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Bollywood Unraveled

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

I recently asked Bollywood Dance instructor Prakash Mohandas to write about Bollywood. Hope you enjoy what he has to say…

 

I am going to start this blog with the same question I ask in my classes, what do you know about Bollywood Dance?

The most common answers include Slumdog Millionaire, So You Think You Can Dance and a gesture of a light bulb being turned with one hand while squashing a bug with one foot.

My response to their comments, in this order, is always, “Wrong,”  “Well, kinda” and “Are you serious?”

While the majority of people aren’t really sure how to define Bollywood, occasionally I come across the true Bollywood fan. This person names all the movies he or she has seen, to the amazement of the rest of the class.

At this point an explanation is required as to why we’re talking about movies in a dance class. Bollywood is the name given to the Hindi film industry in India which primarily operates out of a city called Bombay (now Mumbai). So with Bombay being the self-proclaimed Hollywood of India, the term Bollywood was coined! Isn’t it ingenious?

So what exactly is Bollywood Dance and where did it come from?

Bollywood dance is, in essence, Indian film dance centered around music from Hindi movies. Bollywood dance is defined more by the music than by the dance style itself.

Bollywood dance is a genre that draws inspiration from various dance styles such as Bhangra, Folk dance, Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary and more. The choreography of a Bollywood song and the steps that go into it are governed by the music it’s set to and how these dance styles can effectively be used to communicate the music. The advantage of this diverse dance form is that it gives the freedom for the choreography of Bollywood song to range from slow to upbeat and classical to contemporary. This is what makes it fun! In fact, there is one thing that is common to any kind of Bollywood number—energy!

So now that you really know what Bollywood dance is all about come check out the Bollywood choreography and Bollywood fitness classes on Monday and Thursdays.

Do you hear Bollywood calling?

The Hidden Top Secret Workout for Kids!

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Shhh…only read if you won’t tell your kids…

I’m on a mission to get kids moving, active and staying as fit as possible throughout life. I know I am not single handedly going to accomplish this goal. I know there are initiatives all over the country honing in on this same effort.  I also know that childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years, and that children and adolescents who are overweight and inactive are likely to be overweight and inactive as adults.

And one more thing I know; when people of any age find something fun to get them moving, they stay moving. I’ve blogged about that before, but it’s true for kids as well. A recent study from University of Leeds in England shows that for inactive teenagers, emphasizing the emotional, feel-good benefits of exercise is a more effective way to encourage exercise than highlighting traditional health benefits. We all know the health benefits of exercise and that’s not always enough motivation for us or our children.

And that brings me to dance. Kids love it! Whether it’s jazz, tap, Bollywood, or hip hop, kids hear the music and their bodies start to move. This week I walked by the Disney Kids workshop and had to smile at the room full of girls dancing to their Disney favorites. I watched children and their parents moving to a Bollywood beat in Kids Dance Around the World. Three things in common; everyone was moving to great music, everyone was smiling and having fun, and everyone was getting a 45-60 minute workout without even knowing it.

Muscles moving, heart rate up; dance is an excellent all-round way to get a workout, get fit and remain healthy. Dance builds stamina, flexibility, strength and co-ordination. It helps children develop good posture. Dance uses both sides of the brain: one half for technique and control and the other for creativity and artistry. It increases brain productivity and attention span.

As if we need more reasons to get kids dancing; I see the fun they are having and know that the feel-good factor and fun will create a positive attitude towards staying active. Some day I hope I can say, “mission accomplished”.

So there you have it; dance is good for you and your kids. But help me keep it a secret! If your children think it’s good for them…well, do they eat their vegetables?

 

Looking for opportunities for you and your children to get active and have fun through dance? We have an answer for that! Come dance!

Dancing on the big stage!

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Everyone has a story. I don’t ever want to assume that the people around me have nothing of interest to share. So I stop, ask questions, listen. I love it! People are fascinating! I am surrounded by people at Ballet Austin who could regale me for hours with their stories. Inside every one of our dancers, staff, and incredible instructors is a wealth of life experience. Today I share just one.

Vincent Sandoval teaches theatre dance, tap, and Musical Theatre workshops at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School. We sat down the other day to talk about his upcoming holiday workshop Santa’s Gonna Rock and RollNot having been a performer myself, I am intrigued by the stories of those who are.

Vincent began to paint a picture of life in New York; life on Broadway and beyond. It was a journey. Vincent shared; I listened.


