 😀

I’ve long wanted to do a class on Formations, and I think that will be the next course I write curriculum for.

If you have a large stage and multiple dancers, formations are essential to keeping the audience engaged.

Choreographing for a group is very different than choreographing for a solo or duet.

The presentation did remind me, however, of my love for dance – especially Fosse.

God, I love Fosse.

So much so, that I was inspired to create a couple of poses from the video in the presentation.

I love the lean back pose the girls strike in the video at various times, so I made one. 🙂

I also made another pose that I think will work nicely as a transition pose for several 60s dances, like Abranimations The Jerk.

I am putting them out in a box at my theater for free, so stop by and pick them up. 🙂

Turn left as you enter the theater and the box is on the wall – touch and ye shall receive.

(Also, you could hit up my subscribo right above it while you’re there.) 😀

Enjoy!!

What’s Your Dance Philosophy?

Kat&Mouse SOPA Logo WhiteWhen I decided to found the Kat & Mouse School of Performing Arts, I sat down to try and write out some of my thoughts, feelings, and approaches to dance in SL.

Everyone is in SL for their own reasons, and we all perform for our own reasons.

Thinking back to the first time I saw a dance show in SL, my immediate reaction was, “I want to do that!”

It looked like so much fun, especially since dance is something I love in RL as well.

I’ve been a fan of theater for as long as I can remember, especially musicals.

I love the dancing, the singing, the costumes – all of it.

So having the ability to dance in SL, wear gorgeous costumes, have fun – it was a dream come true.

I spent a lot of time ‘learning the ropes,’ but eventually branched out into doing my own choreography.

I’ve spent countless hours choreographing routines, finding costumes (sometimes making them!) and building sets.

Is everything about dancing in SL fun?

No, of course not.

So why do it?

That’s a question each dancer will have to answer for themselves.

Is it because you enjoy dance as an artistic expression?

Is it because you want to entertain audiences?

It is because you want to be rich and famous – an SL celebrity?

None of these reasons are right or wrong, but as a dancer, you should be aware of your motivation.

Dancing in SL is time-consuming, expensive, and very often, frustrating.

(Sorry if you thought you’d get rich dancing.)  😛

Are you looking to be a solo performer or do you want to perform in groups?

Do you like venues with large stages, or do you prefer more intimate venues?

Do you like variety-style shows or is burlesque more your thing?

When you start to dance, you’ll be a lot happier if you find a venue or troupe whose priorities are aligned with yours.

Although I’ve danced in many venues, I prefer smaller stages with a more intimate feel.

I like a wide variety of music, but I’m not a huge fan of techno or rap, so you won’t see very many routines with that kind of music from me.

Dancing is hard work, but it can be very rewarding.

I’ve met a lot of terrific people during my dancing career.

Oh, sure, I’ve run into a few divas, but by and large most of the people who dance are warm, friendly, and approachable.

One last note – though most people are nice, there will be times when you are criticized – whether it’s for your technique, your building skills, your music choice, whatever.

If you can’t take criticism, dancing may not be for you.

You have to develop a thick skin, as well as be able to recognize whether the criticism is meant to help or hurt.

If it’s meant to help, consider what was said.

Are there changes you could make that would help you improve?

If it’s meant to hurt, brush it off and move on.

It’s your SL, after all. 😀

Mesh Mess – A Lesson in Frustration

Mess MeshI’m a big fan of mesh.

I wear pretty much all mesh clothes, I own a mesh body, I have mesh hands and feet, and I own about 4 or 5 mesh heads.

I love how much prettier mesh is when I’m taking photos.

Since the advent of mesh, the question of whether or not to use it when dancing has been debated.

I’ve danced in mesh clothing before.

I’ve danced with mesh hands and feet before.

I have never danced with a mesh head or a mesh body.

I’ve heard complaints from others about watching shows where headless bodies were dancing, costumes didn’t rez, set pieces didn’t rez, etc.

Never having experienced these problems (other than the occasional SL glitch), I realized I kind of dismissed the issue.

*I* could see everything fine, so what’s the big deal?

It must be their computers, or their preferences, or whatever.

After a recent fiasco at a performance, I’m re-thinking my approach.

