Not a dancer but love dance!

First things first, I'm the realest.

Just kidding! But first things first, I am NOT a dancer. Sure, I definitely drop it low when I’m in the club, but I am by no means a “dancer”. All that said, I am completely enthralled with the dance world and the unrealistic idea in my head of me being a dancer. I don’t know why, but I have always taken an interest in dance. I see the dance world as this bizarre, wonderful mesh between a business and a passion that is different from the music, acting, and art worlds. There is such a unique tie between the commercialization and artistry of dance that I feel has been both uplifting and tormenting to the dance world in recent years, mainly because of the rise of TV shows and internet sensations centered on dance.

I got really “into” dance as a third party, outside observer when I was kid, when boy bands were the all the rage and Gameboys were today’s iPhone equivalent. I attribute a great deal of my interest in dance to my childhood nanny, Rhea, who instilled in me a great appreciation for any and all creative arts - everything from finger-painting to sculpture to film to dance. Rhea, my sister, and I would spend hours listening to Spice Girls and dance through the day, which was completely normal to me then in my childhood home and now in my NYC apartment. That’s when why interest in dance sparked.

As I have gone through life, my interest in dance has grown with me. Having some gained some friends and family in the dance world along the way, I have always been semi-exposed to dance and feel that I have some sort of background and understanding of spotting good choreography and strong dancers. Does that give me any ammo to be a critic of dance? No. But whenever I watch a music video or see a concert, the first thing I look at is the choreography: what are the dancers doing, are they queued in time with the music, how are the dancers working or not working together? This part of my brain immediately goes into critic mode and I start analyzing everything! It is such an odd action because I am certainly not one to judge a dancer, but I can’t seem to help myself. Also, I love hearing about what my dancer friends and family are working on, who’s classes they are taking, what videos I need to check out, and I feel that they somehow clue me into the dance world and makes me feel part of it. That’s the thing - the dance world is so welcoming and open to everyone, even those like me who are not part of it every day as both my passion and career. Have you ever had something in your life that you loved, but never physically did? Its like when I was a kid, I was OBSESSED with the idea cooking and crafting stuff, aka Martha Stewart was my godsend (also, how did I not know I was gay back then?), yet today the thought of baking or grilling scares me and until about two months ago I would stick a fork in the toaster to pull out my morning bagel… #idiot. But you know what I mean. I have this love for dance that sits and stirs in me everyday even though I never practice is on a serious level. I honor it through solo S Club 7 and Jay Z dance parties in my apartment or through watching videos online, but I know it will never be the same as being a dancer.

 
I have been lucky enough to meet some extremely talented dancers and am always amazed at how passionate they are about their craft. Dancers always seem to be in a very positive frame of mind, but have the gift to portray their true, and sometimes dark, emotions and thoughts through their choreography. The notion of expressing our minds through movement instead of words makes me innately happy. Somehow, the dance world always seems to instill my hope in society that we aren’t all twenty-first century social media and reality TV monsters.

That said, I think the life of a dancer is extremely tough. It is about proving talent and worth on another level that people who work in a cubicle Monday through Friday, nine to five don’t have to show. Everyday, you have to wake up and prove yourself at audition or go work your side job to support your dance – which is something that is completely wonderful to me. Dancers let their passion guide them daily, which is something that I think the rest of us folks can learn from. How can we as a society find more passion in our daily lives to propel us further as human beings – emotionally and intellectually?

 
For me, I dance like a shmuck around my apartment and take a basic ballet class here or there. Sure, I will never be going to Julliard or in a Janet video (um.. where is she? #FreeJanet), but I love dance very much and know it will be part of my life and me as a person for the rest of my life.

If you are reading this and you are a dancer, thank you for being role models for those of us who aren’t and entertaining us everyday through various medias. Most importantly, thank you for proving to the rest of us that you can follow your passion in life and that you don’t have to take the dull road. I have learned from my dancer friends that their life is certainly not easy, but I see how fulfilled they are emotionally when they nail that audition, get that job, or set that piece; there is nothing more wonderful. For those of you reading this who aren’t dancers. I hope you honor your interests, whatever they may be, to the best of your abilities like the dancers of the world do.

