2012/05/02

Advanced Dancing 05


Advanced Dancing 05

Kat Feldragonne is a relatively new dancer who has progressed rapidly in her dancing skills. I asked her to share what she has learned as she has become an advanced dancer. Here is what she sent ...

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During a conversation about other things, Nottoo asked if I would be interested in writing an article for the DQ blog. I was a little hesitant, because I do not consider myself an 'advanced' dancer. However, I am not a 'novice' dancer either. I am a dancer who knows enough to know that I don't know enough. J

I have been dancing in SL pretty much since I discovered SL in 2009. I was fortunate to have someone to show me the ropes, so my first day in SL, I knew all about not looking like a 'noob.' I had a good shape, skin, AO, clothes, hair, and I was ready to explore. The first place I went was a club - and after 15 minutes of watching other people dance, I was completely hooked. I wanted to dance like that! So, I went off and learned as much as I could - I went to different clubs and watched others, learning the names of the dances in the dance balls that I liked. I learned about chims and that I needed one. I bought a chim (one that came preloaded with some really terrible dances) and was crushed when I discovered I couldn't modify the chim.

Around the same time, a friend told me that a dance troupe was looking for chorus members for a show. I auditioned and landed a part. I was ecstatic and proceeded to pick the brains of everyone in the show. I learned about dance HUDs and bought a HUDDLES. (There are lots of good dance HUDs out there - do some research first, so that you don't waste money on something you hate to use and/or doesn't have the capabilities you want/need.) What a thrill! Now I could load my favorite dances into my HUD and match my dances to the music - could it get any better? I went to Sine Wave and proceeded to spend every Linden I made (which wasn't much) on dance animations. Because the copy versions of the dances were more expensive (sometimes double the price) of the transfer versions, I bought the transfer versions so that I could buy more dances. (If you find yourself having to make that choice - buy COPY versions!! It will make other things so much easier!!) 

I went to clubs and danced (what I now know is called 'freestyle' choreography). I danced with others on my HUD and we all had a great time. I was having fun, but I wanted more. I wanted to choreograph my own dances - put specific moves to specific music, as a way of expressing myself. I got pretty good at freestyling, but sometimes it was so frustrating, because of the lag (something that everyone in SL hates with a passion, but something that every dancer has to learn about and learn to work around). 

I was still dancing in a troupe, but always on someone else's HUD. Then one day I was offered a lead role in one of the shows. That meant I got to choreograph my very first solo! It was then that I learned about the HUDDLES Deluxe version and that I could create 'sequenced' choreography, using notecards to create a dance to go with a specific song (and that I could avoid the lag monster by having the sequence run automatically through my HUD). 

I was so proud of that first solo - I was on top of the world for days after performing it. And choreographing my own dance was so thrilling - I immediately started working on solo acts. I was off again, dance shopping, picking music, finding costumes, listening to a song for hours on end while I created a dance.

After that experience, I went and found other avenues to express myself in dance, joining other dance troupes and performing at various venues. Over the years, I learned a lot on my own. But in 2011, a friend told me about the Dance Queens group. I had joined various “SL Dancing” groups over the years and was always disappointed. So, I was skeptical, but I joined anyway. 

What a terrific decision that turned out to be! I found a group of people who understood my love of dancing in SL and were themselves passionate and dedicated about dance and improving the dance experience for everyone! In just over a year, my knowledge of dancing in SL has increased exponentially. The things I've learned include basic building skills, where to shop for the best dances, how to create better choreography, couple and group dancing, and on and on.

I recently went back and ran through my first solo. I created it in 2009, and it's very obvious that a novice choreographer created it. There's no opening or ending pose, the transitions are very jumpy, but I'm still proud of it. It's a reminder of how far I've come, and how far I still want to go. 

I'm now learning to use the various dance positioning systems, and I have tried a variety of different dance HUDs. I've built some basic sets, I've choreographed group numbers, and I'm working on some couples routines. Eventually I hope to learn enough to produce my own shows. That means learning to use all the various pieces of equipment, lighting, stage directions, set design…..and a ton of other things I probably haven't even heard of yet!

f you're new to dancing in SL, there's a lot to learn. Explore, experiment, find people who know more than you do, and learn all you can. I think the biggest lesson I've learned is to remember to have fun. It's easy to get bogged down in all the details - worrying about transitions, sequences, warming your HUD, caching dances, learning new equipment and getting frustrated when it doesn't perform as you hoped…. When that happens, I grab a friend, and head to a club or a show, so I can be reminded of why I love dancing in SL.

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