Two Years On…

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Me and the famous Caroline Rossi during an invitational jack and jill at the rialto. I tripped her. haha oops :(

Me and the famous Caroline Rossi during an invitational jack and jill at the rialto. I tripped her. haha oops :(

I just realized the other day it has been two full years since I moved to Montréal! Wowzers! Some days I wake up and still think I live in Vancouver but stepping outside and seeing the city not populated by asians snaps me back to reality (also only being only able to understand half of what people are saying to me… hehe).

Whenever I fire up wordpress, I feel like I should write a long blog post on my recent experiences living here. There are so many events that happen or great moments that I take pictures of that I never get the chance to publish or stay in perpetual “draft mode”. Mostly due to laziness, I admit, but also because there are just too many things going on all the time here that I never have the chance to just chill out and write. Don’t get me wrong, I love having so many projects that I’m working on. Really at the end of the day I would rather be producing and being in the studio than writing but it’s always good for me to take the time to reflect as part of my learning process. It’s also great lawls reading it back later on.

A quick summary of my past two years here in the city would be – lots fantastic dancers to learn from/work with and a hellavua lot of social dancing. What more can I really ask for really? Montréal really is the social dance capital of Canada and if you are serious about this crazy art of ours, you owe it to yourself to at least spend a chunk of time studying here.

I could probably spend more time learning the language though so people don’t think I’m stoooopid. Well I am a bit, but that’s a different kind of stupid. Wait what was I writing about again? Le sigh.

Last Week I Worked On

I’m trying this new thing where instead of saying to myself that I will be working on dance/photography/life related things, I will just recap things I have actually done. I find that listing out future tasks doesn’t actually entice me to do them.

Anyhoo, last week I worked on three small things:

  • The first phrase for a new solo blues routine with my boyzzz Tien and Jules.
  • Aerials!!! with my Swing Connexxion CNX troupe.
  • Leaving the 50mm on my camera and walking forwards towards the subject instead of instinctively switching lenses.

Things to Work on After BluesShout 2011

Really great dancers from BluesShout 2011

Really great dancers from BluesShout 2011

Big dance events, especially big competition dance events have drama all their own, and while BluesShout 2011 at times seemed to be a whirlwind exercise of mental fortitude, I came out of BluesShout with a renewed sense of purpose and determination to actually learn how to dance. The following blog post are some of my notes after this great event.

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Students Don’t Need Convincing

lindy hop class in toronto

(Thanks Kevin Sue for the picture. Note: this picture is not a picture from the lindy hop class).

Tomorrow will be the last class I will be filling in for Bees Knees beginner lindy hop class on Monday nights. Kathleen and I were temporarily filling in for May/June this summer and usually after the class we go through a post-mortem analysis of what happened and what we could do better. One of the key discoveries that we found was that the students who come to these beginner lindy hop classes were already excited about learning the dance. They didn’t need convincing. In fact, most likely they are looking for any reason to continue taking the dance class so that they can tell their friends to join in as well. When we figured this out, it made teaching the class flow more naturally and more importantly, we could just be ourselves. The pressure was off our shoulders to try to continue to get students for future classes and we could instead focus on providing a valuable lesson.

When you love the dance so much that it comes out of your pores, you do not need to convince students this is an awesome dance for x/y/z reasons. They will see it and feel it from you. Then, they will tell their friends ;-).

The more I teach, the more I recognize that compared to great teachers in Toronto like Mandi and Arthur, I flat out suck at it. I over analyze movement and often go a bit overboard on my explanations. I’m working on it though. :-)

Guest Blog Post: Brian Gottheil’s Ottawa Swing Experience

Blues Blast in Ottawa

So after the University of Toronto’s swing dance club’s beer and chicken wings night out, I had a great discussion with Alex M, Kathleen, and Brian G from Ottawa (previously somewhere not Ottawa) about, what else, the dance scene in Toronto. I won’t bore you with the specifics of that conversation but I remembered that I wanted to post up Brian’s awesome note about his experience dancing in Ottawa’s swing dance scene. So here it is. I highly recommend you give it a good read even if you are not from this scene/city/country because it gives a honest perspective from a dancer’s point of view. Enjoy.

Part 1: Something in the Air

Was there was something in the air?

It didn’t make sense. There were only 10 or 15 people in a large hall, DJ’d music, in a new city where I barely knew anybody – yet somehow it was one of the best dance nights I’d had in months.

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Being a Taxi Dancer is kind of Awkward

Which picture doesn’t fit? I’ll give you one guess.

Last Saturday, Toronto and Dovercourt House held a fundraiser for the Frankie Fund (or was it the Frankie headstone?) in celebration of the joy Frankie Manning left for the world. There were bake sales, raffle draws, silent auctions, performances, and taxi dancers for “rent”. Being not really useful in any multi-organizational dance coordination capacity, I volunteered to be one of the taxi dancers whom you can purchase for $3 per dance. Awkward… let me explain.

First, it’s awkward to think that someone will pay money to dance one song with anybody, let alone me. All I want to do is dance with you and I’ll happily dance with you for free. Second, what do you do as a taxi dancer while waiting for someone to hand you a ticket to indicate that they have purchased you for a dance? Awkwardly stand around and scan the room to see if anyone is coming towards you a ticket. Granted, I have epic skills when it comes to social awkwardness but this definitely was a memorable type of awkwardness.

A special shout goes to the wonderful Vicky for being so diligent in organizing all the taxi dancers and a big THANKS to all the great ladies (and one dude) who donated to the Frankie fund (or headstone?). I’ll make sure to find each and everyone who bought tickets for future dances (so you get your money’s worth).

Celebrating Small Wins

I look stooopid.

Something I am trying to work on for myself this year is to continually celebrate small wins when it comes to dance, dance organization, and dance photography. Sometimes when I think of the monumental goals ahead of me in my day to day life such as, “build a blues scene”, or “start making a profit on my dancing”, or “be awesommeeeeee already”, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. So I stopped worrying and stressin’ and decided to focus on what I can get done this week. When it’s done, I celebrate (high fives, drinks, pork bone soup, etc). It’s amazing how much more you can accomplish when you have other things done from your list. Momentum fuels motivation which in turn keeps up inspiration. And as well all know, inspiration a wonderful thing.

What did you celebrate this week?