When I first arrived in New York I was performing in midtown at a cabaret. It was only 2 doors down from Phantom of the Opera. I was close, just not close enough. Eventually I found my way to Radio City Music Hall,
the world’s largest indoor theater, home of the Rockettes and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I performed with the Rocketts for 6 years and was then asked to be Assistant Director and Choreographer to put up the LA company. That was the year we were asked to be in the Jay Leno Show. Jay Leno! Fun memories!

My biggest highlight while performing with the Rocketts was when I was asked to be a featured dancer in the show. For a time I was the only guy on that big stage with those 38 girls and their legs. Just me; pretty awesome. The Rockettes stood posed behind me in the background; I danced. To dance on that huge stage by myself was a thrill.

Beyond the Rocketts I had the opportunity to do many wonderful shows. My favorite was CRAZY FOR YOU because I got to go on the European tour to Switzerland, Germany, and France. The sights, the people, the food.  I loved the food! Of course, there were a few times when we just craved some good ‘ole home cooking. I remember the time we toured to Japan. I grew tired of rice and soup. Being from Texas, I was missing some red meat and so I went looking for a cow. Thank goodness for Outback Restaurants in Japan! 

The other reason I love CRAZY FOR YOU is that it was a tap show, and tap is my favorite!

I remember how much I loved tap right from the start. As a kid I had to tag along to the dance studio with my sister.  It was my only way to eventually get home if I wanted a ride. My sister was the dance student. I was not. Tap was my sister’s last class of the day. I did my homework (or was supposed to) while waiting in the lobby. But the rhythm of the feet caught my attention so I would start tapping in the lobby.  One day the tap teacher told my mom, “You might want to enroll Vincent into a tap class. He’s actually better than most of the other kids.” To this day my sister still gives me notes when I dance.

So many wonderful experiences and incredible memories. I still perform at times, but through teaching dance I am able to tell my stories, share the experiences and memories, and keep the shows and performers of Broadway alive!

Join Vincent beginning November 29 for the Holiday Musical Theatre Workshop. Learn some of the Rockette’s Christmas Spectacular. Can’t make that workshop? Dance the 80′s in January! Or drop in to a tap or Theatre Dance class. Learn to dance while listening to the stories of Broadway and beyond.

A Letter from a Workout Dropout

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

I received this letter last week from a Butler Community School client. She asked to remain anonymous but agreed her letter could be shared. Check out what she has to say:

Dear Vicki,

I am a workout dropout. I have started a new exercise regimen at least 50 times in my life. I am only 31. You do the math. My question for you is this, “where does motivation come from and how do you keep it?”

I stood outside Ballet Austin a few months ago and watched an exercise class going on through the large window to the downtown world on 3rd St.  The people inside looked like ordinary people; both men and women of various ages and sizes. I was intrigued. I decided to be brave and venture inside to check it out. I learned it was a Ballet Fit class. I heard the music of the Beetles and Adele playing, and the encouraging words of the instructor. People who looked like me working out at a ballet barre, great music, smiles, even laughter. I could do that! I had been looking (once again) for a workout that I would stick with. I know exercise is beneficial and that I should do it, but with all the activities that fill my daily life – work, family, and hanging out with friends – there is little time left for exercise. (At least that is my excuse) Honestly, I guess I choose to go home and chill rather than work out. I don’t always make it a priority.

But I made the commitment to take a Ballet Fit class and loved it. I couldn’t walk the next day; could hardly get out of bed to be honest. The funny thing is that the body ache is actually what made me want to go back. I bought the $99 Introductory 1 month of unlimited classes. Because I paid for it I went as often as I could during that month; you know, get the most for my money. Then the month ended. In my head I knew that I just had to purchase more classes to continue, but I didn’t.  I loved the class and how my body felt. I thought about continuing, but I did not.  I was annoyed with myself, because once again I became a workout dropout. What can I do to get my motivation back and keep it?

Thanks,

A Frustrated Workout Dropout

 

Dear Workout Dropout

You are not alone in your frustration. And while most people feel great after working out, and know the facts about why they should exercise, it is often not enough to motivate most individuals to keep it up. In fact, research shows that 50% of people who start an exercise program will drop out within the first 6 months.

