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It’s nice to know we have had so many dance movies in the past few years that it is time for a parody:

Preview for Dance Flick

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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!

This whimsical ad from LG (being shown in Korea, I believe), depicts figures from Matisse paintings coming alive, interacting, and dancing.

I enjoy visiting The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks from time to time for a chuckle. Today, one of the featured offenders was none other than a certain local ballroom/salsa teacher who has long regaled us with his excessive and unnecessary use of punctuation. In fact, this particular ballroom studio is right across the hallway from the Joy of Motion location I visit every Tuesday for class. I always think it’s funny when non-dance blogs I follow suddenly veer into more familiar territory.

iGoogle, the personalized homepage version of Google, has rolled out a dizzying array of artist themes with which to customize your web searching experience. There is everything from Jeff Koons, to Diane von Furstenberg, to the Wiggles. Imagine my delight when I found Mark Morris — the only dance company for the time being– among the options. Now every time I go to Google, I am greeted with a different image of my favorite dance company.

Here’s a screenshot of how it looks. Click for a larger version. There’s no mention on the Mark Morris dance company’s website about how this came to be, but what great exposure! I wonder if google plans to include more dancers in its artist lineup.

This ad from Glade scented candles has some nice dancing in it.

But what message is this device (i.e., carefree dancing among flowers) really sending? We all know that marketing is a carefully honed science in which advertising content is carefully designed based on psychology, surveys and focus groups to target a particular market.

It seems that dance is often used in advertising to show a brand as something that will make you feel carefree and happy. The ads I compiled in a previous post on dance in advertising almost all give us this feeling.

When I saw the glade ad my first thought was how the movement was an effective metaphor for the scent spreading quickly around the room (which is the advertised benefit of this product). The dancers use their full range of motion, surrounded by swirling flowers that traces their movement. However, this pointed commentary from momblog speaks to the ads subliminal message– that this product will somehow make the modern woman’s housekeeping (cause let’s just assume it’s the woman who has to do it) more fancy free:

“In a day and age when more kids are raised by daycare, fast food is a mealtime staple, the family calendar is an impossible attempt to coordinate schedules and people can’t go anywhere without a Bluetooth stuck to their head; how do we get the insult and idiocy of a marketing campaign which reduces a modern woman’s day into the struggle to find the right scent? And then dance about it?”

$12/hr to be a grantwriter, fundraiser, marketing and operations coordinator?

I understand money is tight in the dance world, but this is insulting. I should mention that this position was posted in New York City, one of the most expensive places to live in the world. Also, calling the person who is tasked with doing all of the above an “Adminstrative Assistant” is demeaning.

I’ve read that non-profit management skills of dance companies leave much to be desired, and no wonder. You get what you pay for. I got a masters degree to become an expert at the above skills.

 As Mr. P says, “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”

Is this common practice? I don’t work in dance admin so maybe it’s not surprising for others, but as someone who has worked for non-profit and public institutions for years, I for one am surprised. You would not pay a grantwriter so little unless they were an intern.

Peeps are no good for eating (unless they are toasted over a campfire and sandwiched between graham crackers and chocolate), but they are ideal for a plethora of silly activities.

Namely, the Washington Post’s Peeps Show contest, wherein enterprising entrants put together and photographed dioramas featuring peeps. The results are absolutely delightful. Take for example this recreation of the mass Thriller dance put on by the prisoners in the Phillipines.

 peep thriller from the washington post’s peep show II contest

The only thing that sucks about this is that I didn’t know about it.  I have grand plans for next year– Peep Lake, anyone? Or how about Peeptrouchka, The Peepcracker, or Peep Side Story? The pink bunny ears would make excellent pointe shoes.

In more DC Peeper Madness, the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority put out the most hilarious (and low-budget) PSA you will ever see. They are building a new stadium for our baseball team, the Nationals, and Metro is trying to get people to take public transit rather than drive for opening day.  If this video won’t convince you to metro it, I don’t know what will…

I haven’t seen this show because I don’t get cable (except I still get Bravo for some reason… shhh, don’t tell the cable company!), but here’s another dance-centered show on TV: MTV’s Made. Say what you will about these shows, but if I have a choice between watching a crappy show about dance and a crappy show not about dance, I’d rather watch the crappy show about dance. Unless that show is Dancing With the Stars. But I digress.

MTV sent out a press release that there will be some new episodes starting January 7th. The premise of the show is that they transform someone who wants to break out of their shell and learn a new skill or assume a new identity. Several involve dreams of being dancers, including a “bookworm” who wants to be a ballerina, a “clumsy goofball” who learns to ballroom dance, and “the town tomboy” who dreams of becoming a “graceful, girly figure skater.”

