I’ve never been to Denmark, but if the people are anything like this next dancer, I have a feeling I would enjoy myself immensely. For the latest installment of ‘Interview with a Dancer,’ please welcome Diiar!
SL Name: Diiar Resident
Display Name: Diiar Dembo
Rez Day: August 20, 2012
What led you to/How did you start dancing in SL?
DD: My customary answer would be I’m not really a dancer, and I consider myself a host/emcee first and foremost. However, somewhere along the way from when Winds of the Sahara Cabaret was opened and now, I had the urge to try my own hand at making a performance. Seeing all the talented ladies of SL dance grace the stage week after week was an amazing motivator and while I didn’t really feel all that passionate about dance in itself, I was very curious to see what I could do. Cyllene of course was a huge influence! She invited me to warm movers for her sets and I got a first hand glance at how a performance works. I was soon to learn it wasn’t as easy as it looked, but by then I was already too busy learning to build, to chose dances and put it all together to stop again. So I suppose the short answer would be curiosity, Cyllene and a chance to try my hand at some things in SL I had yet to explore.
How long have you been dancing?
DD: Being the host of the (until recently) only show I perform at has it’s perks and a little research in my notes reveals that I debuted on September 22nd 2013 – so just over a year ago.
Where do you dance?
DD: Primarily at Winds of the Sahara, but have taken the plunge and affiliated myself loosely with The Elysium Cabaret. Being European makes it tricky at best to fit the schedule of SL dance into a SL schedule.
How much time, on average, do you spend in SL each week?
DD: Now that is a tough question. I am not on any timetable when it comes to dance. I’m not in it for the money or the fame, but simply because I like making the sets. That being said, I can go weeks not doing a thing dance related except host at Winds, and other weeks I can barely be dragged away from my newest build. I really can’t give an average – when I do have a set in the making my best guess would be maybe 30 hours.
Of that time, how much (%) is spent working on dances/performances?
DD: Most of it if not all – 95% at least.
How long does it take you to create a set (start to finish)?
DD: Again – tough question. Since I’m not on any timetable (I only sign up to perform when I have a set ready and rarely take to the stage more than once per month), I mostly work in spurts. So it’s not really all that unusual for a set of mine to sit untouched for days, weeks, a few times even months and not ever get any closer to being finished. Until suddenly I feel like working on it again. I haven’t really made many sets – the fastest I’ve been was 1-2 days (LOOONG days), 15-20 hours or so. And the slowest…gee, I’m not sure I ever want to reveal that…but it’s a lot more than 20 hours. To be fair though – when I’m slow, I’m not very focused either. Building a new performance is nice and all, but I get distracted easily, so it’s not unusual for me to have a few IMs open, a few searches on marketplace for costumes or whatever, iTunes or YouTube running for some auditive distractio…I mean motivation, numerous Facebook breaks and other things more or less unrelated to the work in progress – WHILE I work on that… And also – I barely knew how to build when I started out – and truth be told I am still leaning! Things that most consider common knowledge are in many cases things I’ve yet to discover or learn…Hell, I only just learned how to edit a texture only on one side of a prim…. That level of ignorant bliss is just bound to slow you down. *laughs*
Name your ‘go-to’ store for dance animations.
DD: I really like A&M! But recently I’d have to say my go-to store is Henmations.
Name your ‘go-to’ store for non-dance anims.
DD: Errr…Marketplace? – though I do have a tendency to buy a lot from F*cking Ninjas (yeah – it may be the name that’s drawing me in).
What dance HUD do you primarily use? Why?