Until next time….




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You know you are a dancer when...

  1. You always make getting out of bed a big deal by sliding off the mattress all contemp style (after all the bones in your body crack, of course).
  2. You are injured and pay a visit to the doctor who tells you to stay off dancing for 6 weeks, but we all know that's not happening.
  3. You're walking down the street and spontaneously kick your leg behind you to get that hip to crack.
  4. It's the one day you're not wearing sweats and everyone looks at you like you're Neville Longbottom post-puberty #damn.
  5. Your eyeliner is on point(e) and so are you #flawless.

New Sweats!

sweats

Just in… New sweatpants with pockets! Also in dark grey. These are great for class as they’re thinner than regular sweats, so it won’t feel like Bikram’s Hip Hop. #harbourdance #hdc #sweats

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Check out Harbour's Intensive Training Program!

Here's a video the wonderful Moe Brody made to give a better understanding of what Harbour's Intensive Training Program is!

To further explain, here's a little tid-bit from the website about what ITP is:

HDC’s Intensive Training Programme (ITP) consists of 20 to 25 hours a week in dance, voice, performance and other dance related studies. The directors and participants work closely together and after careful evaluation the directors customize the participants training program and guide them throughout the program.

Acceptance into the program is by audition only. To be eligible for the program, students must be at least 17 years of age and dancing at an intermediate level or higher in jazz and ballet. They must have finished High School.

And finally, here's the link to the website!

Beginner Tap

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I am no expert at tap. I have been dancing for 17 years and have never felt comfortable with tapping. Trust me; it isn’t the easiest for some of us to get the message from our brain to our feet. Still training in companies, from time to time I find myself in a position where I need to do my best and tackle a tap class. The beginner tap classes at Harbour have really helped me out in more ways than one. I was pretty nervous to take the class because I feel foolish when trying to tap and don’t want to be the odd one out or get frustrated with the fact that I can’t keep up with the teacher and rest of the class. I left the class pleasantly surprised and had really enjoyed myself.

You start the class out in the centre with a warm up. The teacher stands at the front and does steps and you follow along. You start with things such as tapping your feet and rolling your ankles just to get your feet warmed up. Then you begin some basic tap technique such as flaps, flap ball changes and shuffles. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s okay. I had no idea either! Once the warm up is done, you go across the floor. So many of tap steps travel or are in a sequence, so this just allows you more room to move. You do the basic technique steps you just learned in the centre and modify them so they can travel across the floor.

Sometimes they will combine the steps you just learned into a short combination to try out. Finally you learn some easy choreography. This is taught at a good pace and the teacher explains everything really well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand what to do because the teachers are more than happy to help. Usually they can not only see that you are lost, but they can hear you! haha! You run the routine several times which gives you the opportunity to master the steps and most of the time you don’t get split into groups which can be comforting for some people… I know it was for me!

Taking the class was super intimidating for me but once I actually got there it was a really relaxed and non-threatening environment to be in. You have the opportunity to move at your own pace with comfort and try and figure everything out. The best part about tap- you can practice anywhere! Waiting in line at Starbucks, at the photocopy machine, the bus stop….tap tap tap all the time!

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photoshoot!

beginnertap

Check out some of our amazing and talented staff and students that are a part of the Harbour Dance Centre Community!
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Basic Jazz Technique

jazztech

Basic jazz technique is one of the most important parts of jazz and contemporary dancing. Jazz technique comes from the fundamentals of ballet and is adapted to more parallel positions for jazz. Core, shoulders, arms, supporting legs, proper posture- These are all rooted from ballet! For example, a jete in jazz is the same as a jete in ballet; we just to do it to groovier music. The preparation, the take off, the legs… they are all rooted from ballet technique. When the jazz teacher makes you do a jump, they will give you the "coles notes" version of the proper ballet technique associated with that jump. In advanced classes you would be expected to already know the technique behind the steps they are giving you in class, but in beginner classes you can expect to learn the ballet basics to the technical element. In class you get to drill the basic moves either in the center or across the floor working both your right and left sides. Basic moves being kicks, jumps, and turns. Taking this class helps you build, work on, and maintain your basic jazz technique moves and you can bring it along with you into any other class you choose to take. Sometimes the teacher will give you corrections to assist you in doing the moves correctly so that you can only get better and better! Working on those ballet fundamentals in jazz is really fun, especially if you aren’t a ballet music fan. Jazz is way more relaxed. The more you practice the more improvement you will see and this class is the perfect place to do just that- get down to the basics and work at them!

