Tagged: Shivani Patel

The Beauty of Dance: Latin dance on “Britain’s Got Talent”

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

Britain’s Got Talent,” the British sister to “America’s Got Talent,” recently aired a Latin dance troupe. While dance may not be something new on this show, the troupe definitely brought something new to the table.

Made up of five couples from the U.K., Kings and Queens took the stage on the popular television show.

Personally, I didn’t think this performance was going to be anything special, and it does not seem like the judges thought much of it either considering their lukewarm reactions when the team introduced themselves.

Then, Kings and Queens started to dance.

From the beginning, the dancers combined traditional Latin influences with more modern choreography. I particularly enjoyed that they demonstrated their technical skill as separate couples, but they also demonstrated individual skill and talent by coming together (see: 2:20 in the video).

In their description, they talk about being surrounded by each other constantly, and that chemistry definitely shows through their dancing. Latin dance, in my opinion, has a reputation for being incredibly sensual and powerful, which Kings and Queens brought to life.

I also found their use of songs such as “Animals” by Martin Garrix to be a refreshing, yet interesting change. I definitely never saw that as a song that could be used for Latin dance, but this troupe has proved me wrong.

An iconic segment from this performance was the partner dances at 2:01, where the movements are all timed with sounds in the music. It is robotic, but I find it to be a very powerful segment within their dance.

Two of the dancers, Ryan McShane and Ksenia Zsikhotska, are part of The Capital Dance School, which teaches students many different styles of dancing: from Ballroom to Salsa to the Tango.

I’m very curious to see where this group ends up. I definitely think they have the potential to make it to finals within the competition, given their fresh and creative nature.

And with this video concludes my articles about the beauty of dance. Although I dance, I’ve actually learned a lot through researching and analyzing videos of dance, and I hope you all have gained a little appreciation for dance through reading my column. I’d like to thank you all, and of course, have a wonderful summer break! See you all next fall.


The aftermath of Columbine, 15 years later

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

Fierce debate surrounds the gun control issue./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Josh Lopez

Fierce debate surrounds the issue of gun control./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Josh Lopez

This past Monday marked the 15th anniversary of the shootings that took place in Littleton, Colorado at Columbine High School. Two high school students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, opened fire on their school, killing twelve people and wounding over twenty. They then committed suicide in the school, leaving the tragedy that is Columbine behind them.

Since then, a total of 29 notable shootings in schools have occurred across the country from 1999 to 2012.

Let that sink in for a moment.

These 29 shootings span 13 years — U.S. citizens have witnessed this many tragedies.

The ages of the shooters themselves range, but what I find incredibly disheartening and tragic is that one shooting (although less fatal than some) involved a six-year-old boy shooting one of his classmates.

There are two sides to the issue of gun control. There are those for increased restrictions on gun usage, and there are those against adding restrictions to gun usage. The latter is spearheaded by the National Rifle Association (NRA).

With recent shootings, like the one that took place just last year at Sandy Hook Elementary, the NRA has been criticized for its support of the use of firearms. In their defense, they claim that in pushing for more gun control, the Second Amendment right to bear arms will be put in danger.

According to their website, the NRA has implemented programs such as the “Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program,” which is designed to train kids from K-6 to not touch a firearm if unsupervised and to alert an adult immediately, or the “Refuse To Be A Victim” seminar, designed to teach anyone how to attain personal safety at all times.

Remember that six-year-old boy I mentioned earlier? He did the exact opposite of what the program preached, and the boy’s relatives were convicted of leaving a firearm where it was easily accessible for children. With this situation in mind, it is difficult to trust the effectiveness of the program, when it has proven not to reach its entire intended audience.

At the same time, by instituting gun control laws, the purpose of a firearm for use of self-defense is defeated when there are so many rules and regulations.

I find the debate interesting, but with the ever-increasing worry about future shootings, it is necessary for both sides to come together and figure out a solution before the situation becomes even worse.

The Beauty of Dance: Diesel’s A-Z of Dance

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

Apparel company Diesel recently came out with a dance video entitled “A-Z of Dance” as part of its #dieselreboot campaign to advertise its new line of jeans. The company collaborated with i-D, a London-based fashion and style magazine.

Diesel’s new jeans are meant to allow people to remain active instead of feeling restricted by their jeans. To showcase this, dancers were filmed doing their specialty of dance on an empty rooftop.

Directed by Jacob Sutton, a London-based fashion photographer, the video showcases varied, popular dance styles. These styles include “bhangra,” “liquid dance” and “finger-tutting,” to name a few.