DD: I am in the process of switching from Barre to Director actually. I really like the control Barre offers – if something goes wrong you’re not bound as tightly as you are with Director – but I recently tried Director (and been testing it in the worst possible circumstances I’ve been able to find) and found that as long as you do your choreography design properly and start the sequence at that golden moment where it’s SUPPOSED to start – then you really don’t need the same level of control as you do with Barre. So I’ve gone back and picked out my own favorite sets and converted them from Barre to Director (also gave me a wonderful opportunity to fix a few glitches that got on my nerves when I originally performed those sets – AND change the builds with my newfound knowledge. *laughs*). When I did Breath of Life – with 11 different movers, 7 dancers – doing 4 different sequences and a costume change (using the Spot On Costume Assistant) on a sim with 70 people and there was NO lag, NO delay…I knew I was switching from Barre to Director. For the first draft of the dance sequence, however, I still use Barre and will probably continue to do so. With that I can do it wherever and whenever.
Do you use a movement system? Which one? Is there a reason you prefer one over the other?
DD: I use Spot On Choreography System – and it’s the only one I’ve ever tried. I saw others using it before I started building myself, got it, tried it and since then it’s just gotten better. I don’t own and probably never will own the Spot On Group Formation System though, even though I rarely make solo sets. Sure using the Choreography System for group performances is more work, but I much prefer the control it gives me to just make each path individually (okay, so now we’ve also established I am indeed a control freak)…
Do you use other HUDs? What are they?
DD: I use the Spot On Costume Assistant (as mentioned earlier) when I have a costume change (obviously) – it is probably my favorite of all the stuff I use for a performance to be honest – I’m completely head over heels for it. Besides that, no, not unless I am running some kind of effect.
Do you build your own sets or work with a scripter/builder?
DD: I make my own sets, from build to dance to costume. And frankly I think it’s lazy to not do so. (Oh, I’m going to get unpopular now.) Furthermore, I like that the sets are personal and the best way to do that is to just do it yourself (it may also have something to do with the aforementioned controlfreakishness….). I’ve even taken to scripting a tiny bit when there was something I needed and couldn’t get – but that really is a tiny, TINY bit. I’ve had another builder/scripter make parts for me on 2 occasions, but normally if I can’t buy it or make it myself I find another way . . . blahblahsomethingaboutcontrolblah….
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten about dancing?
DD: Have fun! It’s a completely selfish notion really, but it’s great advice. If you’re in this to get rich you’ll soon be disappointed. If you’re in this to get famous you’ll soon learn that there are bigger ponds in SL (and life in general). Yes, people have to watch what you put on stage, so don’t be boring. Nothing is worse than a solo act with 5 textured prims and a dancer standing in one place doing some dances (even worse if they aren’t cached *shivers*). But if you have fun doing this – then making something more than the bare minimum should be easy, and a pleasure!
Do you emote? Why or why not?
DD: On occasion, yes. Which is to say rarely, to be honest. I really like it when people emote, though. One of my biggest pet peeves (and I have many) is that I like to see progression in sets, story – perhaps I see SL dance more as a mini theater. Emotes are a really easy way of achieving that. On the other hand, the more people have to read the less of the actual set they see, so emotes to me are something to be used in moderate doses. I like to try and tell a story with no use of emotes – at most maybe a quote or the like somewhere in the build – not as an emote. But really it’s all about style – if I was a better emoter I probably would use it more, though.
Where do you find your music?
DD: Yikes….All over really. YouTube is a huge sinner in that department for me. Movies and especially TV series too. I rarely use songs I don’t like, so most of the music I’ve used and have on my to-do list are songs I picked up somewhere and fell in love with. Songs that spoke to me and put images into my head – but those songs can come from anywhere really.
Do you make your own mixes? If yes, where do you find music and/or sound effects?
DD: Mixes is perhaps a bit of an overstatement – but yes, I do make my own mixes at times when I feel the need for it. Mostly it’s just a matter of cutting 2 songs together though. Lastly I combined Jen Titus’ Oh Death with a remake of Bad Moon Rising for a Halloween set – both songs I found on YouTube and the bridge between the songs was just the last few seconds of Bad Moon Rising reversed and put between the two songs – I thought it gave a spooky sound effect that fit Halloween quite nicely.
What is your stance on the issue of music copyright in SL (and also in YouTube videos you might post)?
