Olivia Bowman on Being Debbie-Light

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Olivia Bowman

Chances are, if you made it to Cats Corner during the past month or so, you might have spotted Olivia Bowman manning a clipboard and walking around the studio with more intent than usual. That is because Olivia has been filling the role of studio manager at Cats Corner while Head Feline herself, Debbie Carman, was out gallivanting around in South Korea (*shakes fist*).

Jokingly calling herself, “Debbie-Light”, Olivia managed a lot of the behind the scenes stuff that we, as dancers, often take for granted – answering emails, preparing all the classes, financials of all the students (read: making sure they pay!), weekly announcements, and the list goes on and on.

“I just tried really hard to just get to the studio and get as much stuff done as possible before anyone shows up”, says Olivia, “even though a lot of the stuff that Debbie does, we weren’t able to do (accounting and bills), a lot of the work was continually answering people’s question about the studio. I had a lot fun answering questions in both english and french.”

As you would imagine for a dance studio – a inquiries are from people without a slightest clue about dancing, let alone a dance so niche like lindy hop. Often times these people are also shopping around trying to decide the best place for them to take lessons from. This is where Olivia really shines – “if they are trying to choose between studios, the thing that is more likely [in choosing one over the other] is the social experience. I tried conveying that whenever I talked to anybody that this is indeed the place to hang out with nice people”.

Moving from her native Australia to Montréal, Olivia’s story of how she ended up in Montréal is particularly interesting to me because it is a story I’ve been hearing quite a lot in the past year – dancers traveling to Montréal to visit or stay for a little bit and then ending up just moving here. In fact, this sounds eerily similar to my own particular situation. Even with the crazyness that is winter here in Quebec, a lot of my current friends in the scene were also dancers who decided to specifically move after visiting. In Olivia’s case, she traded in her nice job in academic administration back home for the uncertainty of Montreal. In her own words, she quite possibly have picked the “hardest place in Canada to work [if you are not a native french speaker].”

“I left home and didn’t really know where I would end up. I knew I was stopping in Montreal for a couple of weeks and after that time period I pretty much said ‘YAH I want to come back’. The reasons why I wanted to leave home were because I needed a change and needed experiences that I wasn’t just getting at home. And here I am!”

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Vimeo On-Demand (This Might Change Everything?)

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A potentially amazing service has just popped up on Vimeo the past month called “On Demand” (https://vimeo.com/ondemand), which allows content producers to sell their work online easily and without having to pay for server costs. Imagine being able to film dance lessons, reviews, and even entire events and selling them directly to your audience without having to go through the archaic system of dvd production or through a catch-all third party site like idance.net. I’m pretty excited about it and you should be too!

Check out their promo video below:

Ruth and Mike at ETB

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Shot a bunch of pictures at Enter the Blues last month but have been a bit too busy with work travel to put em up. However, I did manage to snap up some photos of the strictly finals competition and in particular got some interesting candids of the ever fabulous Ruth and Mike (from RuthandMike) doing their thing. Check it out above.

I decided not to bring my flash this time around so I can concentrate on composition more and lighting technicalities less however the downside to that is I didn’t quite get the exact colours that I would have liked (building was super dark with a blue spotlight lamp). Let me know what you guys think…

also here’s an animated gif… ;-)

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On Competing – You’re Never Really Ready

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Randy and Gen competing at Enter the Blues

Randy and Gen competing at Enter the Blues || Photo by Ben

I have flipped flopped back and forth many times about my own views on dance competitions. By nature I am a very competitive person and there was a time when I have taken them, just way too seriously. Competing is in my DNA, something that has been a part of me ever since I can remember. Taking dance competitions way too seriously in the past however has been an actual detriment to my performance and overall enjoyment of these events. I worried about which moves I was going to pull off during the competition and whether or not the alignments were going to work based on where the judges were sitting or standing. I tried to predict which songs were going to be played based on the dj that was spinning for the comp or familiarized myself with the repertoire of the band. Tie or no tie? Should I wear a hat? What if I dance with a taller follow and the hat hits her face? Seriously, all random questions and self-doubt I could have done without.

What I have finally come to the conclusion is that you are never really ready for a competition. You are never one hundred percent, “I did everything I can to prepare” ready. So why stress yourself out?

You know that you’ve spent the countless hours practicing, rehearsing, and watching youtube clips to try to gain any sort of insight that will make yourself look awesome in the eyes of the judges. You’ve gone to great lengths to pump yourself up in the hopes that you might actually believe that you deserve to win this competition. Sometimes you actually do believe it and it helps you get through the next five or so minutes when you’re out there in front of everybody. No matter what though, whether you think you’re ready or believe you’re supposed to be up there, the competition cordinator counts you in, “five, six… five, six, seven..”

… and there is nothing left to do but dance your face off.

Swing Du Businessman Available for Download

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Our entire show is available for download with some great close-ups and in-show filming. There is a drinking game for the show… try to figure out what it is ;-) har har.

You can download the entire show for a super low price of $5 here: http://show.swingconnexion.com/buy.php

About the show – In the Swing du Businessman, discover the dances of the Roaring Twenties. A preoccupied businessman finds solace in a universe where jazz dances reign as kings: acrobatics, Charleston, Lindy Hop and Swing and more will dazzle you in this hour-long show! The Swing du Businessman is an homage to jazz and swing dances, of course, but also to silent films of the 20s and 30s, and to the comical genius of legends such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.

About the venue – A former movie theater built during the 1920s, the Rialto Theater is the ideal place to get back to the Roaring Twenties!

Blues Dancing in Montreal – March 2013

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Lots of blues action happening this month in Montreal:

  • Tuesdays Blues 1 starts on March 5th at Cats Corner for six weeks. It’s a pretty small class right now so there definitely spots open for next week and onwards. See Cats Corner website (http://catscorner.ca/blues) for more details.
  • Brouhaha Pub was on last Sunday (March 3rd) and will be back on again March 17th. The drop-in instructors for the March 17th dance will be Éric and Catherine. https://www.facebook.com/events/167466130072790/ 
  • Les Lundi Live Blues at Le Petit Medley is on the 11th and 25th of the month. The band for the March 11th dance will is ‘Sabenita’. https://www.facebook.com/events/161813880642986 
  • This Friday March 8th is L’artere Blues with Rick L. Blues – https://www.facebook.com/events/469677216419199/ 
  • Cats Corner blues room is on three times in March – March 1st, 15th, and 29th.
  • Randy and Genevieve are teaching a two hour workshop on open position blues for those who want to add a little bit more dance repertoire when not in close embrace. It’s on March 24th at Cats Corner. Check it out at: https://www.facebook.com/events/395773837185511

As always, a calendar view of events can be found on this site by clicking on “blues dancing” on the top menu.