Sorry for the long dormant period of this blog! School has been demanding, what can I say? ๐Ÿ™‚ย  But I will be trying to get some more posts in.

This is for those dancers that have trouble dancing “passionately”. Your dance instructors keep telling you that you lack passion, but how do you obtain it?

I used to have this problem with playing piano. Sure, I did a good job and I played all the notes correctly and in time and even added in some great dynamics, but my teacher said that I was a little robotic. I couldn’t help it; it was just how I played.

How did I fix it? It all changed in one day. I decided that I’d practice for a long time, and I sat at the piano for about two hours straight practicing just one song. This was the day that I began actually loving the piano; before this, I played but I couldn’t say that I loved playing. I might have been good at it, but being good at something and loving it are two completely different things.

One concept of passion is loving what you do. I know, I know–you love to dance but you still lack the passion that your instructor wants. Maybe the problem is that you’re tricking your mind; I know several people on my drill team who said they loved being on drill, but I knew that they did not love it in their hearts because of their horrible practicing habits. If you love to do something, pratice is a reward rather than an arduous task. I used to hate practicing piano; if this was true, how could I love playing? After the day that I practiced for two hours straight, I was completely changed. From this day, I began practicing all the time. Now that my school schedule is so demanding, I have barely anytime to practice and any time that I do have is spent practicing. I love practicing.

One quote that my music teacher told me comes from a famous musician (I forget who): I never practice; I always play.

I think this quote enforces that “practice” should be just as fun as playing. So many people find practice as something that’s unfavorable. Attributing practice with the term “play” has changed the whole aura of the word. Practice suddenly becomes fun.

The steps to developing passion:

1. Begin to LOVE practicing
How do you do this? I say to do it the way I did. Spend at least two hours practicing one dance, and you will be completely changed. And spending two hours at a dance lesson does not constitute practicing. Go home, and set two hours just for practicing–no breaks. You may be surprised at how much you change at the end.

2. Practice like you perform
Put lots of energy into your practice. Lots of people love performing but hate praticing. If this is so, then perform everytime you practice!

3. Love & be moved by the music
A large aspect of dancing is the music. When playing music, in order to play passionately you need to become moved by the music. Same goes for dance.

Remember, passion is about loving what you do. You know how you can just tell in someone’s face what mood that person is in? A smile indicates happiness; a frown indicates sadness. Well, passion is similar, but harder to describe. It’s not just a smile or a frown, it’s an aura and a feeling. Music can make you feel a certain way just because of the aura that it brings; a passionate dancer does the same. Someone can look at you and decide if you’re passionate or not just like someone can look at you and decide your mood. When I watch a passionate dancer, I feel moved and engulfed in the dance. It’s a very hard thing to describe, but when you have it, you know it. First thing–begin to love practicing.

Moved!

Drill.wordpress.com has moved to www.drillobsession.com

New articles will be added there. All the old articles from this site are there as well. Enjoy! )

—————————————————————–

So, the moment you’ve all been waiting for :).

Here is my suggested 3-step routine that will help you elevate your kicks. The only thing is, like the one with the splits, you need to be doing this everyday. I think that’s the hard part. This isn’t a week-by-week thing. You need to continue stretching, practicing, and strengthening your legs everyday. If you reserve 15 minutes a day for each step, your kicks will be 10ยบ higher in 3 weeks. I hope three weeks is short enough for you to keep up your motivation!

This might also be a good idea to do with your team, so that everyone will have high kicks in three weeks.

Steps:

1. Stretch
You must be flexbile in order to get high kicks. Some stretches and stretching routines are in my splits article.

