Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Sirens Call - A Beginning for the New Dancer, Post 1 - An introduction

A new series, sharing my own beliefs, methods, and suggestions for the new dancer.  As with anything I say or teach - QUESTION EVERYTHING!  There are many different approaches and methods to dance.  From all you learn, all you experience, strive to create your own methods, ideas, and knowledge.  Unique and your own.

Disclaimer:  The author of this article wishes to point out, in case it was not already embarrassingly, ridiculously obvious, that the opinions expressed belong solely to the author and they do not represent in any way those of Dance Queens, Dance Queens members, any affiliations, friends, non-friends, the guy in the 3rd row, or management.

RULE #1:  There really aren't any "rules" for dance in SL in general.  Different venues might have their own rules - like no 12 minute songs, mandatory panty checks, and that rick-rolling the entire audience is so not cool.

Guideline numero uno:  If it's not fun, why do it?  Dance in SL is a labor of love, most of us will never even break even.  The true pay-off?  An amazing opportunity for self-expression, creativity, confidence building, learning new skills, knowledge, and working with amazing people.  There will be days when you want to godzilla all over your set but it will pass, and you will grow. feel the call.  Perhaps it was a performance, perhaps an impulsive inspiration from above, but whatever drew you to dance you now have a passion to create and be on that stage.

It can be a little overwhelming, where to begin.  It’s easy to buy the tools, buy the animations but to truly create magic, to weave a story within your performance – the music, the movement, the set it takes a focus on foundation, passion, and dedication to truly bring out your full potential.  Sound a bit difficult?  In a way it is, but in others it’s a most incredible journey where you will learn, you will feel, you will meet amazing people.  You will never listen to music in the same way again.  You will feel it, you will experience it, you will soar with it, and for some pieces of music, you will see it in your head unbidden, just there.

I can hear you now… “I want to create that…I want to be on the stage…what do I need…where do I go????”

Pause.  Breathe.  Slow. 

Guideline 2:  Build a strong foundation.  Begin at the beginning.  Master your tools, build your skills, find methods that work for you.  No race to the finish line.  A friend recently told me - to be a better rider it's all about seat time.  To improve you have to be in the seat, practicing your skills, and building upon them.  No shortcuts.

Basic first steps and info:

  1. Don't buy any tools or animations yet!  I know you're gung ho to jump in and begin - but explore a bit first.  Breathe.  Attend workshops, learn what tool(s) to start with first.  Your wallet will thank you.
  2. To create a dance you will need animations.  Always, always, always buy copy animations when you can.  More on that later.  Don't go out and buy willy nilly.  Wait until you've picked the first song you want to create a dance for.
  3. Choosing music is important.  If you choose Mozart's 15 minute Moonlight Sonata, it's pretty likely that a. you'll drive yourself insane choreographing it, b. the venue manager reaction may be umm...quite dramatic (use your imagination)
The tools:

There are a variety of dance tools on the market - Spot On, Multi-scene, Harper Tools, Barre, DPC, Artiste HUD are but a few.  All are used in the dance world, and all have their benefits.  I'd recommend not buying any at this stage, but if you do - focus on an Animation HUD first.  I personally prefer the Spot On Smooth Dancer, but there are other options.

Basic Flow of Tools/Building a Foundation:
  1. Choreography/Animation HUD - this should be the first tool you use and is the core of creating a dance.  Without animations played in a sequence to create choreography, there's not much of a dance is there?
  2. Mover System - moves your dancers up/down/left/right/sideways, etc. so that you can use more of the stage as you perform your choreography.  Not required for a dance, but often used to add impact.  Think of it as a people mover - just like at the airport.
  3. Rezzer System - you'll be creating a stage for a dance.  Rezzer systems are the most efficient ways to move your sets from one sim to another.
  4. Lighting/Special Effects tools - a class all of their own, used to enhance the dance.
  5. A Performance Manager Tool/HUDs - tools that help coordinate the individual pieces of an entire performance, helping to streamline and minimize the number of HUDs needed.  Acts as the conductor of the performance.

Dance in SL is an investment -  of your time, your lindens, your creativity - and your sanity too.  Enjoy the process!

More dance resources, tips and tricks HERE

Next post:
Post 2 - Experience multiple venues and choreographers, identify what type of dance most appeals to you.  Identify how you prefer to learn - videos, trial and error, a mentor, or workshops.  There are many excellent tutors available in the dance world - part of individual academies or within a venue.