Final Project

If any of “yinz” dancers are from the “dahntahn” Pittsburgh area, please check out my class’s new website, “Dahntahn Living.”   Read more at dahntahnliving.pointparkjournalism.com. 

TenduTalk’s Curtain Call…

Hello TenduTalkers!  Sadly, it is time for me to take my TenduTalk curtain call.  Because my multimedia class is ending, this blog will not be updated as regularly as it has been.  I will still try to update you with fun dance videos and stories, but they will not be posted regularly anymore. 

Thank you so much for following me throughout this time.  I hope you enjoyed reading my blog as much as I enjoyed writing it! 

Remember, keep on dancin’!

So You Want to Be a Dance Major?

 

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                     Image from Wikimedia Commons

So you want to be a dance major?  You want to pirouette, arabesque, and battement your way to a college degree?  You want to work on your technique, audition, and rehearse weekly, all while keeping up with rigorous academic courses?

Then you’re in luck, because I’ve been in your LaDucas, and I can give some advice on how to successfully navigate your time as a dance major!  I also talked to three of my fellow dance majors, sophomore Brittany D, senior Kathryn Y, and sophomore Casey B, who give their own advice on how to thrive in your first year. 

Continue reading

“Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner!”

I’ve had the time of my life, and I owe it all to you…

What do you picture when you hear those words?  A pair of charming ballroom dancers? A flowing white dress?  A dashing ballroom instructor? 

That’s certainly what I picture, because those words are part of the song that accompanies the iconic finale scene of Dirty Dancing, the beloved 1980’s dance classic.  And if you haven’t seen that finale scene yet, please, watch it here before you read on:

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story, Dirty Dancing follows Francis “Baby” Houseman (Jennifer Grey), an awkward teenager who is taking a vacation to Kellerman’s campgrounds with her family. The summer starts out as a total bore, until Baby meets mysterious dance instructor Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze), and instantly falls for him. When Johnny’s dance partner Penny (Cynthia Rhodes) faces a crisis that will prevent her from dancing in the annual ballroom performance, Baby steps in to save the day. Throughout the ups and downs of dance rehearsals, Johnny and Baby start a budding romance that challenges the class system at Kellerman’s.       

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             Stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, from Wikimedia Commons

 

One of the best things about this movie has to be the awesome soundtrack. It features such 60’s classics as “Be my Baby” by The Ronettes , “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by Frankie Valli, and “Do You Love Me” by The Contours. And of course, the movie wouldn’t be complete without the previously mentioned finale dance to the song “I’ve Had the Time of my Life” by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes.

That finale dance is just one of the awesome routines choreographed by Kenny Ortega (who also directed and choreographed all three High School Musical movies. Yay!) The dance scenes that feature Johnny and Penny are some of the most exciting parts of the whole movie for me. They are both so incredible.   From the mambo at the opening dance to their “improvisation” at the secret staff party, both Swayze and Rhodes are obviously highly trained.

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Kenny Ortega from Wikimedia Commons

 

One of the things I love about the choreography in this movie is that it’s simultaneously current and incredibly influenced by the 1980’s dance styles. The dances still look great today, but the constant hair flips and back-arching are a nod to the styles of a distant decade. (And seriously, how do those girls all have such bendy backs? They practically seem to bend in half in some of the dance scenes.)

Of course, the dances between Baby and Johnny are the most beloved of the movie. What Jennifer Grey lacks in technique, she certainly makes up in heart and stage presence.  The final mambo scene is still one of my favorite movie dance scenes.

Overall, Dirty Dancing is an incredibly fun romp back in time. 

 

Fancy Feet- Why Should You Tap Dance?

Here at TenduTalk, it’s no secret that I love tap dancing!  I’m always posting videos by awesome tappers like the Syncopated Ladies.

I recently spoke with three college dance majors, Shannon L., Annie G., and Bianca K., about their love of tap dance.  Listen up to learn how this musical style can help you in your next audition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out TenduTalk on Facebook and Twitter!

Who Made That? Music Video Choreographers You Should Know!

I know as a dancer, whenever I see a cool music video, my first thought is, “Who did the choreography?” Here are five popular, dance-filled music videos, and the choreographers that made the iconic moves. 

1.  Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) by Beyonce

Choreographer: JaQuel Knight

Before being hired for the Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) video, JaQuel Knight was a virtually unknown professional dancer.  But when Beyonce’s choreographer, Frank Gaston, Jr., spotted him at an audition for singer Michelle Williams, he liked his movement quality so much that he hired him to choreograph a small part of the video.

Knight made a good impression, because later, he was hired again- this time for the Beyonce video for “Single Ladies: Put a Ring on It.”  Several hip pops, head nods and hand twists later, history was made, and the “Single Ladies” dance became an international sensation.

