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Dance 365 – Entry #41 “Team Dance Convention

This weekend I was privileged to be a judge at the first Team Dance Convention in Spokane, Washington. A great group of dancer made my job so easy! The staff was so friendly and the amazing judges I met made my experience a pleasure. Judges incluced Stacie Craig, one of the Senior Staff Choreographer and Manager of Choreography & Staging for Disneyland and Brandon Tyler an amazing dancer from New York who has many credits including the national tours of A Chorus Line and Cats. Be part of the Team Dance Conventions and visit them at TeamDance.com.

Team Dance Photo after awards with Judge Stacie Craig, myself and winners from Team Dance Convention 2010!

-Sandra


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DANCE 365 – Entry #40 “Former BlazerDancer Builds Powerhouse Dance Team”
Blog post by Sandra Colton for Dance Spirit Magazine

When talking with dancers, I’ve been known to say, “Make your mark, don’t just stand on it!” Allow me to introduce you to a dancer who made her mark and is staking her claim in the world of dance: Sara Anderson is the coach of the Lincoln High School Dance Team in Portland, OR. The Cardinal ladies under Sara’s direction are the proud champions of the 2010 Oregon State Dance Team Championship. Sara began dancing at age six, danced on the Rex Putnam High School Dance Team and performed as a BlazerDancer for the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers for four years. Committed to the community and her passion for dance, Sara interviewed for the dance team coach position at Lincoln High School, and 13 years later she says, “The rest is history.” History is right. Sara and the Cardinals Dance Team have won eight Oregon State Dance Team titles!

Sara is also the owner of Elite Dance Studio (which has been open for seven years), co-coach of the Junior BlazerDancers for the last six years and coordinates competitive teams outside of the studio along with the Cardinals Dance Team. I sat down with Sara to learn about some of the challenges and positives aspects she finds while coaching the team and how she has time to do it all.

“My biggest personal challenge is juggling my schedule,” she says. “Between my own family with two kids ages 7 and 4, my demands at the studio and the studio competitive teams schedule, as well as coaching the Junior BlazerDancers, and our rehearsal schedule at Lincoln… Whew… Everyday is a busy one! Thank goodness I’m surrounded by wonderful, helpful and supportive people. There are so many positive aspects I love about coaching. The sense of accomplishment and pride I get when I watch the dancers perform. I love watching them grow not only has dancers but as young women. I am still very close with many of the girls that have gone through my program over the years.”

Sara believes that as a coach you have to “lead by example and bring a strong work ethic and dedication for the program. A united team is a successful team,” she says. Sara creates a positive atmosphere for the girls and says, “We take time for team bonding and do fun activities outside of practice, like bowling, movie nights and team dinners. I remind the dancers we are all here for the same reason, with the same goals. I always try to finish every rehearsal on a positive note. Keeping your dancers inspired and motivated is important not only for the teams’ success but for the overall experience the dancers have in your program. Our team is rich with traditions and the dancers love that! Most importantly, help them believe in themselves, their teammates and their dance.”

After winning eight dance team titles (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010), Sara emphasizes that “your dancers will take cues from you about how to respond after a big win or an upsetting loss. We talk about winning and losing gracefully and we talk about respecting what the judges say and the scores we receive. If we are happy with our performance then we graciously accept the outcome. We talk about the will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win.”

With more than 30 dancers on her team, the audition process can be competitive. Sara suggests that dancers “do their research before auditions. It is always good to come into an audition well trained, but some of my best dancers have started their training later in life. It is all about how bad you want something. If I select a dancer who shows raw potential, I will encourage them to get outside training as well as provide them with more guidance during rehearsals. Before auditions I always remind the dancers to show me how much they love to dance when they hit the stage. I say, ‘I can fix your feet, but I cannot fix your attitude…passion comes from inside!’”

The 2010 Oregon State Dance Team Champions are the Lincoln High School Cardinals consisting of members Alaina, Ali, Alyssa, Amanda, Andrea, Ashley, Aubree, Caroline, Casey, Cassidy, Catalina, Clare, Dorie, Emma, Eri, Hannah, Judy, Kayla, Kristy, Lexi, Lyndsey, Mackenzie, Maddie, Maddy, Maggie, Malia, McKenzie F, Mckenzie T, Natalie G, Natalie M, Rachael, Serena and Shaina. (Head Coach Sara Anderson, Assistant Coach Shelly Misevch and Team Manager Phyllis Zeck). Congratulations, ladies!