2. Stregthen
You need leg stretch to get your kicks high.

Everyday, you should be kicking. Try kicking with heavy clothes on your legs or heavy shoes on (no high heels!). It will force you to use more energy. It’s kind of like lifting weights, except with your legs. If you have an elastic exercising strip (I forget what those are called, but it’s basically a stretchy rubbery rope that you pull with your arms to exercise), use it. Put it around one ankle, step on the ends with your other foot and bring your leg as high up as you can.
Another one: lift your leg up in kick position as high as you can without a bounce. Hold it there for fifteen seconds and try not to waver too much. Switch legs.
It might also help to lie down on the ground and have a friend stretch with you. Lie down, face up. Point both toes and keep both legs straight. Have a partner elevate one leg as far towards your nose as possible. The strengthening part comes here–you try to elevate your leg high while your partner pushes you back. Doing it to a count/beat/music will help.
Kick to a medium tempo song, 2-4 eight counts. Kick for as long as you can do the kicks perfectly. Once you start getting sloppy, stop and take a break. Your goal is to be able to kick the amount of 8-counts in the routine, perfectly. So, keep up the endurance. Everyday, do three sets of kicks, and make them all perfect. The length of the set depends on your good your endurance is. If you can only do one eight count perfect, that’s fine. Just keep doing it everyday, and you’ll see that number go up to 1.5, 2, and eventually to the number of eight counts you will need to last. Remember that the routine doesn’t end with kicks, either! So make sure that after kicking, you still have some energy left.
The best way to improve your kicks is to keep kicking. Endurance is a huge part of having good kicks. Once you’re tired, your unpointed toes and bend knees and bad posture won’t matter–you just want to get it over with. You need to have enough energy so that you can think about these things.

3. Practice, in context
Practice your kicks in the routine, because those are the ones that matter the most. Do the whole set. If you feel exhausted by the end, you’re not there yet.

Comment and tell me how your kicks are looking. ๐Ÿ™‚

Flexi-tize and strengthen those legs!

**********************************************************

*NOTE*: 1/16/07โ€“this site has moved to www.drillobsession.com
This article and new articles are posted there!

Here is the link to this article on the new site:
http://drillobsession.com/?p=101

**********************************************************

Since my post about stretching splits in three weeks has been so popular, I’m writing a follow-up.

Thanks to everyone who read the article and started getting those splits down! I’m very happy for all of you, and glad that you already have the splits. Thank you for everyone who commented, also. See, three weeks wasn’t so long after all!

If you don’t have the splits already, you should read the article posted above and work on them! Trust me, three weeks will zip by.

This article is mainly about how you can further improve your leg flexiblity–get those kicks high, split when you’re in the air, hold your leg to your nose, whatever it is, you can do it!

Flexibility is just step one to getting high kicks. Leg strength comes next. So many people have perfect splits, but low kicks. It doesn’t make sense, but when you think about it, you’re using different muscles and need strength.

For kick flexibility, stretch your splits vertically on a wall (doorways make it easiest for balance). This is your kick position, so it will help most.

For kick strength, keep kicking! Don’t kill yourself, but practice some good kicks everyday. I’d recommend three sets a day of two eight-counts of high kicks (bounce, kick, bounce, etc.), meaning eight kicks each set (don’t worry too much about staying in line, but do keep it in mind–at this moment, just worry about getting your kicks up). Running also strengthens those leg muscles, so a short jog a day will really help. Encourage your team to jog daily (for at least ten minutes) to warm up. Of course, jogging right after school doesn’t seem too enticing, but after a few minutes, it feels really nice. Building muslces in your thigh help keep your kicks high. Combining all your leg muscles help keep your legs straight.

Remember, remember, remember: do not hunch into your kicks. Sometimes when you bring your body into your kick it feels like it’s higher because your face is closer to your knee, but it gives you bad posture and does not elevate your kicks.

I’ve heard that stretching in the pool or in a warm bath might help, but I’ve never tried this myself. If you’re interested, you could try it out (tell me how it goes!).

This is just a general article about leg strength. If you are truly interested, I will be posting a follow-up to this one including a specific schedule/strengthening routine that you can use to help you out.

Trying out?

