Featured Content, Opinions, Sponsored

[SPONSORED] My Date with the Stickeebra

This is a sponsored blog post, from time to time as opportunities arise I will do those. You, my lovely readers, are free to ignore these posts. NOTE: I will NEVER sponsor or post about something I haven’t tried first.

I was recently introduced to a new bra called the Stickeebra and I wanted to share my experiences with it.

Stickeebra, as the name suggests, adheres to your breasts with a medical grade adhesive. There are no straps, no clasps, and no underwire, in short, it’s the perfect “barely-there” bra. But I wanted to see for myself so I took it for a spin.

I wore the Stickeebra all day at work and one of the first things I noticed was that the bra didn’t stick to me quite the way I expected it to. It didn’t bond to my breasts and stay there, but rather, it almost hovered over my breasts holding on only at the top. However, once it was there, it was THERE. I wore the bra during one of my busiest work days thus far (I had a conference to attend downtown) and it never once slipped off or got slick even as I took the bus and walked around downtown Chicago in 80 degree weather.

“But Jorie, this is a dance blog. What does this have to do with dance,” you ask exasperatedly.

Worry not, dear reader, worry not.

If you’re like me, you’ve had at least one unfortunate experience where you’ve danced/performed in the wrong bra (hello boobs). As dancers, our lines are everything and nothing, especially not bulky undergarments, should stand in the way of that. At the same time, going braless isn’t always the best (or most attractive–I’m looking at you unintentional sideboob) option. Plus, as a choreographer I once worked with pointed out, as women it isn’t really safe to be dancing and jumping with absolutely no support.

Enter, Stickeebra.

To really test the durability of the Stickeebra, I wore it during not one, but two different tap classes. It lasted through lots of sweating, rhythm turning, double pullbacks and wings and it’s probably a pretty safe bet if you’re wearing a form fitting costume that isn’t suitable for a regular bra but need some extra support. It did slip off a little during my second time wearing it at tap but I think that was mainly because my shirt was looser and again, it was on its second wear and I was sweating.

It’s definitely little more risky the looser your top is but if you’re performing and need a bra that doesn’t have straps, show lines or imprints, and doesn’t hurt (*cough* clear straps *cough*) it has a pretty good chance of lasting. If you are able to get out of your head enough to not worry about the seeming lack of support the bra gives, it’s worth a try. If you’re looking for a bit more coverage and support, Stickeebra recommends purchasing a bra that is one size up from your normal cup size. So stop fretting about free-flying tatas before your next show and get Stickee! If you purchase for the first time today you can get 10 percent off your first order!

This post was sponsored by Stickeebra, all views and opinions are my own.

Featured Content, Opinions, Personal Accounts

Changing Ballet’s Perception Means Embracing Black Bodies

It’s 2017,  y’all, come on.

But since people still haven’t stopped telling Black women about their bodies and how right they are for dance…It gave me material for another Clyde Fitch Report article.

Click here to read why you shouldn’t tell Black women (or anyone really) that they have the “wrong” body for dance.

Featured Content, Personal Accounts

An Ode to Dance Moms

For living in your cars amidst the smell of old dance shoes;

For living room rehearsal sessions, going over movement cues;

For tuition, for costumes, for fees you didn’t disclose;

For venting about the life of a dancer and all of its many woes;

You’ve been my cheering section, my toughest critic, too;

And I can never give you the repayment that you are more than due;

So on this sunny Sunday, the 14th day of May;

To dance moms near and far, we say thank you, and Happy Mothers Day!!

Happy Mothers Day to all of the Dance Moms who lived in the studio with their budding stars. Whether you get to see it or not, the investment means more than we can ever put into words!

Featured Content, Opinions

More Women in Ballet Must Go From Pointe to Power

Christopher Wheeldon, Justin Peck, Jerome Robbins. What do all of these names have in common? They’re all ballet choreographers, and they’re all white males.

It’s 2017, why is this still a thing? 