You can find their performance from the state championship at www.osaa.tv/events/10507 and learn more about the Cardinals at www.teamphotogalleries.com/team-LincolnCardinalDancers. For more on Elite Dance Studio, visit www.EliteDanceStudio.org.

Photos from top to bottom: Sara Anderson by Pat Fox; the 2010 Lincoln High School Dance Team by Phyllis Zeck

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DANCE 365 – Entry #39 “Dance 365 named one of Top 50 Blogs For Dance Students!”

I was just informed by Carol of NursingSchools.net that DANCE 365 has been named one of the Top 50 Blogs For Dance Students! How cool is that! Thank you so much to all who read my blog and please keep your feedback coming. I love to hear what is going on your dance lives and let me know if I can cover any topics that you have questions about.

Click HERE to see the Top 50 Blogs For Dance Students! DANCE 365 is #7…yippeee!

Take care and thank you again to all the readers and to Carol for letting me know about this honor!

Keep dancing and like I always say, “Make your mark, don’t just stand on it!”

-Sandra

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DANCE 35 – Entry #38

“Erase – Replace – New Face: What happens when your agency leaves your agency?”
Blog Post by Sandra Colton for Dance Spirit Magazine

You have worked long and hard to get into an agency and surround yourself with a solid team to represent you and your career interests. You may even have a personal relationship with your agent, invited them into your life and consider them to be part of your extended family. So what do you do when that person is no longer at the agency that represents you?

I’ve been represented by three dance agencies in L.A. (DDO Artists Agency from 2002–2003, MSA from 2005–2008 and Clear Talent Group from 2008–present). Being selected by Bill Bohl at my first big audition for DDO was great. I then went to audition for the NBA’s Los Angeles Laker Girls one week later. Being a Laker Girl took up most of my time the year I was with DDO. So even though I loved the agents and the agency, I didn’t get a full experience with them as I was working constantly for the Lakers. Trust me, I’m not complaining. When I moved back to L.A. in 2005 to compete on “So You Think You Can Dance,” I auditioned and was selected by MSA. Working with agents Lisa Coppola, Terry Lindholm and JC Gutierrez, along with interaction with staff and choreography agents Julie McDonald and Tony Selznick, was an amazing experience. I felt like they were part of my family. In a career shift, I signed with Clear Talent Group to be represented across the board for Commercial, Theatrical and Dance in 2008. Working with Pete Engle and the staff at CTG had a great impact on my vision for my career and my future.

At no time has anyone that I originally signed with left the agency. But in a recent communication, I was told that one of my favorite agents had left the agency and was now working for a different agency. Less than one day ago, I was sent an e-mail from another agent I know who was planning to part ways with their agency as well. In my response, I was glad that they were following their hearts to move on to other areas of entertainment, but I felt so bad for all of those people who would hear the news and ask, “Now, what do I do?”

As a performer, having your agent leave impacts your career either positively or negatively. You may not have the rapport with the remaining agents that you had with the agent who signed you. It may become a relationship building time as your agency looks for a replacement. You may also feel like you are being lost in the shuffle. To this I say, stand strong! Be confident in your talent because agencies will notice who is booking jobs and it is their job to identify your strengths and weaknesses. They are businesses and want to make money too. If you are an asset to them, they will make sure to reach out to you and ease the transition. In some cases many clients have followed their agents to their new place of employment because of the relationship they’ve built over time. In other cases, agents do not pursue positions in the same field.

I caution dancers who have a great thing going at one agency who may want to walk away if and when their favorite agent leaves. Weigh your options with other agencies. If you are the most booked female Asian break-dancer at one agency, you may leave to go to another agency and not be at the top any longer. You may also continue to have the support of the agent for whom you are following, so it is a toss up either way. This situation is very difficult so be careful and always work on all of your relationships with agency staff.

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DANCE 365 – Entry #37 “Dancers Leap To Girl Group Status”
Blog post by Sandra Colton for Dance Spirit Magzine

All-female singing groups are cursed with break-ups and/or seem to have a never-ending interchangeable lineup. Even with reality television shows molding the most recent groups into pop sensations (i.e. Danity Kane from MTV’s “Making The Band” and “The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll”), it seems like the right mix of talent, beauty and marketing still does little to keep girl groups together. The new remedy might just be a singing group whose foundation is deeply rooted in dance. Enter the ladies of Electrik Red, the Darling Stilettos and Nikki 16. These three girl groups are on the rise and have music spearheaded by top industry executives.