Since then, JaQuel Knight has choreographed for Britney Spears’s “Circus” tour, Beyonce’s “Diva” video, Ke$ha’s video for “Die Young,” as well as the movie Burlesque.

2. Thriller by Michael Jackson

Choreographer: Michael Peters

Before the “Thriller” video, choreographer Michael Peters was already active in the concert dance and musical theater scene.  In 1982, he and choreographer Michael Bennett won a Tony award for the original production of “Dreamgirls” on Broadway.  He also directed the musical “Leader of the Pack” in 1985, and provided choreography for the movie “Sister Act II: Back in the Habit.”

Peters tragically passed away in 1994.

3.  Vogue by Madonna

Choreographer: Karole Armitage

This iconic video of the pop diva was choreographed by Karole Armitage, also known as “The Punk Ballerina.”  A choreographer who started out in the concert dance world, she performed in Ballet du Grand Theatre du Geneve, a Balanchine company, as well as in Merce Cunningham’s modern dance company.  Since 2004, she has been operating her own dance company in New York City, called Armitage Gone! Dance.

Armitage also recently choreographed Passing Strange and Hair on Broadway, and was the choreographer of the 2012 Cirque du Soleil tent show Amaluna.

4. Bye Bye Bye by N’Sync

Choreographer: Darrin Henson

Who doesn’t know the signature hand move from “Bye Bye Bye?”  Love it or hate it, the choreography in this video is still attempted at parties today.

The choreographer behind this video was Darrin Henson, a popular choreographer for many early 2000’s artists.  You can also see his choreography in Britney Spears’ Crazy video and Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle.”

In the early 2000’s, he released “Darrin’s Dance Grooves,” a dance fitness DVD where you can learn the moves from your favorite music videos, including “Bye Bye Bye.”  Of course, those of us who didn’t purchase the DVD certainly tried to learn the moves on our own!

Henson also works as an actor and has appeared in several TV shows.

5. Oops…I did it Again! by Britney Spears

Choreographer: Wade Robson

This video from Spears’s second album was choreographed by none other than Wade Robson, a popular choreographer for several major recording artists.

Robson’s choreography career started at age 16, when he contributed movement to Britney Spears’ 1999 World Tour.  Later, he managed Spears’s world tour and choreographed her video for “I’m a Slave 4 U.”   He also choreographed N’Sync’s Pop video as well as their subsequent “Pop Odyssey” tour.

More recently, Robson’s choreography has been featured on the hit TV show So You Think You Can Dance.  He also directed the film Happy Feet 2.

6. Bad Romance by Lady Gaga

Choreographer: LaurieAnn Gibson

Who else remembers clawing the air while trying to dance to Bad Romance at a school dance?  That move, and the others in this video, came from the mind of choreographer LaurieAnn Gibson.  Gibson was Lady Gaga’s main choreographer until 2011, when the pair split over creative differences.

In addition to choreographing numerous music videos for Gaga, including “The Edge of Glory,” “Telephone,” and “Poker Face,” Gibson was featured as a choreographer for Danity Kane on MTV’s “Making the Band.”  She also choreographed Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” music video, and the Jessica Alba film “Honey.”

Recently, she had her own TV show called “The Dance Scene,” on the E! Network, which went behind-the-scenes as she choreographed.

She is also a frequent teacher with The Pulse on Tour, a convention for young dancers founded by contemporary dance star Mia Michaels.

 

What is your favorite dance music video of all time?  Let me know in the comments below, or check out TenduTalk on Facebook and Twitter!

 

Sources:

JaQuel Knight:

http://mcdonaldselznick.com/jaquelknight/

http://www.dancespirit.com/2009/09/jaquel_knight/

http://www.broadwaydancecenter.com/faculty/bios/knight_jaquel.shtml

Michael Peters:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0676592/

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/09/01/obituaries/michael-peters-a-choreographer-of-dreamgirls-is-dead-at-46.html

Karole Armitage:

http://www.armitagegonedance.org/karole-armitage/biography

Darrin Henson:

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0378200/

Wade Robson:

http://www.broadwaydancecenter.com/faculty/bios/robson_wade.shtml

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0733499/bio6

LaurieAnn Gibson:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/arts/dance/laurieann-gibson-the-dance-scene-e.html?_r=0

https://www.facebook.com/boomkack?rf=145951558796251

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Laurie-Ann-Gibson/111534905613751

Everybody cut Footloose!

Let’s hear it for Kevin Bacon!

In honor of Footloose the movie’s 30th anniversary, the popular actor performed this hilarious montage on last night’s episode of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. Watch as he channels his inner Ren McCormack and cuts loose on the show!