Motivation is a funny thing. I am not sure where it comes from. Does motivation come from within a person or from external influences? Probably a combination of both. I actually don’t think your problem lies in the area of motivation. The very fact that you have re-started your exercise regimen over 50 times means you have a pretty good dose of motivation. Good for you! You could have given up, but you started again. Here’s what I think. Stop thinking of it as 50 times you have dropped out or quit. Turn that around. Shift your thinking from couch potato dropout mentality to fitness savvy mentality. Think about all the new ways and places you have discovered to work out and the people you have met along the way. By nature, humans need change, variety, and a sense of enjoyment or fun to stay motivated. The reality is that very few people find one way to work out and stick with it the rest of their life. It’s sort of like food. When I discover a new food that I love, I am hooked. I will eat that food every day if it’s available. But eventually I am stuck in a food rut. The orignal love has worn off. I need a change. Nothing wrong with that. I am on to the next favorite food.

Change your perspective and think about all the possibilities there are for you to pursue when it comes to working out. Maybe you haven’t even scratched the surface.

So ask yourself, “what’s next?” Listen to your inner voice when choosing the workout that suits you. If a hip hop class satisfies a passion for dance and you get a workout, then dance! If hiking fulfills your love for the outdoors, then hike! If it’s the music and encouragement of a Ballet Fit class that keeps you going, then head to the barre.

What will your next workout be?

Let me know

Vicki

Buddy Up!

Friday, October 12th, 2012

As a couple of old sayings go, “time passes much more quickly when you’re having fun” and “there’s strength in numbers.”

Right off the bat some of you might argue that there is nothing fun about a workout. I counter that thought with the fact (yes, there is research to back it up) that friends who exercise together get better results together.

So if you are one of those who considers exercise the “necessary of two evils” (better than being dead), and the fun of Bollywood or Zumba® isn’t enough to get you off the couch, buddy up!

A study of 3,000 women revealed 61% find it near impossible to find enough motivation and energy to exercise alone. However the same proportion enjoy working out with a friend, and say they actually push themselves harder if they have company.

Having a friend who is interested in keeping fit and toned can help keep motivation high. Workouts becomes less about the sweat, or how many calories you burn, and more about catching up on the latest news, and sharing time together. Social support encourages physical activity, provides feedback, and makes the exercise time more fun. I think that’s why the fitness apps are so popular today. They challenge us, motivate us, encourage us, make our workouts more interesting, and give us the feedback we need to keep going. I just wish I had an app that kept me from reaching for the white chocolate chip cookie!

So buddy up! Grab your friend and get started this week. It’s $5 Friend Week at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School! Bring a friend to any BCS Drop-in class between October 15 and October 21 and both you and your friend can take that class for only $5!

What are you waiting for? Over 60 classes are offered 7 days a week! Buddy up and experience the positive side of peer pressure!

See you in a class with your friend this week!

Calling All Zombies!

Saturday, October 6th, 2012

One hour of total Thriller! Join the Zombies of Austin on the scariest night of the year and dance it out in this ever popular graveyard dance.

Ahhh…the 80′s…

I remember the birth of MTV in 1981. Music videos have come a long way, but over three decades later Michael Jackson’s Thriller just doesn’t go away.  In fact, it remains the bestselling album of all time, with 72 million in worldwide sales. Wow! And then there’s Thrill The World, an annual worldwide attempt to break the Largest Simultaneous Dance with Michael Jackson’s Thriller. And I just found out that the Library of Congress added Thriller to its National Film Registry in 2009, the first music video in their registry. And did you know that the video won for Best Performance Video, Best Choreography, and Viewers Choice at the first MTV Video Music Awards in 1984.

How’s that for a little trivia? Needless to say, Thriller remains a popular favorite. What could be better than combining Michael Jackson, dance, and zombies for Halloween

Halloween just wouldn’t be Halloween without this ghoulish anthem.

If you’re a Michael Jackson fan, love Thriller, love to dance, or want to be a part of this “mob” of zombies, STOP! Take note! Save the dates!

Videodance™ instructor Kody Jauron is always game for some crazy fun, and that’s just what you can expect from October 16-31. Are you in?
  • Thriller choreography will be taught prior to Halloween at Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School during Videodance™ classes October 16 – 30. Videodance™ is held every Tuesday & Thursday night from 7:30-8:30pm.
  • If you attend any or all of the Videodance™ classes October 16 – 30 you will be invited to participate in a surprise (and secret) Ballet Austin BCS flash mob on Saturday night, October 27. Email me if you’re interested! vicki.parsons@balletaustin.org
  • Halloween Thriller Dance Party! Just want to dance it with a bunch of zombies? Head over to Ballet Austin for a special Thriller hour of dance. Halloween night, October 31 from 8:30pm to 9:30pm. Just maybe you can take it to the streets at the end of the hour! Wear your Halloween costume to the class on the 31st and get $12 off the regular $17 single class rate. Just $5 for an hour of Zombie fun!
You may be a fan of The Walking Dead…but are you a fan of The Dancing Dead? The zombies are waiting…

Ballet Austin is on the corner of 3rd and San Antonio. Will we see you there?