DrillObsession has moved to www.drillobsession.com

There’s even a new article on drill tryouts: http://drillobsession.com/?p=114

Every year during try-out season, people always ask me what they need to know. Of course, it differs from team to team, but generally, this is what the try-out judges are looking for.

Potential flexibility
Teams usually have to do the splits and have high kicks. They usually don’t expect that you can do the splits (or even get close) at the beginning of the year, but they do expect that you can get them by the end of the year. The key word is potential. Show themย  your improvement–when you stretch and warm up, actually stretch. You will notice that you are getting flexible day after day.

Good attitude
Yes, this really matters, and it’s a pretty big decision factor, too. If you have a bad reputation, you’d better change it. No one wants someone lazy or uncoopoerative on their team, even if that person is naturally talented and sharp.

Improvement
Most people have no dance experience before joining drill. That’s fine. You need to show them by the end that you have improved and learned. If you don’t show them that you’ve gone from a non-dancer to a dancer, you haven’t made an impression.

Knowledge of Try-out Routine
Typically, there is a short routine that you must perform to try-out. You better know it! Even if nothing is perfect, but you know the entire routine, you’ve shown your dedication in memorizing the routine. That part, I think, takes a lot of work. Angles and perfect marches aren’t that big of a decision factor at this stage.

Dedication and Helpfulness
If you already know the routine and have perfected it yourself, go help someone out.ย  Don’t be an expert, because you’ve not reached that stage yet. On the other hand, if you don’t know the routine, practice on your own. If you’ve got that part down, then practice with someone. Make sure you try it on your own before you seek help. No one wants to help someone who doesn’t even try.

Smile
Your smile matters. Keep it beautiful and bright! ๐Ÿ™‚

Attendance
Please don’t miss the try-out practices. If you absolutely must, don’t be scared to notify the coach. Do it right at the moment that you find out you can’t do it. Do not wait.

Other
The little things (having your hair up, no jewelery on, proper shoes, etc.) that you do wrong can add up. Don’t be late to practices. Think before you make a comment.

I hope this list helps ease your nerves a little. Remember, you can make drill if you practice. The most important part (I think) is to first practice on your own. This way, if you’re confused on some part or forgot a move, you know exactly where it is and can find someone to help you. Don’t be taught the routine then immediately go to someone for help. You are capable of memorizing the routine on your own–you just need the confidence and work ethic to do it. When you are taught a portion of the routine one day, you should be able to do it to the tempo of the music the next day. Drill requires self-motivation, practice, and dedication. Seek help for the next level–angles, sharpness, etc.

Good luck at tryouts.

The nerves always ruin our performances. How do we get rid of that nervous feeling before we perform? How are we going to stop thinking about forgetting the routine while we’re performing–or tripping, falling, doing the wrong move. We always worry about what can go wrong, and often, one thing does go wrong because we’re thinking about it so hard.

Tips:

Know the Routine
If you don’t know it–I won’t lie to you–you will mess up unless you’re lucky. Know it. You should have known it for months!

Breathe
Simple, but helpful. Take deep breaths. It really helps you calm down.

Have everything ready long before the performance
That means making sure everything is perfect. Your hair, uniform, makeup, tied shoelaces, intact nylons, etc. You need to triple check everything so that you won’t worry about it while you perform.

Eat
Competitions are long, and sometimes we might forget to eat. Can’t perform without energy! Eat at least 1.5 hours before the performance.

Get a good night’s sleep, but an early start
Don’t wake up at 1pm (not that competitions start that late anyways), but don’t stay up until 1am. I’d say to wake up when you normally wake up (whenever school starts, probably around 8). If you sleep in, you’ll be sluggish.

No team parties the night before
Unless you can manage to all go home and get enough sleep (not likely), you shouldn’t have a team party. It sounds motivational so that you can bond and talk about the next day, but usually it leads to late nights and everyone tired the day after. If you do have a party, I’d say that it must end before dark and no junk food.