I love this video because it captures the essence of many different dance styles instead of focusing on one. Dance as a whole is moving towards a fusion of styles with roots in all sorts of cultures such as those of Spain, India and Africa.

This video showcases dancers such as Lil Buck, who specializes in a dance style called “jookin’” (otherwise known as “Gangsta Walking,” originating from Memphis, Tenn.). Viewers will probably recognize classic moves in the video such as YMCA, krumping and a more recent type of dance style – twerking.

Diesel did a great job of advertising both its jeans and its versatility by including dancers, like Lil Buck, who aren’t as well-recognized.

I found finger tutting to be one of my favorites. We’ve all seen some amazing tutting, but that never usually extends to fingers so I thought the focus on the hand was a fresh take on the dance style.

The Beauty of Dance: evolution of dance parodies

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have surely heard of the YouTube video “Evolution of Dance” by Judson Laipply. With over 250 million views, it has become one of the most popular videos on YouTube.

In it, Laipply imitates dance styles from the 50s all the way to the end of the 90s. Some of the hits he dances to include “Thriller,” “Walk Like An Egyptian,” “Macarena” and, of course, “Bye Bye Bye.” After the success of his video, Laipply created Evolution of Dance 2 and is currently working on Evolution of Dance 3, which is sure to include more modern tunes.

But of course, what’s a YouTube video without its parodies?

Jimmy Fallon, Tonight Show host and king of parodies, created a few parodies based on this insanely popular dance video.

His first parody of the video, “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing,” was a tribute to the most popular hip-hop dance moves over the decades. So of course he danced on stage with Will Smith.

While this version was popular, Fallon released another parody of “Evolution of Dance” that became even more popular – “Evolution of Mom Dancing” starring himself and Michelle Obama. The video is incredibly entertaining and accurate at the same time. The thought behind the video was to encourage both parents and children to get up and stay active as part of the First Lady’s campaign, “Let’s Move!

The duo started off with the “Go Shopping, Get Groceries” and “Raise the Roof.” My personal favorite is “Where’s Your Father (Get Him Back Here!)” If there’s one thing this video shows, it’s that Michelle Obama can dance.

Check out the video below:

The Beauty of Dance: The Jabbawockeez

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

The Jabbawockeez, an all-male dance group originating from San Diego, is practically a household name.

This iconic group began with three members — Kevin Brewer, Phil Tayag and Joe Larot — under the name “Three Muskee”. By 2004, the group had grown to seven members. Tony Tran was the most recent member to join just last year. There is no “captain” or “leader” of the group. Instead, they work collaboratively on each dance piece.

The Jabbawockeez are usually associated with incredibly controlled movement and with their signature white masks.

The group rose to fame by competing on talent shows “America’s Got Talent,” from which they were eliminated, and “America’s Best Dance Crew,” which they later won. Since then, they have performed on many shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance”, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “Dancing With The Stars”, to name a few. Despite having been eliminated from AGT, they managed to get their own show in Las Vegas.

Recently, they have been dabbling in the world of YouTube short films. They created one this year called “REGENERATE”.

The short is directed by Kevin Tancharoen, director of the movie Fame and Glee: The 3D Concert Movie.

“REGENERATE” is set in the future — 2036 to be exact. The background for the video is that art and culture have been outlawed by the government. Of course, there are the rebels who refuse to accept this.

In a city reminiscent of Star Wars, the audience is introduced to a girl who seems to be part of the resistance. She goes into an abandoned theater, where she discovers the Jabbawockeez.

Hopefully I’ve piqued your interest so that you’ll watch the beginning (If, however, you are solely interested in the dancing, you’ll want to start at 4:44).

While I’m sure special effects are used, the Jabbawockeez have this unnerving robotic quality to them. The white masks make them into a force, rather than a group of individual people.

In addition to the lighting and atmosphere of the scene, the music aids the dance quite a bit. The Jabbawockeez come off as intimidating and even animated by their lack of human qualities. At 5:52, I was blown away by the ladder they created with their arms and how well it coordinated with the music. And the cinematography only serves to enhance what the Jabbawockeez already have.

Check out the video below:

The Beauty of Dance: Mother/Daughter Duet

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

Hope you all had a wonderful, but most of all relaxing spring break away from this frigid weather.

Now, time for what you all are (hopefully) looking forward to – dance.

Fans of “The Ellen Show” will recognize this one. Ellen came across a YouTube video of 3-year-old Heaven King and her mother, Tianne King, dancing to “End of Time” by Beyoncé “Queen Bey” Knowles.

In the video, Heaven, who was 2-years-old at the time, dances an entire routine with her mother. The camera focuses in on Heaven, who surprisingly has most of the moves memorized. The dynamic between the two can be described with one word: adorable.

