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I don’t know if it’s too much yoga and not enough dance, but I can’t seem to find the inspiration to write much lately. Personal blogs are interesting that way; they do tend to come and go, ebb and flow with the whims of the writer. Similarly, my blogroll changes as blogs I follow change or fall into inactivity. Not that I’ve been reading many blogs lately either. But here are a few that I enjoy following lately.

Apartment Therapy – If you live in a small space like me, those lavish spreads in traditional design magazines and blogs are hard to relate to. Apartment Therapy is a blog/web magazine that gives inspiration to those of us who don’t want to sacrifice style in tight quarters. From inspiring color schemes to unique ways to jazz up an entryway (or the wall by your door if you don’t technically have an “entryway”), I have gotten many ideas from this blog that I’ve been able to apply to my own living space.

This is Why You’re Fat – Only in America… Bacon, deep frying, and food-on-a-stick feature prominently on this blog of all culinary creations obscene. Yes, it’s an offensive name, but let’s face it– if you ate stuff like this on a regular basis, I don’t see how you could be skinny (or healthy).  I dare you to look through such creations as The Bacone (A bacon cone filled with scrambled eggs and country gravy topped with a biscuit) or the Fat Sam (Cheesesteak sandwich with chicken fingers, french fries, mozzarella sticks, ketchup, lettuce, tomato, bacon, and topped with egg and hot sauce) without giggling just a little bit.

Jodi’s Blog – I always enjoy following my friend, the talented artist Jodi Hoover’s blog. But never have I enjoyed it more than in the last few days as she blogs The World Beard and Moustache Championships. Jodi’s husband Mickey proudly represented Maryland with his full face of hair. I can’t tell you how entertained I have been reading about the Parade of Beards, and the politics of the World Beard and Moustache Association, and The Beards, an Australian band that, as Jodi explains, “They sing songs about beards for people with beards.”

On Friday I reach the end of 40 Days to Personal Revolution, the yoga program that has been a big part of my life for the past 6 weeks (read all about it here). As I come out of this incredible experience, I reflect on how I will move forward from here.

The “revolution” part of the 40 days was not what I thought it would be. Basically, I’d had this vague idea that I would lose a lot of weight and get totally buff, all while becoming a more chilled out person in the process– pretty much in that order. As for the weight, I haven’t lost any. Not one pound. Not one-half of a pound. As for the buffness, I am happy to report that this expectation has come to fruition. I have some pretty nice tone and defininition around my shoulders, upper arms, and back that I have never had before. And if I poke my finger through the thick layer of fat on my derriere, there’s a nice solid gluteus maximus in there.

As for the chill factor, that two has happened, but in much more specific ways than I could have ever predicted. Having a new relaxation and centering tool (meditation) is a great new tool in my arsenal for getting through difficult moments or fending off anxiety. On a more global level, my priorities have shifted a little. I no longer feel like I have to do it all. If  I miss out on something ‘extra’ in favor of spending time chatting with a friend, visiting family, or just relaxing with a book or enjoying the weather outside, so be it. I see the benefit of not being so overscheduled and I appreciate that taking time to enjoy these little, yet most important things in life, enrich my life much more than that extra class or workshop or seminar or networking event ever could.

As I come out of the program, I will come back to dance. But things will be different. I will continue to do yoga more frequently (probably 3-4 days a week rather than the 6 I have been doing), while gradually re-integrating dance into my life. I will probably pick up a little on the blogging, but I will not feel pressure to write any more often than comes naturally to me. This blog is not a means to an end. It is simply an outlet for me to process and share the thoughts and joys that dance brings to me. Rather than “moving on” with my life, I am simply moving forward, taking with me the additional gifts I have been given.

So much of what bloggers do often involves repurposing material found elsewhere on the internet. In the best case, this consists of quoting a few sentences from an article or sharing a photo or video as the starting point for an original post. I have done this many times myself as I am often inspired to write about things that I find in online publications and blogs.

According to this article by Brian Stelter in the Herald Tribune, copyright infringement lawsuits against bloggers is on the rise. The article raises some interesting considerations that raised some questions for me.

My main question is, where is the line? Is it okay to quote a sentence? Two sentences? Three? A whole paragraph? And when it comes to dance, we share so many videos– it is safe to assume that if it’s on YouTube, it’s okay to share? What about other video sharing sites? I would not use someone else’s work– text, video, audio or otherwise, without crediting my source. But do I have a responsibility to get permission to cite them? If I do not have advertising or any other sources of revenue related to my blog is the standard different than for someone whose blog is an income-generator?

I’m curious to know folks’ thoughts on this, and any knowledge you have about legal precedents in this area.