Preferences

I attended a dance show where I knew it would be crowded.

I arrived about 30 minutes early to give myself (and my computer) time to cache everything prior to showtime.

When I arrived, I was immediately hit by a small bout of lag.

I began to make adjustments.

I lowered my graphics preferences (I usually run on Ultra).

I lowered my draw distance and particles.

I went into the advanced menu and began disabling things like sky, water, clouds, etc., that I wouldn’t need to render for the show.

The first number went okay, with only one dancer being sans hands for the entire routine.

I figured I had acted in time, and I would be able to enjoy the rest of the show.

Act Two

Mesh Mess 2The second act hit the stage, and out of 8 dancers, two of them remained stubbornly bald, naked, and without hands or feet.

I wish I understood why this happened – all 8 dancers were wearing the same costume.

6 rezzed, 2 did not.  ???

Feeling frustrated, I was going to try either tp’ing out and back, or relogging, to see if that would clear up whatever issue I was having.

Unfortunately for me, just as I was contemplating this, it was announced that access had been closed, and that if anyone left or crashed, you would be unable to get back in.

So that option was no longer available. 😦

I decided to try and tough it out, hoping that things would somehow fix themselves and I would be able to see.

Third Time’s a Charm?

Mesh Mess 3Sadly, no, it wasn’t.

Again, out of 8 or 10 dancers, the two main dancers appeared naked, bald, and missing appendages.

I don’t know if it was the same issue as the previous act, where everyone was wearing the same costume, or not.

But it’s very hard to enjoy a dance performance when literally half (or more) of the performer is missing/invisible.

Now, I know this issue is NOT the fault of the performers.

Most of them were simply wearing the costumes they were given and doing their jobs.

Mesh Mess 4(Note – some of the pictures may appear a bit pixellated due to their small size.  I tried to crop out as much extraneous information as possible in the pictures, because I am not trying to blame the dancers or the venue.)

In desperation, I de-rendered the entire audience, hoping that would help.

At this point, I was soooo frustrated.

I decided to stay for one more act.

It had already been almost an hour, and I knew that if the next act didn’t go well, there was no point in staying for the rest of the show.

What I saw (or rather, didn’t see) next, is what made me re-think my attitude towards mesh.

Mesh MessAs the curtain slooowly opened, I sighed.

Rather than getting better, it appeared my problems were getting worse.

The main dancer was nothing but a floating head.

I’m assuming she was wearing a mesh body.

I don’t know, because I couldn’t see it.

The gentlemen next to her had hands, thankfully, but no hair, and no lower half.

Argghhhhhh!

Time to call it a night. 😦

Reflections

After having some time to reflect on things, my attitude towards mesh has changed a bit.

For photography, I will continue to wear mesh so I don’t have to spend hours faffing with photos to get rid of jagged edges and such.

For dancing – I’m still not sure, but I know that I will at least put more thought into how I create my routines after my experience.

Yes, mesh looks fabulous.

But does that matter if many in the audience can’t see it anyway?

I have seen dancers who wore mesh bodies and clothing and I had no issues.

However, I’m not sure it’s worth the risk, even if it’s only one or two people who have problems.

It’s easy to blame the audience members, or their computers, or their ISPs, or whatever.

I have a good computer, a high-speed direct cable connection, and I did a ton of things to reduce lag issues, some of which most casual users wouldn’t even know to do.

It’s also easy to blame SL, though I’m not certain that’s the issue either.

Could I have arrived earlier and avoided issues?

Possibly.

But 30 minutes has generally been a good window, and quite frankly, unless the show is a one-time event, it’s just not worth sitting somewhere for an hour waiting for the show to start.

I think perhaps it just boils down to your own personal approach.

While it would be amazing to put on a show where 100+ people came, if the end result is even one person having my experience, to me, it’s not worth it.

I would much rather limit the amount of people to ensure that everyone has a good experience.

I will probably continue to use mesh props and wear mesh costume pieces, but I doubt that I will ever dance in my mesh head and/or body.

Previous to this experience, I had been considering it.

Now, I’m not sure it’s worth the possible problems.

Kat & Mouse School of Performing Arts Classes Starting Soon!