I recently wrote an article in The Clyde Fitch Report for The Marbury Project examining the logistical, artistic and personal reasons for the lack of female faces in the ballet world. Check it out here

Opinions, Personal Accounts

Things I’ve Learned From Being in a Dance Company (Vol. 2) 6 Month Edition

Hello my wonderful Dancetopians!

First, I must apologize for my lengthy silence and spotty blog posting the last few weeks. I recently started a new job and rearranging my schedule while also learning how to, you know, job, has been a bit tricky. But I think I’m getting the hang of it and the best news is, this job allows me the flexibility to continue dancing with the company I’ve been apprenticing with since September. Yippee! It’s been six, nearly seven months now and the learning and growth haven’t stopped. I’m beyond excited to share with you what I’ve learned from being in a company half a season in.

Don’t make your first performance scarier than it needs to be

Going into our first performance of the season, I was a big ball of nerves. I was so terrified of doing poorly and squandering the beautiful opportunity I was given that I almost neglected to take a moment to appreciate where I was. I was dancing, on a stage with other professional dancers, in a show, and getting paid for the first time ever. How lucky was I? And best of all, the show went without a hitch, so all of my worrying did nothing but waste energy and make what should have been a fun and exhilarating experience kind of a drag when it shouldn’t have been. So I guess a sub-level to this overall theme is to be in the moment when you dance so that it’s just you, the stage and the steps and not a bunch of other crap.

Bad class days really suck

I currently have a blog post about a really rough class day I had sitting in my drafts queue somewhere and when I finally get around to making my thoughts sound coherent, I might post it. Again, I think this is mostly me being too in my head to understand what’s going on around me, but when I have a rough or less than stellar class day, it really really stinks. Like, to the point that it can ruin my whole day after. I put so much pressure on myself to never make mistakes and to always be on, so when I’m not, I feel as though I failed. But I guess there’s no better time than class to fail is there?

Take class at other studios!!

I’m constantly being told that the dance world is small, and I think that’s true. You could probably spend all day playing six-degrees of separation with the dance community of Chicago alone and find some way we are all interconnected. But at the same time, the dance world is huge and varied and one great way to learn that is by taking class at different studios. For the last seven months, I’d been training  at the studio I worked at because classes were free. But once I quit to start my new job and decided to go to other places because I’d have to pay no matter what, it suddenly felt like life had been breathed back into my dancing again. That’s not to say that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy taking class at the studio where I worked (in fact I plan to go there for ballet tomorrow) but taking the same classes with the exact same people every week for months can be limiting and the only way to push yourself in different ways and wake yourself up every once in a while is to broaden your horizons and take class at other studios. I’ve tried classes at a few new places since starting my job and I’m having so much fun experiencing new teachers, new classmates and new energies!

Acknowledgement is nice, but shouldn’t be why you’re dancing

A ballet teacher once said during class that you have to find your endgame during class because it gives you focus. If you lose sight of why you’re dancing or begin to dance purely for approval, eventually dancing won’t be fun for you anymore. Approval, attention and affirmation–even when they are deserved–aren’t always readily available and can’t be your life force as a dancer. As I’ve said before, the only true way to be happy as a dancer is to know that you’re doing all you can to be the best dancer you can be and walk in that truth every day, for yourself and no one else.

Everyone’s Journey is Different

Your training isn’t going to look like the person’s next to you, your career pathway isn’t going to look like the person’s next to you, your a la seconde isn’t going to look like the person’s next to you. Comparing yourself to others will only cause you to not appreciate where you are as a dancer and is ultimately futile, because it is those differences that make the dance world so diverse and so beautiful. Embrace what you do because chances are, very few, or no one else can do it, too. It reminds me of one of my favorite Sex and the City quotes:

“That’s the key to having it all: Stop expecting it to look how you thought it was going to look.”

And lastly….

Maybe I deserve more than I let myself believe

Like I said, I never thought I’d be a professional. And I’d venture to say that even though I was in class and rehearsal religiously and trying so hard not to miss a beat, I’ve spent at  least half of my time thinking that maybe I really don’t deserve to be with this company, maybe I’m not good enough and the AD just hasn’t taken the time to really look at me. But again, knowing your truth is essential to beating these thoughts. I’m finally starting to come to terms with the idea that maybe I do belong here. Maybe I am enough, and maybe just maybe… dance is truly MEANT to be a permanent part of my life.

