Red, Hot, and (Not So) Blues

Blues dancing at Dupont Circle
Sunday afternoon blues at Dupont Circle | Red Hot Blues ‘N BBQ 2014

Last weekend was the annual Red Hot Blues ‘N BBQ, and all-blues weekend held in DC with late night dances and a barbecue competition. I couldn’t make most of the dances over the weekend, but I was able to squeeze in time for opening night’s Thursday’s Back Room Blues and Dupont Circle on Sunday afternoon. It’s been a long time since I had so much fun dancing with new people, and going to these events reminded me of how much I need to add blues back into my dance life.

Blues is that one dance where I can let go. I find comfort in trusting my partner to guide us through the song together. Each dance is different – the connection, the personality, the playfulness or seriousness mixed with the music create unpredictable moments that I look forward to. I don’t have to think, I just live in the moment and dance the blues away.

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CSDC: Youth Showcase 2014

Showcases always remind me of how much talent is out there, but these youth showcases are especially inspiring. I can’t imagine how proud the directors must be to see their kids bring their passion, skill and dedication to the stage. This is Future Shock DC’s closing performance from last Saturday, just a small portion of the power these kids showed us:

Future Shock DC | 5th Annual Youth Showcase | Closing Performance

Of course, I have to feature Culture Shock DC. I cheered so hard during this entire performance. You can hear how wild the crowd went in these videos. I’m incredibly proud of everyone, from hard work they put into the long rehearsals to the unexpected impressive debut that night. Check us out!

Culture Shock DC | 5th Annual Youth Showcase

Culture Shock DC Freestyle Team | 5th Annual Youth Showcase

CSDC: International Choreographer’s Showcase Videos

This is old…but it just hit me that I haven’t posted Culture Shock’s performances from our showcase in October. It’s more for my personal log, but go watch them if you haven’t already!

Culture Shock International Choreographer’s Showcase | October 2013 | Act I

In terms of costumes and concept, this was my favorite set. I had so much fun picking out my outfit and accessories, and everyone looked so darn good.

Culture Shock International Choreographer’s Showcase | October 2013 | Act II

Everyone remembers the showcase by this performance. I hadn’t performed on a stage in months before this show. When I stood on stage and felt the audience’s energy, I got an adrenaline rush and remembered why I love to dance.

CSDC: Spirit Week for Showcase!

Happy Monday! We’ve gotten through the first day of the week, but we’re already through the 2nd day of Spirit Week for Culture Shock’s 2013 International Choreographer’s Showcase! Join us in celebrating all things dance in preparation for this exciting weekend!

For Sunday, we’ve all tweeted what dance means to us personally. Check out our Twitter to see some featured posts.
Today, we all shared a photo of us dancing something other than hip hop.

Don’t miss out on the rest of the week!
Tuesday – If you could tour anywhere, where would you go? Tweet your favorite place!
Wednesday – Post a photo on Instagram of you with your dance company!
Thursday – Make the Culture Shock logo out of something and post it on Facebook!
Friday – Post on Instagram a photo of you dancing at your favorite place in DC!
Saturday – Tweet what Culture Shock has done for you.

Want a preview of what our freestyle team is preparing for you at our pre-show? Check out the promo vid below:

This is an especially exciting event for me because it’ll be my first time performing with Culture Shock DC on stage. It hasn’t exactly hit me yet – everyone says how crazy it’s going to be, meeting all these fellow Culture Shock members from all over the world. All I’m worried about right now is making sure I have enough energy for the weekend and making sure everyone else will have a good time. So here I am, pausing for a bit and taking a slow breath in – realizing that, yes, showcase has finally come. And it’s going to be out of this world.

CSDC: Going to Showcase? Get Your Tickets Now!

If you haven’t heard already, Culture Shock DC is hosting this year’s International Choreographer’s Showcase on Saturday, October 19th! It will be epic. With that said, don’t miss out on pre-sales, $25 for the first 300 seats. After October 15, prices will go up. So click the link below and reserve your spot now! Don’t forget to exchange your Eventbrite ticket at Pre-show, October 18th, or all day before showcase October 19th.

Click here to buy Showcase tickets!