Kat&Mouse SOPA Logo WhiteIf you missed my earlier announcement, I have founded the Kat & Mouse School of Performing Arts in Second Life.

When I first started dancing in Second Life, I had no idea what I was doing, nor what I was getting into. 😛

I absolutely fell in love with choreographing dances and performing.

I know that a lot of people in SL share that love, and I’d like to help YOU get better at what you do.

My approach for classes will be a bit different than most dance classes in SL.

Teaching can be a challenge in SL, because the feedback you would normally get in a classroom isn’t there (ie, the eye-rolls of students who are bored, the confused looks of those who have gotten lost, the snores of those who stayed up too late dancing the night before). 😛

My focus, for all of my classes, will be to help you learn what YOU want/need to know.

The classes will be in voice, but I will also have notes for you, which will be available at the beginning of class so you can write your own notes on them as well. 🙂

I will have hands-on examples for you to try, to play with, to explore – because I think having some hands-on is essential to learning, especially in SL.

I hope to teach you skills you can take to any venue on the grid, so that you can be as successful as you want to be.

Every troupe does things a little differently, but with the basic skills, you can be successful dancing anywhere.

The classes will be kept to an hour and only one session (as much as is possible), because I know that scheduling and availability is difficult for many.

There is no fee for any of the classes, though some of them require that you own specific equipment/tools.

If you’re an experienced dancer/performer and you have specific skills you’d like to acquire, PLEASE let me know!

I am still working on some advanced classes, so if you have an interest, I’d love to hear about it.

The basic series of classes starts on Sunday, October 4, at 2pm SLT at the Kat & Mouse Theater.

You can still sign up for classes – just head over to the K&M SOPA Class Listings page on the menu above.

See you in class!!!

K&M SOPA MISSION STATEMENT:  To help those interested in dance to acquire skills in order to achieve success.

Setting Goals for Success

Smart goals
Image Source: nursecareersuccess.com

A few weeks ago I attended a seminar on using social media more effectively.

I had a lot of ‘aha’ moments – not necessarily because I learned anything I didn’t already know, but because I was forced to actually *think* about what my goals were.

When I started this blog, my goal was to write and have fun.

(Those are still my main goals, btw.)

But as the blog has grown, so have my dreams.

So how can I make my dreams a reality?

For me, simply by paying a bit more attention and by being more deliberate.

I don’t like to look at my stats every day or even every week.

It’s too easy for me to start trying to micromanage every little detail and then I become overwhelmed.

I picked two (relatively) small goals – both for this blog and my new shoe blog – I ❤ Shoes SL.

I made an editorial calendar – something I’d used before, but this time I designed it myself, so it had all the things *I* needed and wanted on it.

I wrote my goals at the top, so they are there as a constant reminder when I’m working on things.

What I’ve noticed so far?

Even though I haven’t made my goals (yet), I’m getting there.

I’m able to celebrate even small successes, like 1 more subscriber or 10 more daily page views.

I’ve stopped comparing myself to other blogs/bloggers, and I’m concentrating on what *I* am accomplishing.

Every ‘life coach’ out there will tell you to set goals – that’s nothing new.

But the idea of setting ‘measurable’ goals had sort of eluded me until now.

I’m amazed at what a difference it has made, not only in my approach, but in my mental state.

Because I have stopped comparing myself to others, I am able to more easily celebrate my own little successes – successes that likely would have passed unnoticed before.

And though this is a lesson I’ve learned before, it clearly is one that I need repeated.

This is something I need to carry over into my dancing in SL – comparing yourself to others is often just a road to frustration and upset.

Celebrate what *you* do that is successful – no matter how small it may seem.

Those baby steps are what will motivate you to keep learning and growing in your art.

Don’t forget to celebrate!!

Announcing The Kat & Mouse School of Performing Arts!

Kat&Mouse SOPA Logo WhiteThat’s right – I’ve finally taken the leap and started the Kat & Mouse School of Performing Arts (SOPA).  😀

I have long wanted to help other dancers acquire skills to allow them to advance in their performance dance careers.  Dance in SL can be extremely intimidating to new performers and often even experienced performers have difficulty finding the time or place to learn advanced skills.