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Sexy Street Jazz

sexystreet

Sexy street jazz is such an awesome class. It’s a class where you get to let loose and have a lot of fun. You get to dance to popular or classic top 40 songs, which always makes the class just that much better. My favourite part about it is it’s a class where you get to dance feminine and- as the name states- sexy. Sexy street jazz is like hip hop, but you don’t have to worry about it being gangster and masculine if you aren’t comfortable with that style. There is always a promise for the dance to be feminine and the classes are a guaranteed good time. Sometimes people wear heels to class- if you are comfortable with this, you can too! Sometimes the combo you learn in class will be what’s called “tourography”. Tourography is dancing like you are a backup dancer for an artist on tour. It’s feel good and crazy fun. There are different levels of sexy street jazz offered at Harbour so make sure you take note of them before taking a class. Most teachers will teach slow and explain everything really well so the overall class isn’t too overwhelming. Sexy street jazz is one of my favourite classes and I highly suggest trying one out!

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what to wear to ballet and jazz

I remember when I took my first ballet class at Harbour. Actually, this class was a lot of firsts- one of my first ever classes at Harbour, my first week of Harbours Intensive Training Program, and my first ballet class at the studio. I came from a small town studio where we HAD TO wear a leotard, tights, proper ballet slippers, and a perfect bun to ballet class. When I walked into the class at Harbour I was one of very few, if any, people wearing the full ballet ensemble. I was quite pleased to realize that most people were wearing more casual clothes! Not saying that wearing the full ballet outfit is wrong in any way, some people do and that is totally up to you! For ballet, I personally like to wear a leotard with spandex shorts on top, and then some basketball shorts on top of that. For both ballet and jazz you can wear: sweatpants to start, leggings, spandex shorts, looser shorts (such as basketball shorts), a leotard, baggy shirts, tight shirts, or crop tops (though I would not recommend for ballet). Shoes? Socks are the majorities’ choice! I would also recommend a sports bra because trust me, that push up bra doesn’t feel so comfortable when your jumping around in class for an hour and a half. When you look at every level of ballet class, you see so many different body types. So it’s no surprise to see that people are wearing tank tops or t-shirts, sweatpants or shorts. Ballet now is such a fitness trend that most beginners take it for exercise. They do not own, nor do they have to, go out and purchase leotards and tights. Just make sure that when you are picking your clothes for class, that you are capable of a full range of movement in them. If you would like to go with the classic leotard and tights then don’t be shy, but also don’t be afraid to wear what you feel most comfortable in!

Ballet Barre

What is ballet barre? It is a part of every ballet class offered at Harbour, if not every ballet class you might take, no matter where you are! The barre is where you start at the beginning of every class and it is exactly what it sounds like…. A bar attached to the wall that is there for you to hold onto for support. The barre sort of acts as your male counterpart, as if you were to do a paux de deux (dancing with a male partner in professional ballet). At the barre you do short exercises, each with a different focus. Each focus being a basic move of ballet. You learn and execute both the right and left sides. It is the perfect place to practice your technique or learn the steps if you have never taken a class before. The barre portion of class is your warm up before you go into the centre and have to rely on your own stability! The barre doesn’t only warm up your muscles… it also works them! Just like doing squats at the gym! It is personally my favourite part of the ballet class… it gets you into the right mindset for the class, gets you focused, is a gradual warmup for the entire body and exercises every muscle you may use for the rest of class. At Harbour, if you would like to take just ballet barre, you can sign up for just an hour of the hour and a half class, and leave once barre is over. Sometimes just Ballet barre classes are offered at the studio as well.

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Harbour Dance Centre 3rd Floor, 927 Granville St., Vancouver, BC Canada V6Z 1L3 | 604.684.9542 | info@harbourdance.com
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved.  Photos by Ernest Von Rosen

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