Electrik Red is signed to Def Jam and the roster is a who’s who of commercial dancers. I’d like to introduce you to Kyndra “Binkie” Reevey, Naomi Allen, Sarah Rosete and Lesley Lewis. These ladies have graced the stage, appeared in music videos and on tour dancing behind recording artists such as Usher, Chris Brown, Ciara and many more. Bruce Waynne, one half of the Midi Mafia production team raves, “Electrik Red is the freshest thing on the pavement. They are about to dominate the world!”

The Darling Stilettos are working with rock legends Nikki Perri of Shinedown and Matt Sorum of Velvet Revolver. The Darling Stilettos are Ace Harper, Gina Katon, Lindsey Thomas and Allie Cohen. Having performed with the Black Eyed Peas, Carmen Elektra and Shakira, these girls really know how to rock!

The rising sensation that is Nikki 16 showcases Alexandria Kaye, Christina Grady and Rashe Johnson. Having worked with Lady Gaga, Usher and Lil’ Mama, Nikki 16 is rumored to be opening for The Black Eyed Peas on the upcoming The E.N.D. tour.

Now, I may be wrong with my prediction of these dance-based girl groups lasting longer than others, but I am pulling for these dancers turned singers to make a path for other dancers. I’m sending a heaping dose of positive energy to these groups. I’d love to see them all stand center stage with top billing and command box office receipts. Go Girls!

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DANCE 365 – Entry #36 “Dancers Rally”
Blog post by Sandra Colton for Dance Spirit Magazine

Are you ready for some football? Spring unleashes rookies and veterans to rock stadium seats with flashy pom pons and killer kicks for the 2010 NFL cheerleader auditions. If you’re looking to be on a 2010-2011 roster as an NFL cheerleader now’s your chance!

The NFL’s Super Bowl XLIV winning New Orleans Saints will be holding auditions for the Saintsations on April 10 and the world famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will be holding their auditions on May 15, with DCC Prep classes every Friday until the end of April.

I’m always excited to see great in-game entertainment that incorporates high-energy dance routines from standout performers on the field. Usually auditions for NFL teams take place earlier than NBA cheerleader and dance team auditions. So don’t worry, for those looking to audition for the likes of the New York Knicks City Dancers, keep honing your skills as they hold auditions in early June. And of course, my favorite team (as I was on the team from 2002-2003), are the ladies of the Los Angeles Laker Girls, who hold their auditions at the end of July. Get fired up and good luck to all of the dancers out there!

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DANCE 365 – Entry #35 “Gaga on the Phone”
Blog post By Sandra Colton for Dance Spirit Magazine

Some people may argue that the music industry is slowly dying, but it seems music videos are alive and well. But are they well-mannered? You be the judge. Over the years, the commercial dance industry has produced several memorable dance-inspired music videos by notable artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul. The most recent wave of notoriety has been claimed by fan-favorites The Pussycat Dolls, Beyoncé and of late, the queen diva, Lady Gaga. Emphasis on being over-the-top has her latest video with Beyoncé dominating the Internet. The dancers in this video are front and center and have this dancer saying, “Hollywood is redefining the meaning of body-conscious.”

In many auditions, female and male dancers are asked to come dressed in appropriate outfits for the job whether it be a music video, live stage show or television award performance. In the latest music video by Lady Gaga featuring Beyoncé for the song “Telephone” the two artists are seen dancing up a storm in a take on the Thelma and Louise movie-inspired crime spree. I was particularly struck by the dance scene inside the jail where Gaga is joined by dancers scantily clad in studded bra and panty outfits. While these dancers are definitely making the most of their material, I found myself thinking about body consciousness.

Hollywood is a repeat offender on knowingly casting people based on their “look.” This isn’t the first time we’ve seen dancers in small outfits in a music video, and yes, in recent years we’ve witnessed a record number of recording artists do tour after tour in leotards (myself included on the Rihanna tour back in 2007). But I would like to point out that Lady Gaga is at the forefront of the music industry right now and all eyes are on her. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t like this video, (although I believe Beyoncé put herself in a sticky reputation quandary with this music video two-some, a place she’s never been before, even in her own music video for “Video Phone”). I loved that “Telephone” put so many dancers to work, but I do think that with the video showcasing dancers in little to no clothing in this scene puts it on my high-profile rankings of a video that will not positively influence young girls who aspire to live and work in Hollywood down the right path of height-to-weight proportion and an eating well to live well mentality. This was also not the aim of the video and I applaud Lady Gaga and Beyoncé for putting out a product that was creative and definitely jolted the industry to react with a response, be it positive, negative or neutral.

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