Because I know that time is a precious commodity (in RL and SL), I have purposely designed my curriculum with that in mind.  Most of the courses are only one session and should last approximately one hour.  My intention is that students can come to a class, learn a skill, and then immediately apply that skill to their dancing.

I am starting out by offering some basic courses, but I will be adding intermediate and advanced courses, including some classes on using the Artiste Suite.  Initial course offerings include Basic Choreography, Basic Movers (requires the SpotOn Choreography Designer), Basic Set Building, Basic Costuming, and Basic Lighting/FX.

Classes begin on October 4, 2015.  Classes will be held at the Kat & Mouse Theater on Sundays at 2pm SLT.  You can join the Kat & Mouse group or hit up the subscriber at the theater to stay informed.  Click here to visit the Course Listings page and sign up for classes.

A little background on me:

I am an educator in RL, and I have been teaching since 2004.  I have taught at both the high school and university level, so I am familiar with learners of varying abilities.  I suppose my RL occupation has led to my interest in teaching in SL. 🙂

I have been dancing in SL since 2009 and have danced in many different troupes during that time.  I started out as a ball-warmer, then moved to chorus girl, and then solo performer.  I have done solo routines, routines with 20+ dancers, and everything in between. I am familiar with many different dance tools, including the SpotOn suite of products, the Barre, the HUDDLES, and the Artiste Suite.

I hope you join me on my new adventure!  I would love to help you learn the skills you need to take your performance dance to the next level.  😀

If you have any questions, just ask.  I look forward to seeing you in class!

The Artiste Performance HUD and Suite: Success ?

This post from Aura Fitzgerald, dancer at Sinner’s Burlesque, touched on some points that I agree with wholeheartedly concerning dance, regardless of what HUD you use. 🙂

Click the link below to read the post.

Source: The Artiste Performance HUD and Suite: Success ?

Slow Motion Animations

I mentioned in a previous post that I used the ‘slow motion animations’ option to help me capture the effect I wanted in a photo.

I assumed everyone knew how to do this, but since Path asked me, I thought I would share it here.

It’s really simple, just a few clicks.

I’m not sure if this works the same in the official viewer, since I use Firestorm, but I’m sure it’s similar.

Developer MenuFor Firestorm, you must have the Developer menu enabled.

To access the Developer menu, hit Ctrl+Alt+Q to toggle the menu on.

Once you have the Developer menu, go down to Avatar.

When you highlight the Avatar option, you will see another menu pop out.

Slide your mouse over onto that menu window and select Animation Speed.

When Animation Speed is selected, you will see a third menu pop out.

At the bottom of that menu, you will see the Slow Motion Animations option.

Click that, and you will now see animations in slow motion.

Slow Motion AnimationsPlease note that everyone else will still see the animations at the regular speed, only you will see them in slow motion.

However, it’s a nice tool to use in certain situations, particularly when you are trying to capture a shot.

You could use this at a dance show to help you capture the photo you want of a dancer.

You can use it as I did, to animate yourself and then capture a photo.

Play with it, use your imagination, go wild!

University of The Arts

Univ of Scenic Arts_001
University of Scenic Arts Campus

Carla Ives (lacocinelle) has been awarded an LEA grant and the ‘University of The Scenic Arts’ is underway.

You can read the original blog post here.

According to the student information, “The University of Scenic Arts is a place to share knowledge, learn or teach; the lessons given are related to theater dance show.”

If you’ve always wanted to take (or teach) a class about choreography, mover systems, particles, or the like, you will have a chance in September.

For students, you will need to fill out a student application and then drop it in the mailbox in the Arts office.

There is a different application for teachers, so if you have dance/theatre knowledge you want to share, fill it out and drop it off.

UOSA Schedule
UOSA September Schedule

The sim is decorated very prettily, as you can see above.

This is the schedule posted near the classroom.

The first class is scheduled for September 4.

(Click on the picture to make it bigger, if you have old eyes like mine!)

I wandered about the sim, and there are also some art exhibits on display.

I’m not sure how you get exhibition space, as that wasn’t mentioned in the blog post.

Nor could I find information about them during my visit to the sim.

Univ of Scenic Arts_002
UOSA Theater

There is a large amphitheater on the sim as well.

Presumably that is where the performances will be held.

Mark your calendars so you don’t forget!