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It doesn’t take a, uh, scientist to come to the conclusion stated in the title of this post. That said, it’s nice to have some quantitative evidence to support the significance of the live performing arts experience.

The NYT’s Tierney Lab blog posts about a study conducted in conjunction with the Dance Your PhD contest (in which scientific studies are interpreted through dance).  Live audience members were given the four finalists’ abstracts and had to guess which dance matched up to which study. The same challenge was given to the online readers of Gonzo Scientist. The data were analyzed and the results are discussed here.

The most compelling finding of the study is that the live audiences did much better at correctly matching the study topic to the dance. As John Bohannon, the study’s author and Gonzo Scientist blogger, says, it is true that many in the live audience had a dance background as well as worked in the sciences.

“But it doesn’t solve the mystery of why live audiences seem to be smarter in general. It’s unlikely that the online experiment systematically attracted people with less science or dance expertise. Nor is access to information likely to make the difference. (Probably few online participants took the time to read the full papers.)

I propose a simple explanation. Being part of a live audience focuses your attention in a way that staring at a lonely computer screen never can. It’s equally true of art and science.” [emphasis added]

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Google Labs keeps me entertained with its constant flow of new ideas. The newest one to catch my eye is Similar Images. It works like google images, but rather than relying on keywords to find what you need, once you find an image that approaches what you’re looking for, this app will find ones from around the internet that contain similar attributes.

This is what the front page looks like. Let’s try a search for my favorite subject, dance.

similar images front page

A variety of different results come up. Let’s say I’m looking for a dramatic photo of dancers mid-air against a stark background (as seems to be the fashion these days). We clock on the “similar images” link under that picture…

similar images dance search

Et voila`, lots of mid-air dancers on stark backgrounds.

similar images dance search refined

I can think of so many applications for this labs creation, particularly for bloggers like me who are looking for just the right image to accompany their posts. While the example I show above only resulted in dancers (though in one case it was not a photo but a drawing, which is neat too), I clicked through to other results that did not contain dancers but similar colors, backgrounds, and configurations of images. This could be a positive or a negative depending on what you’re looking for, but nonetheless it’s a new toy to play around with.

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.

Salseros dance to the music of Orquesta Ashe at Adams Morgan in DCSometimes when you’ve been doing something for years, you think you’ve thought all the thoughts there are to be thought about it. But an outside perspective can reveal new insights.

Here are three insights into salsa which encapsulate what I’ve always loved about it in a very concise way:

“1) salsa dancers, men and women of all ages and sizes, take pride in their bodies;

2) dancers seek partners who match their skill level, not those who are the best looking;

3) after taking only two lessons […one can learn enough] to follow the rhythm of the dancers.”

This is excerpted from an article by Carrie Hagen of phillyist (read the whole thing, it’s a good article), who accompanied my friend and salsera/writer extraordinaire Mathina to a mambo social. What she captures with these three observations is the 1) accepting, 2) egalitarian, and 3) accessible nature of salsa and salsa culture.

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?

It is time for our annual Christmas dance video, since I guess having one for two years in a row makes it annual. The end, in which we find out that it is actually a viral product ad, kind of spoiled it for me. That said, it’s a pretty neat exploration of movement by guys in Santa suits. Enjoy, and happy holidays to you and yours!

Archived videos from the Misnomer Dance Theater live broadcast of Being Together are up, and I am happy to report that Zipper, the piece that was obscured by a large youtube box for the entirety of its broadcast, is there in its unspoiled form. It will be up for the forseeable future.

As I said of the live broadcast, this is an excellent and rare opportunity to see high quality videography of an evening-length show by one of today’s leading modern dance companies.

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.

Dance lovers across the world just participated in a “first.” That is, the first live webcast of an internationally-recognized dance company’s live premiere of a new, evening-length work, aptly titled “Being Together”.

Misnomer Dance Company used ustream.tv to broadcast last night’s show, which closed the premiere run of Being Together, a trio of new works by Chris Elam. Ustream has a live chat feature side by side with the video, and the excitement in the internet audience was palpable. According to the Misnomer blog, there were 1800 computers connected to the webcast, to the 74 members of the live audience in the Joyce SoHo in New York City.

In this age of multitasking we were somehow all able to watch the show while typing away and discussing things as they happened. Fellow bloggers Selly, Nichelle and Rob were there as well. It was truly a new experience for me and many others. I hope this medium will be employed more and more for those that may not have the time, the money, or the right location to see groups like Misnomer.

I loved the first two pieces. Too Late Tulip was my favorite in terms of aesthetics. It had a wonderful flow and a quality of movement that was at times floaty and eathereal. Rock. Paper. Flock. was a whimsical piece that wove commentary and improv into a larger, structured format. Wearing his “choreographer’s hat” (an old hat/goggle aviator combo), Elam gave assignments, and sometimes bossy commands and complaints to his dancers. Much of the movement in this one had an animallike quality that really showed Misnomer’s capacity for partnering.

Things went really well until after intermission. The final piece in the trilogy, Zipper was unfortunately blocked by a big youtube inset which covered about 1/3 of the screen. I have to say that I wasn’t able to pay too much attention to the piece with that in the way.

Still, it was agreed that we were happy to have been present at this first of what I hope is many webcasts of this kind, and that the technology of it will no doubt quickly evolve and improve. If you missed the webcast, check back at misnomer.org as they will shortly be sharing an archived video of the webcast for a limited time.

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

Today’s photo (credit: M.V. Jantzen) shows the US Capitol with the Christmas tree lit up and the stands for the inauguration being set up in the background. WordPress has turned on the snow, which adds a festive feel to the photo, don’t you think?

  • Deborah Friedes went to her first contact improvisation (CI) jam. In her post, she provides some history and context for the medium, and describes her experience. As someone who has never tried CI I found the post to be very informative.
  • Selly reflects on different iterations of the Nutcracker and on its status as the one ballet most Americans know: “it’s almost sad the the only impression most of the American public has of ballet is such a trippy ballet that’s based on a quite creepy story and that every dancer hates. You perform the same roles to the same music year. After year. After year. Not that we don’t have fun along the way.” (Dance Outlook)
  • Teresa Wiltz, former Ailey student, reflects on 50 years of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (The Root).
  • As Danciti reports, Move the Frame has left Great Dance, and can now be found here. Danciti limits its commentary to a snarky comment about the layout (how is that relevant to the content? particularly as most of us read blogs through a feed reader, anyway), but I just want to comment that this is the end of an era. Doug Fox was the original dance blogger. He encouraged many people, myself included, to get into blogging and helped make us known by linking to our posts. Relatively recently, he expanded Great Dance into a multi-blog platform. Move the Frame’s Anna Brady Nuse was one of the most interesting and prolific of the Great Dance bloggers. It is understandable that she has moved to her own site, as she was the only one still blogging on Great Dance.

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!

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