Her mother, Tianne, is actually a dance teacher back in New York, so it seems natural that her daughter picked up some of the moves. When asked whether she would want to be a dancer in the future, Heaven cheekily replied that she is a dancer.

Then, the duo performed their routine on “The Ellen Show” stage. If possible, they were even cuter and better this time around. Ellen, after congratulating them, gifted them with tickets to Beyoncé concert and a chance to meet the Queen herself.

It’s no surprise that this video captured the attention of over 24 million viewers.

Honestly, it’s nice to see a heart-warming interaction between mother and daughter dancers especially after seeing shows such as “Dance Moms.”

The Lifetime show covers the Abby Lee Dance Company’s dancers, but specifically these dancers’ mothers. To further their daughters’ careers in the business, they take any means necessary, which often results in bickering among the mothers themselves leading to stress on their daughters.

While this show may be entertaining, the reality of the mothers and dancers are scary. The amount of pressure put onto these girls by their mothers can, at times, be unhealthy.

Perhaps the mothers of “Dance Moms” could stand to take a lesson from Tianne King when it comes to treating their daughters in respect to dance.

The Beauty of Dance: The Single-Sex Dance Group Conundrum

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

Some of the more underrated groups in dance are the single gender groups. Audience members tend to look for interaction and dynamic between guys and girls, which usually comes naturally. And it is entertaining to watch because while guys and girls may do the same dance, their technique is quite often different from each other. That dynamic is lost in a single-gender group performance.

I decided this week to focus on all-male dance teams. Specifically, Mos Wanted Crew (not a typo)The crew, based in Los Angeles, is a group of all male dancers founded in 2010 by Myron Marten, who is also the co-founder of World of Dance Tour. Made up of different dancers and choreographers, the group has competed in competitions including America’s Best Dance Crew, a popular dance competition show on MTV.

In this particular video, they were competing at World of Dance: New York in 2013. I find it telling that they chose to start out with a song by a female artist. In reality, they’re proving that they need females to show concepts like sensuality. In this segment, while hard hitting, the choreography is more fluid. With moves like the ones they pull off at 1:21, it’s easy to tell that they are all comfortable with each other, and as a result, their dancing is even better.

They then contrast the light song with a more hard-hitting, “manly” song to showcase both their control and power.

In the second segment, they don’t hold back energy or power. They hit every move with precision with moves not as fluid as the first segment, but just as strong. In the next songs, they go on to demonstrate both fluidity and power within their moves and expressions.

With so few dancers on stage, their cleanliness is imperative. I think one of the best things about this crew is that while they all have individual personalities while dancing, they come together and function as one cohesive unit, which makes watching them all the more enjoyable.


Alec Baldwin Gives Up Limelight For Peace and Quiet

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

Accomplished actor Alec Baldwin, 55,  addresses his decision to keep out of the public eye and the reasons behind it in an essay published by Vulture last week.

The Long Island actor has starred in many productions on film, television and Broadway. He is most famous for his role as Jack Donaghy on “30 Rock”, which ended with its seventh season  in Jan. 2013

His unfortunate run-ins with paparazzi, however have also garnered more attention than his television role, particularly when he’s dropped gay slurs. His most recent use incident, which occurred in Nov. 2013, put him in hot water with prominent members of the LGBT community such as Anderson Cooper and Andrew Sullivan.

In his essay, Baldwin acknowledges these events as misconstrued by the media. In fact, he goes on to mention that he contacted different LGBT organizations and talked with them in order to gain a better perspective about the plight that those who fall under LGBT often face. He goes on to lament about the state of public life, in which there is no privacy due to the ease of snapping pictures on smart phones and the fast paced social media world.

Of course, it all comes back to the slur that set off all his recent hardships. That slur lost him his show on MSNBC as well as respect and credibility among various established personalities.

I think being a celebrity of Baldwin’s status in this day and age is a sacrifice. At the expense of privacy and personal space, you achieve fame and glory. While it may not be fair by any means, it is the choice Baldwin made a long time ago.

Society’s appetite for outrageous and controversial stories is at an all time high. People like Alec Baldwin give audiences around the country opportunities to observe and judge him, almost like a zoo animal, often without realizing one key fact: celebrities are humans too.

As shameful as Baldwin’s comments were, it does bring to light the fact that these slurs are accepted by some places. As someone who currently lives in a city full of college students, I’ve heard equally as hurtful – if not worse – comments from students to their friends in passing. While Baldwin is much older, and therefore perceived as wiser, in the heat of the moment anything can slip out.