Can’t make it to the show? You can still support CSDC by donating on our Go Fund Me site. Thanks to those who have already supported this event. We’ve almost reached our goal – with less than a month left, we can still make it! We need your help to make this showcase the best it can be. Every contribution is greatly appreciated.

Click here to contribute to Culture Shock DC!

We better see you there!!!!

Photo Credit: Glenn Orion Photography
Photo Credit: Glenn Orion Photography

CSDC: International Choreographer’s Showcase Promo Vid

Happy first week of fall! In addition to your plans for apple-picking and visits to haunted mansions next month, make sure to catch our 2013 International Choreographer’s Showcase. You’ll get to see performances from Culture Shock Dance Troupes from all over the world, right here in D.C.!

When: Saturday, October 19th 2013

Where: Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center

Tickets: $25 pre-sale, $35 at the door

Check out our promo video below! Hope to see you there :)

Song: “Take Back the Night” by Justin Timberlake | Choreographers: Chris Munar and Cina McKenna

HONG KONG EXILE, Saying Hi from Canada

It’s been a little over two months since I started my new job. While I’m enjoying it and learning much more than I expected in a short time, the last thing I want to do coming home is stare at the computer screen again to blog or even browse for leisure. But this week, I was reminded of why I should blog more.

Natalie Gan, a contemporary dancer based in Vancouver, reached out to me this week about my experience in Taiwan. Despite it being two years ago, she still contacted me to talk about the dance culture and events happening in Taipei. Knowing a fellow dancer from Canada with the same interests has encouraged me to commit more to my ongoing research that is currently put on hold. Her questions and desire to explore Taiwan brought me back to when I first stepped into True Fitness for a class with Wesley Lo and when I met my friend Lene who introduced me to the college dance life. One of my goals for this blog is to connect dancers from all over the world to learn from one another. Natalie’s reaching out showed me I am able to achieve this goal. Even though my trip was years ago, the people I met along the way will always keep me connected, and I can do the same for others.

Natalie is with an inspiring company called HONG KONG EXILE (HKX). A trio of multi-dimensional artists (the others named Milton and Remy), their mission is to create and share theatrical, experimental work inspired by cultural politics in an era of globalization. Natalie studied contemporary dance and international studies in hopes of connecting the two through her work. HKX performs together but they each have individual ongoing projects, including research, travel and executing productions. Whether you’re in Vancouver and want to see their latest work, or are interested in following their passion for the arts, you can learn more on their website at http://www.hongkongexile.com/.

Dancers from It's Battle Time Vol. 3 2011
Dancers from It’s Battle Time Vol. 3 2011
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Hip Hop Studios in Taipei

Seeing how helpful my post about dance studios in Beijing is to readers, I’m posting up a list of dance studios I found in Taipei, Taiwan back in 2011.  The warm humid air and scorching sun reminds me of the last three summers I spent in Asia, but I haven’t shared all the treasures I found on the eastern hemisphere yet. Like my other post about Beijing’s studios, this one is inspired by one of my readers who commented on a Taiwan post.

In Ximen, you’ll find IP Dance Skool, known for its locking instructors. When I interviewed dance instructors and students who practiced in the parks, many of them either took classes from or recommended IP Dance Skool.

From what I experienced, most of the notorious studios are located in the East District (Zhongxiao Xinsheng to Sun Yat-Sen stations). HRC Dance Academy, Lumi Dance School, and Merry Monarc are all located near Sun Yat-Sen, First Place near Zhongxiao Dunhua, and No Limit (no link) near Zhongxiao Xinsheng. However, you’ll find students casually practicing at MRT stops like Ximen and Taipei Main Station, and I’m sure they’d be happy to tell you other places closer to the Shida area. Below is a vogue class with Dashaun Wesley at No Limit:

True Fitness gym is near the Guting station and it offers a hip hop class every week as well as ballroom and other group fitness classes. I took the hip hop class my first week in Taipei (click here). A monthly membership is required, but when I told them this was for my research project, they offered me a free trial for this first class and even let two of my friends join me. Wesley, the instructor, has years of experience under his belt, from performing in celebrity concerts to teaching students of all ages. I recommend giving this a try for a beginner lesson.