But these are just my thoughts. What has being a dancer, professional or otherwise, taught you?

Featured Content, News, Professional Dancing

Dance World News (March 22, 2017)

Rest in Peace…Dance innovator Trisha Brown passed away on Saturday March 18 after a long illness. Brown studied under Anna Halperin and later went on to revolutionize post modern dance with her own company, the Trisha Brown company (founded in 1970). Brown is known for her works including Set and Reset and Watermotor. Brown was also known as a visual artist with drawings appearing in various exhibitions and museums. Brown retired from dancing in 2008 and received numerous including the MacArthur “Genius” Grant (she was the first woman to receive this award), two Guggenheim fellowships, the New York Governor’s Arts Award and the 1994 Samuel H. Scripps American Festival of the Arts Award.

Former American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet Dancer Michael Maule passed away. Maule was born and began studying dance in South Africa. After moving to the United States, Maule performed with ABT and NYCB partnering with ballerinas including Alicia Alonso, Alexandra Danilova, Maria Tallchief and Alicia Markova. Maule also taught at Juilliard and served as the head of the Academy of the Arts in Chamaign-Urbana

Sneak Peek…Jennifer Lopez held a press event for her upcoming show World of Dance. “It’s like a dream come true and, like, the perfect job for me. In a sense, we created literally the perfect show for me to be a part of,”  she said about the show. World of Dance is set to premiere in May and will feature Derek Hough, Ne-Yo and Jenna Duwan-Tatum as judges. Benny Medina, Lopez’s longtime manager, and the show’s executive producer promises that the show will   “to do to dance what ‘The Voice’ has done to singing.”

Dancing into Space…Dance and science will collide again, in Pearlann Porter’s new “The Invisible Jazz Labs” series. The work will debut at Point Breeze’s The Space Upstairs above Construction Junction and will also include field studies at Carnegie Mellon University.

Make Dance not War Women in Gaza have begun forming dance troupes and performing at Christian and Muslim weddings. These troupes were formed to generate income for women, combat unemployment, the and challenge the conservative culture and  traditionally male dance world in Gaza. “This will not stand in the way of the source of my livelihood, nor will it stop me from developing my talent and achieving fame in this field,” said Naha, one of the dancers who declined to provide her full name to Al Monitor.

Saying Goodbye…After 50 years of training dancers in the Oakhurst, Calif. area, the Patti Law School of Dance will be closing its doors. This closure is occurring as a result of the expansion of the Golden Chain Theatre School of the Performing Arts. Patti Law, who also helped found the GCT is less than pleased “After working all those years to keep the GCT open, and to be there to burn the mortgage in 1999, It’s just not right to dismiss one of the founding members who loves the Golden Chain. This is not the way I dreamed it would all end,” she said.

Let the kids dance…The Dance Liberation Network is calling for the repeal of New York City’s “Cabaret Law,” which prohibited three or more people from dancing in a club without a license. The law was reportedly created to regulate black jazz clubs and is still enforced.

 

What’s going on in your dance world? Did I miss anything? Let me know below!

Opinions, Personal Accounts, Terpsichorean Heroes

Terpsichorean Heroes: FKA Twigs

I’ve been completely obsessed with FKA twigs’ Nike ad campaign since it came out in January (you can read a story I wrote about it for TheCelebrityCafe.com here).  It’s truly one of the most gorgeous commercials, concept videos, visual pieces of art I have seen in a long time and I was so excited that dance and dancers were being placed at the forefront of an advertisement for activewear since, well, we make use of activewear just as frequently as anyone. It also demonstrates the beauty and athleticism of dance and as someone who had to listen to many claims that dance WASN’T athletic, this was a breath of fresh air.