At least Baldwin had the courage to address his critics and put out his thoughts and feelings. While these thoughts may have burned bridges and incited negativity, he created a way to address the dialogue that’s been leveled against him.

And let’s not forget that he did end the essay with a concession: “And, admittedly, this is how I feel in February of 2014.”

Rather than charging Baldwin with a list of grievances he has committed, perhaps we as a society should take a closer examination at what we find acceptable in public. If anything, Baldwin’s blunders serve as a reminder to the rest of us that there is still a ways to go in fully accepting the LGBT community, and that we are all accountable for the actions we take and the words we say.

The Beauty of Dance: Color Guard

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

This week, I thought I’d discuss a sport that’s near and dear to my heart – color guard. I was involved in it for about three years in high school, rounding out my career as captain my senior year.

You may be wondering what color guard is exactly. Most people associate those two words with the girls (and guys) who dance, twirl flags, and toss rifles. This usually happens in front of a marching band.

While this is true, there is so much more to the sport. There are two seasons – marching band/field season in the fall and winter guard in – you guessed it – winter . Field season is the one most people recognize – with the color guard up in front of the band. The part I want to focus on is winter guard, which takes place in the beginning of the year, when students are coming back from Winter Break.

Most high schools and colleges take the winter months to develop and practice routines to present at various color guard competitions, where high schools and colleges from the area compete in various divisions.

One of the more creative, interesting pieces I found was performed by Carmel High School Color Guard. This performance was entitled “Word,” based off of a popular spoken word piece performed by Sarah Kay.

First, I wanted to point out how creative these girls were in narrating their entire dance. In addition to playing background music, different members of the team narrated various parts of Kay’s spoken word piece. Though each of them are out of breath due to the complicated formations and moves, they give it their all. A particularly empowering moment is at 5:36, where a group of girls deliver a line all together before going back to the routine.

Look at the sheer amount of elements working together in this piece. It’s amazing, and insane because it is difficult to point out what to watch. Each girl is so mesmerizing that it is difficult to know where to shift your attention to.

Most people take the difficulty of color guard too lightly. To be able to dance, spin equipment and smile on top of it all is incredibly difficult.

Color guard is a relatively unknown sport, but I believe it to be increasing in popularity as the field and winter guard circuits become even larger. In fact, Boston University has a growing color guard team who are currently in their winter guard season.

The Beauty of Dance: Step Up Revisited

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer

This week, I rediscovered a dance from a movie that I’m sure you’ve all heard of, if not watched – Step Up.

The Step Up franchise began back in 2006, with the first movie starring Channing Tatum and his now wife Jenna Dewan-Tatum. Backed up by a tale of forbidden love, the movie’s main gimmick was its dance routines, which at the time was a relatively new concept in movies.

With the success following the launch of the first movie, the creators wrote and produced three additional sequels. Each movie presents a host of new characters mixed in with previous characters. The consistent theme, of course, is dance. The most recent sequel, Step Up Revolution, was released in 2012.

The scene I wanted to highlight was from the second sequel, Step Up 3D.

This movie marks the return of Moose, played by Adam Sevani, and Camille, played by Alyson Stoner. Both are featured in the Step Up movies as secondary characters.

The movie itself focuses on the two moving to New York in order to attend New York University. Moose faces the dilemma of juggling a passion for dance and studying electrical engineering to appease his father. Camille, on the other hand, struggles with dealing with a widening hole in her friendship with Moose while her feelings for him as more than friends grow.

In this particular scene, Moose and Camille finally come together to do what they do best – dance.

The song, “I Won’t Dance” by Fred Astaire, is particularly fitting. Fred Astaire, along with his on-screen dance partner, Ginger Rogers, were famous for their dancing in cinema during the age of classical Hollywood. Seems appropriate for a dance dedicating to showing off dancing.

The pair dance down the street, utilizing their surroundings to make the dance come alive.

The most creative use of props, in my opinion, is the use of the trashcan lids. They hook the handle of the lid onto their shoe and begin to tap dance along to the beat of the music. Despite the size and clunkiness of the lid, they make it work musically while managing to stay light on their feet.

Another aspect I find interesting is their back-and-forth interaction. At certain points, Moose dances and lets Camille come up with a move in response. The best example of their competitive dance dynamic is when they are dancing in front of two doors. This sort of playful interaction makes the dance more personal, and better as a result.

My personal favorite, however, is the ending where Moose turns her in for a dip. In a move reminiscent of “Flashdance,” he grabs the branch above him and shakes it, showering the duo in leaves. Cue romantic sigh at how cute Moose and Camille are together.

If you haven’t gotten the chance, I definitely suggest that you watch the Step Up movies.