If you have seen this show, let me know what you think.

Click “read more” for the full press release, containing episode summaries and air times.

Read the rest of this entry »

I’m being freakishly prolific tonight. Insomnia will do that to you. The theme today seems to be pop culture. I apologize for the lame post title– I just couldn’t resist.

According to tech blog GigaOM, Stanley Burrell, aka MC Hammer, is launching tech startup DanceJam.com, a dance-centered social networking site.

DanceJam aims to bring together various dancing communities. The site will include videos from aspiring dancers everywhere as well as Hammer and his celebrity pals. It will be driven by contests that include offline regional meetups, and be monetized through ads and contest sponsorship. The company — which is based out of a few offices in the Bay Area — hasn’t given us a firm launch date. The latest word is “mid-January” — but last week it opened up part of its site to the public so as to solicit videos to have ready for the launch.

GigaOM interviewed Mr. Burrell/Hammer for its video podcast. One term that he constantly threw around was “dance culture,” as in “Dance Jam is a place where the dance culture can hang out.” From what I can tell by exploring the pilot of the site and watching the interview is that dance culture for the purposes of Dance Jam is dancers who want to win money and fame in show business through competition and casting deals. This does not appear to be a venue for exalting the art of dance, but rather to advance the business of dance as entertainment– sort of a lovechild of HotOrNot and So You Think You Can Dance– and to monetize the technology in the process through related advertisements for instructors, competitions, and the like.

While its implications for the world of dance as art are limited, I think we need to view things like this for what they are and use that as a starting point for our appreciation (something I have said many times about SYTYCD). As with any social networking site, its success and quality will depend on a critical number and activity level of the users. One valuable role that I think that Dance Jam does have the potential to play is to sift out the videos that are worth watching [from an entertainment perspective]. There is lots of dance video footage on YouTube, but you certainly have to sift through a lot of crap to find the good stuff.

The Washington Post has launched a Local Blog Directory that pulls together blogs that are based in, and in some way about the DC metro area. The directory is searchable by keyword or tag, and the front page has a running feed of latest posts, photos and tags.

So far there are only three dance blogs listed on there, present company included. It looks like it may be a nice way to get a little broader exposure and build your local readership, as well as learn about other local blogs.

To get yourself into the directory, visit the Local Blog Directory and click on “get listed.”

I saw an ad in the City Paper for the 23rd Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards– a full-page, color ad on the inside of the back cover. It says to go to http://www.dcarts.dc.gov/ to receive a nomination form or for more information, but as of today the only information I could find was about last year’s awards. Typical of DC government, but still, you’d think they could at least update their website if they’re sinking all that money into print ads.

Nomination categories are:

  • Excellence in an Artistic Discipline,
  • Outstanding Emerging Artist,
  • Excellence in Service to the Arts,
  • Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education,
  • Innovation in the Arts.

Nominations are due December 4. I suppose you can check with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities website later on to see if they have provided the nomination materials.

What do people think of the value of these types of awards?

Is dance well-represented in the nominations?

Who would you nominate?

My vote for Education goes to Joy of Motion. It’s an organization that has played a singular role in allowing me to develop my dance ability and expand my dance community during my time in DC. They provide such a variety of styles, schedules, and locations that works really well if you are a working adult. The classes are affordable and there are a number of world-class instructors. I think we are really lucky to have them here.

 In recent years, it seems that dance has become a lot more prevalent in TV advertising. In a world of obnoxious ads that make me turn the channel, it’s a pretty savvy move from corporate America (at least for holding this consumer’s attention). The best of them are quite entertaining.

This GAP commercial may have been one of the first to embrace this trend with their famous khaki swing dance ad:

My favorite of the moment is from supermarket chain Bloom. They have several versions of a commercial in which happy employees dance around a customer with cart amongst the produce and cash registers:

I have to credit Selly from Dance Outlook for this find— Jaime from SYTYCD appears in a McDonald’s salad commercial in which the dancers represent different ingredients. I really don’t like McD’s (I’m vegetarian and after seeing Super Size Me I won’t eat anything from there), but I have to admit it is a really cool commercial with some beautiful dancing in it:

In general, Target has some really engaging, stylish ads. This one doesn’t have dance in the traditional sense, but a lot of interesting choreography:

Then there is the Hanes commercial featuring Momix, which I think did a really smart job of getting the message across about comfort and flexibility through the dancers’ movements:

I leave you with one of my favorites of all time, a DSW ad with some major shoe porn for my salseras and tangueras. A friend told me that it really got her believing that if she bought her shoes from DSW that she could dance like that:

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