Taiwan: A day in the sun and a night with the stars

Day 8 highlights: carnival toys and intensive workshops with Tony Czar and Andye Jamieson

Meeting new people at the hostel is so much fun because you never know where you will travel to, like going to Danshui’s old street today!  A group of us strolled along the Danshui river for the day to see the little shops and vendors with, what else, souvenirs and street food.  What I found the most interesting was the little arcades located right by the river.  Here you can play basketball, race your friend for a stuffed animal, or play a game of darts popping balloons.

Danshui river:

Really tall ice cream:

Old Street:

Squid!

On our day trip I met a new dancer and friend, Lene, a student at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, specializing in girls style dance.  We connected right away!  She invited me to her school’s dance showcase on June 12, so I mentally saved the date to see her and all her other school teams perform that night.  I’ve noticed that most other schools here in Taiwan also have multiple dance teams that all work together towards several showcases throughout the year, so I thought Lene’s school would be a great place to interview a few students for their thoughts on this hobby.  I was going to join Lene for her practice tonight but I was scheduled to take my first classes with Tony Czar and Andye Jamieson (featured posts on both of them later) tonight, so Lene and I agreed to meet later in the week.

Retrieved from Facebook event

The four-day workshop with Tony and Andye were taught at No Limit dance studio near Zhongxiao Xinsheng, and most of the people taking these classes were dance instructors or students of the dance instructors.  From what I saw, most people discovered this opportunity through direct connections with the pair teaching this week or were students of various instructors who attended.  They did have an event on Facebook, but the public who was interested in taking the classes had to register through specific instructors, who acted similarly to public relations representatives.  Overall, it seemed like the workshops were open to anyone who was interested but you still needed connections to be aware of the classes.  Luckily, I met Wesley at True Fitness because he knew Vika, the coordinator of the event, so I was able to contact her and register for one of the last spots of the night.  I have to thank Wesley for so much because he really was a breakthrough for my dance journey in Taipei.

We started with Tony’s class first – each one meant to last an hour and a half, but it’s given that dancers usually go over the scheduled time, which was true for both classes tonight.  The routine was really fun and the style was easier to pick up than I expected.  But then, Tony kept emphasizing that his character for this piece was an old man.  He would show us what the dance looked like full out, and then he would perform it with his vision of someone who was aged but still had outrageous funk in his body.  It was wild seeing him change the control of his muscles in his body to move in such distinct ways to match certain characters.  The routine is fun and loose, yet he has a lot of strength behind his movements.

There were a good amount of guys who took the class, but the females still outnumbered the males.  We split into three groups, two female and one male, to dance out Tony’s routine.  Two female instructors really caught my eye because they were so fluid and strong at the same time.  This was the first time I saw Taiwanese girls dancing as good as the guys, if not better!  I really liked some of the attendees’ fashionable outfits – a few striped pants here, cutoffs and bright colors there, funky hats everywhere.  Though, I’m not sure how they could dance fabulously while keeping their multiple layers on in the hot hot studio.

We were encouraged to take videos but asked to keep them to ourselves for personal viewing and improvement, so here’s a video I found highlighting Tony’s relaxed attitude and sharpness that we learned tonight (also, I think Alyson Stoner is a great dancer, thanks for sharing!):

Song: “Wired” by Tonex | Choreographer: Tony Czar | Performers: Tony Czar, Alyson Stoner, and Lindsay Taylor

I would say the most difficult part of the routine we learned tonight was finding my distinct style I wanted to convey in the dance and showing it loud but not out of control.  Tony said this piece wasn’t about getting the choreography perfectly, but showing that we were having fun with our personality – it’s a class for crying out loud, not an audition!  That’s actually what I have to work on, because I usually find myself worrying about looking exactly like the choreographer then trying to incorporate my own style in after I learned the piece.  I have to practice more and find out how my body moves without any outside influences to see how I can best interpret new choreography.  I know that I’m best when I dance for myself and not for others, so I just have to stop thinking so much all the time.

During the short break, I skipped over to Tony and Andye telling them how excited I was to be taking their classes and how it felt great getting to know their teaching personalities in person after admiring their work on Youtube.  I asked if it were at all possible to ask them a few questions to support my research, and I got a big “yes” and hug from both of them.  They are way too sweet.  So from there, I had my plans set for the next day – an afternoon with Tony and Andye to discuss their love for dance and their future plans (can’t wait to write their featured posts).

Andye was in the spotlight next for a tough and grungy piece.  I was so out of shape, I already started feeling my muscles wearing me out halfway through her class!  Andye says she likes to dance like a boy sometimes but also show the sexy side of her, and we got both of that in her routine tonight.  The first few 8 counts were hard-hitting and emphasized the base of the song, but the last 20 counts or so had some chill moments and a few body rolls added in.  Her teaching style is easy to follow, and she was fun and encouraging the whole time even though many of us were really tired by the end of the class.

Her style tonight was something similar to what’s shown here in this video:

Song: “Found my Swag” by The Bangz ft. The New Boyz | Choreographer: Andye Jamieson | Performers: Andye Jamieson and master class in Chicago

Like Tony’s piece, I had to focus a lot on control.  Andye said that because the song for tonight was so intense, we wanted to pair it with simpler moves yet still make them powerful.  This goes back to what I learned in UK 101, about filling the air with your body.  There shouldn’t be any real pauses in any of your movements, each move flows into the next, but you have to know how to control the intensity or subtlety of it.  For Andye’s routine, we were split into 3 mixed groups to dance it full out.  She said instead of splitting us up into girls and guys, she wanted us to dance together so that us girls could feel the masculinity from the men, and the guys to feel the sexiness from the ladies.  Again, the two female instructors from earlier had major swag, and they were asked to dance it with Andye.

I was so impressed with everyone’s level of comfort when showing their facials and own style.  To be honest, I thought that I would see a lot of tense bodies and hesitancy in this workshop, but they all surprised me in a positive way.  One day was not nearly enough, so I asked Vika to register for two more classes.  It goes without saying that I was ecstatic because I found out Andye is teaching her routine to Rihanna’s “Skin” tomorrow night.

After Andye’s class, I said my last words of thanks to Wesley and ran to the MRT to catch the last train.  I returned to the hostel and shared stories about the great night I had and the exciting day before me.

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