Thursday, 18 May 2017

Are you stressed, tired, over worked, have the feeling lots of things...



Are you stressed, tired, over worked, have the feeling lots of things are going strange or wrong and people are taking what they can get when you don't have the energy to be strong?
A little while ago i came by accident on a way to deal with my stress. I am someone who gives a 110% in all things that i do and if i feel its not going as well as it should i can easily feel bad about it. This is definitely the case with people who you try to help and for whatever reason the situation turns around on you. From you helping to getting a back lash that can happen for any number of reasons.

Rather than feel bad about the situations and wollow in self pity or the loss of empowermeant you can do something about it. A small tuning in exercise that enables you to get clear, get active and help yourself into a positive state.

Take a deep breath and write the most comprehensive list of all the things you are feeling, what is stressing you out or making you tired and practical things you feel bad about in some way for whatever reason.

Once you have made the list recognize points that are:
1. Feelings to explore but not be ruled by.
2. Practical things that can be sorted out with planning. Make a plan to get them done with a lot extra time than you actually need.
3. Urgent things that you can sort out quickly and will almost instantly give a feeling of relief.

This is one of the most self empowering things i have done for myself in a long time. I keep forgetting that this works for me so i thought by sharing i might remember better myself.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Brexit...politicians games and seeming positive move by european union for change.

Just arrived back to the netherlands after lovely few days away teaching in Southampton. These people know how to laugh, i enjoyed very much thank you

i just read all the newspapers i could find on Brexit. now for online thins. time to get i properly informed about the craziness. but i am suddenly reminded why i get the feeling to put my head in the sand when i read the slanted political spins politicians, newspapers and individuals put on this situation.... AND how irrevocably futile it is to be out for ones own gain when there are such high stakes. We are not talking about a prime minister that will move in 4 years if voters decide. its truuly a situation that is life changing and built on such fine margins. i relate that comment to the referendum, voting turnout and fine % win which is what these politicians are basing their brexit cause on. seriously? Now they are taking it out of the house of lords for doing their job and adding a checking mechanism to parliament and the government. So their not elected but they exist and have a legitimate capacity within uk law. Its like get rid of them or work with them, not dispute their credabiltiy when it suits you.

i read a couple of sideline articles talking about the ideas and shifts towards a new europe. this seems like the positive side of brexit. its getting people to question. i am totally pro europe and the uk being part of it for its own good. But i do question the dated nature of the setup, amont of red tape involved and the fact that as important as it is the european union needs to update.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Cat door knocking service... Best business idea ever!

I am walking home, gathering ideas about the ideal image of my business in a few years to come. A question I never ask myself with true conviction as I always get ploughed away by whats practical. Scaling down my ideas before I am even started.

So thinking big and out of the box, I am walking through a neighborhood close to one of my studios. It's cold and wet with winds that blow through your clothing leaving you cold to the bone. A lovely little bundle of joy catches my attention, with a not so joyful expression on its face. It runs up to me and then to the door of its home. Sudden clarity comes with my imagination more like leaping out of the box at this point, sprinting into woods and swimming an ocean. Best business idea ever... a cat door knocking service.

To remind cats pets (their owners) that they indeed need to be let inside to the cozy warmth of their territorial home. A door knocking service where some human prawls through neighborhoods on the search for cats in distress. In one moment came the idea and the next second i was laughing openly in the street. But seriously a cat door opening service, genius!

Many individuals are either creative in business or practical. Taking this as their base of operations that defines the way they plan, step into the world and deliver. Learning to balance these forces is key to successful business, indeed successful anything. Creativity is amazing but usually needs to be grounded in the here, possible and now. Be given legs to stand on in order to materialize. Practicality can often close down the mind for possibility. But hand in hand, they can lead us to projects and business plans that are both innovative and grounded in logic.

Coming back to the cat door knocking service. Its one of those ideas that sounds unique but when you analyse it you soon realise its a no go. Ok i have taken an extreme business idea but its some how so apt. SO visualise the situation for a moment cat outside door who is in need of being let in. The cat is the customer is this case with a need that can be fulfilled with a product or service thats not presently being offered. This is a situation where a business could come in. SO clearly we should set up a door knocking service right? But did you ask yourself (again ludicrous situation):
  • Can the cat afford such a service, is the as secondary client interested to pay? Your business can't thrive on cat cuddles however nice these are. Cats will love you one moment and leave you the next (talking as a cat lover). With the best of intentions customers can be the same so make sure a) you have the possibility of being paid in means that are healthy for your business and b) that you create a fair transaction where like quality of service is given for like quality of payment for said service. Valueing yourself, your product or service is vital. Checking that you can indeed make the necessary income to run a healthy business.
  • If the service was to become a reality and a door was opened for said cat, what do you think their response would be. Obvious one would be to run into the house. But what if the cat is scared by the door knocker or not that bothered about getting in even though its cute fluffiness looks distraught right at this moment in time. Quality of the customer or client is really important.
  • All is not as it seems at face value, did you stop to think if the cat had a specific reason for being outside? Maybe its only one cat in a million, then the need is big in this one case but there aren't many clients out there who will seriously need a cat door knocking service. Market research and questioning about the number of available clients, location and reason for the need.
Taking a little time in the beginning can save a lot of time and money later on. Not being scared to think big, bringing creativity and practicality to heel. Its always possible to down size an idea. The big ideas give information about your goals and desires as a business starter and maker that are truly insightful. Planning a strategy for success not only is useful for new businesses but helps to focus the writer on the core goals, clients and finance aspects of a business. Giving a clearer vision of the businesses identity for promotion, who the business is for and how it addresses the need of this target group. After careful analysis of about 30 minutes and a lot of laughing (reason it took so long) i decided that i won't be opening a cat door knocking service.