America’s Best Dance Crew is down to its top two crews. Voting is going on this week and the winner will be announced at the finale show this Thursday.

I find it interesting to see the type of web presence each crew– Beat Freaks and Quest Crew has. Does it have any bearing on their dancing? No. But this show is not just about dancing; it is a popularity contest as well. Fan votes will ultimately determine who wins, and the web has become an important additional factor in rallying their bases.

Beat Freaks

Beat Freaks have fully utilized the social networking tools at their disposal. They are doing a good job of engaging their fans. None of it– aside from the Freak the Vote site– is anything that you can’t make for free. This is the underdog group in the sense that they don’t have the same recognition as Quest Crew. They

They have a wordpress blog with a populist feel to it. Lots of fan appreciation and interaction. It is frequently updated and pulls in youtube videos and fan submissions.

There is also a facebook fan page

A FREAK THE VOTE website– this looks like the official site. It is a professionally created and hosted site with voting information. It has a retrospective of their performances if you want a quick refresher. I initially thought the crew had engaged a publicist to create and maintain this page for them. Then, I noticed something on their blog that says: “FREAK THE VOTE! is a 3 month movement strategy to create awareness of the BEAT FREAKS participation on Mtv’s America’s Best Dance Crew.  We are a pro-bono, non-profit grassroots movement of Fans.”

A YouTube channel featuring professional-quality interviews with each crew member, and favorited videos of them and other dancers.

A fan created MySpace page that aggregates a lot of information about the crew and has things such as fan-submitted dance videos.

BeatFreaks on Twitter. Very actively used to notify followers of new videos, blog posts, and of course, how to vote.

Quest Crew

I had to giggle when I saw their official website, which includes member bios, photos, videos, and booking information. Mr. P said the other day that he thought Quest sounded more like a corporation than a dance crew. The source of the giggle was the mission statement on their website. Yes, mission statement. And a very corporate sounding one at that (excerpt: “to provide awareness of the facility that remains a viable resource of knowledge and growth for the community” tell me how this appeals to the average ABDC viewer).

The group has a MySpace page though they haven’t used it much to promote themselves for the show.

There is a Facebook page, but likewise it is not very active nor has it been used much in the service of the show.

I searched for, and was unable to fine, a blog or a twitter feed.

With So You Think You Can Dance alums Hok, Dominic, and Ryan on Quest crew, it’s no surprise they have a more established feel on the web. The slick official website definitely has a publicist behind it. Is this a good thing for a popularity contest? Not so sure. On one hand, I’m more drawn to the populist feel of Beat Freaks. It makes me feel like my vote is more appreciated. In fact, most of the existing web content for Quest Crew appears to pre-date America’s Best Dance Crew. There’s something to be said for branding, but this is pretty static.

In the contest for best web content and best use of social networking to mobilize support, there is no contest, the Beat Freaks win. Now, let’s see who wins the dance and popularity contest on Thursday. This is a pretty equal contest in terms of originality and dance prowess. Could web presence play a part?

Nichelle at Dance Advantage asks the question: What has dance taught you about life? Go here to add your voice to the discussion.

Thanks to Clinton Yates over at the DC Express Blog Log for featuring my post on Superstars of Dance in both the online and print version. It was so cool to open up my free daily paper on my morning commute and see my words in print. If you’ve come over from Express, welcome!

This is actually the second time Express has linked to me, the first time was on November 20, for my post on Rahm Emanuel’s ballet background. This is the kind of stuff that makes this unpaid writing pasttime so rewarding.

While we’re on the subject of Superstars of Dance, did anyone watch the second installment last night? Did it get any better? Any particular dances we should check out on YouTube?

I just signed up with Twitter. I’ve decided it is the solution to my aborted post problem. That is, I start so many posts and then abandon them before I get to far. Twitter will allow me to get those quick little thoughts, links and observations up more efficiently. To follow me, check out my Twitter feed at the top of the lefthand sidebar, visit my Twitter page, or put it in your feed.

I’ll be testing out Twitter this evening as I watch the first installment of Superstars of Dance.

Apparently great minds dance bloggers think alike.

I just came across this post by Claudia La Rocco on the Culturist blog. It is eerily similar to my own post on the same subjectTo the letter, we both quoted the exact same quote from a Rolling Stone article and selected the same exact photo to illustrate our posts.

Here’s the problem: La Rocco wrote her post on November 6, while I posted mine on November 18. To anyone else, it might appear to be a case of plagiarism (mine). In reality, I had not happened upon her piece until today.

Sometimes I’ll be surfing the dance blogs and happen upon something that is virtually identical to something I wrote, and posted after I did so. I usually feel annoyed, thinking it copycat behavior, but this incident challenges that assumption. There are only so many original thoughts and things to write in the world, and even fewer when we bloggers, who have a tendency to rehash the trends of the moment and reference things others have already done, have interests that lie in the same area.