 

But beyond that, the ad also inspired me to learn more about FKA twigs (and in case you’re wondering why I’m not capitalizing twigs…she stylizes it that way). I, to be honest, didn’t know very much about her before the Nike campaign (although I’m pretty sure I danced to one of her songs for a concert in college). But what I’ve found out is that she is a pretty amazing singer and she incorporates dance into quite a bit of her performances. However, the difference between twigs’ dancing and the more choreographed dancing of other pop stars (a la Britney, Janet and Rihanna), is that FKA twigs’ dancing looks like it is more governed by not just classical and contemporary technique as opposed to jazz funk or hip-hop, it also possesses an abandon that most commercial, pop-music driven dance doesn’t have. Don’t get me wrong, I adore synchronicity and musically governed ensemble pieces, but seeing someone let go and dance freely while still in the context of performance, especially pop music performance was eye-opening.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04hwsd3/player

 

The video, “It’s Good to Love,” taken from twigs’ short film Soundtrack 7 shows an artist dancing to express what is inside them, as opposed to showing the audience what they want to see. It is about her, her power, her physicality, her emotion and I feel that if more of this were incorporated into popular music, the world of commercial dance would broaden in a beautiful and fascinating way. Pitchfork described this difference in twigs’ and even other artists like Lorde’s performances  in a far more eloquent way than I ever could.

 

[T]hey don’t do a big show of trying to beguile us, nor do they honor our gaze. How their movement is at once so unpredictable and confident shows how fully they claim themselves and their bodies. It works against the idea that young women are malleable and unrealized. They’re renouncing the paradigm of “performance” that has long been sold to female artists—as well as to their audiences. The powerful assertion of a stark female stage presence like theirs is that women can just be themselves on stage, and that is enough.

I posted the Nike video to my Instagram in honor of International Women’s Day and commented that the dancing in the video shows the sensual, collaborative power of women. Really, what I think I was getting at was that the Nike ad and FKA twigs’ movement demonstrates dancing as a woman, embodying the physicality, movement and emotive-ness of the feminine physique and mentality. Too meta…yeah, maybe.

So yeah, I started out talking about FKA twigs and Nike, and ended with a commentary on commercial dance, femininity and intent. Can you tell why she’s my hero? I feel that dance, above all should make viewers think and FKA twigs has certainly made me do that. I’m so excited to see more.

Uncategorized

Dance World News (March 16, 2017)

Girl Power…The Cincinnatti Ballet is making strides towards gender parity by commissioning work from over 50 percent female choreographers for the Cincinnatti Ballet’s 2017-2018 season. Eight of the 15 choreographers are female and five (Kate Weare, Penny Saunders, Jennifer Archibald, Johanna Bernstein Wilt and Heather Britt), are debuting new works. Read more here.

Who will get their Dance Chance? You have until Sunday to decide who will take the stage as part of Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival’s Inside/Out Performance Series. Visit their Youtube channel, watch the videos of the six contenders and hit the “thumbs up” button to cast your vote!

I guess imagining the audience in their underwear just doesn’t cut it anymore…Statistics show that 50 percent of performing artists of all levels experience stage fright.

 

Juilliard hopes to combat this number with its new online course, “Conquering Performance Anxiety.” Taught by Juilliard graduate, psychologist and former violinist Dr. Noa Kageyama, the course breaks beating performance anxiety into six weeks of topics that include Beating Anxiety, Practice that Sticks, and Handling Mistakes like a pro. Learn more about the course here.

Physicality+Physics…Dance and Quantum Physics combine in a new performance collaboration by Yale alums Emily Coates (former New York City Ballet Dancer) and physicist Sarah Demers. The lecture/performance “Incarnations” will premiere on March 16 and will feature sections on Newton’s corporeality principle and the Higgs boson particle. Because really, what is dance without a little…

 

What will the dance world look like next week?? Stay tuned!!

 

 

Terpsichorean Heroes, Uncategorized

Terpsichorean Heroes: Isabella Boylston Gives the Gift of Ballet to Her Home State

ABT principal Isabella Boylston is giving the gift of dance back to her hometown of Sun Valley, Idaho.