DD: I really don’t think much about it. If I were to worry about copyright I’d just limit myself. But it’s hard to see the issue from where I stand – it’s not as if anyone claims the music is theirs just because they put a dance to it and made a build. In fact artists probably should be happy to see their music inspiring other creative souls, bringing joy to a number of people and even in some cases spreading their music to new audiences…
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;
DD: I stated this earlier – I like story sets! Emotion, story, personality are massive keywords for me when making a set and watching other people’s sets. It’s not so important for me HOW it’s done – my own preference leans towards big sets though – multiple scenes (mostly using faders to change between them) and dancers (always on movers and at times with separate dance sequences), a few effects depending on the setting, and always lighting. Multiple scenes and dancers makes it easier to ensure progression in a performance, just as movers can ensure dynamics and effects depth. Likewise it’s not so important to me that everyone makes story sets. It’s my preference and I’m well aware that others have different preferences. And being all blue-eyed I believe there should be room for everyone…as long as they bring some quality to the stage!!
What’s your favorite store for costuming?
DD: Hummm – I’m not sure I have ONE. *laughs* I shop all over and when it’s right, it’s right, regardless of the seller. I do really like stores such as Dirty Princess, Soedara, Graves, Ezura and N.A.M.E.
Is there a particular artist (in SL or RL) that inspires you?
DD: Many! Patrick Rothfuss – author extraordinaire – whose settings, moods and character motivations are an ongoing source of inspiration for me when I perform. And whose wit and quirky ways with the English language on his blog is a never ending stream pouring into my work as an emcee. Lykke Li – Swedish singer – whose musical melancholy have set the mood for many, MANY hours working on and thinking about my sets (yes, she may be the number one reason half of my sets are utterly depressing). Scottie Young – comic book artist – whose cheeky style always inspires me to keep a young mind, have fun with what I do and most of all try to think out of the box and be different – and proud to be like that! And lastly, my father – who was taken from me much too soon, whom I miss every day and who had hidden talents in all the creative endeavours he set his warm and intelligent gaze upon (okay – so he was not strictly an artist, but take a walk through my mother’s house and see the paintings he painted, the glass he engraved or the wooden tabletop games he carved and perhaps you’ll agree that an artist was indeed slumbering there).
What’s the most embarrassing or frustrating thing that has happened to you during a performance?
DD: Oh God… Me and my nerves in particular really don’t like performing. While performing a set to Soon We’ll be Found I missed my mark, then trying to catch up I got ahead of the song, and then in panic I got even further ahead, then I forgot my costume change, then I forgot my faders…basically it ended up as one big messy pile of half faded scenes and a story that made no sense…. And that’s just the most frustrating that I know of – who knows what have happened that I didn’t realize myself… *frowns*
Do you ever consider how an audience member’s computer setup might affect their enjoyment of your performance? (ie. – particles, effects, lag, etc.)
DD: To be honest….no. I make the builds I like, I light them so they look nice to me, I rarely use effects so that’s not really an issue. And I’ve never had any reason to think other people saw something drastically different from what I see myself. I do, however, usually see my own creations from 2 different computers and 2 different viewers and if I ever saw something completely wrong on one of them I might adjust whatever is off. But until then I go under the assumption that it’s impossible to meet EVERYONE’s different settings, computers, viewers, connections and so on, so rather than limit myself to try and please everyone I just do what I want to *laughs*
What’s the best comment/compliment you’ve ever received about your dancing?