After starting a dance bloggers group on facebook and finding the format inflexible, Deborah Friedes turned to her tech-savvy boyfriend for a better solution.

The result is Friedes’ and Tal Galili’s DanceBloggers.com. It is primarily an aggregator of dance blogs, one that anyone can submit theirs to. As of now, there are 37 blogs on the contributors list, several of which I did not know about. ( ed.: On a self-absorbed note, I have to pat myself on the back for having a blog title that almost always gets listed first in alphabetical order. Having a last name towards the end of the alphabet, I’m not used to ever being first on any list.)

Since I had last visited just about two days ago, new features were added, including a members list and facebookesque Wall. This is a simple idea that has serious potential. Good idea, Deborah and Tal!

Here’s a screenshot:

dance-bloggers

I just noticed that there is a dance blog group on Facebook. It was started by Deborah Friedes of Dance In Israel. As with most Facebook groups, there is not too much going on there yet; also, because you can’t view anyone’s profile without being their friend, it’s impossible to see links to people’s blogs if they don’t post it on the group page. Still, it has potential as a nice way for those that specifically blog about dance to come together online using an existing social networking application.

facebook-dance-blog-group

What are some notable new blogs about dance? What’s interesting about them?

Anything that has become active in the past 6 months or so is fair game. I need to update my blogroll and want your help!

One thing that’s frustrated me as I’ve tried to get caught up on several months’ worth of posts from the dance blogosphere (I have not actively followed my feed since, oh, April) is how hard it is to connect with a lot of what’s being written about companies/dancers whose work I’ve never seen. I think this is why I’m starting to reach out a little more locally. It is easier to read and relate to the familiar.

I feel that most reviews and company news is only relevant to those who have seen those works or companies. For example, much is being written about Christopher Wheeldon’s works. I have never seen anything by Wheeldon, so it means little to me. Even when I do get through a [usually particularly well-written, if I make it all the way through,] review, I have little to comment on, other than “interesting post, thanks for sharing!”

I just want to put this topic out there for discussion, that is, if anyone’s still reading my blog since I went MIA in commenting on everyone else’s:

Do you take pleasure in reading a review or news of something you have not seen or a company/choreographer you are not familiar with? If so, why or why not? Certainly the same could go for the work of any type of artist. Do you enjoy reading a review of an exhibition if you are unfamiliar with the artist?


Aria Minelime mentioned that she had seen a big increase in traffic since getting listed on Blogtimore a Baltimore aggregator of blogs. As for me, The Washington Post’s local blog directory has yielded only very modest results, though it’s a useful tool for locating other blogs in the area. However, the local blog directory has limited applicability. There is a feed available for recent updates and a few featured posts, but little else is done with the content.

I like the idea of a local blogging network. Everyone is living in the same community and blogging about their life and interests in that community from their own unique perspective. Have you ever sat on the metro and wondered what was going on in the heads of all the people sitting around you? Thanks to a local aggregation of blogs, we can now partially answer that question. Still, it would be good to have some editing and commentary to pull all those thoughts together in a meaningful way.

Enter DCBlogs, which quickly turned up in a google search for DC blogs. In addition to a dynamic feed that thoughtfully presents only the most recent post from the last 24 hour period of any given blog (thus ensuring that the more prolific writers do not push out the more sporadic ones). Additionally, there is a daily blog which culls some of the more interesting posts from the overwhelmingly large feed.

Bonus: when I contacted DCBlogs about getting listed, they said that their graphic designer would be creating a logo that will appear next to my posts in the feed. What service!

[UPDATED 10/22: Here is our logo. I think Meghan did a nice job.
 
It contains the current banner picture, featuring none other than Mr. P]

DC-area dance bloggers take note: the list of dance blogs in the DCBlog directory is woefully small. Be sure to let them know you’re out there so we can inject more of our perspective into the local blog community.

If the blog looks different, I’m playing around with some new designs. I’ve never changed the design since I started the blog and thought it was time for a new look. Let me know what you think.

I am back from vacation and am starting to get back in the swing of things– this blog included. I really appreciate the comments you all left and I apologize for not responding to them earlier. I finally had a chance to read through them and respond tonight. I’m happy to report that I’ve gotten up two new posts (make this three) and I have more on the way, including a wrapup of the “my first musical” series.

As for my blogroll, I’m not even going to try to catch up on the last two months but would really appreciate it if anyone wants to call my attention to any interesting things they’ve seen or to brag on something you’ve written yourself.

New dance adventures await me this fall, and not even I know what they are yet, but I look forward to sharing them with you!

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