For the studios I went to, the prices for each class ranged from 320-450NTD, which I think is the average pricing for most studios in the area. The more expensive studios have better-known instructors and space can sometimes be limited, so I think they are worth the extra bucks.

For most studios, you can walk in and sign up for one class at a time a few minutes before they begin. Most places also have packages where you can prepay for a number of classes and take the ones you’d like to try out for your convenience.

July and August are good times to go to Taipei because that’s when the Metro Street Dance Competition takes place. With youth and adult divisions, each group of teams will compete for the finals outside MRT Jiannan Rd. Station. This is a chance to see all the talent in Taipei mixed together and mingle with the dance community.

UK 101: Prelude Urban Dance Competition DMV 2013

Videos galore in this post!

First of all, congratulations to Major Definition, CREWcial, and KickRocks Crew for placing as our top 3 teams in the DMV area this year! For those of you who are unfamiliar with what Prelude is, this competition series aims to create a community for all dance teams in major regional areas in the U.S.

This year, the owner of Prelude is implementing a new competition, the Prelude Championship where the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd honors of each regional competition will come together to compete in Philadelphia on May 11. I think this is a great way to bring together the different dance communities and get a taste of each region’s flavor of dance. There are many showcases and events that segment themselves into regional areas, but we don’t spend much time celebrating the dance communities as a whole. We are all dancers and we do it because we love it, so bringing all the coasts to one place will help show how different teams express their passion for this art and sport.

This year’s Prelude was my first and last performance with UK 101 at the event. Watch below, kudos to Tony Marquez for filming!

Songs: “I’m Goin In” by Drake ft. Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy, “Rock the Boat” by Aaliyah, “Candy Rain” by Soul For Real, “Drop it Like It’s Hot” by Snoop Dogg, “Booty Me Down” by Kstylis, “They Don’t Want Music” by Black Eyed Peas | Choreographers: Davawna Marie, Chris Munar, Demetirus White, Cina McKenna | Performed by: Urbanknowlogy 101 | Prelude DMV Urban Dance Competition

This performance was eye-opening for me as a member of the team for four years. With little time to recover from the Step Show just last week, it was hard for me to continue moving our team forward without reflecting on our recent shows. Nonetheless, we had to keep pulling through and use our time wisely to put another medley together, this time not only representing our team for the student body at GMU but to represent our school with our team members. I had been extremely nervous about our routine, probably because I have been used to our song choices and been surrounded with the same people for a long time.

It was only after we finished our performance that made me realize how much we have grown compared to recent semesters. We decided to be a showcase team instead of competition team this year, but it was truly rewarding when other teams recognized us as a team who should have been on the competing list. As a senior, it’s been difficult to see everything clearly when I’m focused on so many other things, but to hear these comments from the dance community made me feel incredibly thankful to be on a team with such patience and energy to make it work.

Want to see the best of this year’s Prelude? Check them out below!

3rd Place: KickRocks Crew

2nd Place: CREWcial

1st Place: Major Definition

Special! This is Team WeGonMakeIt, with select alumni members of UK 101:

And representing some of the best dancers of the DMV area, here’s Culture Shock D.C.:

UK 101: Coalescence 2013

Check out UrbanKnowlogy 101’s first performance of the year! With one week to properly prepare, we came out with a 7-minute routine for the 4th Annual Coalescence Showcase hosted by James Madison University. Songs and choreographers listed below.

Songs: “Freakum Dress” by Beyonce, “Bad Girl” by Usher, “Ice” by Kelly Rowland, “Novacane” by Frank Ocean, “Make Me Proud” by Drake ft. Nicki Minaj, “Don’t Mess with My Man” by Nivea | Choreographers: Demetirus White, Tri Le, Cina McKenna, Jia Zheng | Performed by: UrbanKnowlogy 101 | Coalescence 2013

This was our first year participating in the JMU Coalescence Showcase. In their words, “The purpose of Coalescence is to unite dancers and their crews, allowing all of us to share our talents and celebrate our love for dance and music.” I appreciate how they make efforts to bring together all different teams in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina to remind us how we should encourage the uniqueness of our own styles instead of thinking about the pressure from other groups and impressing judges.

Also, here’s a video from one of the guest choreographers for the Kodachrome workshops.