Get hair done ASAP
Drill hair (if you use curlers) takes a long time. My team used to take from 1-3 hours per person. Of course, if you use fake hair or something else, it’s not too big of a deal. If you are using curlers, get it done before dark so that everyone can go home and sleep.

Don’t practice the day before
It’ll just stress you out. Naturally, you will probably forget some moves, then be extremely nervous the next day because of your bad practice. Of course, running through the routine once is okay. Don’t stay up until three practicing (or learning the routine).

Have confidence
No harm in being confident. Lots of people say, “well, if I think I’m going to get 10th place, then I won’t feel so bad afterwards . . . if I think I’ll get first place and I don’t get it, then I’ll feel horrible”. Bad thinking. Be confident. It shows in your face. You want to win. Go win it!

Listen
Listen to the music! Sometimes people don’t and are so focused on moves, moves, moves. When they turn their ears on again, they realize that they are way off and will be lost. Sometimes the music sounds different because of the different speakers in the performing area. Be prepared. If the music skips, you can’t do anything about it. Breathe, don’t look stupid, and smile bright and confident. One time, I watched a team that wasn’t even that great, but their music skipped. They remained still, and ended up placing. That shows your confidence.

Don’t talk about how nervous you are
If you talk about it, it will spread. Don’t make it evident that you’re nervous. Keep it to yourself. Think about other things.
If you’ve known the routine, you won’t forget it
I always go crazy when someone, right before the performance, says, “how does that part go again? I forgot!” This makes everyone nervous, as well as yourself. You won’t forget it. Stop thinking about it. You’ve never forgotten it at practice.

Don’t let the audience intimidate you
Your audience is just people. You see them everyday. What’s the big deal? You won’t mess up and to them, you’re probably just a little face off in the distance.

Perform
Just perform. Perform like you do at practice. No nerves there. You know that you look way better though, because you should be confident in yourself and, hey, you’re wearing your drill outfit! You didn’t buy it for nothing. You bought that expensive customized outfit to win. And that’s exactly what you’ll do.

And of course . . . Smile!

I know this is a huge issue in drill. Who will mix the music if I can’t do it? If it needs to be done professionally, how will we raise the money? Well, don’t be discouraged to mix music. Really, it’s very simple.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Get a music cutting program
I’d recommend Adobe Audition, as this is very simple and the only one that I’ve used. It has more than enough functions to mix any dance routine.

2. Play with it
Really! Just press the buttons and see what your program is capable of. To edit a music file, import that file from your computer or CD (remember where you saved it!) and view in under the single track view. It’s pretty self explanatory, in Adobe at least. When you play the music, it starts from the yellow line and goes till the end. The white line will indicate which part of the music it is currently playing. Listen to it, and cut off the parts you don’t want by highlighting and deleting (ctrl+X). You can zoom in and out to be more accurate. When you’re ready for the next song, go into the multitrack view. Drag the first song into one of the rectangles starting from time 0. This will be the start of your mix. Once you’re done cutting the second song, add the right next to the first or even overlap it and create fade effects. I’m not going to go in-depth, because I’m sure you can figure it out. It’s very simple. If you want to slow the music down, just find that option in the menu. It’s all written there for you! If you can’t figure something out, comment and I’d be happy to help.

3. Find a tutorial
There are many people who have websites dedicated to teaching you something. Some examples might be how to edit pictures in photoshop and how to create 3-D pictures in Rhino. Whatever it is, I’m sure that someone has written about it. Search for one in google (or yahoo, msn, etc.)

See, it’s not so hard. Now you can go mix your own music ๐Ÿ™‚

Update

Sorry about not having the routine up. I thought that I could finish it by today, but I’ve had way too much homework and compulsory tasks. I’m hoping that it will be up sometime soon, but I can’t really say when. At this point, I have the music all mixed and part of the routine done. I really want to get it done, but I have a stack of books waiting to be read.
Anyway, I wish everyone luck on getting their splits down. Performances are coming up–keep calm and work hard!