The 30-year-old ballerina is organizing the inaugural Ballet Sun Valley. The three-day festival will take place at the Sun Valley Pavilion and feature performances from the New York City Ballet, Royal Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and the Mariinsky Ballet.

“This feels like a very personal project,” Boylston told the New York Times.

While Boylston has yet to reveal her full cast-list of dancers, she says they are all dancers with whom she has an existing relationship. Boylston herself will be dancing the solo originally intended for Sara Mearns from “The Bright Motion.” Gemma Bond has also been commissioned to choreograph a piece based around a solar eclipse that is supposed to happen over Sun Valley the weekend of the festival.

“We thought that would be a cool theme to draw inspiration from,” Boylston said.

Boylston is hoping this festival will become a regular event. Congratulations, Isabella. DanceTopia wishes you the best of luck.

 

Featured Content, News, Uncategorized

Dance World News (Mar. 2, 2017)

Learn about why Misty Copeland is pro-drugstore makeup and anti-excessive contouring in her latest interview with Allure Magazine.

Dancing with the Stars announces its season 24 cast! This year’s lineup includes Olympic Gold Medalists Nancy Kerrigan and Simone Biles, Mr. T and Heather Morris.  Who will take home this season’s mirrorball trophy?

 

On the heels of Black History Month, learn about a Washington D.C. dance studio that has been named a city landmark.

//www.voanews.com/embed/player/0/3739098.html?type=video

Yasmeen Godder worked with both able-bodied and disabled dancers for her new work Simple Action, which is set to premiere next week in Jaffa.

Click here to learn more about the fascinating cultural exchange between Russian and Italian ballet.

Dance protests are popping up all over the country. Read about this one in New York, and see below for a video of a dance protest in Chicago.

Featured Content, News, Professional Dancing

Dance World News (Feb. 23, 2017)

We open with a bit of sad news as the president continues to express his intent to cut the NEA, which not only funds the arts and various dance companies, but also provides aid to news outlets like PBS and NPR.

 

Happy 150th birthday to the Boston Conservatory. Relive some of the prestigious school’s history and learn more about its exciting winter and spring lineup.

New research shows that dance training can lead to mental health problems including psychological inflexibility, anxiety and depression.

Take a break from Dance Moms and binge-watch Kelly Ripa’s Youtube reality series Joffrey Elite. The show follows 10 dancers at the Joffrey Ballet School who enter dance competitions. The series will release new episodes every week for the next four months-goodbye weekend plans, hello bed, sweats and popcorn!

 

Meet Russell Janzen, the New York City Ballet’s newest principal!

Looking to cross-train? Swimming, running and rowing are among the best cardio workouts for dancers. Get your gym shoes on!

 

 

Uncategorized

Dance World News (Feb. 17, 2017)

Buckle up for heavy metal bands, the return of “Rite of Spring,” protesting a ballet performance and tap takeovers!

 

Who says you can’t go home? Former ABT principal dancer Paloma Herrera assumes directorship of Argentinian dance company Teatro Colón. Herrera trained at Colón prior to pursuing her dreams of a pro career in America at age 19.

Dancers are metal af! Pulse Dance Company is teaming up with rock band The Modern Savage for their season finale show in Anchorage, Alaska. The performance will also feature a modernized version of legendary piece “Rite of Spring,” originally choreographed by Vaslav Najinsky and with music by Igor Stravinsky.

Public Broadcasting(Ballet) Service. New York City Ballet performs on PBS’s Great Performances tonight at 9 p.m., you can watch the trailer below. The performance is part of a two-part series featuring four ballets by George Balanchine.

 

Following in the footsteps of dance films like Step Up and Strictly Come Dancing La La Land has popularized tap and musical theater in dance studios all over the country and around the world.

Artistic Expression or Political PropagandaProtestors in Melbourne are railing against a National Ballet of China performance saluting the all-female company of the Chinese Red Army The Red Detachment of Women. Protestor Frank Ruan has slammed the play as being “like putting salt on the wounds of some Chinese people”.