Sunday, February 24, 2008

Old School Balls

Old School stars from New York Drag Balls

Here is a video I found on YouTube, which shows examples of some of the "Old School Balls" and of some of the stars that helped to start artistic trends in dance, fashion, and runway.

"A look at how it was done back in the early 90s. Milan, Xtravaganza, Pendavis, Revlon, LaBeija, Richards, and many, many more."


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Friday, February 15, 2008

What a commentator offers dancers and models on the runway: energy and inspiration

RuPaul as a 'Commentator'

I think part of the reason that RuPaul's hit song, Supermodel of the World, was such a big hit was because the listeners of the song were inspired to see themselves "work" the runway. If having a singer like RuPaul can make her music fans imagine themselves as models at the sound of her lyrics ("wet your lips and make love to the camera"), you can imagine that her lyrics can also be encouraging to an actual model working during a fashion show.

In essence, RuPaul's lyrics act as instruction or direction to models (real or imaginary), and in a fashion show, that commentary can be performed by a commentator (a master of ceremonies, of sorts).

RuPaul, in her own way, was doing in her song what the commentator (and to a certain extent, the audience) does at ball competitions: motivate and inspire the models. Because, in every sense of the word, it can be said that the dancers and performers at ball competitions are "models" working on a "runway." as a 'Commentator'

In another video I found on YouTube, I found a portion of the CBS broadcast of the 2007 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. In the video (at 2:30), the singer begins to sing in the style of a commentator (like RuPaul, if we can call her that for the purpose of this blog post, for we know that she is much more than just that).

(I also liked the novice "hands" performance that the Victoria's Secret angel Izabel Goulart turns out (at 3:09).)

There is a way to distinguish what did to make the models walk with more energy and enthusiasm than when Seal took his turn to sing on the runway. Whereas's lyrics were set to the a thumping beat (that can be matched by the strut of the model's gait, Seal's song was more of a ballad whose storyline was competing with the pace of the action and movement on the runway. This isn't to say that Seal added nothing to the fashion show, but his energy level was different.

Kool-Aid Mizrahi: the best 'Commentator'

Well, if you can imagine someone along the lines of RuPaul and, an MC who would animate, cheer, and incite performers as well as an audience, then you would begin to imagine what a really talented commentator could do to rise and swell the passions of dancers, models, and performers on the runway in the Ball community.

And one of the best commentators there is in the Ball community is Kool-Aid Mizrahi. There are many examples of his work, including in the documentary How Do I Look. But here is one video I found on YouTube, which an example of his skills and talents. Kool-Aid Mizrahi adds both energy and inspiration to a ball.

In this video, Kool-Aid Mizrahi inspired a dancer to take to the dance floor and perform to the meter of Kool-Aid's commentary.

The job of the commentator is to challenge dancers and performers. His commentary adds another level of creativity to the performance that is taking place on the runway, and this combination of verbal and visual can be very influential to the spectators. If the commentator changes the meter of his rhythm or speeds up his beat, he is asking the dancer to show the audience the dancer’s skill in performing to new beats or rhythms. What the commentator adds is like a whole other performance: The commentator brings to the runway his own improvisational commentary, and the dancer must keep up with that improvisation, separate to any music that may be playing in the background. The commentary is another aspect of the pure creativity that is at the heart of Ball competitions.

And just last week, Kool-Aid Mizrahi was in the news about a ball competition in Oakland, California ("Gay and Transgender Divas Battle for Stardom in Bay Area's Ballroom Scene").

I would have loved to have seen what Kool-Aid Mizrahi would have done had he had been the commentator at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show....


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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Paris video: Dancing to tribal music

House music dancing

After filming a Paris dance battle, someone posted this video on YouTube of the house music dancing portion of the event. The type of house music in the video is tribal. - La danse s'éxprime

Juste Debout ("just upright") is an annual dance competition originated from France which focuses on upright street dance styles. The four main categories are hip hop new style, house, locking and popping (wiki/Juste_Debout).

For more information about this dance competition in France, please visit the Juste Debout website.


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When the Runway is the Subway: New York Street Dancers in Times Square

What I love most about living in New York City is how people embrace life, culture, music, dance, and art. Here is a fusion of that flair: an urban dance performance in New York City's Times Square subway station.

Performing to Michael Jackson's classic, "Don't Stop 'Til you Get Enough," these dancers prove that dancing is a showman's sport. You do it because you have a passion for it, and your audience always likes the show you put on.

I am posting this video, in spite of a bigotted comment that can be overheard at one point. I'm overlooking that pejorative in favor of highlighting all the more the talent, spirit, and courage it takes to dance before a public both eager for inspiration and sometimes peppered with bigotry and ignorance.


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