New Routines!

Marysue: Thanks for the comment! I’ll be creating some routines soon. Good luck with your team!

I love creating new routines, but I never really thought about putting them up on this site. I’m probably going to start creating some choreography (mainly drill, because that’s my strength). These will mostly be simple (good for try-out routines and small performances), and I’ll rate them easy, medium, or hard. I do realize that every team has a different number of members, so formations and groups will be different, but I’ll try to generalize them (ex: diamond formation, box, open circle, solid circle, etc.). Of course, you’re free to change up my routines and make formations or change moves to make your performance better.

I’ll try to get a really simple routine up by next week! So, how are those splits coming along? ๐Ÿ˜€

I know I write about consistent schedules a lot, and I can’t stress how important it is!

Lots of dancers never have time for anything, and this is a somewhat true statement. Mostly the problem with scheduling is in high school, where it can sometimes be hard to find places to practice all the time (though this is only an excuse to not have practice–read Finding Places to Practice). With a consistent schedule, this won’t be the case. The reason that dancers don’t have the time for anything is because of inconsistency in their schedules. Dancers have problems finding jobs when they don’t know when they’re busy with dance! You can’t tell your manager that you are sometimes busy Mondays-Saturdays. Dancers also have hard times joining organizations as there is never a clear indication of when exactly they are busy. If you have an inconsistent schedule, you can never know if you’ll be able to make the club meetings after school on Monday. Why not keep your schedules consistent? Jobs and school are mostly consistent, right? Imagine your school starting at different times everyday, and your job also starting at different times everyday. It just doesn’t work out that way. When a dance schedule is inconsistent, there is almost no time for other activities besides school. I strongly encourage your team to keep a consistent schedule! It makes life so much easier.

If you do change to a consistent schedule (which I hope you do!), tell me about it! Leave a comment! Trust me, it will change your life, and you and your team will be much less stressed.

Before I get into this post, I’m going to add a short note. I’ve noticed lately that my posts are much more general now and not strictly drill-only. I think I’m going to continue with this, providing more general tips on things like flexibility, endurance, etc.

So . . . how do you know what music is right? Many performances involve a theme, and if the music fits that theme, then you select it. Sounds logical. But what if there are thousands and thousands of song fitting one theme? What if there’s no theme at all?

First of all, you want to find music that’s danceable, if that’s even a word. You know what I mean. The tempo shouldn’t be too fast or too slow for the type of dance you’re performing. You wouldn’t perform hip hop to classical music nor ballet to R&B. Stick to the right “theme” for the dance and keep a good tempo. Make sure that the music expresses the true art of your dancing. For lyrical, find music in which you can express strong emotions and also show your grace; for drill, find music in which you can keep your moves precise and sharp.

Secondly, find music that everyone likes. Someone that hates the music won’t like performing to it, and that’s gonna show in the performance. Take a vote!

Thirdly, choose the music that best fits what emotion or theme you’re trying to convey. I’ve played piano for over a decade now, and there are the songs that truly move me and then the ones that end up on the floor somewhere. You want the music to move you. It’s usually easier to express sadness than happiness for some reason, but always try to incorporate various emotions. Go into complex emotions. Show the differences in all these emotions: sadness, fear, anger, happiness, excitement, etc.

Also choose music that communicates and moves the audience. Repetitive music is boring and the audience is unengaged. Make everyone feel moved after watching your performance.

Lastly, choose a variety of styles. Of course, some dances are limited in the types of music that they can use, for instance, a lyrical dance usually won’t be performed to rap music. There are still so many types of music that you can use for each dance. I know one problem with drill is that many teams like to use 100% techno music. Sure, techno is great for drill especially because it promotes sharpness and you can hear exactly where the beats are. Go for other types of music. Engage your audience by varying the style every once in awhile.

I know that lots of dance teams are just starting up (if they haven’t already) in September. I wish you good luck and a jolly dance season!

« Previous PageNext Page »