This week I shot some photos for the dance studio Swing Connexion to replace some of the teacher photos on the website. After some experimenting with various places in the studio to take the pictures, I decided to go with a simple wall background with only one distinguishable piece of furniture – the iconic orange sofa chair.
Summer has always been my favourite time of the year to shoot portraitures because natural lighting is, as expected, a lot more abundant. Also people seem to be a lot more relaxed than even one season ago, which in Montréal literally means winter. For this shoot, I used a simple setup of a large softbox 45 degrees to the top right of the dancers. On my second day of shooting however, I added a second light 90 degrees to the left to just smooth out some of the harsh shadows I was getting with only one light. Overall I’m pretty pleased with the results and the overall improvements of my lighting technique. No longer am I just turning knobs up and down and firing blindly, but I’m actually making conscience decisions on how I want the pictures to turn up.
Earlier this week I shot a portraiture of Fred for his upcoming Bols Bartending Championship competition in Amsterdam. Shooting inside bars is always an exercise of light management and this shoot was no different. Warm lamps and various coloured track lights that are usually embedded throughout the main bartender areas to draw focus of patrons to the shiny drinks end up being little puzzles for me to solve. Do I leave them on and have a bit of colour ambiance to the picture or turn them off and have a more neutral but consistent picture? For this shoot, I decided to shoot with the ambient lights on and to also shoot lightweight – by not bringing external strobes. This allowed me a faster turnaround in the shoot and use that extra time to do what I consider the best part of shooting bartenders – drinking the free showcase mixes! Thanks Fred!
When Myriam and I set out to choreograph to this song, we didn’t expect any real kind of reception and were just more than happy just to work on our dancing. So I’m super grateful that so many of my peers are sharing our work and giving us so much love because I really feel that this routine really represents us – not only as dancers but as human beings as well.
Some days I really miss locking and my friends in the funk scene, especially when I see dancers like this dude tearing it up at Bust-A-Move in Montréal. I fell in love with this style of dance, and really the combination of athleticism and personal expression when I was first starting to learn solo dancing at Harbour Dance Centre in Vancouver. Those days seem so long ago but when I see a dancer coming in to a dance competition with a costume that is a cross between Raiden and a mime, I’m instantly teleported back to my memories of those crazy times.
First thing – ahhh Montréal Bagel and Blues is over. Wow what an event! If you missed it this year… well I can’t really describe how awesome it was in words but I know this year’s iteration will be very hard to top. Well done, Javiera, well done *golf clap*! My liver is hurtin’ right now but all in all, it’s worth it.
Now to what this blog post is about – dance troupes. Even though you wouldn’t know it from the blues community, this city really is the city of dance troupes. It’s overwhelming thinking about the number of dance troupes there are in the city (or if you were like me before you moved to Montréal, extremely jealous), but it ‘s why the scene is so strong and consistently growing year after year. What makes it work well is that each of these troupes has their own personality, each one has that little spark that makes them special. There are troupes for all types of interest levels – from competitive to performance-based and all the way down to a “for funsies” group. So you can join a super gung-ho performance based group and join a more casual one to fill your quotas for both technique and silly fun-times.
I dunno how I really got myself in this but I’ve tossed my hat in the craziness of being a troupe organizer (along with the talented Myriam Baril of course). I’ve always been in a troupe myself as soon as I moved to Montréal but this is the first time I’ve really tried to do my own thing here. When I started, I honestly didn’t realize just how much of a commitment it would take just to get things off the ground. Finding members, keeping members, interpersonal balancing, finances (or lack thereof), booking studio space, answering inquiries, resolving quarrels within potential dance members, were just a few of the issues that I found that I had to deal with at the start. And this is all before even doing any of the actual dance part. With the steep learning curve in getting things on the right foot, I think I’ve learned a few things that might be beneficial for anyone wanting to start one themselves in the city. Obviously your mileage may vary but here are some things I’ve found quite useful to write about… Read More…
Performing at the Rialto Theatre for the Swing Connexion Show is one of the highlights of the year for me. Not only is the Rialto Theatre one of the most beautiful venues I’ve ever seen in my life, it’s also a great time to debut some of the routines I am working on or are a part of for the past couple of months. The show is also a super fun way to connect more with other dancers from the school that I have been watching working their butts off leading up to the event. Dancers from teams such as the Rising Stars and Balboa Connection.
Every time I get up on stage at the Rialto, I know it’s going to be an experience I will never forget. While it is all fine and dandy to perform at other dance venues around town, the fact that the audience are all dressed up and are sitting on actual chairs (instead of the floor like a school assembly), just makes the event feel more… authentic? Like how a real show should be.
In a random happenstance, I cut my right hand with a shard of glass while washing dishes a couple of days before the show. As they say however, the show must go on so that is why in the pictures and videos my right hand is wrapped in bandages. Some people came up to me at the end of the night and asked if it was a costume choice. Haha. Well I guess it was because I didn’t want to bleed all over my dance partners.
By far, TUX (the Toronto University Exchange) encapsulates the spirit and randomness of lindy hop the most in all of the events in Toronto. Heads and shoulders above every other event and all run by students!
Even though I feel that I’m in the old farts demographic of this event (most of the participants are new university dancers), I cannot help feel nostalgic every time go to TUX and see the smiley awkward faces (but determined and having a blast) of university dancers haha! Like most lindy hoppers, I too started at a university swing club and will always fondly remember the crazy times of learning new dance moves and meeting new soon-to-be friends all because we all shared the same excitement of running around and jumping. I mean, it’s still like that for me today but not with the same hazy feeling of careless abandonment if you know what I mean.
Running the photobooth at TUX is like herding cats. From my experience, putting a camera in front of people’s faces in a dance setting usually results in two reactions: fear/apprehension or crazy excitement. The latter usually results in dancers forgetting how to walk in a humanlike manner or remember that photos are actually still shots – meaning that they don’t need to act out what they want their picture to be like. There were many times that dancers ran into the lights or almost tripped on the cords just because they forgot they were there (but how? it’s like 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide!). Even with Alex L. and I sandbagging the lights down (with kitty litter!) and taping the cords on the floor, I think I need to come up with a different strategy for big events in terms of setup because a misplaced step could equate to a long process with the insurance company. I’m getting better at directing people though – I made an “x” marks the spot on the ground for people to stand on but sometimes people getting photographed will do whatever they want haha.
All in all though, I had a great time and I always look forward to the craziness of TUX. Turlough of Montréal and I had a selfie tour extravaganza which was full of lawls and everything I had to do work-wise went well so it was a productive$ weekend all around.