Tuesday, 21 February 2017

6 ways to boost improvisation while using choreography

Depending on the type of dance you do you will find there is always some contention between the ideas of improvising and set choreography. Often the dances emphasizing social dance and freedom associate a street cred with being able to improvise cool moves on the spot. Tango is just such a dance. But over the last few years a new trend word formed that started to make long figures a taboe. Improvisation has been the kid on the block with a seemingly huge chasm between what people percieve as improvisation and what they actually want for their dance.

For the sake of what is written here improvisation is understood to be 'the art or act of improvising, or of composing, uttering, executing, or arranging anything without previous preparation.' (from oxford dictionary). SO when taking the above quote it implies creativity in coming up with something without previous preparation. This would imply that only someone born dancing tango could improvise. For all the people who had to learn dance at some point, it makes sense that we have in many ways prepared to go out social dancing. Often with the use of repetition of patterns however long or short. Improvisation  is an extreme, as is choreography. Both are tools if used correctly further your dance.

The same dictionaries take on choreography is:

'1. the art of composing ballets and other dances and planning and arranging the movements, steps, and patterns of dancers.
2. the technique of representing the various movements in dancing by a system of notation.
3. the arrangement or manipulation of actions leading up to an event'
Its also interesting to look at the definition of choreography. Coupled with some improvisation exercises, this choreography definition seems to describe the advice i would give to anyone wanting to learn a dance. The first point defines the type of dance, in tango we have sacadas, giros and forward ochos that are mini choreographies combined with improvising for social dancing. If a tango dancer starts locking or breaking is becomes another dance form. These small arrangements of steps help us to build body memory and good combinations of tango ingredients is often where the improvisation lies. While notation is not necessary in Argentine tango it is useful to have a systemised approach to the technique. Keeping in mind how this fits together with the bodies 'natural movement' ability and equilibrium in movement.

With all this i find a single message pertinent. Its the reality that no exercise is perfect and no term like improvisation will make you a perfect dancer. Instead its about remembering that most exercises are good for achieving a specific aim and aren't able to be universally performance enhancing. This is the case with terminology like choroegraphy and iprovisation. They are each tools to be used for the greater good of the dancer. Each individual will need more of one than the other, good and bad doesn't come into it.

1. Musicality building, Make a list of: 3 vocabulary items you would like to improve AND 3 orchestras or pick a music type e.g. waltz, milonga, tango (the more different the easier this is)
Once you have these things listed, go to your three pieces of music. Firstly listen and define what each individual piece means to you as a dancer and secondly how they are different from each other. Next create a short figure including your 3 pieces of vocabulary. The less extra steps and the more close connected your three vocabulary pieces are the easier this next step will be. Take your mini choroegraphy and dance to the first piece of music, express all the things you picked out in the previous steps. Do this for the second and third pieces of music. Once you are done you can change the order of your vocabulary in the figure making a new mini choreography. You can repeat the process again and again with new variations and totally new vocabulary.

2. Mapping exercise - Visualise a line going across the floor from one side of the room to the other. Choose a set of rules that define how you move along this line. The more rules and some combinations are harder than others so mix them up but be aware fo this. Possible rules include
  • The follower always has to step on the line. The leader always has to step on the line. Neither the follower or leader may step on the line but this must remain between the two of them.
  • Follower can only do forward steps, or forward and backwards steps or any mix of forward, back and side steps. This can be applie to leader and the couple as seperate rules.
  • Follower must do 3 free leg movements for every step she takes along the line. 3 free leg movements can be exchanged for shifts of weight or  volcadas, colgadas. Leaders can also take on the use of the rule.
  • Every second vocabulary step must be one of the following: sacada, barrida, giro, gancho, boleo, etc.
  • Laastly you can change the shape on the floor from a line to the line of dance for social dancing or crazy shapes for performances and fun.
3. Copy your leader - When out at a social dance leaders can dance directly behind another leader they admire and for one dance try to emulate the steps and style this leader dances with. 

4. Followers musicality - A musical follower is a beautiful thing, without her its very hard for a couple to be musical and without awareness of this its very easy to blame the leader for not dancing on the music. As a follower if we rely on our leader to give us the music we become passive in the dance and in our movements. Instead the exercise is to actively listen to the music and connect this to what your partner brings to the dance. So take a moment alone, list 10 pieces of traditional tango music by different orchestras. Search out the differences between these 8 pieces, how do you feel? what sort of steps would you imagine doing? Is there a strong rhythm/melody/patterns/singing? Just this simple exercise will open your ears for the next time you are dancing.

5. Musical choreography - music is made up in patterns. A simple one is the introduction, main body of the music, variation (often with violins or speeding up) and an ending. Recognizing the structure of the music can help to improvise. When you know when an ending is coming because you picked out the variation, you can find the last note with a great step. Another pattern comes in the phrasing or rhythms.


6. Repetition is the key - Create a small figure that is something you would like in your dance. perfect the technique and feel of the step. Once you have this (might involve help from a teacher), repeat the movement over and over again until you have it in your brains memory. Then add a second combination and do the same. Repeating over and over again. Slow build up a repertoire of repeat short choreographies and list them with names for reference. Each time you go to practice, go through the list repeating all your memorized figures until the flow easily. If you still have time left add NEW ones to the list. You will soon find that these short sequences come out into your social dancing, often with variations which is ideal for improvising.

Patterns are key to building body memory and perfecting movements for dance. Improvising on the learned patterns to bring more life and expression into the movements is magical, but without preparation this will only feel a mess. Instead see improvisation along with choreography as tools for helping you achieve your objectives. We shoudln't be ruled by a term that will go out of fashion in a few years.