Dance Today, Smile Today

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Recently I have been asking people a question as they leave our BCS dance classes, “Why do you dance?”

I get the many expected responses, “Dancing is an excellent form of exercise. It burns calories and tones my muscles.” “I love the music and the movement.” “I have danced for years.” “I have always wanted to learn.” But today I had someone pause after I asked the question. She looked up, looked around, and then turned a happy face back to me and said, “I dance today, I smile today.”

I am not sure if it was her words or the infectious grin that gave me a warm feeling inside. I too smiled. It made me happy just to hear her response…“I dance today, I smile today.” I wondered; if she didn’t dance today would she not be smiling? Would she be smiling regardless of the activity? Somehow I didn’t think so.

I started to wonder why dance can create such an overall sense of happiness. I know that exercise involves movement and that all exercise releases endorphins. But I also know that when I finish a 5 mile run, while I might feel good about my accomplishment and experience a relief from the stressors in my life, the run itself doesn’t cause me to light up my world with a smile. No, it’s more than just the physical activity. Is it the music? Well, I know that as soon as I hear music playing it’s not long before my foot starts tapping. Turn music on in a room full of children and they naturally start to move. Yes, music is also known to stimulate pleasure. But music can ignite other emotions as well. I wonder if the blending of the two, movement and music together could be the key. There is extensive research that gives evidence that both music and dance make us happy. Our brains are stimulated and we are overcome with a sense of well-being.

Today, however, I prefer to set aside the scientific data and lean on how I feel. When I watch movies such as Happy Feet and Madagascar, I feel good. I catch myself smiling. When I watch children dancing to music it makes me happy. Today I caught myself smiling as I looked into the faces of the people leaving a dance class, most with a big grin; some even laughing out loud. Hmm…if being an onlooker can bring me such happiness, imagine the heart of the dancer!

You too could dance today and smile today.

Ballet Austin’s Butler Community School offers dance & fitness classes for adults 7 days a week. Come smile with us! All ability levels welcome.

Standing in My Capezio Tap Shoes

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

The best stories come from real people who take classes at the Butler Community School. I recently heard from Rebecca Persons who has enjoyed tap classes at the BCS. Rebecca graduated from UT Austin with a degree in journalism in 2009 and has been dancing for 14 years.

Standing in my Capezio tap shoes, worn with age and stress from years of dancing, my gaze follows a man dressed in knee-high socks and a fedora hat as he enters the dance room. His feet move rhythmically as bee bops and doo-wops emit from his mouth in euphony with his fast-moving feet. You won’t have had to take a tap class from Ballet Austin to know that this is the Rhythm/Swing Tap instructor.

Tony Merriwether instantly reminds me of swing dancers I’ve seen in the past. But this is different. He marries basic tap techniques with The Charleston, Lindy Hop, and many other great swing variations. And to my delight, he’s just put on “Pickin’ the Cabbage,” by Dizzy Gillespie on the sound system.

I don’t usually consider tap a workout, but Merriwether brings energy and technique to the class that gets us all sweating and nostalgic for some of our favorite jazz trumpeters. I feel my shins begin to burn as we do various footwork exercises and my Achilles tendon tightens from moving my feet in ways they aren’t use to.  And the choreography is great. You can’t help but leave the class feeling like Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers.

Swing Tap is now my most loved class I’ve taken at Ballet Austin, as well as one of my favorite types of dance. Broadway Show Tap is also on the BCS schedule this fall, taught by Broadway veteran Vincent Sandoval. I recommend tap dancers at any level to try out these classes. Whether you’re like me and can’t help but click your feet all day, or someone who’s always wanted to try it out, shuffle down to Ballet Austin and try a Rhythm/Swing or Broadway Show Tap Class. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Get started any time at the BCS. Check out the variety of dance classes offered each week. Tap not your thing? Ballet, Jazz, West African, Bollywood, Zumba®, and much more to get you moving and having fun!

 
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