DD: We did a themed show at Winds this summer – The Seven Deadly Sins. And I did a set about Wrath set to a song by Mumford & Sons – Dust Bowl Dance. The set was 3 scenes – one of which was up twice. Starting out on a farm, sunny, warm and healthy. 3 dancers, 2 of them a little posh looking and the 3rd (myself) kind of average girl-next-door looking. When the 2 posh people left the stage the scene changed into a darker, worn down version of the farm with a foreclosure sign, the one dancer left then changes into a personification of Wrath (my version anyways). The scene then changes again – to a bank and reintroduces the 2 extras as bankers who took the farm away from the girl, she rages and finally shoots one of the bankers executioner style and hangs the other from the ceiling fan. Then she dances on their bodies (yeah…sick and twisted). Finally the scene changes back to the run down farm, where Wrath walks up to the house and sets it on fire, leaving the last 10-15 seconds of the song or so just as a still of Wrath standing and watching the fire. It was an immensely personal set for me and I didn’t care one bit if people ever understood the meaning of it or the story of it – I made it solely for me. But after I’d done it someone IM’ed me and said something along the lines of “WOW – the changes between the scenes made the story SO clear – well done!” And suddenly I found that I DID care what people thought and it made me beyond happy that at least one person had appreciated it and understood the meaning.
Do you have a blog/website/flickr/facebook/other account you’d like to share?
DD: You can find me on Facebook, the Winds of the Sahara blog, and YouTube (there are a few of my performances there; Allein Alene (which have recently been given a major overhaul) and I See Fire).
What’s the most helpful piece of advice you would give someone new to dancing in SL?
DD: ASK! It’s the best way to learn and improve! If you see something you think looks cool, ask how they did it! And no one is a bigger star than they are most likely willing to give you a few quick pieces of advice. Besides that – watch, listen and warm many movers *laughs* (You’d be shocked at how much can be learned just by watching other people perform!!)
How long do you think a show should be in SL? Is there an ‘optimum’ max length?
DD: 1-1½ hours tops. I advertise Winds’ shows at 1½ hours of length – and have worked very hard and insistently at setting a top at 8 performers per week. Any more and my concentration starts slipping and there is (in my opinion) too many for the audience to really appreciate the individual sets and dances.
Where is your favorite spot to spend time in SL if you are not dancing?
DD: Hard to say – anywhere there is an opportunity to shop, I suppose. Otherwise it might be at home. Used to be at Disparity – a dance club, but sadly they closed. *sniffs*
What is one thing you’d like to see ‘arrive’ in SL dance? (Something that is not currently possible.)
DD: Actually most of my most pressing desires were answered with the arrival of Director, so I’m not really sure. I’d love the ability to include multimedia into a performance, but honestly I haven’t looked into it at all, so guess it’s not really something I miss all that much. *laughs*
Any other thoughts/ideas/comments you’d like to share?
DD: Yes! Never ask an emcee for a last minute comment….. I was incredibly honored to be asked to give this interview! I don’t think of myself as a dancer in SL because I work sporadically, have far too many pet peeves and insist that if you can’t deliver quality you should at least aim to learn to improve! That is the crux of dance for me – I am always looking to improve, try something new or learn. The very first set I ever made will also be the very last I ever do (only completely redone), simply because my learning curve from then to now have been insane! (No really, I didn’t know how to copy a prim back then, so I took the prim into my inventory, made a copy, rezzed it and placed it….). I firmly believe anyone can do this – dancing isn’t hard, but it takes time, effort and above all passion! I love to help where I can – if you’re willing to listen then I’m willing to share my secrets, and I haven’t met ANYONE who didn’t feel the same way. Because of this I don’t see SL dance as something you can be “famous” in; it’s not an elitist game only for the chosen few, which is a paradox because as much as I hate a diva in SL dance, I also cannot stand the uninspired. The ones who think a textured box and 4 dances make a performance. Which in the end boils this final comment down to this – RESPECT. Respect. Because none of us are perfect, NONE of us, and anyone can learn if they are willing to ask and listen, ANYONE! Even you! Even me! *smiles, waves and goes to pick someone’s brain*
A huge thank you to Diiar for allowing me to interview her! Catch her at Winds of the Sahara Cabaret at their weekly shows – Sundays at 5pm SLT (if she’s not dancing, she’s MC’ing, and you’ll get a kick out of her either way). 🙂